technologia TECHNOLOGY

A brief description of the technology to manufacture chocolate

The production of chocolate is a complicated process and requires the use of a large number of machines and equipment. In order to enjoy even the smallest morsel containing chocolate then the basic raw material, cocoa beans, must undergo a long process of several stages in processing to chocolate liquor. However, before this happens the best selected varieties are imported by sea from far off Africa.

Cocoa beans have a varying degree of purity depending on the variety and country from which the cocoa beans come from. Their careful and complete cleaning is a pre-condition for obtaining tasty and healthy products and constitutes the first stage in processing cocoa beans in our factory.

The cleaned beans undergo anti-bacterial cleaning, which is designed to reduce the bacteria to a safe level and obtain a raw material that has a high level of micro-biological purity. The anti-bacterial cleaning takes place under conditions that are drastic for micro-flora, with the parameters of the process fully monitored: temperature, pressure and time.

The raw cocoa beans contain on average 6 - 7% water and are characterised by an unpleasant, acidic and sour flavour. For these reasons they are subjected to roasting at high temperature.

A cocoa bean consists mostly of a nib, the shell and cotyledons. It contains a value ingredient in its centre - cocoa fat, which we wish to extract. For the production of chocolate liquor only the roasted nib has any value and is therefore subjected to de-hulling (shelling). The nib without its husk is ground in two stages so as to break down the cell walls and release the substances contained in them to form a liquid, carefully ground, chocolate liquor.

The next stage in the production of chocolate is the dosing of ingredients, which takes place in a mixer. After the carefully weighing of all the ingredients in a recipe for a given type of chocolate then they are mixed together into a consistent mass that has the consistency of a thick liquid, after which the liquor is subject to further grinding.

In order to achieve a consistent spectrum of particle sizes and the optimum sensory properties for the final products the liquor is subject to a two-stage grinding process. The initial process takes place in an automatic two-roller mill. The milled mass is then transported to five-roller mills, where the final milling takes place. The chocolate mass, after passing through the mills, has a loose and flaky consistency. It is characterised by a "smoothness" and does not contain particles that the palette can notice (particles smaller than 25Ám).

The main stage in production is conching, the purpose of which is to obtain a consistent, well emulgised, aromatic chocolate that melts in the mouth. This very important technological process for the quality of the final product consists of the long and intensive mixing in modern, automated conchs, combined with churning the chocolate mass in order to ensure as much contact with the air as possible. During this the chocolate mass undergoes numerous physical and chemical changes.

In the initial phase of the stage, in the so called dry plastic conching, during intensive mixing the chocolate powder changes into a plastic mass, the form of which is similar to peat. Thanks to this strong mixing, large amounts of air are forced into the mass, thanks to which it achieves the optimum surface contact of phases, and is able to more easily remove undesirable acidity and moisture.

After changing into a plastic mass, concluded with the total surrounding of solid particles with a layer of fat, the next phase takes place - wet conching. The remaining part of the cocoa butter, in accordance with the recipe, is added and then emulgators and aromisers. More mixing follows in order to achieve a chocolate with the right rheologic parameters.

The most important processes, apart from creating the desired aroma and improving the flavour characteristics of the chocolate, include: reducing the water content and acidity, reducing viscosity, as well as obtaining a "smooth" mass with a constant consistency, which makes the chocolate pleasurable to consume and gives the effect of the chocolate melting in the mouth.

After the completion of the conching process the chocolate mass is pumped along pipes to heated storage tanks fitted with mixers, and from there to insulated mobile cisterns (liquid chocolate is sold bulk) or transferred for moulding into bars, or drops of various sizes (chocolates sold in solid form).

Prior to leaving the production line the chocolate is subjected to a special tempering process. This is a very important stage that directly affects the sensory properties of the finished product. The purpose of tempering is to achieve the most durable form polymorphic form of cocoa butter in chocolate mass in the form of crystals with the smallest dimensions. The process takes place in a machine called a tempering machine. Well tempered solid chocolate is characterised by a beautiful shiny appearance, breaks with an even and rounded fracture, makes an audible snap when broken and is resistant to the greying effect called bloom.