chocolate making

Chocolate making

Conching is the process of blending cocoa, cocoa butter, an emulsifier (usually lecithin), sugar and flavours such as essential oils and heating them to temperatures greater than 160 F (71 ºC). Then, the lactose crystals become amorphous lactose, being the latter responsible for the softness of the completed chocolate. Conching is a key step in the chocolate making as the typical benefits of chocolate such as smell, taste and texture are developed during this step. It is now when the bitterness and acidity of cocoa disappear, the content of water is lessened and flavours are increased. Maillard reactions are directly related to the high temperatures of above 160 F, resulting in new aromas. At this stage, the volatiles escape due to high shear that breaks up the agglomerates. Such a reduction of volatiles (aldehydes, acids), as well as the evaporation of excess water, which take place during the first conching stage named “dry step,” allows the reduction of unwanted tastes and odours in the finished chocolate. This is followed by a “wet step,” where the solid particles are covered with fat due to the addition of cocoa butter and the emulsifier. This fat allows forming a continuous phase that determines properties such as handling or viscosity of the final chocolate. In the end, a third conching step consists of liquefying the mass to yield a fluid that can be poured or pumped.