People right across the globe love chocolate, because of its naturally smooth, silky texture and its deliciously distinct sweet and rich flavour. The quality of chocolate largely depends on the method used to make it. Ready-made chocolate can be bought in retail supermarkets across the globe, and there are many types available, from rich, dark chocolate to milky white chocolate. Quality also ranges widely; therefore, the price varies from brand to brand.
Chocolate is made essentially from cocoa beans, and can be made into different forms, such as chocolate cookies (learn how to make chocolate cookies) or biscuits, chocolate milk (learn how to make chocolate milk), hot chocolate, chocolate candy, chocolate brownies, chocolate chips, chocolate bars, chocolate mousse, and the list goes on.
The good news is; store-bought chocolate is very easy to work with when attempting to make homemade chocolate, and can be easily melted using an ordinary household microwave oven, or by putting it into a glass or ceramic bowl and heating over a pot of boiling water. If using the boiling water method, never let your bowl touch the boiling water, only use the steam to heat the bowl.
How to make chocolate at home
You can easily make chocolate at home with chocolate molds. Buy some cooking chocolate which you can get at most local shops or supermarkets. Melt your chocolate to a pouring consistency, and simply pour into a mold of your choice. You can buy many different shaped molds at supermarkets catering supply stores, or make them yourself. If you make molds by yourself be sure to use non-toxic materials. Popular molds used to make chocolate are Easter egg or Easter bunny shaped molds. You can even place a sucker-stick into a chocolate mold in order to make chocolate lollypops.
Beautiful chocolate sweets made from molds
How to make chocolate molds
Chocolate molds can be made using a number of safe and hygienic materials, such as aluminium foil, or certain plastics. Copper should not be used, because when in contact with the air, releases a poisonous residue called verdigris, which can be harmful. Making food molds is best done with a flexible substance such as silicone rubber. Here is one method for making molds.
How to make chocolate by the traditional method
The actual complete process of making chocolate is quite labourious and is usually best achieved using the appropriate (also expensive) industrial machinery, but can be done with simpler an inexpensive tools.
Because chocolate making requires a large amount of time and effort, the better quality chocolate is made by sizeable businesses such as Hershey’s or Lindt. These manufacturing companies produce massive quantities of chocolate in moderate tropical weather conditions, to supply entire nations, using the following general method.
First, the cacao beans are harvested. When they are fully ripe, they are bashed or cut from their tree. The beans and pulp are gathered and left to ferment. Then they are finally sun-dried. The beans need to be left to ferment for adequate time, to result in a strong chocolate flavour.
Cacao pods still on their tree
The beans are moved to a processing plant, where they are roasted. Roasting temperatures are controlled, as the shells or husks of the beans may catch fire. Next, the beans are ground to release cocoa butter, which is then melted in the process to form a fluidextract. This extract is mixed with different amounts of milk, sugar and cocoa butter to make the different flavours and textures of chocolate.
Tips about working with chocolate
- Melted chocolate can be poured onto cakes, cookies and other desserts using paper piping bags. This is a great way to decorate puddings; you can even draw patterns or designs with chocolate!
- When melting chocolate, it can sometimes keep its original shape, and it then takes longer to melt. Stirring it halfway through melting helps prevent it from overcooking.
- Cooking chocolate should take slightly longer than dark chocolate to melt, while white chocolate takes half as long to melt.
- Be sure to always break up or chop up your chocolate before attempting to melt it.
- Adding glycerin to chocolate thickens its consistency, so chocolate that is too thin for decorating can be made more manageable.
- Chocolate leaves can be made as an attractive decoration by simply spreading melted chocolate onto fresh rose or ivy leaves, and refrigerating.