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Part 2: From Cacao Beans to Chocolate

Welcome back to the journey of cacao beans! Let’s continue.

Step 4: Roasting

Image Credit Source: Bühler Barth GmbH

There are two types of Roasting; Bean Roasting and Nib Roasting:

Bean Roasting The actual roasting time depends on whether the end use is for cacao or chocolate. During roasting, the cacao beans darken to a rich, brown colour and acquire their characteristic chocolate flavour and aroma. This flavor however actually starts to develop during fermentation. The heat also results in the melting of fats in the husk and beans. As dried cacao beans contain about ten percent of moisture, water in the bean vaporize due to the heat and rushes to the surface of the bean causing the husk to blow up like a small balloon. These reactions significantly loosen the husk from the bean or even removing the husk in this process.

Nib Roasting Similarly to bean roasting, the process starts with a treatment of cocoa beans with a micronizer. This is to separate the husk from the beans. The beans would then go through a bean breaker to break the bean into smaller nibs .After which, the nibs would undergo winnowing to blow off any remaining husk and collect the nibs. The nibs are then fed to the roaster after undergoing drying.

Step 5: Winnowing and Grinding After bean roasting, the husk may still surrounds the bean after the reactions caused by roasting. In order to remove the husk, the beans have to be broken. This can be done by dropping the beans through a series of rollers. The rollers would crush the beans and breaking the beans and brittle husk into pieces. There would be pieces of mixed cacao bean nibs and broken husk in the end. These mixture would go through winnowing to blow off the husk and able us to collect just the nibs.

The freed cacao bean nibs are then crushed in mills that operate at high speed. The resulting paste-like mixture is chocolate liquor or cacao mass. After which depending on the desired end product, cacao mass will be put through a hydraulic press. Under immerse pressure, cocoa butter would separate from the mass. The remaining cocoa cake can be crushed into cocoa powder

Alkalization (Only For Cocoa Powder) In order to produce different hue of cocoa powder, cocoa nibs are washed with a potassium carbonate solution, and this can neutralizes cocoa's acidity to a pH of 7 above. Although all cocoa powders can vary in colour from light reddish brown to a richer dark brown, the alkalization process gives the powder a noticeably darker hue. Alkalized cocoa powder also has a smoother and mellower flavour that is often associated with earthy woody notes.

Step 6: Mixing & Pre Refining (2-Roll & 5-Roll)

Different cacao mass are custom blended according to recipe requirements during this process. Sugar and milk powder (only for milk chocolate and white chocolate) are added to the cacao mass as well.

Step 7: Refining Aalst Chocolate is equipped with a 2-Roll & 5-Roll Refining System to treat the mixture of cacao mass, sugar and sometimes milk powder. At this stage the mixture is sheared into a smaller particle size (about 30 microns). It is important to maintain this size. If the particles are too large it will result in a coarse mouth-feel. Too fine, and the chocolate particles may result in stickiness on the palate.

Step 8: Conching This is a crucial stage of chocolate making. Conching is a process of intense mixing and agitating of heated liquid chocolate in machines called conches. Conching removes moisture, enhance aroma and improves viscosity. The duration to conch our chocolate depends on recipe requirement. During this stage, extra cocoa butter, emulsifiers and flavourings are added to liquefy the mixture.

Step 9: Tempering & Moulding After conching, the liquid chocolates are pumped into tempering machines before moulding into the required shapes (Buttons, blocks, chips etc.). Tempering is the process of warming chocolate, mixing it to a perfect consistency and then cooling it with carefully controlled mixing. This ensures that the chocolate harden into a specific crystalline pattern, which maintains the sheen and texture for a long time.

Step 10: Packing and Shipping

Our products are packed into individual sealed packs and cartons according to the customers ‘purchase orders and ready to ship from our Singapore production facility.

The products can reach the port within 1 day. Timing counts when shipping perishable food such as chocolate so speed is of the essence.

For over 10 years, we have been delivering our trusted service and products from Singapore to over 45 countries around the globe.

All these ten processes are essential in creating Aalst’s top quality chocolates. The strict quality assurance, hard work and involvement of all personnel are what makes Aalst Chocolate special. Be sure to stay tuned to our blog to gain more in-depth knowledge about Chocolate!

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