Now, as much as chocolates seem to come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, they are all essentially made similarly. The creation of this flavorful goodness is essentially an eight-step process! We all know that chocolate is made from the cacao plant, but do we know what happens after the fruits ripen?
The cacao tree bears oval-shaped fruits that contain 30 to 50 seeds each (these are also known as the cocoa beans). After cocoa trees have been cultivated, the ripened fruits turn a yellowish-orange color. Once they are ripe, the fruit is chopped off from the tree after which the pods are opened and the seeds are removed from the inside. The beans that come up after the harvest are cleaned by hand and they turn into a darker shade of purple in the process. Now that cultivating and harvesting the cacao trees is done, next comes the fermentation process. The fermentation process is when the beans are either heaped into piles or on cascading boxes. Fermentation takes anywhere between 2 to 9 days after which the beans start looking and smelling a lot like chocolate.
Once they have been fermented, the beans are then carefully dried in the hot sun for a week or two on bamboo mats or wooden boards. The beans require to be raked or dried from time to time to help them dry off properly. After the drying process has been completed the beans are checked, packed up in bags and shipped off to a chocolate maker or they may even be traded in the international market.
On receiving the beans, the chocolate maker separates and treats the beans differently depending on the blend of chocolate they aim at making. The beans could either be mixed with other origins or kept separate, the beans that are kept separate end up becoming the single-origin chocolate. The beans are then roasted at low temperatures after being cleaned. The shell of the bean is separated from the nib and they are then finely ground into cocoa mass. The cocoa mass is solid at room temperature, after it is placed under high pressure it yields cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
Depending on the type of chocolate that is to be made, the required quantities of cocoa butter and sweetener are added to the mass itself. Once the right ingredients have been mixed, the conching process occurs where the ingredients are rolled, kneaded, heated and then aerated. The chocolate is then tempered and molded into the sweet delight that we see in stores!