It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least for chocoholics! Halloween is the perfect excuse not to be judged for indulging your sweet tooth. This year, Americans are expected to spend $2.7 billion in candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters… or keep for themselves. According to the National Confectioners Association, 68% of people say chocolate is their favorite Halloween treat.
With all this chocolate flying off store shelves, it prompts the question: how is chocolate transformed from bean to bar? Here’s the intricate process broken down in 5 steps.
- Once the cacao beans arrive at the factory, they are sifted for foreign objects then moved to roasting ovens where they are heated to temperatures between 210 °F-290 °F for up to two hours. Thermal processing not only reduces the threat of contaminants, but it also brings out the flavor and aroma of the bean.
- The cacao beans are then cracked, removing the outer shell and leaving behind the edible pieces or “nibs”. From there, the nibs are grounded and turned into a thick paste called chocolate liquor. Depending on the type of chocolate being produced, cocoa butter can be added or removed from the liquor
- To add to the taste or texture, other ingredients (sugar, vanilla and milk) are added to the chocolate mixture and further refined by conching or rolling. This process removes bitter flavors and gives chocolate that smooth consistency in a matter of hours, or even a few days.
- Tempering is the second to last step, and is the controlled process of raising, lowering and raising the temperature of the chocolate. Maintaining the right temperature and motion allows for the fatty acids in cocoa butter to stabilize, giving chocolate that shiny finish.
- According to world-renowned pastry chef, David Lebovitz, chocolate should be melted to about 115 °F-120 °F (46-49 °C), cooled to the low 80s °F (27 °C), then up to 88 °F-91° F (31-32 °C) for dark chocolate and 86 °F-88 °F, (30-31 °C) for milk chocolate.
- If you heat the chocolate over 91 °F, you will lose the good beta crystals and have to go through the whole tempering process again.
- Finally, the chocolate is poured into molds and agitated to remove air bubbles.
Not maintaining the correct temperatures during chocolate production would force the manufacturer to stop further production in order to correct the process, which would result in a loss of profit. MadgeTech data loggers are the ideal solution, providing continuous temperature and humidity monitoring throughout production, shipping and storage.
To learn more about how data loggers can help simply chocolate processing, click here.