Old Chocolate Molding Adventures

Cocoa Balls | The Mortar and Pestle Method

No manual / electric grinder and molder to make cacoa tablets. Stop whining! Mortar and pestle will do its best to get the job done.

1) Prepare the cacoa nibs. See How to Make Native Chocolate Tabliya for procedure.

2) Place the cocoa nibs in a small ordinary frying pan. Roast for about 15 minutes to awaken the cocoa oil. The term “tulog or sleeping” is a Filipino jargon to oil in its solid state, “gising or awake” when in liquid form. Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature. Heating will melt it and facilitate the cocao making process later.

freshly roasted cocoa nibs

3) Get the mortar and pestle. The size of this tool will determine how fast you can make cacoa balls. Using a small kitchen type probably takes 15 to 30 minutes per two inches diameter ball. The large lusong – about few minutes only. Use the larger for making hundreds of balls.

4) Measure enough cocoa nibs and place it in. Then pound with all might to a gummy consistency. Longer pounding time will create finer and more liquid cacoa. Nibs can be pounded right away without re-heating. The heat produce by collision is enough to melt the butter – longer pounding time and finer particles.

pound to liquor

pressing in palm two

5) Scoop out the gummy cocoa and press it in palm several times. Roll it in between palms for final touch.

freshly made cocoa balls

This was the old fashioned way of making chocolate before the sophisticated equipment were invented. It usually result to products of inconsistent quality. The carahay roasting and mortar and pestle method of grinding are hard to control.

The Hard To Use Tabliya Molder

It is a two parts stainless steel tool. The first part is a round steel bar with a circle plate welded perpendicularly on tip. The second part consists of two hollow tubes connected by a holed plate. The larger tube accommodates the circle plate while the smaller tube fits the round steel bar.

tabliya molder separated

Too obvious that it is a pulvoron molder. A thick and out of this world pulvoron. Inserting another round tube in between parts allows molding of thinner product.

It was constructed to make native chocolate tablets – tabliya, not pulvoron. Using it is somewhat tricky. It requires practice and a lot of patience.

tabliya molder assembled

How to use…

1) Grind cocoa nibs to liquor form. Grind several times until thin and not too grainy.

2) Allow the liquor to cool and reach gummy consistency. Cooling takes one to three days depending on weather condition. Three days during hot summer and one during cold “ber” months.

3) Add one part sugar for every part gummy cacoa liquor. Mix well.

4) Assemble the molder. Hold it with right hand. Strike it down to mixture – just like molding pulvoron. It should be well filled.

5) Raise the molder and scrape the excess with a sharp knife. Point it toward the tray. Hold the large hollow tube with left hand then rotate push the round steel bar with the right hand.

6) You have just successfully made one cacao tablet. Repeat molding to make more.

Sounds easy? Nope! As I said before, it requires practice and lots of patience.


1) Gummy texture is a subjective term. A gummy for me might be too fluid for you and too hard for him. Mixing sugar with not so gummy cocoa liquor will result to soft mixture. It is hard to mold. Every tablet placed on tray has the tendency to spread. Mixing sugar when the liquor is too hard makes it almost impossible to form.

2) Too much pressure should not be exerted when molding. Friction produce has the tendency to liquefy it. The same goes to mixing, prolonged mixing periods will melt it.

3) Hot weather condition will melt the recently formed tablets. On the other hand, cold weather will harden it in the middle of molding session.

4) Uneven thickness and weight. The result of uneven pressure, difference in depth of separate molders, improper molding technique and liquor texture.

Speeding Up The Production of Native Chocolate Tabliya

I have been working on this concept for considerable time now. I have been skipping days of blogging work to make this into reality. There was no problem if I have the hefty cash. It will be as easy as asking the experts to do it for me. It was not the case so I have to do the hard work myself. I was using the least amount of money possible plus a lengthy time of thinking and experimentation.

The project is a 140 mm long native chocolate, 36 mm diameter. A ten tablets native chocolate connected to each other via narrow center. If the consumer needs just one piece, he could snap if off easily with bare hand. Same is true if he needs two, three or more.

It maybe of no big deal to consumer side but will be very convenient on manufacturer. Versus a customized polvoron type molder for tablea.

1) It will greatly increase production speed using minimal man labor. Speedier production means bigger volumes and more customers served. It is always a pain when customers order beyond our low production capacity. Hiring labor is always an option but tend to defeat the item number “2”.

2) Every chocolate package and every tablea piece will be of uniform size. Chocolate hardness and texture will be consistent. If the mass is moulded too soft, it gets shorter and wider. If too hard, just the right height but tend to crumble.

The standard of chocolate molding is pouring it in pre-made chocolate molds. However, there is no available shape for my requirement. Asking a mould manufacturer for a customized version is going to cost me a fortune.

I’ll be posting an update once I get it done. This one is a crude prototype. I can surely make it better with few more experiments.


This experiment was a failure. I stopped it and worked for others.

Getting Rid of the Choco Taktak Method

The pulvoron molder as its name implies is intended for making crumbly, tablet-like pulvoron. On the other hand, it could be successfully used for making chocolate tablets, the tabliya. The warm, fluid cocoa liquor that should be poured on appropriate molder for shaping and hardening could be shaped and hardened with a polvoron molder if the worker knows the proper way to do it.

The trick is to wait until the liquor is on the verge of hardening. Mold it quickly and carefully while at this state. A pretty easy trick that has several drawbacks. Shaping it too soon may result to irregular shape tablets (fluid flows). Irregularities are less attractive and make packing hard and ugly. Shaping it too late makes the work slow and difficult. It needs extra effort to force the hardening cocoa into the molder. And, if it gets too solid, a short heating is necessary to make it liquid again.

I tried the solidify and cut method before but it never gave me nice results. A bad looking irregular cut. Not to mention it was difficult and unsanitary. A motorized cutting wheel generates heat that melts the chocolate.

I think I should stick to the long proven technology, the chocolate mold. It was really my first choice but couldn’t find any suitable shape I like. A plain tablet or a plain square. All there were in chocolate store were fun shapes for the liking of kids. I bought ten pieces of cube ice mold before but have never used them. I was afraid that when production grows, I may not able to find more to increase output accordingly.

Well, today is different! I can now make my very own molder with the help of 3D CAD program, 3D printers and mold making silicone. I will first try molding native choco on ice tray I bought before. Then make my own mold as soon as customers accept it.

tabliya in ice cube tray

I am now using polycarbonate and silicone mold. The two work well combined with the good knowledge of tempering. I will stick to it and perhaps mechanize it in the future.

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.

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