Why Bean-To-Bar Chocolates and Ingredients Matter
You are probably asking why bean-to-bar? Why should I pay $10 to $12 per bar? It’s simple, really. When consuming something, do you read through your labels to understand all the ingredients before eating it? Sometimes, sure. If you are particular about what you consume, you would want to know more about the ingredients because you wouldn’t just drink poison that’s labeled, would you?
Bean-to-bar chocolates are made primarily with 2 ingredients – cocoa beans and sugar. Sometimes, cocoa butter and cocoa nibs are added. For the 5th ingredient, some like to add vanilla, nuts or other items such as milk, peanut butter and even tea leaf to make the bar unique.
I like my chocolate with as little ingredients possible so I can savour its true taste, quality and texture – whether it’s smooth, grainy, rich, roasted, nutty, bold or mellow. I also like to know exactly what ingredients I’m consuming. How many times have you picked up a canned food from the grocery store to find corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate or monosodium glutamate as the first ingredient listed?
Hence, not only is the entire process of making chocolate extremely complicated (which I will cover another time) or who the supply chains are affecting, it’s vital to know what ingredients are used to make it.
Cocoa beans come from Theobroma Cacao aka cacao tree. The fruit they produce are called pods. In these pods (cocoa beans) are the seeds that chocolate makers use to make chocolate. These fruits are harvested when the pods change color. The taste from each bean can vary significantly depending on the weather and climate of where it was grown – how much rain and sun it received, as well as the soil’s acidity.
When the cocoa beans are roasted and dried, they are broken up to remove the shell. What remains are the nibs or the flesh of the beans – fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cocoa beans. They are the raw form of chocolate prior to grinding, conching, tempering and forming.
Cocoa nibs are used to make cocoa butter, which is a type of healthy fat. Cocoa butter is one of the most expensive ingredients in the chocolate-making process. It is cocoa butter that gives chocolate a smooth, silky finish.