From Bean to Chocolate Bar ~ Experience American Craft Chocolate



The Wallflower Production Process

1. When the dried cacao beans arrive at Wallflower Chocolate they are first cleaned to remove any debris. Next, the beans are roasted to darken the color and to further bring out the flavor characteristics of the cacao. The beans can be roasted at different temperatures and for different lengths of time, depending on different variables such as humidity, size of the beans, and the desired flavor. After roasting, the beans are "winnowed" to remove the shells from around the bean, leaving only the roasted cocoa nib, which is the key ingredient for making chocolate.

2. After roasting and winnowing, the cocoa nibs are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor or cocoa mass. Despite the name, chocolate liquor has absolutely no alcoholic content.

3. Once the beans are processed into chocolate liquor, the manufacturing of finished products can begin. To make dark chocolate bars, Wallflower Chocolate uses only two ingredients, the cocoa bean itself and organic cane sugar.These ingredients are then refined. This requires the particle size of the ingredients to be refined to such a small size that they cannot be felt by the human tongue, giving the chocolate much of its smooth texture. This mixture is then Conched, or mixed and aerated at high temperatures in a machine called a Melanger. This process thoroughly blends the ingredients, taking out some of the acidity of the cocoa and further developing the flavors that will appear in the final bar.

Traditionally, conching has been an extended process of mixing the ingredients for long periods of time, often for days. We are proud to say that Wallflower Chocolate does not use soy lecithin in any of our products. Instead, our bars are crafted using extended conching for a period of 72 hours or more hours depending on the bar. It is our belief that this method creates a superior chocolate that is both incredibly smooth and full of well balanced flavors.

4. After the conching is complete, the chocolate is then "tempered" through a slow, stepped decrease in temperature. During this process, the chocolate is warmed, then cooled and warmed once again until it reaches the correct temperature, creating an even crystallization of the ingredients throughout the chocolate. If done well, tempering is what gives the chocolate its smooth texture and snap when broken. After the chocolate is properly tempered, it is ready for additional ingredient inclusions such as almonds, coffee beans, or sea salt. The chocolate is then poured into molds, which form the shape of the bar. The chocolate cools until it becomes solid and is then removed from the molds as chocolate bars. Once the bars are cooled, they are wrapped in their inner wrapper to keep the chocolate fresh for as long as 12-24 months. They are then labeled, packed in cases and stacked ready to be shipped to fulfill our orders.

5. We want to make sure Wallflower Chocolate which leaves our kitchen is of the highest quality. Our Pro Tasting Team meets bi-weekly for intense product evaluation. The  Pro Tasting Team is a hand-picked group of chocolate lovers, aficionados often subjected to blind tasting's of Wallflower Chocolate and some of our more respected chocolate makers. The team will  write a descriptive analysis of a product's aromas, flavors, aftertaste, mouth-feel, and so on, using a special "intensity" scoring system. Oh, what a tough job, but someone has to do it. 

To simplify, here is the process simply:

 

THE BEAN-TO-BAR PROCESS

Sorting removing irregular, bad looking beans and anything that isn’t a cocoa bean
Roasting

important step to develop and release flavors. Also needed to loosen the thin outer shell from the inner nib.

Winnowing

removing the shell from the nib

Grinding

initial step of breaking down the solid nibs into a thick paste

Refining

breaking down the particles into a smaller size that is less detectable in the mouth

Mixing

adding in sugar and other ingredients during the refining process

Conche

a continuation of the refining process that ensures solid particles are completely covered with cocoa butter and continued movement and aeration over time reduces moisture and undesirable flavors. However, there is also risk of overconching and removing desirable flavors.

Aging

allowing the chocolate to sit and develop flavors before tempering

Temper

stabilize the mix of the cocoa butter crystals with the solids to prevent them from separating and creating proper melting in the mouth.

Molding

pouring the chocolate into molds and allowing to cool

Wrap

proper packaging of the finished chocolate will ensure it is kept safe from outside aromas.  Choosing packaging that is odor free is important as well.