Chocolate Maker's Series-Making Chocolate Through Stone Grinding
Posted by Jeff Stern on July 31, 2017
For the next several weeks we'll be covering certain aspects of chocolate making in depth. To start, we're looking at the processes and machinery that produce finished chocolate.
Three different types of processes with different machines can produce finished chocolate. Today we'll discuss one of the main processes, stone grinding, and the machinery involved.
The route most small craft makers use today is using a stone grinder, aka the melangeur. This a simple machine in which two granite stones, each shaped like a donut, run against each other for several hours, grinding down processed nibs.
Through the grinding process and the heat generated, the nibs are liquified, sugar is added, and finished chocolate is removed after several hours to several days. It is a one machine process. The grinding unit can be as large as the one seen below, or as small as a tabletop unit that produces just a few pounds of chocolate.
Once the nibs have been finely ground with sugar, many makers continue to simply grind for additional time to release "off" flavors from the chocolate. Most if not all cocoa beans contain certain flavors that are reduced or removed to a degree through processing.
By grinding the chocolate in a stone grinder, chocolate makers are performing a substitute or surrogate method for conching. Conching is done in different machinery that is more precisely dedicated to enhancing flavor and texture in chocolate. Nonetheless, a fairly high quality chocolate can be produced using stone grinders alone.
In later posts, we'll discuss more of the technical differences between stone grinding and more advanced technologies like roller refining and conching.