Easy Chocolate Making: All the Basics from Bean to Bar | Peter Gray and Nate Hodge | Skillshare

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Easy Chocolate Making: All the Basics from Bean to Bar

teacher avatar Peter Gray and Nate Hodge, Raaka Chocolate

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      A Brief History of Chocolate


    • 3.

      Priming Your Palate: Tasting Notes


    • 4.

      Tools of the Trade


    • 5.

      Step 1: Beans


    • 6.

      Step 2: Grinding


    • 7.

      Step 3: Tempering


    • 8.

      Step 4: Packaging


    • 9.

      Wrapping Up


    • 10.

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About This Class

Join Raaka Chocolate's Peter Gray and Nate Hodge for a decadent, 30-minute class on making your own dream chocolate bar. 

This short-and-sweet class is perfect for chocolate lovers who want to learn what to look for in the perfect cacao concoction, how to identify ingredients and nuanced flavors, and even how to craft homemade chocolate for you and your loved ones.

Peter and Nate break down the process into easy steps that anyone can do at home:

  • selecting your beans
  • cracking and separating the beans
  • grinding them
  • tempering
  • packaging
  • and most importantly, tasting!

You’ll walk away from this class with a newfound appreciation for the world’s favorite sweet treat, and ultimately, a delicious chocolate creation of your own.

Meet Your Teacher

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Peter Gray and Nate Hodge

Raaka Chocolate


Community Director and Head Chocolate Maker at Raaka Chocolate, an organic bean-to-bar chocolate factory based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We make the most delicious chocolate possible while building and maintaining healthy and valuable relationships with our global community, our planet and each other.

