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Chocolate making made simple

posted Aug 16, 2010, 4:09 PM by Sophie Jewett   [ updated Aug 16, 2010, 4:14 PM ]
Next time you pick up your favourite chocolate bar read the ingredients list, have you ever thought what goes into that bar or how it was done? Does it always happen in big factories with huge machinery? Well it didn't used to, once someone sat down at their kitchen table and created something different and in my mind absolutely gorgeous.

This month I visited the home of Red Star Chocolates, one of only 2 independent chocolate makers in the UK making directly from the bean, there used to be over 100 such chocolate makers, sadly now there are only 2 as the major manufacturers monopolise the cocoa bean market. The factory is smaller than you might imagine, hidden on a Grimsby industrial estate, after the initial hit of chocolate aroma it was down to the tasting, I'd walked into wonka land, surrounded by chocolate in every direction, my eyes were overwhelmed, feasting on every bit of the factory unit and I'd not even tried a chocolate yet.

Corazon del Ecudor is a 72% chocolate made on site, the raw beans arrive from Ecuador in a large hessian sack with a slightly acidic and not very chocolate like aroma, the beans are layed out in a big oven tray and roasted to develop the flavours. After grinding the roasted beans, the lighter shells are blown away to leave the cocoa nibs behind. The final blending process takes all the flavour of the roasted nibs and grinds them continuously with quite a bit of sugar to make a chocolatey mud like mixture, sometime's there's a bit of vanilla and an emulsifier added whilst it becomes increasingly smooth with grinding. The mixture is cooled and warmed to generate the right crystal structure, but essentially that's it, you've got chocolate. It might be tricky to make it taste like your favourite bar but it's not impossible to create something resembling to your own taste. So why don't we have home roasters and grinders like we do coffee? A combination of too much mystery and it's difficult to obtain the bean, I came away feeling truly inspired. If you feel adventurous? Give it a try with cocoa powder, cocoa butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence, you'll really impress yourself, add some sweetened condensed milk and you'll be astounded.

Join us for the indulgently chocolatey program at York Food and Drink Festival as the region's chocolatiers demystify the well kept secrets of chocolate making Friday 17th to Sunday 26th September across York.

See for details of the whole chocolatey program.