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I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

From Cacao Nibs to Handmade Designer Chocolate

 From Cacao Nibs to Handmade Designer Chocolate

Courtesy of anne Baldekowski


Anne Baldekowski is a culinary instructor at Cabrillo, which gives her ample opportunity to share the alchemy of baking and to sample her students’ creations.  While much of her work with her class is fairly routine, there are a few unique lessons that are both memorable and pleasurable.  Turning raw cacao nibs into artful, smooth and creamy handmade chocolate confections is one of those special occasions where everyone shares the “wow” moment.   

You can learn more about Anne Baldekowski here:  

You can also contact Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA to learn more about their excellent culinary program.
This following is a short visual presentation of how raw cacao is processed and used in handmade chocolate.
1) To begin the process, the pieces of raw cacao must be roasted. Once the pieces are ground they are called nibs.  Here is a bowl of freshly roasted and ground cacao nibs.

2) Next, the roasted cacao nibs are poured into a Champion juicer and out comes chocolate liquor. The alchemical transformation has begun!


3) The granite rollers, in the Santha Wet Grinder, refine the cacao. In the grinder are the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, a vanilla bean, and lecithin, which acts as an emulsifier.


 4) Patiently waiting for the chocolate to develop in flavor and for the cacao particles to minimize. It took 36 hours for refining this particular batch of cacao.  This is the conching process and even in the big industrial facilities, conching may take days.








5) tempering the chocolate. Once the chocolate has the flavor profile you are looking for it must be tempered to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals. Here I am using a Choco-Vision tempering m






6) After pouring the tempered chocolate into molds the chocolate must be cooled for easy release from the molds.






7) An array of hand made chocolates. Some of the chocolate molds were dusted with edible gold power to give them a little sparkle. I sprinkled so

me cacao nibs into some of the molds to give a little crunch to this very dark fruity chocolate.


Patricia Rain
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