'Frequently Asked Questions'
Adrian from Loco About Cocoa answers some of the chocolate FAQ's 'frequently asked questions' from our customers. If you have a specific question, email us by clicking on CHOCOLATES and we will try our best to help.
What makes Chocolates shiny?
We achieve the perfect chocolate through a combination of good quality couverture Belgian callets and fresh ingredients. Correct heating and cooling processes known as tempering. Correct storage is also critical to achieve that beautiful translucent shine. They can't be placed anywhere hot or cold - ideally 16-18 degrees.
We heat and cool the chocolate callets to stabilize them to ensure our chocolate has a smooth and glossy finish once made. Dark, Milk and White callets need to be heated and cooled to different temperatures to reach the same result. This information will be added to the chocolate packaging.
How to Temper Chocolate
Plain/Dark Chocolate: heated between 45 - 50 degrees and cooled to a working temperature of 32 degrees.
Milk Chocolate: heated to around 43 degrees and cooled to a working temperature of between 30-31 degrees.
White Chocolate: heated to around 43 degrees and cooled to a working temperature of between 29 - 30 degrees.
Tempering - Seeding Method
Melt and gently warm your chocolate slowly either over a bain marie or in a microwave. Then add in small amounts of chocolate callets, stirring continuously until fully melted before adding any more. Keep adding them until you reach the correct working temperature. You must maintain this temperature at all times.
Tempering - Tabling Method
Melt your chocolate to the correct temperature, pour out 2 thirds onto a marble slab and continuously move it around until it cools and starts to become thicker, forming small mounds. Add it back into the bowl with the remaining warm chocolate, stir well and gently re-warm it to the correct working temperature. You must maintain this temperature at all times.
Tempering - Powdered Cocoa Powder
Melt and heat your chocolate slowly either over a bain marie or in a microwave. Then add in 2% of the powdered cocoa powder and stir thoroughly. Leave to stand for several minutes and then continue to stir until you reach the correct working temperature. Mycryo is a product commonly used, full directions are provided.
This occurs when your chocolates have been moved between hot and cold environments and the sugar crystalizes on the surface and turns white. It has a slightly rough feel and spoils the appearance, however it is perfectly safe to eat.
This occurs when the cocoa butter fats separate and rise to the surface leaving a greyish film. Once again this doesn’t look very appetizing, however it is also safe to eat.
How long will your boxed chocolates last?
All of our chocolates have been through and passed a rigorous 3-month testing process. We have found that although they are safe to eat for 3 months, their appearance and viscosity changes slightly, especially in the summer months. To that end we put a 4-week shelf life on them to ensure you eat them whilst they are at their best.
How long do chocolate callets last?
Ideally chocolate should be stored between (16 – 18 degrees C).
Dark/Plain Chocolate will last up to 2 years as long as the correct storage instructions are followed.
Milk chocolate will last about 18 months.
White chocolate about 12 months.
How to store chocolates at home
It's important to store your chocolates correctly. Chocolates that have been tempered do not need to be placed in a fridge, they should have a nice snap to the shell. The fridge will only form condensation on top of them and you will lose the shine. Keep them away from heat sources, a cool drawer is the perfect place.
7 Dark chocolate Health benefits
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it’s quite nutritious.
It contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and minerals.
Quality dark chocolate is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a few other minerals.
2 - Powerful source of antioxidants
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.
Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants. In fact, they have way more than most other foods.
3 - May improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide.
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
4 - Raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.
In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol
5 - May reduce heart disease risk
The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.
In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.
Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk among those who consume the most dark chocolate.
6 - May protect your skin from the sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavanols can protect you against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration. Obviously these are not a substitute for sun screen products which are very important for protecting your skin.
7 - Could improve brain function
The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that eating high flavanol cocoa for 5 days improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by increasing blood flow. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
Where does chocolate come from?
Chocolate comes from cocoa pods which are oval fruits, they are about 5–12 inches long. Each pod contains 30–50 seeds, and it’s these seeds the world knows as cacao (or cocoa) beans. They go through 9 processes before you receive them ready to eat.
How to make chocolates 9 processes
1 - Cultivation
Cacao is grown mostly in the shade of large trees on small plots by small farmers rather than on huge plantations.
Cacao is often grown with other crops such as oil palms, rubber trees, mahogany and other timber trees as well as fruit trees such as avocado, breadfruit, guava, mango, orange and coconut.
2 - Harvesting
Cacao pods are ripe when they turn a vibrant yellow/orange colour. Hanging from the trunk and largest branches on small stems, the ripening pods are typically chopped off (harvested) twice per year, though they can be harvested continually. After being chopped off, the pods are opened and their seeds removed.
3 - Fermentation
Beans are cleaned by hand, with the baba left on to help develop flavour. Exposed to light, the cream coloured beans turn a purplish colour. The beans are covered with banana leaves. During the 2–9 days of fermentation, beans begin to take on colour and some of the flavours you would recognize as “chocolate.
4 - Drying & Shipping
The Beans need to be dried in the sun and air to stop further fermentation which would cause the beans to rot. This will also reduce the acetic acid content. As the water content reduces the beans turn brown, this also prevents mould forming during storage. Once dried, they are ready to be bagged and shipped.
5 - Cleaning & Roasting
Once the beans have arrived at the manufacturer, they are cleansed of impurities such as metal, sand and plant matter. They are then roasted at 230 degrees to 428 degrees to develop the chocolate flavour of the nib. During this the moisture content is reduced by a further 2% and the starch is transformed into dextrin.
6 - Shelling & Winnowing
The beans are passed through rotating blades or impact crushers to remove the outer shells (husks). The cocoa nibs and husks are then passed through a chamber where air is blown at them and the husks are separated. The husks are then recycled as mulch and the nibs continue onto the next process.
7 - Blending, Grinding, Mixing
The cocoa beans are custom blended according to the recipes of the manufacturer. Then sugar, milk powder and vanilla are added to the coco bean blend and ground into a chocolate mass. The chocolate mass is then sent on to be rolled into finer particles in a process called refining.
8 - Refining
The refining of chocolate mass takes place between 2 rollers. The process is repeated as the distance between the rollers decreases. It will continue this until it reaches a particle size of 20 microns. This size must be maintained, if it is any larger it will have a course mouth feel, any finer it will be too sticky.
9 - Conching
The chocolate is placed into a conching machine which reduces the acidity and allows natural flavours to develop. The machine continuously kneads and churns the mass for 8 - 72 hours until it meets the manufacturers specifications. During this phase, cocoa butter, lecithin, and more vanilla are added. The chocolate is now to be tempered and made into bars or candies.
Is Dark chocolate poisonous?
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Both chemicals are used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. A person weighing 80kg would have to consume around 5.7kg of dark chocolate for it to be fatal. Generally, if you over indulge you will get a headache, little nausea and you won't want any more.
You must keep it well away from dogs.
Is White Chocolate actually Chocolate?
This has been a huge debate for many years. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk solids & sugar so why is it called chocolate? To resolve the issue the FDA who is responsible for establishing food standards declared in 2004 that as long as it contained at least 20% cocoa butter content (which derives from cocoa beans), it could be classed as white chocolate.