The making of artisan chocolate bars is more than just handcrafting tastier chocolates. In recent years, responsible chocolate lovers have increasingly wanted to know how their favorite treat is made, where the raw materials come from, whether cocoa farmers receive fair incomes, and the environment is protected.
This gives artisan chocolate a deeper meaning. It’s not just handmade small-batch chocolate with a variety of flavors different from mass-produced industrial chocolate.
Artisanal chocolate-making is a movement. It’s a cause.
That’s why before you learn how artisan chocolates are made, you need to understand these other aspects that together define this growing movement. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate the passion that drives the small-batch chocolate maker.
Artisan chocolate is handmade chocolate, produced in small batches from single-origin cocoa beans, with the chocolate maker usually having control over the sourcing and processing of the cocoa beans.
That sounds like a mouthful. Let me break it down for you with an illustration.
A chocolate maker buys cocoa liquor or couverture from somewhere and uses it to hand make his bars in small batches. Does that make him an artisanal chocolate maker? Not at all.
For chocolate to qualify as artisan, it needs to pass some ‘tests’.
At Bantu Chocolate, we’re proud makers of flavorful artisan chocolate bars. We’re tree to bar chocolate makers.
From the growing of cacao trees to the tangy bar on your tongue, we control the entire process to ensure that you can enjoy your treat with a clean conscience. We ensure an equitable, sustainable cocoa supply chain.
Which brings me to the next point.
Handmade artisan chocolates are better than mass-produced industrial chocolates in several ways. These include a variety of unique flavours, health benefits, and social responsibility benefits. They make up the reasons you should prefer craft chocolate.
Let’s look at each.
The flavour of a chocolate product depends on how the cocoa beans are processed from the farm throughout the production process. Because artisan chocolate is made mostly from single-origin beans, they tend to have rich flavors.
Dark artisan chocolates (excluding milk chocolates) have high cocoa content. That means they’re rich in antioxidants, especially flavonoids, which have various functions in your body.
The rich cocoa content also means less sugar and other additives. Low calorie count.
When you buy cheap mass-produced chocolate, chances are that somewhere in West Africa, a child, who should’ve been in school, labored on the cocoa farm with hazardous equipment to make that bar cheap. Chances are that cocoa farmers cut down forests to increase yields, yet still received less than $1 a day, while the middleman and especially the chocolate industrialist banks a hefty profit margin.
By patronizing artisan chocolate makers, you help break this vicious cycle of poor cocoa farmers destroying precious forest and wildlife habitat. You help make chocolate production sustainable for everyone, the farmer and the chocolate maker.
At Bantu Chocolate, we practice agroforestry. Our cacao trees grow alongside plantains and forest trees. Great for the soil, water, air, and wildlife.
Now, let’s talk about another important issue. The price of artisan chocolate bars.
Is it to make artisanal chocolate makers rich? You’d be surprised by this quote from Shawn Akinosie, CEO of Akinosie Chocolate, an artisan chocolate brand.
“Most craft chocolate makers are not rich unless they were rich before they started, in which case they are now less rich. Believe me when I tell you that American small batch chocolate makers who are charging $8, $10, even $12 or more for a chocolate bar are not making a lot of profit.”
We’re driven by a passion for a sustainable, equitable cocoa supply chain. When you buy an artisan chocolate bar, you’re not just buying a tasty treat. You’re promoting a cause. Thank you.
Now, let’s come to it. The making of artisan chocolate bars.
All bean-to-bar chocolate making follows some basic steps, although each brand has its secret recipe! This is a good thing, though, as it gives chocolate lovers a wide variety of flavors and aromas to sample.
Buy quality beans: For the artisanal chocolate maker, this is already sorted out in the growing, harvesting, fermenting, and drying of their own cacao. You can bet that single-origin beans are better than untraceable beans or chocolate made from combining different varietals of cocoa beans.
For a detailed process from harvesting to drying, see this other article (internal link)
Roast your cocoa beans: Roasting plays three functions. Reduce the water content, kill germs from fermentation and drying stages, and further enhance your cocoa bean flavour.
Each chocolate maker has their roasting method in terms of equipment, temperature, and duration. Roasting can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours at different temperatures.
Shell the roasted cocoa beans: Shelling removes husks to obtain cocoa nibs.
Ground cocoa nibs: Equipment can vary from heavy steel rollers in large factories to grinding stones at home, but the result is the same: cocoa liquor.
Mix cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and other ingredients: Chocolate bars and brands have different cocoa content depending on what’s added to cocoa liquor. The most common additives are cocoa butter, sugar, and emulsifier for consistency of texture. Other additives can include milk, vanilla, herbs, chili pepper, and whatever the chocolate maker chooses to experiment with or create.
Cool your mixture and proceed to the next step.
Temper your chocolate: Your final bar needs to have a glossy look, snap when broken or bitten, and melt on your tongue, not on your fingers. That’s the purpose of tempering. But what is chocolate tempering?
Chocolate tempering is the heating and cooling of chocolate to stabilize the cocoa butter so that its crystals don’t stay separate and cause your chocolate to bloom. The technique you use depends on the type of chocolate bar you’re aiming for. Dark chocolate will require higher temperatures than milk or white chocolate.
For details on tempering, see this guide.
Moulding: Pour your tempered melted chocolate into your desired forms or molds and shake it to remove air bubbles. Then leave to cool at room temperature until your chocolate sets.
And that’s it for your homemade artisan chocolate bars.
If you’ve read this far, you’re positively a chocoholic (or ready to become one😊) of artisan bars. Why not hop over to our product page and sample our collection of carefully hand-crafted, single-origin, artisanal dark chocolate bars?
Boxed in bio-degradable pouches, our bars are handmade in London with quality beans from our agroforestry (read eco-friendly) farm in Cameroon.
How artisan chocolates are made go beyond moulding cocoa beans into delicious dark bars in small batches by hand. The label artisan chocolate includes the passion that drives the practices of the artisan chocolate maker. When you buy artisanal chocolate, you’re helping promote a worthy cause.
When stored in a cool, dry place away from light, artisan chocolate can last for months and even years. You don’t need to keep it in a refrigerator or freezer. Unless you want the chocolate to bloom and the great flavours to become polluted by flavours from other items in the fridge. The moisture from refrigeration encourages blooming when you expose your chocolate to warmer temperatures again.
Artisan chocolate is better than mass-produced industrial chocolate in terms of unique great flavours, more cocoa content, and the promotion of best practices to ensure chocolate business sustainability.
Artisan chocolate, craft chocolate, handcrafted or handmade chocolate, all refer to the same thing.
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|