People ask me, when they hear that I make chocolate, "So, what goes into that? Is it hard to get it right?" In a way, it's the hardest thing that I have ever cooked. In another way, it's easy as pie.
Chocolate starts with dry, fermented cocoa beans. True, the beans were once un-fermented, and before that they were in a cocoa pod on a tree, but let's start with the dry fermented beans so that we don't get into some serious botanical evolution. Once I have the beans, the four steps are roast, crack (i.e., break into pieces), winnow (i.e., separate nib from husk) and refine.
Seems simple, right? Just four steps. You can do it yourself with almost no special equipment. But there's a catch. The bookends of the process - roasting and refining - have dizzying nuance and variables to control. Time and temperature play on the flavor and texture of finished chocolate like you wouldn't believe. Roast too high, or too low, or too fast, or too slow and you change the whole complexion of the chocolate. Ditto refining, where you can go too long, too short, too warm, too cold, and on and on. And that's before you talk about ratios of ingredients like milk and sugar (and remember, we skipped talking about how the beans are grown!).
If you are already convinced that making chocolate is hard, then good. It is. But here's the point a lot of people miss: with a modest about of care and technique, you get something delicious and unique. Leave consistency to Budweiser. Small batch chocolate is different every time. And that's what is so great about!
With all of that said, it helps to track what you've tried and what works. Enter The Anatomy of a Fox. I keep a detailed journal of every WellFound batch, with a whimsical cartoon of a fox on the cover. Why? I don't know. It's fun. And chocolate should be too. Thanks to my journal, WellFound is made with the methods that work, and not the ones that don't. Enjoy!