Thursday, September 27, 2012
http://www.pixelmat.org/ and found here - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.205322512813108.55697.205312076147485&type=1Lovely and beautiful cacao flowers and pod. Photos by Matthieu Large of
Monday, September 24, 2012
The blog post below was lifted with permission from Terence Spies of CacaoLab - the original link:
I have read most of these terms from the book I collected but instead of re-typing/encoding them I will just cut and paste it from Terence blog.
What is chocolate, and how is it made? What is the difference between milk and dark chocolate? What the heck is a conche? This page is intended to help readers of CacaoLab understand the posts here, understand why micro-producers are so important, and define terms that may be confusing. This page will be updated from time to time to clarify and expand as needed.
Chocolate is made by roasting, crushing, and refining cacao beans along with sugar. Usually, some additional ingredients, like lecithin, cocoa butter, and vanilla are added to alter flavor and texture. If a chocolate is labelled with a percentage (like 70%), this refers to the percentage of the chocolate that comes from cacao beans. Dark chocolate is usually at least 50% cacao.
Milk chocolate is similar, but some form of dehydrated milk is added. This milk softens the chocolate and adds flavors which may be buttery, cheesy or creamy. Milk chocolate usually has a smaller cacao percentage than dark chocolate, and may be as small as 10%.
Let’s start by looking at the three most important people in the chocolate process:
Cacao Farmers grow the trees that produce cacao pods, which contain a fruity mass and cacao beans. They pick these pods, scoop out the contents, and ferment the beans along with the fruity mass. The beans are then cleaned, dried, and shipped to….
Chocolate Makers take cacao beans, and refine them (with the other needed ingredients) into chocolate. Chocolate makers range from gigantic industrial operations producing tons of chocolate an hour to small companies making small, carefully controlled batches. Micro-producers and artisan chocolate makers typically work very closely with Cacao farmers to control the fermentation and drying process, which is critical to flavor production. They also work with single origin beans, and work to produce chocolate with a minimal number of ingredients that highlight the subtle natural flavor of the Cacao.
Chocolate makers may sell chocolate in bar form for nibbling, or in a bulk form to….
Chocolatiers take chocolate and make truffles, coated candies, and other “finished” products. Some companies, like Hershey’s and Mars, are both Chocolate makers and Chocolatiers. (Note that under Belgian law, a “Chocolatier” must be someone that produces chocolate from beans. There really isn’t a clear nomenclature for this, which someone should figure how to fix!)
It is a tricky, technical process to go from cacao beans to finished chocolate. The basic steps to making chocolate are different from maker to maker, but all chocolate goes through some version of this process:
Growing - Cacao grows on plantations within 15 degrees of the equator. There are (arguably) three types of cacao grown in the world: Criollo, Trinitario, and Forestero. Criollo is the oldest form of cacao. Forestero is the most popular breed, more hardy and productive than Criollo, and constitutes the vast majority of world production. Trinitario is a cross between these two breeds.
Harvesting – Cacao pods are harvested from the trees twice a year.
Fermenting - The pods are opened, the mass inside is scooped out, and left in piles or fermentation boxes to self-ferment. This fermentation process is critical to the development of chocolate flavor.
Drying - The fermented beans are cleaned, and left in the sun to dry. Some farmers will use artificial drying processes to speed the process.
Roasting – Chocolate makers take the dried beans, and roast them. The roasting process develops flavor and loosens the hulls from the “meat” of the bean, which is called a nib.
Cracking and Winnowing – After roasting, the bean is broken up, and the hulls are separated from the nibs.
Milling – The nibs are crushed, resulting in a liquid paste called chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor is about half cocoa butter and half cocoa solids. The cocoa butter provides a fat matrix for the flavorful cocoa solids in the final chocolate.
Refining – The chocolate liquor is mixed with the other ingredients, and the mass is passed through a refiner, which reduces the size of the particles in the mixture. For smooth chocolate, all the particles in the mixture must be below 20 microns. Finer chocolate will have a smaller particle size.
Conching - The refined mixture is then put into a (usually) heated mixing machine, which improves the texture of the chocolate by making a better mixture of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. It also removes volatile chemicals and their associated bitter, sour, or astringent flavors.
Tempering – The result of the conching process is a matrix of cocoa butter, in solid and liquid form, suspending sugar and cocoa particles. Chocolate’s unique mouthfeel and texture comes from the fact that the cocoa butter matrix melts just below body temperature, slowly releasing flavor particles onto the tongue. However, cocoa butter will crystallize in six different ways. Tempering controls the crystallization of the chocolate so that the chocolate contains mostly the specific crystals that have this melting property.
The tempered chocolate is then either poured into bar form, a block bar form, or chips. Chocolatiers will work with these forms of chocolate to build candies.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Thanks to my benefactor for the chance of attending this Chocolate Confectionery Class at the Center for Culinary Arts, Manila. We had Chef May Martinez for our instructor. I had a nice chit-chat with her about chocolate, her experiences working on chocolates in different hotels, competitions she joined, her chocolate consultancy among others.
I joined an ongoing class on Fundamentals in Baking and Pastry Arts Course. Since my interest is chocolate so I just attended this particular module which is Chocolate Confectionery. After the class, I brought several tin containers filled with chocolates (marbled chocolates, mendiants and clusters - cereal coated in dark chocolate) from our output since some of my classmates are not keen in bringing them home. I also had several slices of my groupmate's great tasting 3-layer chocolate mousse cake.
