I am the beloved of every human irrespective of their gender, irrespective of their age. The ultimate present of every occasion which never fails in retaining a laughter on an incident when one can bet of never smiling again. The richness of the cocoa, the sweetness of my bitterness lifts your spirits and serves as an eye opener on the nights meant for assignment completion. Yes, you guessed it right, I am your personal ambrosia, your life saviour, your CHOCOLATE, here I am today to take you on my journey from a bean to bar so are you ready?
My journey just like you my eater buddy is not that easy. I take birth in the tropical and humid climate which observes a short dry season and a regular rainfall of 1000-2500 mm per year, beginning my life as a cocoa bean amidst the greens of the cocoa trees I fill the surroundings with my rich aroma. The quality of the cocoa and the climatic conditions play a very important role in deciding my characteristics and flavour, and as quoted by sophocles, “If one begins all deeds well, it is likely that they will end well too.” holding the same relevant a good quality been is necessary for the production of a delicious chocolate.
After harvesting, the pods are opened and the seeds are removed which makes me ready for the next step which is fermentation. Just like a human baby after birth is given intensive care to increase its immunity for handling the exterior environment, similarly for intensifying my bitter flavour the beans are fermented for around five days. This process produces heat and demands a periodically regular stir. The perfectly fermented cocoa is then dried for around 15 days removing all the moisture attracting mould, when this process is over only the dried beans are selected and the remaining are discarded from further processing.
Drying marks a transition in my journey. A switch from the hands of my birth giver farmer to the hands of a professional chocolate maker. After drying, the chocolate maker roasts the beans at 210°F for around 10-15 minutes. Roasting, apart from sterilizing the beans also enhances its flavours and makes the next step much easier. This is followed by winnowing, the most important part of my journey which exposes the very best part of my initial bean stage. During this process the chocolate maker removes the outer shells revealing the nib of the cocoa beans – the most desirable part of the initial me.
The nibs are then ground either by machinery or in between heavy stones which result in the production of a heavenly elixir in which addition of sugar produces what is called as cocoa liquor. Changing my state from solid to liquid, grinding is the step producing the primitive version of molten chocolate. Sometimes, many makers instead of grinding go for the technique conching, which involves a continuous mix of the cocoa mass on a certain temperature. This technique does a combination of things such as drying (in case bits of moisture still remain), developing flavour and crushing the large pieces (if any).
Now, after all this to make me regain my original solid state the next step, which is known as tempering is done. During, tempering the chocolate produced in the previous step is heated and is allowed to cool slowly at its own, this enables the cocoa mass to stabilize and solidify properly. It is the most essential part in my entire production as in its absence my solid state does not harden well. And, finally after all these steps of intensive skill and hard work you have your favourite chocolate bar to scintillate your senses.
So, now my eater friends you know my entire journey, would love to know yours as well, you can share your journeys and your life stories on the below mentioned email Id. Till then farewell eaters and, keeping chewing your chocolate.
Feature Image Credits : Scopio