Small pieces of shell were flying everywhere, landing in my hair, sticking to my face, plummeting down my dress. I was itchy and covered in what looked like dirt. And I liked it.
Why? Because the shell was from the cacao bean, and now I smelled like chocolate. Heavenly, decadent chocolate.
You see, on my quest to make things that are homemade and healthy, I signed up for a Chocolate Making Class this weekend. The steps from bean to bar chocolate are incredible: Pick, roast, grind (2x), refine, press, conch… I came away from this class not only itchy from shells and smelling of fresh chocolate, but also with a new appreciation of all chocolatiers. Including myself (see the photo of me taking a big bite). Now I am a chocolatier!
Here is a recipe for a lovely 56% Cacao Chocolate:
36 oz. cacao nibs
8 oz. cocoa butter
1/2 ts. lecithin
36 oz. sugar
1 vanilla bean, finely chopped
First, grind the nibs in a Crankenstein or food processor. Pour the ground nibs through a food mill or juicer. This will make chocolate liquor. Melt the cocoa butter and lecithin together. Grind sugar with the vanilla bean until you get a soft, powdery consistency. Put the vanilla sugar on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven to 120 degrees (about 10-15 minutes). Next, pour the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and lecithin into the concher. Turn on the concher and slowly add the vanilla sugar. Conch for 14 hours. Conchers are very expensive but necessary for chocolate making. If you can’t afford a concher, I highly recommend “cheating” with other recipes that use cocoa powder or chocolate wafers. You won’t get the same satisfaction from the process, but you’ll get a delicious result in the end. Plus, you’ll still smell like chocolate. And that’s what really matters anyhow, don’t you think?