The Russian “Roth Front”, the Belgian “Leonidas”, the Belarusian “Bolshevichka”, Swiss or French chocolate cookers can share the most sophisticated secrets of making handmade chocolate. (Unless, of course, the prescription is not classified) From adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to add a piquant taste to replacing sugar with xylitol for diabetics. However, none of them will tell you about the percentage of chitin, which appears in the drums for the processing of cocoa beans after a long journey in the holds from a distant tropical homeland.

In the warehouse and in the hold of the ship, the future chocolate lives like this.
In the warehouse and in the hold of the ship, the future chocolate lives like this.
Indeed, “handmade” with chocolate occurs only in his homeland. Here, the hands of “chocolatiers” accompany the cocoa beans from the fruit on the tree to the finished tile or blank for future culinary manipulations.

“Chocolate Bunny” – Eduardo asked to call him that way – starts his day at five in the morning so that by noon when the tourists wake up, be with a basket of “handmade” chocolate on the beach or in a Belgian confectionery here in the north of the Dominican Republic. In the “mecca” of kite surfers and just surfers, a small village on the Atlantic called Cabarete.

Raw cocoa beans taste like nothing to do with chocolate.
Raw cocoa beans taste like nothing to do with chocolate.

In his small house in one of the many villages surrounding the tourist center, he has everything necessary for chocolate production: a plate on liquefied propane, boilers, a cutting table, a small canopy and a motorcycle.

Handicraft production is the “business” of many Dominicans in the north: the production of hand-made ornaments, beads; processing of local “blue amber”, coconut oil, fishing, sugar cane and many other things that can interest tourists.

By the way, extraneous smells are a scourge of the cocoa and chocolate industry. There are thousands of them – from the smell of mold, which hit some of the beans, to the smell of the smoke that they soaked up during drying. And these smells remain in the final product after any, even the most thorough processing of the raw materials.

The sour taste of the beans can be due to the fact that they have been wrongly fermented, the bitterness, which, in general, is inherent in cocoa beans, must also have a measure; excess bitterness and astringent taste – evidence that the beans were harvested unripe or, again, poorly fermented. In addition, the beans, like chocolate, are used to absorb all the smells coming from the neighbors in storage and transportation (for example, the aromas of rubber and gasoline). So keeping cocoa beans in a “commodity state” is a very, very difficult task.

It turns out that a cocoa tree that does not ripen anywhere except in a suffocating tropical heat, however, does not endure direct sunlight!

This is the legacy of the wild ancestors of cocoa, which grew in the Amazonian jungle in the shadow of other, more photophilous trees. Therefore, on the plantations, the cocoa trees have to be shaded. This is especially important for young seedlings, the future fate of which for many years is determined by whether they received a life-giving shade in the first years of their life or not. Unshadowed trees are more sick and less resistant to attacks by insects and other pests, and they have enough cocoa.

The cocoa tree begins to bear fruit 4 years after planting, relative to 6-7 years in the past, the fruiting term lasts up to 40 years. Although the trees bear fruit almost the whole year, two crops are harvested: the main and intermediate. The diameter of the fruit of cocoa is about 10-15 cm, and the length is about 25 cm. The cocoa fruit consists of a shell 15-20 mm thick and reddish-yellow pulp, inside which are arranged in five rows of 30-50 almond-shaped seeds (beans) about 2.5 cm each. After fermentation and drying from one pod, about 40 g of beans can be obtained, i.e., respectively, 1 bob weighs about 1 gram.

The ripe fruit looks like a brown light bulb.
The ripe fruit looks like a brown light bulb.

To obtain a good crop of cocoa beans, the air temperature should be in the range of 20 to 30 degrees C, the level of precipitation should be uniform throughout the year and not fall below 100 cm; trees should be protected from strong winds. they have a weak root system, grow on fertile, loose soil in the shade of other, higher trees. Fruits of cocoa are attached directly to the trunk and thick branches.

These are young cocoa-trees.
These are young cocoa-trees.
In botany, the “chocolate tree” was named “Theobroma cocoa”, which means “food of the gods”, this name was given to the plant in 1753 by the famous scientist Karl Linnaeus. The Aztecs considered cocoa to be the most beautiful “paradise tree” and worshiped it as before a deity.

The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao L. from the family Sterculiaceae) is usually not a large plant 4 to 8 meters high. Has a straight trunk, a light coffee-colored bark and almost white wood. The fruit of the tree contains from 30 to 40 grains, which after drying and fermentation and turn into known cocoa beans.

"Pods" and beans
“Pods” and beans

The cocoa trees are planted in rows at a distance of 3 meters from each other. Only one hectare, depending on the relief and fertility of the land, is planted from 950 to 1330 trees.

Procurement of land for seedlings.
Procurement of land for seedlings.

Modern methods of breeding allowed the removal of trees up to 3 m in height, which greatly facilitated the harvesting, which consists in cutting ripe fruits from the tree, opening them with a large knife (machete) and extracting seeds (beans).

That, in fact, the process itself.
That, in fact, the process itself.

Cocoa beans, consist of four parts: shells (cocoa shells), kernels, sprouts and endosperm. A good healthy tree can give up to 1.5 kg of beans per year.

