I was delighted at the opportunity to soak up the skills and inspiration of Olivier Nicod on a Bean to Bar course recently.
We processed chocolate directly from the bean, and I was very impressed at the quality of the end product considering we weren't using large processing equipment!
Olivier's passion and knowledge was incredible, and really opened my mind to 'being at one' with the chocolate being produced, connecting not only to the physical aspects of it like touch, smell and taste, but to appreciate the origins, culture and cultivation.
The 4 different beans we had the joy of processing to 70% chocolate were Trinitario beans from:
First of all we checked through the beans for any foreign material like stones, and then put them on trays for roasting.
Once roasted in the oven, they were left to cool, and we then cracked them to release the husk.
We used an air blower to blow off the husks (took a long time!) and we could begin to see the gorgeous dark shine of the nib emerging.
We ground sugar to a powder in a liquidiser and the nibs were ground to a paste afterwards (still pretty gritty at this stage). The cocoa paste and sugar (with a little soy lecithin and extra cocoa butter) were transferred to a melanger, where the stone rollers did their work overnight while we slept.
In the morning, the aroma of chocolate was overwhelming! We could see that the melanger had made the chocolate very smooth (click here to see video in Instagram) and at this stage we could really taste the difference between the beans used.
Once transferred to a chocolate holding unit, it was time for tempering it on the granite slab, a technique I'd only done on a small scale, so it was great to using a very large slab for a change!
Some of the tempered chocolate was then combined with roasted ground nuts to make a delicious Gianduja, which was encased within our specific chocolate bar casings. The rest was made in to solid bars...so incredibly taste filled that they didn't need any extra additions!
We had a tasting session, and here is a description of what I experienced (see image below):
Marañón Peru: banana notes, smoky, earthy, liquorice, raisin, smooth (top left)
Chililique Peru: Citrus, passion fruit, tanginess, floral, smooth (top right)
Ambanja Madagascar: red wine, cherry, berry, smooth (bottom right)
Huila Columbia: milky flavour (but no milk added!), caramel, biscuit, smooth (bottom left)
I look forward to using the confidence gained in experimenting with my own chocolate combinations in the future, and my aim is to create my very own one off signature bean to bar Taystful chocolate!