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TECHNOLOGY

IMG_3914_72dpiFROM COCOA BEAN TO CHOCOLATE LIQUOR 

Chocolate making is a sophisticated process and requires a large number of machines and devices. For you to be able to flatter your taste buds with even the smallest chocolate-containing product, the basic ingredient, i.e. cocoa beans, must pass through a long and several-stage process of transformation into chocolate liquor. But before this could happen, the finest selected varieties are imported by sea from the faraway Africa. Depending on the type and country of origin, cocoa beans have varying degrees of purity. Careful and thorough cleaning is essential to obtain tasty and healthy products and is the first stage of cocoa bean processing at our factory. Cleaned beans are subjected to anti-bacterial treatment to reduce their germ content to a safe level and to obtain a raw material of high microbiological purity. Anti-bacterial treatment is performed in conditions that are harsh for microorganisms, with the process parameters: temperature, pressure and time constantly monitored.

Raw cocoa beans contain 6−7% of water on average and have unpleasant, sour and bitter flavour. That is why they are roasted at high temperatures.A cocoa bean consists mainly of a nib, cotyledons and outer shell. Inside, it contains a valuable ingredient: cocoa butter, which we want to extract. Only roasted cocoa nibs are of value to the production of chocolate liquor and thus they are dehulled (cracked). Nibs with the husk removed are ground in a two-stage process to break down their cell walls and release the substances they contain so that the nibs can transform into liquid, finely ground chocolate liquor.

 

union 4058FROM LIQUOR TO CHOCOLATE

The next stage in the production of chocolate is dosing ingredients, which are added in specified quantities to a mixer. After all the ingredients listed in the recipe for a particular type of chocolate have been carefully weighted, they are mixed to form a homogenous paste of liquid, batter-like consistency, which is then further ground. To achieve a uniform spectrum of particle size and optimum sensory properties of the finished product, the paste is refined in two stages.

The initial refining takes place in automated two-roll refiners. Then, the finely ground paste is transported to five-roll refiners where it is processed to the final particle size. Having passed through the refiners, the chocolate paste has dry, flaky consistency and is called chocolate powder. It is smooth and contains no particles that could be detected on the palate (not larger than 25 μm).  GThe main stage of the production is conching, a process aimed at delivering even, well-emulsified and aromatic chocolate that melts in the mouth. This crucial technological process, defining the quality of the finished product, involves long and intense stirring in state-of-the-art automated conches, combined with chocolate paste agitation to ensure its maximum contact with the air. During this process, the chocolate paste undergoes numerous physical and chemical transformations. 

At the initial phase of this stage, the so-called dry-plastic conching, dry chocolate powder becomes a plastic mass through intense mixing and takes a form that resembles a ridge of soil. With vigorous mixing, large quantities of air are forced into the mass to create an optimum surface for phase contact. This makes it easier to remove unwanted acidic volatiles and moisture.

After a plastic mass is formed, with solid particles being fully coated with a layer of fat, the liquefying phase, or the so-called liquid conching, begins. The remaining portion of fat is added as in the recipe, then emulsifiers and aromas follow, and the mixing continues to obtain chocolate of appropriate rheological properties. 

The essential processes, in addition to developing the desired aroma and maximising the chocolate flavour, include: reducing the moisture content and acidic volatiles, reducing the viscosity, and achieving a smooth mass of completely even texture, which makes it delightful to taste and ensures the effect of melting in the mouth. 

Cocoa powder on a spoonUpon completion of the conching process, chocolate masses are pumped through pipelines to heated storage tanks equipped with agitators, and from those they are loaded on isothermal tank trucks (for liquid chocolates sold loose) or transferred for moulding into bars or drops of various sizes (for chocolate sold in solid form). 

Before leaving the production line, chocolate is treated in a special process, i.e. tempering. It is a very important stage that directly affects the sensory properties of the finished product. The purpose of tempering is to achieve the most stable polymorphic form of cocoa butter in chocolate masses, with crystals of the smallest size possible. This process is performed in a tempering machine. Well-tempered and hardened chocolate is distinguished by its beautiful, shiny look, conchoidal fracture and a crisp snap, and is resistant to developing chocolate bloom.

 

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