The seeds extracted from the fruit pulp have a pronounced bitter astringent taste and a grayish-violet color on the fracture. They do not have the flavor and aromatic properties characteristic of chocolate and cocoa powder. In this form they can not be used for the preparation of chocolate products.

Does not look like chocolate, right?
Does not look like chocolate, right?
In general, there are 2 main types of cocoa beans: Criollo and Forastero. Criollo beans are slightly colored and have a moderate nutty taste. Forastero beans are dark brown, with a strong smell, slightly bitter and have a higher fat content compared to Criollo beans. Most of the world’s harvest is beans of the Forastero type, because plants of this species are able to withstand more severe climatic conditions. Each species has its own specific physical and chemical characteristics, which complement each other when the beans are mixed.

Cutting "pods"
Cutting “pods”

At the site of growth, all cocoa beans are divided into three groups: African, American and Asian. Often the name of one or another type of cocoa beans coincides with the name of the country or region where they are cultivated. So, to African carry such grades, as: Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, etc .; to the American: Cuba, Bahia, Grenada, Arriba (Ecuador), Trinidad and others; to Asian: Java, Ceylon, and others.

In the warehouse of "noble" varieties.
In the warehouse of “noble” varieties.
By their qualitative characteristics, all cocoa beans are divided into two groups: consumer and noble. The first differ strongly pronounced bitter, tart and sour taste. These include all African varieties and the American variety Bahia (Brazil). Noble varieties have a pronounced taste and pleasant aroma.

A few elite varieties.
A few elite varieties.

These include individual American, primarily growing in Ecuador, the Arriba variety and some Asian varieties. Cocoa beans contain tannic substances that give beans and chocolate products a bitter, astringent and tart taste.

Components of real chocolate (not to be confused with what is sold in stores!) Help in the prevention of diabetes, heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases. But for this, chocolate must be real and bitter. And it is not enough: the specialists state that chocolate products produced today on a large scale by confectionery factories: tiles, bars and sweets, unfortunately, have little to do with real chocolate.

Products manufactured by large companies, as a mandatory requirement, must have a long shelf life, and, in addition, they must be inexpensive. This means that they are manufactured using cheap ingredients and preservatives.

For 1 kg of chocolate we will need:
350 g of cocoa beans (dried)
200 g of cocoa butter
500 g of powdered sugar or crystalline granulated sugar

1. Fry and grind the cocoa beans.

Beans fry, stirring, on the stove until the skin is covered with cracks and begins to lag behind the grain. The frying pan should be shaken periodically, to evenly warm the beans. As soon as the beans warm up enough to hear the crack carefully (Pts hot!) Hands to separate the grain from the pelts. Grain grind into a fine powder, preferably on an electric mill. The thinner the grind, the better the quality of chocolate (in the industrial grind, the particles reach 25 thousand millimeters).

2. Mix and heat ingredients.

Fried and ground beans of cocoa beans mixed with 200 g of cocoa butter, 500 g of powdered sugar and with constant stirring, heat to 50 degrees Celsius (NOT ABOVE, otherwise the sugar powder will lump).

When roasting, an important ingredient is the soul and attention of the master.
When roasting, an important ingredient is the soul and attention of the master.


To interfere long and assiduously, in industrial production the mass remains in motion (it is concocted) to 36 hours. Do not add water or any other liquid: if the mass is dense, you can add 1 teaspoon of cocoa butter.

3. Poor on the molds.

Cool the chocolate to 29 degrees and pour another warm mass on the molds, condemn it in the fridge, in about 30 minutes you can get ready-made solid chocolate from the molds.

Oils and fermentation is determined by touch.
Oils and fermentation is determined by touch.

Collecting cocoa fruits – hard work, almost indestructible mechanization. Fruits of melons are removed from trees and neatly chopped along, taking out precious seeds (cocoa beans), for which once it was possible to buy a strong slave, after which … ..

After most often, these beans are dumped together with the remains of the pulp in a heap and are waiting for the chemical process, called the beautiful word “fermentation”, to begin, and simply put the flesh to rot.

But fermentation is already a technology, and as in any technology it has its own approaches – how to put rotten precious seeds.

In small farms, just pour it all together into a pile and cover with banana leaves to make it rotten. In the heap, there may be 25 and 2500 kilograms of pulp and pulp mixture. On average, such fermentation lasts about five days. In the middle of this period, the heap is necessarily mixed.

Inspection and selection. Only the best go to chocolate.
Inspection and selection. Only the best go to chocolate.

As in the manufacture of other particularly valuable products, in the production of cocoa there is a tasting institute. Testing is usually carried out by a team of 5 -10 qualified experts who purge either mashed cocoa beans or already made of them chocolate.
The advantage of the first method is that it makes it possible to evaluate the taste of the beans themselves, without the admixtures of cocoa butter, sugar and milk entering into the chocolate.

The parameters for testing are clearly defined by the International Cocoa Organization and include, among others, the strength of the flavor of cocoa or chocolate, residual acidity, bitterness, astringency, the presence of foreign odors, and the like.

We collect a backpack - and on the beach to the client!
We collect a backpack – and on the beach to the client!


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