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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chocolat - From Bean to Confection

US Department of Agriculture photo
Chocolate is dry paste, made with cocoa beans, & sugar, to which vanilla or an infinity of ingredients that the inventive Americans add. One makes and stores tablettes [of prepared chocolate] in the [pantry]; one drinks it; one employs it to make creams. The chocolate cannot succeed, if one did not choose mature cocoa pods; the best known pods are of gall color [ripe and brown; inside the pod are beans both brown color & dark crimson; those which are red are not worth anything: they are the hard & bitter chocolate; but the quality of the cocoa will only be known after it is roasted; because then it is seen whether there are many of these red grains]. It is necessary that the cocoa is roasted in order to find the taste & the color of chocolate you desire.

To roast the chocolate to the appropriate color, put it [chocolate beans removed from the pulp] in a pan of copper or iron, or in an unglazed terracotta pot, and put it on the fire & stir it up constantly until it is black on the outside, like roasted chestnuts; for this first time, one cannot brown too much; then the cocoa should be peeled, & winnowed well [to remove the outsides of the seeds]; to see if it is roasted enough, it is best to make a test of it; take one ounce of cocoa, & an half-ounce of sugar, which you reduce to a paste to better distinguish the taste & the color; because if it is not brown enough, & if it does not feel roasted enough, one shouldn’t fear to roast it once again, but carefully, because once its bark is removed, it is burned easily; & takes a malicious taste.

When one reaches the proper color, smell and taste, one crushes it with the mortar, so that it is a rather tiny grained masse when some is put on a plate. When the paste of the chocolate approaches this fine grain, it is necessary to add to it vanilla*, & a little powdered cinnamon[or other spice and flavor]; the quantity depends on the will. The whole being mixed together, you add to it three quarters or a pound sugar, for a pound of cocoa; mix your sugar in well and put the mixture back into your mortar, and put it back in the mortar or put it on the stone [metate] or the iron pan heated below with a chafing dish or small fire; also get the roller [mano]: then reduce this compound powder until very fine, a paste will develop with pressure and heat; pass the roller above little-by-little, until it is fine when it does not crunch on the teeth; then tablettes of one ounce are formed, or rolls of a quarter or of half-pound.

*It is necessary to choose strong vanilla, not too dry, nor too fatty; because they are often mixed with oil of balsam [to preserve them], pare them to make sure they are good & fresh: they are very difficult to reduce to a powder; but after having cut them in small pieces with scissors, pulverize them & pass them by the sieve [before adding to the mortar].

Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 156-158.

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