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Learning Chocolate
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LindtLover
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November 3, 2003 - 8:27 am
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Hey everyone,

The moderators and members seem to be very well educated about chocolate. I wanted to ask you guys questions about making chocolate. I hear Valhrona and Bernachon are the best chocolates in the world. Is this true and should I use them for cooking or can I grind, roast, and prepare my own beans? What books are the best for learning how to make chocolate? I read that the head of Sharffen-Berger chocolates learned how to make chocolates at Bernachon Chocloatier. How could I join Bernachon and learn how to master chocolate from them? I am starting to realize chocolate is like wine and is a much finer, complex product than most people realize.

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bobvilax2000
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November 3, 2003 - 12:28 pm
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I don't know about Bernachon, but Valrhona is amazing to cook with since they're already so creamy and smooth. The thing about grinding and roasting your own chocolate is that you could possibly get decent results, but you probably won't be able to reproduce those results. Buying real equipment is most likely the best solution to this, though chocolate making is a very exact science. There are also classes to be taken about this. I'm not sure where you live, but a trip to Europe may be in order to study.

Here is a little story about home chocolate making.
[url]http://www.chocophile.com/stories/storyReader$110[/url]

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filou
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November 9, 2003 - 5:22 pm
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bernachon is one of the few makers of chocolate from bean to bar.
this century old family firm is based in Lyon.
A newish chcolatier has followed the same approach an opened an atelier in brussels, he is Pierre Marcolini, a young Belgina still in his thirites, so we can still expect much from him (incidentally he was world pastry chef champion)
you cna find shops of his in London Paris, tokyo and now Paris

Vlarhona is totally another approach. Sure they have a quality approach, but don't forget they are a very large company that supply supply largew quaqntities to other people of couverture chocolate, so you will always be competing wihtthe demand from other chocolate makers.

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theobroma
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November 9, 2003 - 11:58 pm
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hi
i'd like to learn more about bernachon, if anyone can share info.
thanks
kyle

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Oh no! My Agustus!
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Hans-Peter Rot
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December 9, 2003 - 4:49 pm
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I think Pralus is another brand who makes chocolate from bean to bar. I'm not too sure, though. Has anyone tried Pralus yet?

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hungry
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January 12, 2004 - 5:16 pm
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Also try Sharffen Berger's cooking bars. I just made a tort with then and was impressed.

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theobroma
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March 17, 2004 - 9:50 pm
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Hi
Yes, it would be a lovely thing if we could make chocolate as a little cottage industry, but I believe it is a very involved process, requiring a lot of land, equipment, etc. If you simply want to temper your chocolate into molds, and blend varieties of gastronomie/couverture chocolate to suit your tastes, this can be done in a kitchen without too much ado.
In a nutshell, or a cocoa pod, here is a rough idea of the whole cocoa process:
1. Growing. 5 years before cocoa trees produce fruit, then 5-6 months for pod maturation, and maybe 40 pods per tree. Must be in a shady, moist, temperate climate with special midges and such.
2. Harvesting. Must be done carefully so as to not damage the cocoa tree, and efficiently to prevent the pods from rotting.
3. Fermentation. Here is the first active step of controlling flavor. 5-12 days, with special bacteria, yeasts, temperature, etc.
4. Drying. Usually in the sun, at plantation. Several days, tending needed. Reduces water to about 5%.
5. Cleaning. Removing residual pulp, etc. EVERY BEAN!
6. Roasting. Second major active step in flavor control. Difficult to get good, consistent results in a small scale operation, much more involved than coffee roasting (from what I hear). Big equipment, much to know about this. Reduces water to about 2-3%.
7. Winnowing. This removes the husks of the beans/seeds, and separates the husks from the fruit/flesh inside. Big machines again.
8. Grinding.
9. Refining. Probably big machines again. Reduces particle size by a significant number of microns, greatly affects smoothness.
10. Conching. Kneading by machines. Also improves smoothness. Originally done by in a conch-shaped contraption.
11. Tempering. Chocolate is heated to about 150F and cooled. Helps to prevent exterior crystallization, allows control for internal crystal matrices, important to snap and lack of bubbling, also aids appearance. Can be used to mold.

So, unless you have a great deal of time and money to spend, it may be advisable to stick to tempering, as this can be a pleasant, small-scale hobby. Otherwise you're looking at a major operation. Maybe there are other ways that I'm not familiar with. Artisinal chocolates are becoming popular now, as Marcolini is evidence of. I suspect there is a lot going on off-site. Miniturization and improvement of technology in general may lend to the possibility of this being done from the home or a small studio. Insofar as I know, however, it is still a daunting task.
If you want to do it old-school, you could get a metate, a stone oven, and some other rough equipment. Adding ash from your fire to the cocoa works a bit like 'dutching'...
Best of luck!
Kyle

Oh no! My Agustus!

Oh no! My Agustus!
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theobroma
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March 17, 2004 - 10:01 pm
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I've done a bit of research since my last post, and it looks like a rare few produce their chocolate on-site. I think they start from cocoa beans that have already been fermented, dried, cleaned, and shipped. Check it out:
http://www.totalbusiness.org.u.....02/021.asp
http://www.guidebookwriters.co.....cle157.htm

kyle

Oh no! My Agustus!

Oh no! My Agustus!
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