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1. Welcome: I'm Nate Hodge. I'm the Head Chocolate Maker of Raaka Chocolate. I'm Peter Gray. I'm the Community Director. Today, we're making our very own customizable dream chocolate bar. We're going to learn about how we can do that in our own home, and what it takes to make a chocolate bar. We started Raaka about five years ago. We started out just experimenting in an apartment. We moved to a much bigger space near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Then last year, we moved into this full-fledged factory space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. When we first started out, we were making chocolate entirely by hand with simple equipment that you could pick up online or at a kitchen supply store. We took all the methodology we learned with that equipment and transferred it to the type of machines we wanted in our factory. We started making chocolate full scale. Today, we're going to teach you about all the simple machinery that we used to use make our chocolate when we first started Raaka. Today's project is making your own dream bar, totally customizable to what you want to make. You're going to make a chocolate bar just like we did in the beginning when we were learning how to do it. The reason you should be making chocolate at home is because it's super messy. It's a lot of fun, and it takes a lot of work. If you got nothing to do for a couple hours, chocolate making is probably the best way to spend those hours. 2. A Brief History of Chocolate: So, chocolate starts as a fruit that grows on the cacao tree. This is a cacao fruit right here that's been dried. But typically, their colors can range anywhere from yellow to purple to orange to green, and the cacao fruit grows only within 20 degrees of the equator. So it's a very small portion of the world that cacao actually grows in. Within that region, it generally only grows in low altitude and humid places that stay warm all year round. Cacao farms are very biodiverse places. You'll find plants and the animals underneath the cacao trees interacting. To harvest cacao, you take these buds, you cut them open, and each one has about 30 to 60 cacao beans inside. After you harvest them, what you want to do is ferment those beans then you have a product that's usable in making chocolate. If you were to just cut the pod, take the seeds out, let the seeds dry, you'd get a very unpalatable chocolate that tastes like over steeped black tea, something very bitter and tannic without a lot of nuance to the flavor, and that chocolate bar would also be purple, not brown as we know chocolate to be today. So, chocolate or cacao has been a part of human culture for about 3,000 years. That's a really long time in the food world for an ingredient to be inherent and part of human culture. So, what happened was these early Mesoamerican cultures, they found these cacao beans, they crushed them up with the mortar and pestle, added hot water on top of them, a little bit of spices, and they made this drink called chocolatl. Now, chocolatl was nothing like hot chocolate. It was a bitter, frothy drink. But this was really revered by these Mesoamerican cultures. It was almost a spiritual drink brought down to them by the gods. The Aztec King, Montezuma, was thought to drink 40 cups of chocolatl a day. I personally don't even drink 40 cups of water a day, so the idea of 40 cups of chocolatl is pretty absurd. Eventually, the conquistadors started coming over from Europe. They had this brilliant yet evil idea of taking cacao beans back to Europe and planting them into the ground because the Aztecs were using cacao beans as money. So, they could plant the cacao beans in the ground and grow their own currency back in Spain. Unfortunately for them, cacao doesn't grow in Spain. But what did happen was that chocolatl drink got brought to Spain. Everybody started drinking it. The Spanish Princess, Maria Theresa, she gave cacao beans to her husband, Louis the XIV of France, on their wedding night. So that's how cacao gets to France. England, not to be outdone by France in these cultural wars they were having at the time, got their hands on some cacao beans. They started opening chocolate drinking houses all over London. It wasn't until the 1850s that we had our first chocolate bar. So, 3,000 years of the chocolatl drink and only about 150, 160 years of the chocolate bar. So there's a huge discrepancy in how chocolate has been used as an ingredient over the course of human history. 3. Priming Your Palate: Tasting Notes: So, one of the first things to consider when developing your dream chocolate bar is the ingredient to use and learning a little bit about those ingredients. All chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, it's the cocoa bean because it no longer can germinate and become a new cocoa tree. The exterior is a shell that you're going to want to remove through a process called winnowing and each cocoa bean has a nibs inside and the nibs inside are the part that you're going to want to use in order to make chocolate. The cocoa nib contains approximately 50 percent cocoa butter and 50 percent cocoa powder, and when you grind the chocolate your goal is to release that butter from that powder and refine that powder so that you get a liquid product and not a crunchy cocoa nib like this. When it comes to chocolate, one of the things people tend to, get wrong is that they believe that it has a lot of caffeine in it when technically it has very little caffeine and the chemical compound that it has instead is a stimulant called Theobromine, which has less of a stimulating effect than caffeine, but has other endorphins that make you feel differently than caffeine does. The more cocoa in the chocolate bar, the more Theobromine the chocolate is going to have. When buying chocolate, to determine the amount of cocoa that's in a chocolate bar, you look for a percentage either on the front of the chocolate bar or on the back of the chocolate bar. The percentage in the chocolate bar is the percentage of cocoa versus the percentage of sugar and that percentage can range anywhere from about 40 percent to 100 percent. If you see a chocolate bar that doesn't have a percentage on it, chances are it has a very small amount of actual chocolate in that chocolate bar. So, a few key things you want to think about when setting out to make your dream chocolate bar. First of all, what kind of natural flavors does the cocoa bean I'm using contain? And with those flavors, what other ingredients am I going to