There are few things in life more delicious than chocolate. And if you often find yourself with a hankering for something chocolatey, you’ll be excited to discover that you can make your own chocolate at home!
Once you understand the basics of how to make chocolate, it’s a fairly simple process—and one that you can practice over and over again until you’ve perfected it. You’ll be satisfying your own chocolate cravings with no need to run out to the store.
Keep scrolling for more details about making chocolate.
How to Make Chocolate
First, here are a few questions you might be asking yourself as you prepare to make your own chocolate:
Where does chocolate even come from?
According to this tutorial from the founders of Brooklyn’s Raaka Chocolate, chocolate starts as a fruit from the cacao tree. The trees only grow in areas near the Equator, and even there, only in low-altitude and humid places. Once cacao is harvested, the pods of the fruit are cut open to reveal anywhere from 30 to 60 cacao beans. Those are the very cacao beans that you can use to make a chocolate bar in the comfort of your own home!
What ingredients are in a chocolate bar?
If you want to be super DIY and make your homemade chocolate starting with the beans, you’ll need the cacao beans or nibs themselves, sugar and any other add-ons you’d like to toss-in for extra flavor (dried fruit, nuts, etc.) in your finished bar.
How do you make chocolate bars out of chocolate chips?
This particular tutorial digs just a little deeper, but if you want to make a homemade chocolate bar in a hurry, you can also melt down chocolate chips or blocks of chocolate using a double boiler, temper it and spread the melted chocolate into molds. (More on molds below!)
What You’ll Need
You can find all of the equipment you’ll need for homemade chocolate online or at a local kitchen supply store. You might even have some of the simpler items in your kitchen already!
- Wooden cutting board
- Plastic wrap
- Hair dryer
- A grinding machine—either a mortar and pestle or Wonder Grinder
- Kitchen/candy thermometer
- Double boiler
- Chocolate molds
Most of these things are pretty self-explanatory, but let’s talk a little more about some of the more specific, unique items on the list.
A key part of the chocolate-making process is cracking the cacao beans. While more experienced chocolate makers might use a hand mill for this step, you can take a more DIY route with a combination of a cutting board, a mallet, and plastic wrap.
Once you’ve cracked the beans, you’ll also need to grind them. If you’re willing to use a little bit of elbow grease, a mortar and pestle will be up to the task! For a slightly less labor-intensive approach, Peter and Nate from Raaka Chocolate recommend the Wonder Grinder, which is definitely an investment, but can be used for grinding nuts and other foods as well.
As any chocolate lover will know, chocolate needs a shape! If you’ve ever wondered how to make a chocolate bar, specifically, it all comes down to one thing: molds. You can purchase chocolate molds online or at most kitchen supply stores.
Obviously, you’re also going to need cacao beans! You can buy them at natural food stores, as well as through online ingredient suppliers. You’ll be able to make homemade chocolate with whatever cacao beans you can find, but it’s worth being on the lookout for fair-trade and other ethically sourced products.
If you’d like to avoid the process of cracking open the beans—remember that business with the mallet and the cutting board?—you can purchase cacao nibs from a local natural foods store. Assuming you go that route, skip the first two steps of the chocolate making process below.
You should also have white sugar on hand, along with any other add-ins you want to try in your DIY chocolate bar, such as dried fruit, coconut, sea salt, or nuts.
Now that you have your equipment and ingredients ready to go, it’s time to make the chocolate.
Learn from the Experts!
Easy Chocolate Making: All the Basics from Bean to Bar
Step 1: Crack Open the Cacao Beans
Spread the beans out over a wooden cutting board, then cover them with plastic wrap. Use your mallet to smack the beans until they look like this:
Step 2: Separate the Bean’s Outer Husk and Inner Nib
Your chocolate will be made with just the inner nib of the beans you’ve just cracked—not the tough outer shell. And while it might come as a big surprise, this is where that hair dryer comes in.
Transfer everything from the cutting board into a large bowl. Turn on the hair dryer and angle the air above the bowl so that the lighter shell pieces blow out of the bowl and on to your workspace. The heavier nibs will stay in the bowl. Shake the bowl periodically.
This is a messy part of the process, but it’s effective!
Step 3: Grind the Nibs
Whether you bought the cacao nibs on their own or went through the first two steps to get them manually, it’s now time to grind them. This process will differ based on your method.
If you’re going the old school route with a mortar and pestle, it will be time-consuming, but doable. A Wonder Grinder will speed things up a bit and take a load off your arms! Grinding the nibs so that the oils are fully extracted will take eight to 12 hours in the Wonder Grinder. No matter your method, you’re looking for a nice smooth texture at the end of this step.
This is also the point in the process when you can add sugar to take the edge off the cacao flavor. It’s all about ratios! If, for instance, you want a 75% cacao bar, mix 300 grams of cacao nibs with 100 grams of sugar. After the nibs have been in the Wonder Grinder for a few hours, it’s time to toss in the sugar.
Step 4: Temper the Chocolate
After a couple of hours of grinding, the chocolate will be smooth and ready to temper and pour. Put the chocolate into a double boiler over the stovetop, which will prevent it from burning (you don’t want to waste all of that hard work!). Your goal is to bring the temperature of the chocolate to 120* F. Increase the heat gradually, constantly stirring with a spoon or spatula for even heating.
Once it reaches 120* F, remove the pan from the heat and bring it to a cooler area. Continue stirring the chocolate and monitoring the temperature until it’s reached 84-85* F. At that point, return the chocolate to the heat until it’s increased to 88* F. Continuing to stir will ensure that it’s heating evenly. This last temperature change should only take a few minutes.
(If you’d like a simple chocolate making process, you can start at this step with chocolate chips or blocks of chocolate.)
Step 5: Pour Chocolate Into Molds
The moment your chocolate hits the 88* F mark, remove it from the heat and pour it carefully into your molds. Shake the mold and tap it against your work space to remove any air bubbles and spread it evenly throughout the mold.
Step 6: Customize!
If you’d like to add coconut, puffed rice, dried fruit, sea salt, granola, or any other flavor or texture to your chocolate bar, this is the moment! Sprinkle these ingredients into the mold with the chocolate, then shake the mold so everything is evenly distributed.
Step 7: Refrigerate Your Chocolate
As soon as your chocolate and other ingredients are added to the molds, move it to the refrigerator. After that, it should only take about 20 minutes to set.
Pop the chocolate out of the molds and enjoy!
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