March 9, 2006
October 20, 2005
The process of conching changed the way chocolate was made. Is conching science? It probably is but I’m not sure it would have been realised as a science – ie., I’m not sure someone formed the hypothesis that conching would work and then went about testing it.
Is this what your question is getting at?
September 30, 2004
January 10, 2006
My dictionary defines science as: knowledge obtained by observation, experiment, and measurement
In this sense, I think the discovery of conching as described by The Chef is quite a beautiful example of science … conching began with observation, followed by experiment, and then measurement. That is the very definition of science!
In fact, I can’t think of any aspect of making chocolate that owes itself to anything other than science.
Think of Henri Nestle, who invented powdered milk, which was then used by Daniel Peter to totally revolutionise the chocolate industry.
Think of van Houten, discovering how to separate cocoa butter from cocoa liquor. Cocoa butter as a separate ingredient revolutionised the chocolate industry.
Think of the process of tempering. People who don’t understand the intricacies of this process tend to describe obtaining correct temper as something that you “just know” or “feel”. I don’t doubt that many people do “just know” when chocolate has reached temper – but that doesn’t make it a mystical or indescribable process. On the contrary, correct tempering (i.e. controlled fat crystalisation) comes about as a result of very specific (and well-documented) temperature fluctuations during setting.
I have often heard the process of roasting cocoa beans described as a “black art”. Give me a colour meter and a blue light, and I’ll show you that roasting is actually a science.
Having said all this, I really don’t mind if you insist on thinking of me as a magician, or an artist
August 1, 2006
March 9, 2006
February 14, 2006
This is a pretty good question. I would definitely say that the way chocolate is made today is due to many scientific innovations. Larger companies like Hersheys, Lindt, and Callebaut undoubtedly use “scientific” formulas and ratios to make various chocolate bars.
However, smaller companies depend more on an artisan’s ‘feel’ for the chocolate and often develop their blends through intuition and experimentation, whereas Hersheys has been using the same ol’ terrible formula for years… (ie minimal cacao and maximum sugar)
There isn’t much batch variability for larger chocolate companies. This is due to the beans they aquire for their product. The beans are low-grade and basically bottom-of-the-barrel foresteros. The beans are consitently bad, which makes for consistently bad product. To compensate, machines do all the work and the producers hardly ever see their own products… But at least the company has something reliable which can be marketed as a “good thing” over time, which is why Hersheys is successful.
The enormous machinations in service for larger companies create a gulf between the product being produced, and those responsible for the product. This makes for soulless chocolate.
Conclusion: Too much science can be a bad thing. Of course, things like tempering and conching are quite necessary. But the process should never be so mechanical, so as to make the machine more important than the product.