Last week at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair, Chantal (founder of Rococo Chocolates) and Mott from the Grenada Chocolate Company did a talk on ‘Confessions of a Cocoa Addict’.
Mott bought fresh pods and dried cocoa beans from the Grococo plantation in Grenada, and they demonstrated how you can roast the beans yourself at home and make fresh hot chocolate.
Mott is showing the inside of a fresh cocoa pod while Chantal roasts beans by stirring them continually in a saucepan over medium heat. They’re ready when you can crush them between a thumb and finger and they crumble into smallish pieces, but this is a delicate process with a fine line between not-quite-cooked and burnt. The smell of roasting beans was absolutely fantastic, just like you’d expect the chocolate river in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to smell.
Also, loving the popstar style microphones.
Once roasted, the papery husks have to be removed. It all got a bit Ready, Steady, Cook at this point with innocent bystanders dragged in to help.
Next, grind the nibs in a food mixer, a very rough version of the grinding cocoa undergoes in its transformation to chocolate. After 5-10 minutes the beans will start to release their oils, leaving a sticky, grainy paste. The key here is not to add any sugar or the paste will turn from a rough peanut-butter texture to concrete.
While we waited for the beans to grind, Mott passed round samples of the beans at different stages and spoke about the euphoria-inducing properties of the theobromine found in cocoa (the confessions part of the talk!).
Add the paste to a pan/bowl of boiling water and whizz thoroughly with a hand-held blender. You can see this better in the mirror above Chantal’s head. It’s this blending that really gets the flavour going and creates a creamy texture, and this is the time to taste-test and add sugar (we like the slightly fudgy edge of raw cane sugar).
Of course, you have to sieve the mixture, unless you particularly like your drinks grainy…
The finished product! Chantal made really thick hot chocolate (the way we often drink it in the shops), like an espresso shot.
It was hard to believe this is made with only water and that something so sophisticated was beans 15 minutes prieviously. It was incredibly creamy, and the fruity flavours of the Trinitario beans grown on the Grococo estate really shone through. It’s definitely worth a go at home if you can get your hands on dried raw cocoa beans.
Chantal looking (justifiably) pleased with her work!