add to that chocolate to enhance the flavors of the cocoa bean. You're also going to want to think about how dark I want this chocolate bar to be, like what percentage do I want it, how much sugar do I want to add to it because the percentage of cocoa and the percentage of sugar is going to determine how sweet your chocolate bar is. Cocoa beans like grapes or apples are affected by terror war and genetics, by the weather, by how they're stored and specifically in chocolate, the fermentation process that they go through. The first thing in deciding what kind of chocolate bar you're going to make is tasting the nib to discern what kind of flavors are present within those cocoa beans. You're going to want to start with like really broad terms when you talk about cocoa beans and get more specific from there. So, for instance, "Is the cocoa bean fruity? Is it nutty, Is it earthy, Is it chocolatey," and then you're going to want to identify okay if it's fruity, is it a berry fruitiness or a citrus fruitiness. If it's earthy you're going to want identify because it taste Mossy, does it taste Grassy, does it taste Fungal like a mushroom. Those are some of the key things you're going to want to determine from the cocoa bean before you decide what other ingredients you want to pair with the chocolate. At Rocca, our philosophy is any ingredient that we add to chocolate is not supposed to mask the flavor of the chocolate, but it's supposed to enhance the flavor. So taste your beans, determine what flavors they have and then you can start to think about what other ingredients you want to use to make your dream chocolate bar. 4. Tools of the Trade: So, now we're going to go over all the tools we're going to need for our project today. As you can see, we have a whole factory behind us, a bigger, more involved machinery that we use. But, we're going to use some stuff that hopefully you have around your kitchen, or some other small specialized machinery that isn't difficult to get your hands on. So, the first thing we need to make chocolate starting with the bean, is either a hand mill like this one to crack the beans open. If you don't have access to something like this, we can use a mallet with a cutting board and just put some Saran wrap over the beans. The next thing we're going to need for making chocolate is a bowl and a hair dryer. So, Asney and I mentioned before when we started the company was on a very small scale and things like the mallet and the hair dryer that you could get it at any store were things that we actually used to learn how to make chocolate. The next thing we're going to need to use to make chocolate is a grinding machine. So, we have two options here. If you're really adventurous and have a lot of arm strength, you can do the mortar and pestle one, that'll take a long time to grind the beans. We also have the wonder grinder here. This can be found online on Amazon or any other websites, and what you can do with this is just plug it into the wall and we'll be using that today. The next tools we're going to need to make chocolate, our stove top, or induction burner, a double boiler, and either some spoons or a spatula. So, the next thing we're going to need is a mold to pour the chocolate into. You can use a classic mold like this there's just bars, or you can get wacky and pick up for a $1 or two at any kitchen store, shaped molds like the frogs that I have here. The last thing we're going to need is a refrigerator just for 20 minutes to let the chocolate set and then that's it. It's super easy to make chocolate, if you just put a little bit of time into it. 5. Step 1: Beans: We're gonna take our beans and we're going to crack them open. So, the first thing you're going to want to do is figure out what beans you want to work with. We have a couple of different examples here. We've got beans right here from Madagascar. We've also got beans from Belize, and these right here are from Bolivia. So, when it comes to choosing your beans, you can get them at select natural food stores, or you can find them on ingredient websites on the Internet. So, whatever you can get your hands on is what we'll work with. It's important to make sure that they're either direct trade, fair trade, that the ethics that go into making the beans at the farms in the tropics are really solid. Because we want to make sure that the farmers are being treated well. There's also another point in this, if you don't feel like cracking the beans open and getting messy, you can buy nibs at any kind of natural food store you can buy a package of nibs and just start at that point. So, if we're doing that, just go straight to the grinding section with your nibs. So, the first thing we're going to do is, you can either crack your beans open with a hand mill like this one we have here. It's really simple, a lot of brewers or other nut companies might use a hand mill like this, or we can crack them with a mallet and some Saran wrap on a cutting board. You'll get it covered and then just go to town on these beans. So, these are going to be in a state, you're going to want to finish off these other beans that you see around here, but once they're finished they're all going to look pretty much just like that. So, now that we've gotten the beans cracked open, an important part of the process is separating that outer shell known as the husk from the inner nib. What we want to make the chocolate with is just the inner nib, so we have to find a way to separate the two. Here at the factory we have huge machinery to do it for us, but when we started out in the back of that apartment, we only used a hairdryer and a bowl. So, it got a little messy, but it definitely worked, and we were able to separate it and keep the nibs really clean. So, what you're going to do is angle the air to be blowing away and out of the bowl. Every once in a while shake the bowl, so the lighter husk rises to the top. So, we want it to go from this bean basically to these clean nibs that we have here. That's what we're doing in this part of the process known as winnowing. This method was originally developed by the website Chocolate Alchemy. So, I'm going to give him all the credit for this one. It's a great website, check it out. We're going to give it a try right now. 6. Step 2: Grinding: Once we have the clean nibs, we've separated the husk from the nibs in the winnowing process we did with the hair dryer earlier. What we're going to want to do at this point is grind it in some way. So, what we have here is a small wonder grinder, and this has got granite wheels