I am not a fan. A client insisted on making milk chocolate. I have no choice but include it in recipe list. Addition of milk and sugar at certain point needs a balance of extra butter. Maker may extract his own, buy from other source or use a suitable replacement. They insist on a sweeter blend so extra cocoa butter is necessary.
It has a weird smell not inherent to cocao. The flavor is bland. Not suggestive of cacao either. I haven’t produced cocoa butter yet. I occasionally gather and taste floating cocoa butter on stored cocoa mass. That is how I can compare.
I make chocolates. The one and two ingredients variants. Pure refined cacao bar and 70% plus sugar. I am considering the idea of extracting cocoa butter in-house. Add extra butter to products. Then what about the left over cake. Sell it as cocoa powder? I haven’t convinced myself that it is high quality product worth selling.
Note : In cocoa industry, the leftover of cocoa pressing is called “cake”. It is dry and crumbly. Easier to pulverize than nibs with intact butter.
Cacao has typical acidity of 5 to 6. True and evident for fermented beans. Anyone can tell it easily by eating raw and roasted beans. No need for high precision equipment and technical know how. Even the acidity levels can be estimated thru taste buds and score sheet.
A pH meter can be purchase for relatively cheap cost though. No need to do the guess work if your senses are not keen enough. Or, you are deligating the task to someone else. We have different levels of sensitivity. Standard mode of measurement is still necessary for long term.
Cacao bean, by nature, is not acidic. I have been working on fermented and unfermented for years. I can confidently assure that the latter is by no means acidic. It taste bitter, astringent and unpleasant. Roasting and subsequent processing changes flavor but I cannot say it is toward the better. It is bad before and after. Addition of sugar and milk only mask, not improve.
Fermented on the other hand, taste good in its raw form. It improves dramatically during processing. It can stand on its own without the addition of any. Small percentage of sugar usually suffice to those who cannot appreciate.
They say Criollo possesses great flavor. No need fermentation to unleashed its potential. However, it is low producer and susceptible to pests and diseases. Unattractive to farmers. Hybrid varities are resistant and high yielding. Their flavor profiles are not great as tradeoffs. Fermentation helps combat this weakness. It improves flavor but contributes acidity as well.
Another problem but there are always solutions. Roasting, refining and conching tame acidity but I guessed not enough. The products we are selling are still sour even after long hours of processing times. We learnt to live by it and many customers followed. Others who cannot, opt for unfermented produce and highly processed products with lots of ingredients. Too many that cacao itself became a small portion of the whole. That is not chocolate .. imo.
There exist a basic chemistry for neutralizing acidity. Addition of enough alkaline compound turns the pH level to 7. As for cacao, they use potassium carbonate for the so called dutch processing. It has pH 11. Highly corrosive substance. It is safe? Maybe not!
If you are getting butter from external source. The chances of it coming from dutch processing is very high. The manufacturer wants the by-product to be accepted by majority. They can sell it with ease. Alkalization also maximize cocoa butter yield. With a very expensive product, every drop counts. They are extracting every ounce they can press. Cocoa butter has high demand because of pharmaceutical and beauty industry. Perhaps your favorite lipstick has cocoa butter as base.
Here is the scenario. Large chocolate companies extract butter from cacao beans. Sell the butter to other companies or make their own beauty products line. For the left-over, the cocoa cake. They are pulverized and sent to baking industry. Some are clever enough to add butter replacement, sugar, milk and other additives. Sold it as if it is the real chocolate in the end.
There are another bad things. With pH above 7, phytonutrients mostly breaks down in high temperature environment. Chocolate is healthy, but too much processing void this claim. Sugar is poison and milk is found binding cacao phytonutrients.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.