Help me die from eating my own homemade dark chocolate
February 6, 2006 10:01 PM   Subscribe

Dark chocolate: is making it a feasible hobby?

My wife and I love dark chocolate, but the process of breaking cocoa beans into nibs, grinding them, separating the cocoa butter, baking, forming, and indulging seems like a massive task to undertake in one's sparetime (although we're already quite experience at the "indulging"). Are there any hobbyist chocolateers that might recommend a way for us to make chocolate in a limited amount of space... and time?

Buying dark chocolate in bulk and reforming it seems like a copout, but is that as extensive as we can hope to get?
posted by bjork24 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total)
Response by poster: I thought "clothing" said "cooking." This question is now hopelessly miscategorized.
posted by bjork24 at 10:02 PM on February 6, 2006

There are webpages out there that go into the process for this and people who do it as a hobby. It's apparently quite messy and quite time consuming but doable. I don't have any links handy, but googling might turn some up.

Though, it's also, apparently a pain to get the actual nibs and beans (I think it's easier to get nibs) as trade in chocolate is actually pretty regulated. There are places to order them online, though, so you can definitely do this.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:09 PM on February 6, 2006

I don't know anything about processing cocao at home, but I found a pertinent link on a coffee roasting site (apparently the roasting process is similar). Try Chocolate Alchemy.
posted by iloveit at 10:16 PM on February 6, 2006

Even without processing your own Cocoa, working with chocolate is exactly a trivial exercise. You might want to start working with bulk dark chocolate and learning how to get a proper temper (a skill you will need anyway) before getting into the other aspects.
posted by Good Brain at 10:36 PM on February 6, 2006

I meant to say that working with bulk chocolate IS NOT exactly trivial.
posted by Good Brain at 10:37 PM on February 6, 2006

Another tack to take on this might be to do more with the same amount of time. This past year I threw several parties, the theme being making time-intensive meals with a large group of people. It was a great excuse to hang out and do something that otherwise might seem like a time sink.

We had at least three parties: samosas, raviolis and tamales. The prep and cooking easily took over three hours for each dish. I'm not sure anyone even noticed.
posted by funkiwan at 10:39 PM on February 6, 2006

What little I know about the making of chocolate says that it's a raging pain.

Having said that, I'm the last person to dissuade anyone from following a time consuming lark for a hobby. I mean, I just finished doing a champagne beer. That only took about 9 months.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:23 PM on February 6, 2006

Sure you can do it, but getting it right is very difficult. Case in point: there are only two chocolate manufacturers in Australia, Cadbury and Haigh's. Everyone else is just importing, melting/reforming or stuffing about with nasty compound chocolate.

In particular, it is very difficult to grind it finely enough. I also recall (very vaguely) that there's some time-consuming process applied to the finished chocolate (while melted) that reduces the average particle size. I suspect that anything you're likely to do without serious equipment will be a bit gritty at first, but don't let me discourage you. Making your own chocolate, particularly if you could make it half as good as Haigh's, would be the ducks nuts.
posted by polyglot at 3:31 AM on February 7, 2006

Polyglot, the process you're thinking of is called conching: a machine folds the liquid chocolate in on itself until the particles are very, very small. Conching takes a long time (between four hours and several days).
posted by hot soup girl at 4:48 AM on February 7, 2006

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