A great Chocolate Sunday for me!
Links of the photos here:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.382432715159646.84712.365825456820372&type=1
Picasa - https://picasaweb.google.com/116480827976874110951/ChocolateConfectioneryAtCCAManila?authuser=0&feat=directlink
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
1) The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling - a children story about a boy who would eat nothing but chocolate and found magic of becoming a chocolate Midas, moral of the story - for kids and story-tellers to find out.
2) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roadl Dahl - adapted into film (2005) where Johnny Depp was Willy Wonka. The moral of the story, well you ought to read the short novel and then watch the film to fully taste its chocolatey flavour.
3) The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie - I've been wanting to make a review of this novel, I find it very interesting, a time travel novel to different generation of the evolution of chocolate drinking and finding love.
4) Chocolate Unwrapped by Sarah Jane Evans - a good backgrounder on chocolate and those dark chocolate bars, the book serves as my autograph book for chocolatiers, pastry chefs, and anyone associated with chocolate.
5) The New Taste of Chocolate Rev.(A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes) by Maricel Presilla - an interesting resource book cum recipe book of Latin American dishes that uses cacao.
6) Chocolate Bar (recipes and entertaining ideas for living the sweet life) by Alison Nelson and Matt Lewis - a chocolate lifestyle book of folks from New York's West Village, fun, very hip and cool book with interspersed information on chocolate.
7) The Chocolate Readings Compilation - different resources downloaded online
a) Cocoa and Chocolate (Their History from Plantation to Consumer) by Arthur W. Knapp, 1920 - downloaded from Project Guttenberg, the study/research might have been commissioned/funded/aided by Cadbury Bros., Ltd. The photos appearing in the book looks ancient - turn of the century photos. A very nice resource that uses very ancient book for its references.
b) The Medicinal Use of Chocolate in Early North America by Deanna L. Pucciarelli and Louis E. Grivetti, 2007/2008 - well as title suggests, it should be noted that early on in 16th-17th centuries, cacao/chocolate was sold by pharmacist as a prescription drug/medicines by doctors. Perhaps also since the chocolate recipe was well guarded product and recipe for chocolate drink until it became a popular chocolate bar.
c) Chloe Doutre-Roussel: Chocolate Connoisseur (and liar) by Samantha Madell, 04-10-2008 - I printed (I need to ask permission from the author for having it printed) this scathing review of the book that can be found online with this link - http://www.chocolatereview.com.au/book_reviews/why_the_chocolate_connoisseur_by_chloe_doutre-roussel_is_the_worst_book_i_have_ever_read
The review is an eye-opener to always verify and make a cross-reference of those books you read. Through my research online I found about this great controversy. Well through my readings also I can validate whether Ms. Madell's assertions are also the truth. Still I feel like getting a copy of the book of Ms. Chloe Doutre-Roussel to find for myself those mistakes.
8) CHOCOLATE, History, Culture and Heritage, edited by Louis Evan Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro, published by Wiley, 2009, pp975 - I consider it my Chocolate Encyclopedia containing 56 articles and 11 appendices. With contributions coming from experts and scholars in different fields like archeology, chemistry, medicine, food history, etc, covering the entire globe and made or labored over a span of decade.
Now I have enough to read about chocolate, perhaps even create summary and blog about those that I will read while tasting and eating left-over chocolates.
So what books, journal or documents have you read about chocolate (on/offline too)? Share it with me and I'll include it in my Chocolate Reading list.
And by the way, if you like a chocolate novel reading list - check out this site:
Want some more....
Friday, September 7, 2012
Thanks to my chocolate sponsor for the opportunity to splurge and shop at the Chocolate Festival 2012. I purchased a box of Risa Chocolates truffles (that got melted when I arrived home) and pralines, and another box of truffles and pralines of Chef Laudico of Patisserie Filipino, dark chocolate bars from Marks and Spencers (Peruvian, Madagascar and Equador), slices of tablea cake by ChocoATBP ( also, I was able to taste different flavors of their tablea drink - chili and cream), cupcakes by Baked by Anita and got a cute chocolate plastic pencil case. I am planning to go back on Sunday for the chocolate buffet and chocolate making demo.
Finally, I got to meet the folks of Risa Chocolates. I created a pinterest board here - http://pinterest.com/rahonpete/risa-chocolates/ now I have more of their chocolates to add to the board. They got the most prominent space occupying the entrance of the chocolate festival.
However, instead of expecting chocolate bars, I came across several pastry and bakeshops producing chocolate cakes including truffles and pralines.
ChocoATBP. I had a nice chat with re cacao growing in the country and the Department of Agricultures plan. I will be learning more about from him re cacao farming here in the country. I got to try his tablea hot choco with cream and with chili both are good drinks.
Patisserie Filipino by Chef Jacqueline Laudico
Baked by Anita
I tried several of their pastries
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake
made of Valrhona: stuffed with dark chocolate truffle
crowned with choc mousse and drizzle of choc sauce
Chocolate Ice Cream Stand
(Forgot the Italian brand/name and I was not able to taste this)
(Forgot the Italian brand/name and I was not able to taste this)
(A bit pricey pastries)
(A bit pricey pastries)
(I was not able to try this choco spoon, look interesting)
Russian Cookie House
A centerpiece display close by the stage made by
Sugar Paste Sweets and Pastries.
It was my first time to encounter Marks and Spencer lines of chocolates.
I got several of the dark chocolates which I will review and blog next time.
I got one of those dark colored pencil cases.