> Cocoa Bean
>> Producing Chocolate
> Tasting Chocolate
> Health Benefits
> Glossary
Hot Chocolates
Chocolate Bars
Fruity Bits
Treaty Bits

 

In recent years there has been a trend toward consumers demanding food with less intense production methods and greater traceability. This demand results in higher quality food with better flavours and therefore a more enjoyable eating experience. Knowledge of, and therefore availability of, quality cheese, wine, coffee and olive oil has increased dramatically. This fascination is beginning to take hold with chocolate. And so it should. The flavours and subtleties of chocolate are diverse and complex and utterly divine!
  We blend exceptional couverture with fresh, natural ingredients which enhance or compliment the flavours. We do not look to overwhelm the natural tones with brash, artificial flavours but instead source complimentary flavours of a complimentary standard. For every batch of our spice chocolate we crush freshly toasted cardamoms, we select the most flavoursome oranges and freshly grate the zest. We work like chefs; creating small batches to ensure an intensity and freshness of flavour. Even the way we shape and present the chocolates is designed to bring out the most pleasure, whether it is the satisfyingly brittle snap of the cocoa coaster, or the way you have to unwrap each of our bars as if it is a present.

We hope you experience the same joy and passion when you eat our chocolates as has gone into them.


The cocoa tree is cultivated in the tropical zone within 20? of the equator. This region has the perfect climate to suit the Cocoa Tree's need for year round moisture and a constantly warm temperature. The Cocoa tree needs to be cultivated under the canopy of other trees to provide shade. The trees start to produce pods when they are three to five years old. These pods (about the size and shape of a rugby ball) contain the cocoa beans.
After harvesting, the pods are split open and the contents are scraped out. The seeds and the surrounding pulp which nourishes it are piled up on banana or plantain leaves and covered with a layer of damp leaves. They are then left in the sun to ferment for five to six days. As they ferment the pulp turns to liquid and drains away, the beans turn a dark brown. This fermentation is essential to allow a good flavour to develop. After fermentation the beans are left to dry in the sun before being transported to next stage of the process.

The beans are cleaned and then roasted to further develop the flavour. The kernels are extracted from the beans. These are ground by metal mills under very strict temperature controls. The grinding process extracts the cocoa butter, leaving a thick paste known as the chocolate liquor. Further pressing extracts even more cocoa butter and the solid cake that is left is dried and ground to make cocoa powder. Cocoa butter and sugar are added to the chocolate liquor to produce chocolate. Dried milk is added to make milk chocolate.
The next stage of the process is conching. The mixture is constantly kneaded at a temperature of 55-85?C. This evaporates moisture, improves texture and develops the flavour and can take from several hours to a week depending on the desired quality. The final stage of the process is tempering where the chocolate is cooled under careful conditions to encourage the oils in the cocoa butter to crystallise correctly. Badly tempered chocolate has a dull surface or a white bloom of oil on the surface, the chocolate will crumble rather than crack when broken and will have a grainy surface. Well tempered chocolate has a shiny surface, an even texture and a crisp and brittle break. Be careful how you keep your chocolate. If chocolate is exposed to high temperatures (for example direct sunlight or a radiator), or if is left in a humid atmosphere for a long period it can ruin the temper. Strong odours, such as onion, can permeate the chocolate, spoiling its flavour. The best plan is to eat it up!

back to top


Look Different beans produce different coloured chocolates. Chocolate should not be too black as this is a sign the beans are burnt. It is a myth that the darker the chocolate the better the chocolate. The chocolate should have a shiny surface and break with a satisfying snap.

Smell
Break a piece of chocolate and smell it. Like wine, chocolate has many associated smells fruity, floral or earthy. Some chocolate has an intense aroma, some are subtle. Chocolate should not smell of rubber or plastic. By trying different chocolates you'll better understand which your palate prefers.

Taste
With a clean palate put a small amount of chocolate in your mouth, allow it to melt ion your tongue for a moment then move it around to extract all the flavours. Ideally the flavours should rise and linger. The finest chocolates produce a series of flavours rather than one level of flavour. A well balanced sensation of flavours is a sign of a good chocolate; a monotonous, uninteresting or overpowering taste implies a poorer quality chocolate.

Texture
A silky smooth finish with no grittiness is the mark of a good chocolate. Commercial chocolate substitutes expensive cocoa butter for vegetable fat which leaves the mouth feeling coated and greasy. The cocoa butter in good quality chocolate melts at body temperature leaving the mouth feeling clean.

back to top


Don't feel guilty about eating good chocolate. Here are some reasons to indulge!
1. That Loving Feeling! Cocoa Butter melts at body temperature making it very sexy. An Italian study found that eating dark chocolate increases desire and libido! A natural substance (phenylethylamine) found in chocolate triggers the same feelings as falling in love.

2. Protect Yourself Dark Chocolate is higher in antioxidants than green tea, red wine and tomatoes. Antioxidants are thought to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and strokes.

3. Good for the Heart Good quality dark chocolate helps maintain healthy blood pressure by counteracting bad cholesterol and increasing the levels of HDL ('good' cholesterol) which prevents fat clogging up the arteries. Dark Chocolate is rich in flavonoids which protect the heart from wear and tear. The antioxidants in the chocolate may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

According to a recent study the milk added to milk chocolate counteracts the positive benefits of the cocoa and cocoa butter so stick to the dark stuff!!

4. Beat Stress, Get Happy Chocolate contains valeric acid which relieves stress and is a well known relaxant. The theobromine in cocoa triggers the release of endorphins, your natural feel good booster. It is also found to relieve symptoms of PMS.

Chocolate contains iron, preventing anaemia and boosting both energy levels and immune system. The clever old stuff also contains trace amounts of copper which helps the body absorb iron.
6.Children of the revolution! Dark chocolate is a good treat for children. It contains so much less sugar than other chocolates and sweets. Don't presume children won't like it; parents only say that so they can keep it to themselves!

7.Myth Busting Caffeine - An average chocolate bar contains about 6mg of caffeine; an average cup of instant coffee contains about 108mg of caffeine. So don't rely on chocolate to keep you awake at night! Allergies- Only a very few people are actually allergic to cocoa, many adverse reactions stem from the milk, high sugar content or additives found in commercial chocolate.

Even chocolate as incredible as ours should be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.

back to top


Bloom
Visible as a dull white film on the surface of the chocolate. It can be caused by the re crystallisation of either fat or sugar on the chocolate surface. A visual defect caused by exposure to extreme temperatures or humidity; the chocolate is fine to eat.

Cabosse
The pod like fruit of the cocoa tree.

Cacao
An alternative spelling of cocoa.

Cocoa Belt
The term describing the 20 degrees north and south of the equator where cocoa is found to grow.

Couverture is the name given to quality chocolate. Couverture chocolate does not replace the natural, expensive cocoa butter with cheap vegetable fats as is common in commercial chocolates. Cocoa butter melts at body temperature making it one of the sexiest foods on earth. It also means that couverture chocolate leaves a smooth, clean finish on the palate whereas vegetable fat (which has a higher melting point) leaves a cloying sensation. Couverture chocolate has a higher cocoa content which means there is less sugar and no artificial additives.

Tempering
Tempering is the succession of heating and cooling the chocolate to obtain crystallisation. Crystallisation is when the cocoa butter solidifies to produce a smooth glossy chocolate. If not tempered properly the finished chocolate will be dull and streaky with a tendency to bloom.

back to top

Home | About Us | Chocolate & Techniques | Stockists | Contact Us Copyright Cocoabean Chocolates