Chocolate From Tree to Bar at Rabot Estate, St. Lucia (Slideshow)
1. First, harvest ripe cocoa pods
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.
2. Extract the cocoa seeds from the cocoa pulp
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.
3. Ferment, dry, and roast the cocoa beans
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.
4. Grind the beans with a mortar and pestle
In the first step of forming the chocolate bar, cocoa nibs are ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.
5. Achieve a finely ground cocoa paste
Once finely ground, the cocoa nibs are ready to become "chocolate liquor."
6. Add cocoa butter
Cocoa butter, the fatty solids obtained from whole cocoa beans, is added.
7. Mix the nibs with the butter until smooth
With the addition of cocoa butter, the "chocolate liquor" achieves a silky, smooth texture.
8. Add confectioners' sugar
Confectioners' sugar is added to sweeten the still bitter mixture and smooth the texture further.
9. Pipe the chocolate into a mold
Lastly, the sweetened chocolate liquor is poured into a pastry bag and piped into a mold.
10. Finished chocolate bar
After chilling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, the finished bar is ready to eat.