Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Chocolate Challenge - Conching

Dear readers,

Eeeeek... over two months have passed without my posting on here! I'm so sorry! Life has been even busier than usual and very chocolaty too. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know what I've been up to! Sorry to ruin the surprise, but I completed my first bar a couple of months ago and I'm now on my third batch of chocolate! I am learning a lot, and I have much to share with you!

The fourth stage of my home chocolate production is conching. There are two main purposes for this stage; flavour development and texture development. In essence, conching is the churning of the chocolate at an elevated temperature (ideally 40°C to 50°C) for an extended period of time.
I mentioned in my refining post that I bought a stone grinder because I would be able to carry out two stages of my chocolate production with it (grinding and conching). Although the machine has no temperature control, some heat is produced from the friction during the mixing. This keeps the chocolate at around 30°C which seems to be good enough to "conch" the chocolate!

I conched my first batch for 24 hours and despite the small particle size (from the grinding), it still felt a little dusty in the mouth and not very creamy. I decided to conch my second batch for 48 hours. The difference was quite significant! The extra conching time gave the chocolate a much smoother and creamier texture. This is due to the even distribution of the cocoa butter coating the sugar and cocoa mass particles. During the conching process there is also flavour development from the release of volatiles, which reduces the acidic and astringent notes. This makes a more rounded flavour and better overall quality chocolate. Delicious!

The next stage is probably the most tedious... tempering!


  1. I'm even learning a new vocabulary here. Conching is an excellent word. 48 hours of it is pretty serious, though. I now realise that chocolate bars can't be picked straight from the tree.

  2. Ever thought about asking Paul A Young if he will let you spend an afternoon with him.....?
    I'm on the list for the next chocolate bar, you have amazed me with your knowledge of all things chocolaty.

  3. Have you watched the video of cacao farms trying their first taste of chocolate? Go google it-so touching! You never realise the work that's gone behind a simple bar of chocolate until you try making it yourself. You;ve done well!!!

    Also, p.s. the London event I promised you? Yup up on the blog now ;)

  4. Kudos for experimenting with conching. It's the least understood and explored area of making chocolate. If you want to make something great, stay on the course. Each origin is unique and some have more needs/wants. For instance, we just finished a conche on our Madagascar that was 108 hours long. Learn to embrace the grind.

    Case Coniglio
    owner & tastemaker of chocolate
    BRAZEN Chocolate

    My goal is to simply create great chocolate worth sharing and talking about.

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  6. You are so dedicated, but it sure sounds like it's paying off! Smoother and creamier sounds wonderful:)

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