on the inside that are spinning around, and it's going to crush the nibs releasing the oils. Now, the process of this right here is going to take 8-12 hours. So, this is something you could leave overnight, or leave during the day and let it grind. That's how long it'll take to get a nice smooth chocolate. What they used to use was some mortar and pestle, and you can still do this if you have a significant amount of forearm strength. What you do is you just dump the nibs in here. You crush them with a mortar and pestle. That's going to take quite a bit of time because you're basically taking a pretty grainy dry thing and forcing the oils out of it. So, that's how you do with a mortar and pestle. If you want to do that, feel free and just get some jack forearms. At this point, we're going to measure this out. So, the thing about making chocolate is it's just really ratios. So, if you want to make 75 percent chocolate, like we're going to do today, you're going to put in, let's say, 300 grams of just cacao nibs, and then 100 grams of sugar. That'll get you a 75 percent chocolate. Do you want to change the percentage at this point? That's something you can do. Do you want something that's a little lighter? Add more sugar, a little darker, add less sugar. That will change the percentage. You can also add things like coconut and that'll take away from the cacao percentage also. So, that's the way that you could really customize it and make whatever bar you wanted right now. So, we're going to make my dream bar which is 75 percent, and later after we pour the bars, we're going to add some cranberry and some sea salt. But right now, what we're going to do is we're going to add that cacao nibs slowly to this machine. So, you want to add it 200 grams, 300 grams at a time really slowly. So, it can slowly start grinding down the nibs. So, what we're going to do is we're going weigh out. Let's just start with maybe a 100 grams just to get the machine going. You can just use any kind of scale you have around. So, we've got a 100 grams, and then we're going to turn it on, and we're slowly going to dump it in. Tightening this a little bit. After about 20 minutes, we can add another 100, 200 grams, and you can slowly step up until we get to that 300-gram mark. If you want to make more chocolate, just add more and figure your percentage is that. So, at this point, it's a good idea to start simple. Just think about sugar and cacao. You don't need to be adding too many crazy ingredients at this point, you just want to see if you can get it to the consistency that you want it. Later, we can start adding things like salt and fruit, when we top the bars with other flavors. All right. So, after a few hours, it will be smooth enough to add the sugar. We already said we're going to add 300 grams of cacao, and we're going to add 100 grams of sugar. So, we're going to measure out the 100 grams of sugar, and just slowly add the 100 grams as it's ready to take it. So, we've got 100 grams here. Now, these little machines are just over a $100. You can get them online, and they'll carry about 20 bars tops. The ones we have in the back, carry about 600 bars and are much more expensive than this. So, we're just going to add the sugar right now. Then you want to let it grind for another couple hours. Basically, the way you're going to tell if it's smooth enough is just put a spoon in there, and taste a little bit or as much as you'd like, and you'll be able to feel if it's smooth enough to the point where you're going to be ready to pour it. 7. Step 3: Tempering: After a couple of hours, the troika will be at the smoothness that it's ready to pour. So what we're going to do is, we're going to stop this from spinning, take it off, and put it into a double boiler pot. So what we're going to have on the bottom is just a regular pot filled with about an inch and a half, two inches of water and then this pot goes over it. This is so we don't burn the chocolate in the process of tampering. So now, I'm going to turn the grinding machine off and we're going to decide whether it's smooth enough for us to pour the chocolate and temper it. So we're going to take this and we're going to dump the chocolate into here. Once we have this on, we're going to need a thermometer to measure the temperature of the chocolate once it's in the double boiler. We have one of these laser thermometers which work really well and are very precise. But you can also use a regular candy thermometer that you're just going to pop right into the chocolate. So what we're doing now is I notice that the chocolate is at 95 degrees. I'm going to want to bring it up to 120, so I'm setting this to be about 180 degrees. I don't want to bring it any higher, it'll burn the bottom of the chocolate. You want to do everything gradual that way you won't have to repeat the steps. But if you do over swing it it's totally fine to just start over. So right now we're just getting it up to the 120 degree mark. Constantly stirring it so it heats evenly throughout the chocolate. So now it's gotten up to about 120, 122 degrees, it's ready to be taken off the heat. So we're going to take this off the heat right now. And we're going to bring it to like a cooler area. So if your kitchen is around like 85 degrees, you want to make sure to bring it maybe to another room that's closer to the 75, 70 degree mark, maybe even down to 65 and we're going to keep watching it. And what we're going to do at this point is we want to make sure we can get it down to 85, 84 degrees. So it's going to take a little bit of time. This is also a good time to mention that if you don't want to do the whole chocolate making process from the bean or from the nib, you could just get blocks of already made couverture or blocks of chocolate and melt it down and temper it yourself. So what you do here is just start by melting your chocolate to 120 degrees and then bringing it down to 85, then up to 88 with just the blocks of chocolate. You can customize it by adding any toppings you want to add later. So you can really go crazy at that point. So it might seem tempting to pour the chocolate when it's at 120 degrees, it looks like a nice chocolate liquid soup. So you want to pour into the mold and throw it into the fridge. That's not going to work, because once you pop it out of the mold, it's going to crumble to pieces. The reason we're tempering the chocolate is to form crystals so it binds together and has like a stronger fabric to it. So by cutting corners and trying to make it quicker, it's really not going to work