Taste Like Vinegar and Wine….

Cacao beans should be fermented after taking out of the pod. Not the usual wash-and-dry technique. Otherwise, it is not fit for chocolate making. However, cacao growers should not worry to much about it. There is still market for non-fermented beans. It can still be turned to tabliya. It hurts my ear every time I hear that kind of reasoning. It is like a good song that was awfully rendered. There was a time when a merchant was offering me washed-and-dried beans. I replied, I wanted it fermented. He answered no, fermented beans are for export while the non-fermented are for tabliya making. What was wrong with them?

I used to buy the non-fermented. I stopped when I established reliable suppliers of good beans. It is fact, fermentation is requirement for good tasting chocolate. Others often taste boring and most of the time have inherent soil taste. Is that what they call “earthy”? Perhaps, but what I am referring to is strong soil flavor. It is not pleasant.

Like what others do, I can buy separate set of washed-and-dried beans and save couple of pesos per kilogram. Then get rid of the minor problem I will mention later. However, the bigger problem lies with the storage. It is very attractive to weevils. A 50 kilogram sack often never last for two weeks. It becomes unfit for roasting after the said period. Weevils quickly get to unmanageable numbers which the customers are sure to return the product to us. We don’t like that incident to happen. So if we found unusable unfermented batch, it is automatically rejected and profit loss,  with portion of the capital.

Here is the minor problem. It maybe huge as there is very small portion of customer pool brave enough to complain. They said, why our tabliya tasted like wine and vinegar. Yes, if the one buying is accustomed to regular grocery cocoa powder. He is sure has a big question mark in his head right after sipping the first cup. The same is true for baking purposes, as the alkalized and non-alkalized cocoa mass should be used differently.

We are always explaining. We are using good fermented beans and never adding any except some sugar for our 70% bars (and other higher concentration bars). Our 100% bars and pure tabliya are nothing but cacao. We never claim it is minimally processed and hand made though. The processing from bean to bar or to tabliya requires several machinery and lasts for few days. It is never artisinal. By definition, it means “by hand”. Purely by hand is not impossible but highly inefficient.

There are several ways get rid of winey and vinegary taste. First is the choice of unfermented beans. Second. Roast it longer, refine longer and conch longer. Lengthy processing times remove most of the undesirable flavors but also bring the good with it. You’ll probably end up with flat and boring product. Third is alkalization. It is as simple as adding the nibs or mass with alkaline substance to get a neutral pH and getting rid of acid taste. Then, it allows greater extraction of butter and the remaining mass dissolves better in water.

Third. I think it is the most significant. Commercial makers and some micro to small scale processors are adding too much ingredients. To extent, cacao become a very small fraction of a whole. We love the concoction and often rejects the pure thing.

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.

Chocolate Siopao

My son said. This siopao is delicious specially the center filling. Strange! I never heard him praising siopao before. The variant my wife bought must be really well made. Hm! What the filling could be? Hotdog, sausage, tocino, or other sweet meat stuff. Kids these days can’t resist sweets. Continue reading “Chocolate Siopao”

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.

Toblerone and Spaces, A Lack of Chocolate.

Oh, a bar of Toblerone! It has been quite a while since I got a bite of the bitterly sweet treat. Never mind. It was not mine for the taking. Perhaps a gift from someone to someone he adored. Ever since I started making my own chocolate bar, I took my eyes off from brands not as bitter and pure as mine.

It turned out the bar was for all. It traveled from one hand to another until I got a piece. Thanks to generous sponsor. I was not expecting it so I considered myself lucky. There where so many people in the gathering. The chance of it reaching my hand was very low. It was like a lottery.

It could be a came back gift (pasalubong). When a relative or friend went abroad or out-of-town, it became a tradition to bring back something. It maybe food or thing. Usually, the first.  How I wished they brought uncommon thing. Something that we cannot get from nearby grocery store. This brand is so popular and widespread. Anyone can buy it whenever and almost wherever they like.

