I received in my order of cocoa butter today. I have not figured out how to make it yet, but maybe one day. That is what I have been waiting on as far as getting may test batches ready for refining and conching. I started doing some figuring and realized I really needed an automated way to calculate ingredient amounts, so I went ahead and built a small excel spreadsheet to do the calculations. I enter how much cocoa I have to work with, and what I want the percentages of cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter and lecithin to be, and it gives me the data I need in lbs, oz and grams of each ingredient. What I realized is that to really do the comparison tests I want I either have to do less than the 1 lb cocoa batches that I wanted or roast and grind up some more cocoa. I only have about 3.5 lbs of the five pounds I started with (husk and general loss, from numerous batches). I had planned on only 3 tests. I have five comparisons I want to do now, ranging from just cocoa and sugar to up to 8 % cocoa butter. I have a feeling I will roast more, but I just don’t know yet. Depends how much time I can find. Yeah, I will roast more. All in the name of Alchemy!
I roasted 4 lbs (12 cups) of cocoa tonight. I really need to get my drum roaster finished. I think it will give a much better end product. This batch was done in the oven, distributed between two shallow dishes. I preheated to 425 F and put the beans in.
I need to find a way to get the sugar smooth enough without milling. I am really trying to avoid the whole milling/refining thing all together, but I guess it is done for a reason. Actually, I still hold out hope as there are huge differences between large scale and home scale. We will see.
This desire to make chocolate at home all started through a rather circuitous route. I roast my own coffee at home. I got into it because of a gift from my partner a couple of years ago (Yule 2001). It was a coffee roaster called a Fresh Roast, plus a sample pack of 8 different beans from the best
After the long search, numerous dead ends and delays, I finally have a bag of Forastero cocoa beans from Ghana. I say a bag, but in actuality, it is two 65 lb jute sacks of chocolate alchemy waiting to happen. Without even roasting, they smell quite good. Not at all boring like green coffee beans. These are a mottled brown, and almost look as if they have already been roasted, but it is just the fermentation and drying that gives them that color.
"Bag" of unroasted Cocoa Beans
I went ahead and measured out 4 oz and dropped them into my coffee roaster. My roaster is a fluid bed roaster and these beans are much bigger and flatter than coffee. They really did not circulate very well and I had to continuously rock the roaster to keep from scorching the beans. The temperature climbed and I started smelling chocolate. 210 degrees and climbing. The smell is just growing and becoming richer and richer. 250 F. It is almost intoxicating. 260F. Seems to be a real sweet spot for these beans. Slowing the aroma starts to back off and I killed the heat and cooled the beans at 280F. They taste a little toasty and maybe a little too roasted, but there is definite chocolate flavor there. It is not even sweetened but these are great. It is NOTHING like unsweetened bakers chocolate. This is crunchy, nutty (a little burnt) and a touch chocolatey. I think the next time I want to take it to 260 and hold it there. A definite first step in my path of learning Chocolate Alchemy.