Cocoa pods are cut from the tree when they’re bright yellow, after growing for a period of four to five months. The pod on the left is ripe; the pod on the right, unripe.
Cocoa pulp, the juicy white membrane surrounding each seed, is edible. Hotel Chocolat’s St. Lucia location restaurant Boucan makes a fizzy sweet-tart cacao Bellini cocktail using the meringue-like pulp.
After being removed from the pod, cocoa beans are fermented for up to a week and sun-dried for up to two weeks. To make chocolate, they are then roasted and winnowed, which removes the shell. The resulting pieces are called cocoa nibs.
In the first step of forming the chocolate bar, cocoa nibs are ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.
Once finely ground, the cocoa nibs are ready to become "chocolate liquor."
Cocoa butter, the fatty solids obtained from whole cocoa beans, is added.
With the addition of cocoa butter, the "chocolate liquor" achieves a silky, smooth texture.
Confectioners' sugar is added to sweeten the still bitter mixture and smooth the texture further.
Lastly, the sweetened chocolate liquor is poured into a pastry bag and piped into a mold.
After chilling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, the finished bar is ready to eat.