I’m a chocolatier, and you could be too. For some reason, a world obsessed with chocolate, seems to be populated almost entirely with people who don’t know that you can make your own. Well I’ve got great news for you, you can! (And I really think you should.)
There are many reasons to create your own chocolate, but the most poignant for me, is the sheer joy you get from the process. The aroma that spreads though your kitchen is divine, chasing chocolate around a slab is relaxing, and don’t get me started on the flavour … Basically, you can customise chocolate to perfectly match your personal taste and, being relatively unprocessed, the depth of flavour is like nothing you can buy.
Using my recipe book, you can make chocolate in less than an hour. It took me considerably longer because, although the internet is full of suggested recipes, very few of them actually work without additional insight. The journey was further exacerbated by the fact that what seemed to work one day, didn’t the next.
So how did I find out how to make chocolate?
It started well. I bought some cocoa butter, melted it, added some cocoa, then some honey and waited for it to set. It was divine. I repeated this five or six times, experimenting with stevia, sugar and agave nectar.
However, making delicious, smooth milk and white chocolate was much more difficult than plain. Naturally, my first port of call was to find out how other people make theirs. You aren’t exactly spoilt for choice if you look up recipes for milk and white chocolate on the internet, but you will find some. Frustratingly, none of them worked for me. Milk powder made chocolate gritty, white chocolate tasted bitter, and ingredients typically separated out in the moulds. The recipes I found online didn’t address these potential pitfalls.
No matter how hard I tried to follow other people’s recipes, the results were never satisfactory. I even watched a YouTube video in which a man effortlessly made milk chocolate using a method that simply didn’t work for me. I felt mocked.
If recipes worked for some and not others, I knew there must be additional factors at work – perhaps there were different varieties of ingredients, speeds of working or ambient temperatures involved.
One recipe did not fit all. Why?
I broke down every part of the process, meticulously labelling experiments ‘A’ through ‘D’ and asking willing participants to taste the results. The typical responses where, “It’s nice, but it just isn’t chocolate’.
Back to the drawing board. Again. Then again. Then again. I started buying wholesale cocoa butter.
Little breakthroughs kept me going, for example finding a way to process powdered milk so that it doesn’t destroy the texture.
The best discovery was realising that you can make white chocolate at home. You just need to combine a very particular type of cocoa butter with my secret ingredient – something divine, readily available and not something I’ve seen used in any other home chocolate recipes.
I spent days juggling not just different varieties of ingredients, but ways of combining and cooling them. For some time I was in denial about the importance of a process called tempering – used when working with shop-bought chocolate to control crystal structure. It sounded scary, and not the sort of thing I could write about in a cookbook aimed at the lay person. This posed two challenges: how to apply to wealth of scientific information about melting chocolate to making it, and finding a way to work the process into a recipe without alienating anybody.
I got around this problem by keeping the recipes relatively brief and providing a detailed introduction and an extensive trouble shooting section.
Writing the book was a steep learning curve, and I have a new found respect for our ancestors, who saw a cocoa bean and not only recognised its potential, but developed the process of turning it into chocolate.
Chocolate Making Adventures, like chocolate making itself, is something you can either dip into or completely immerse yourself within. There’s something for every ability level. It’s not a consortium of hundreds of recipes, it’s an educational tool that will open up infinite possibilities.
Kath had been making chocolate for less than a week when she started adapting recipes and creating her own flavours. In fact, it’s Kath’s experimentation that led coffee chocolate to end up in the final publication.
Exciting, impressive and some-times counter-intuitive, home chocolate making is a skill like no other, which, once you’ve mastered, you’ll want to do again and again.
Thanks, Rosen. You certainly inspired me! You can find Chocolate making Adventures and all Rosen's books on her Amazon Author Page - here.
Just to whet your appetite, here's some of the chocolate Rosen made. Photo courtesy of Claire Wilson who took all the photos used in the book.