The shape was different from before. The chocolate brand Toblerone is known for its signature shape. Series of pyramid (some as many as toblerone letters) connected to each other. The connection point or canal serve as breaking point. Snap a piece, eat and save the rest for other or later.

That time  was different. The canal was somewhat extended. It seemed a great flood just occurred and ate away the ridges base. The bar had extended breaking point and smaller ridges. I only got a piece, but it was enough to draw conclusion.

a piece of shrank toblerone

I read news regarding this matter from internet sometime ago. Most consumers said, raising the price would be better than making the shape awful. Rather, make it smaller than increasing empty spaces.

As for me. It was awkward looking. A huge quality drop. Price increase is the way to go. However, if they are inclined toward lower market bracket, the decision would be a tough. When the cost of production increased, the manufacturer may increase the selling price, add a filler ingredient, replace the current with cheaper alternative, or, decrease the weight which would also result in size shrink.  However, the company, chose to decreased the weight without noticeable change in packaging size.  Someone might called it cheating when it was actually not. If the weight was not properly declared, then that is cheating.

They maintained the taste quality. I assumed.

According to speculations, the sudden increase of spaces was due to worldwide deficit in cacao production. A rather straightforward thinking of cacao farmers, cocoa traders and advocate. Price increase, due to low supply and high demand, could be easily justified. Government authorities and NGO’s  are using data like this for convincing stakeholders to venture into cacao farming. Replacing some to completely eradicating their current poorly performing crops.  Only to find out in the end that they cannot profit much either.  Project ends and the support ends. New project is created and the cycle continues.

 

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.

The Melanger Now Runs on Solar Energy

As usual, like other electronic items I ordered, the solar panel came in a basic kit. Enough to get me started going off grid. I love to do the installation myself and also saving some labor. Imagine, the installation fee was 30% of kit cost.

It took me a day of testing all of the components integrity. Powering a LED bulb on second day. Running a laptop and 3D printer on third day. Then my ultimate goal on the fourth day. Running the chocolate melanger. It powered up nice and smooth.

At the moment we already depleted our cacao stock. I run the melanger empty for only 30 minutes. I could only run that long because running it on empty load is not ideal. I am expecting at least full eight hours run on good sunny days and five hours extension at night. Testing other production equipment will follow.

I think I should put on the product label something like this, “Made using renewable energy source, solar electricity”.

Having solar power system is not only about savings. It gives you the option to continue regular manufacturing process during line power outage. Because you own one, you never completely depends on local electric provider.

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.

Raw Chocolate… IMO

The is no such thing as raw chocolate. On the contrary, there is. The wet cacao beans fresh from pod are are the purest and raw chocolate. However, it couldn’t be eaten as is. It need to undergo several lengthy processes to improved palatability.

The process starts as soon as the cocoa pod is cut open.

First is fermentation. With the help of microorganisms and wet condition. The beans ferment, bean flavor develops and temperature reaches to about 50 C. It is 10 degrees above to what raw chocolate makers process claim. It is possible to control the temperature down to this point, but I bet most chocolate makers can’t do it.

A rare cacao variety called criollo never needs fermentation. Other variety must.

Drying. Bean moisture should be dropped down to acceptable level as soon as possible. About seven percent. Else, unwanted incidents might happen. Over fermentation and mold growth. According to my friend, drying period is about five to seven days. The first two days are critical. If the sun never shines, they dry it in oven at about 70C. Sunshine temp rarely goes 40 but oven drying temp is 30 degrees higher.

Roasting. Temperature from 100 to 150 C, time of 5 to 45 minutes, depending on resource and processor. Raw chocolate makers skip this step. The step essential to kill harmful microorganisms. If we trace back where the beans came from. Then we don’t need to ask if it contains bacteria. We really need to do something to get rid of it.

Refining/Conching. Another process that can be temperature controlled. In my own experience, my own melanger only reaches a max temperature of 50C. Measures such as lower rotation speed and cooling system can be implemented to lower the heat down to 40C. Indeed, but the stone melanger runs for 24 hours to 3 days. How can we still claim it is raw when it runs in between stones for that length.

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.