out the way you want it to. So while we're waiting, while we're bringing the temperature down, once it goes below that 100 degree mark, we get down to about 98, 97, you can do this process called seeding. If you don't have any chocolate laying around the house that's already made and tempered that's okay, just leave this part out. If you do have a little piece of tempered chocolate that you bought at the store, just break like three little pieces off at 97 degrees in here, throw it in, and stir it in. This is called seeding. The reason we seed the chocolate sometimes is because it actually teaches the molecules to crystallize. So this is a way to really ensure that you're going to get a well tempered chocolate. So at 97 degrees, a couple of little pieces of tempered chocolate, just add it right in. So right now, I'm seeing that we're down at 84 degrees. So that means we're going to put it back on the heat. So this water, you don't want to bring higher than 120 degrees now. So this is at 120 degrees and we're slowly going to bring it up to 88 degrees. This won't take much time, usually within a five minute time frame it will be brought up to 88 degrees from the 84 mark. So keep stirring it. Always stirring throughout this process that ensures that it's evenly heating throughout. So you want to give it a real vigorous stir, kind of getting some air into there and already it's coming up to 84.5, 84.6. So you can see with this. You have the candy thermometer that'll just be in here and you'll be able to see at the same time too. At this point, it's really important not to go anywhere over 89 degrees. Once you see that it's around 88.5, take it right off, and we're going to pour immediately, so have your mold ready. So now I can see in my thermometer that this is coming up to around 88. In just a second it'll be at 88.5 which is the perfect place for us to pour this chocolate. And we're at 88.5. So we're going to take this off the heat and you want to pour it immediately because right now it's in temper. So what you're going to do is, just going to put a little bit in each mold. And then you just want to shake the mold so it gets to all the corners. Give it a couple taps on the table to get any air bubbles out and then we can add our ingredients. You can really add anything that you want on top of this. You can add granola, you can add puffed rice. I've got a little bit of coconut that I'm going to add to it. Salt is always good on chocolate, so I really recommend that. So, if you're doing something like the coconut, you're just going to sprinkle some on like that and give it a little shake so it sets into the chocolate and then the same thing with the cranberries. You can really add whatever you want. If you want to add Fruit Loops add Fruit Loops, but make sure it's like an organic, ethical version of that. So I'm going to add the cranberries now. And then lastly we've got a Peruvian sea salt that I'm going to add to it. So, you can be a little bit liberal with this, not too liberal because you'll kind of overdo the taste. So I usually, just do one good over the chocolate and that should be good. So, what we got is this here. So because the chocolate is in temper, we immediately want to get it into our fridge. Anywhere between 45, 52 degrees is good for adding it to the fridge and we're going to keep it in there for 20 minutes. That's all it takes for it to set in temper. Alright, so I just took this out of the fridge. The fridge was around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and what we're going to do is, we're just going to pop it out of the mold. So it's come into solid tempered form because we took our time and tempered that chocolate. So we're just going to flip it over and pop it out. So it's super simple. If it doesn't come out, put it back in the fridge for another 10 minutes. But hopefully they come out and they look good. So this is my dream bar right here. This is 75 percent chocolate with cranberry topping and a Peruvian sea salt. Hopefully you've made your's either from the bean, from the nib, or from just couverture blocks and the only thing missing at this point is an outer wrapping. Maybe you're giving this as a gift, maybe you just want to keep it for a little longer. So you can design your own outer wrapping. 8. Step 4: Packaging: The next step we're going to do, is wrapping our chocolate bars. So, we have some of our customized papers here. This is our Yukon paper and this is our sea salt paper. So, we have options for us to wrap with, but you can really print anything out, design anything you want on construction paper and do it that way. The only other thing you're going to need is some foil. So, just cut that to about a centimeter inch difference than what your paper is going to be so it fits right inside there like that. So, this is the paper that we're going to wrap around the chocolate bar. So, you're going to put the paper down, and then the foil on top of it, and put the bar right in the middle. Once you got the bar squared in the middle, what you're going to do, fold the top over, crease it, and fold the bottom over, and crease it. Once these two are creased, you're going to loop this finger under here, folded over this way, and crease the corner like that, and do the same thing on the other side. Once you've got both sides done, flip it over like this, start on the other end, fold it, crease this in, again, fold it, crease this in, and then you just want to fold the sides into the middle. Then if you've got scotch tape, do the shot, and you've got a folded bar. 9. Wrapping Up: All right. So, I made my dream bars. Hopefully, you made your dream bars too. We went all the way from cracking the beans open, winnowing the beans, separating the husk from the nib, grinding the beans in a wonder grinder, tempering the chocolate, which admittedly was probably the most difficult part, cooling the chocolate, popping it out of the molds, and folding it into bars. So, you've done the whole process, maybe you've done it in one or two days, so that's amazing. Give yourself a round of applause. So now, comes a time where you just get to eat the chocolate which is the most important part of chocolate. The only reason we do this whole process is so we get to finally eat it. I look forward to seeing all of your projects in the gallery. Let's see what you got. Feel free to get crazy with it. Have a good time. That's what we do here and most importantly, make sure you eat the chocolate because all this work is just so you can enjoy it. 10. More Culinary Classes on Skillshare: