The process begins with harvesting. Ripe cocoa pods are harvested twice a year. The pods are cut open with machetes and the white pulp containing the cocoa beans is scooped out. Not all cocoa harvests are same. Everything from geography, to soil type to the climatic conditions of the harvest have a huge impact on the beans and the chocolate’s flavour profile.
STEP 2: FERMENTING
Cocoa beans are fermented so as to destroy the seed coat, kill the germ and give the cocoa a good taste. The pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers, where the pulp is allowed to ferment for seven days. During the process, the beans are turned twice help them ferment more evenly. The beans are purple at the beginning, and turn reddish when they are fermented. This is the first stage in developing the flavour of the chocolate, and part of the reason why a farmer can have a direct impact on the quality of the finished chocolate.
STEP 3 : DRYING
Drying the beans is usually done by spreading them out into a single layer in the sun on bamboo top table for aeration. Dried beans are transferred into sacks and transported. it’s important that they’re completely dry to prevent mould. Drying cocoa beans takes five to ten days.
STEP 4 : TRANSPORTATION
The Beans are transported to Delhi in sacks. The sacks are kept open for seven days to air it out. The next steps of chocolate formation happens in our studio based out of Sainik farms, Delhi
STEP 5 : SORTING
To good quality production, cocoa beans are properly sorted by removing foreign particles , flat beans, moulded beans, dust, partially germinated beans , and broken beans. Only fully formed, completely fermented and dried cacao beans are used at Darkins.
STEP 6: ROASTING
The hot climate required to grow cocoa makes the chocolate making process more challenging. We use standard ovens and rotate the beans manually and roast as evenly and accurately as possible. The exact temperature and roast time changes with every batch and is worked out with careful experimentation and lots of tasting!
STEP 7: CRACKING & WINNOWING
The roasted cocoa beans have a thin, papery shell around them which needs to be removed, so at this point in the process, the beans are cracked open and the shell is removed in a process called winnowing. The lighter shells are blown away with fans, leaving behind pieces of pure cocoa bean, known as “nibs”. While the shells aren’t used in the chocolate, they can be brewed to make a delicate chocolatey infusion called cocoa tea. The nibs are intense, but eating one you can taste the cocoa’s distinctive flavours.
STEP 8 : GRINDING & CONCHING
The cocoa nibs are ground with stone rollers until they become a paste known as cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. This pure, unrefined form of chocolate contains both cocoa solids (the chocolatey part!) and cocoa butter (the natural fat present in the bean). Extra cocoa butter to give their chocolate a smoother, glossier texture. Traditionally, the cocoa mass is be transferred to a separate machine called a conch, where it is further refined. We combine the grinding and conching into a single process using a machine called a melanger. This is simply a large metal cylinder with two rotating granite wheels that grind and refine the chocolate into very small particles. It’s during this process that sugar and other flavourings are added to the chocolate. The conching process is done for more than twelve hours and affects the chemical structure of the chocolate, as well as the particle size. This part of the process has a very big impact on the flavour notes in the finished chocolate.
STEP 9 : TEMPERING
Great chocolate should have a shiny finish and a good “snap” – that clean clicking sound when you break a piece off. These are created by tempering, the controlled process of raising, lowering and raising the temperature of the chocolate to form exactly the right kind of crystals. If you were to let the untempered chocolate cool naturally, the chocolate would be soft and crumbly and would not melt evenly on the tongue. Tempering can be done by hand, but the process would be enormously time consuming so we use semi automatic tempering machines that can heat large quantities of chocolate very accurately. The tempering machine keeps the melted chocolate circulating at exactly the right temperature, making the final step easier.
STEP 10 : MOULDING
The final step in making a finished chocolate bar is pouring it into a mould. The tempered chocolate is poured by hand into polycarbonate bar-shaped moulds and agitated to remove any air bubbles. We use the mould from which the chocolate created can be broken easily and if desired only small pieces can be broken easily for consumption.
STEP 11 : WRAPPING
Once tempered chocolate is cooled at 14 degree centigrade . The chocolate is wrapped in foil and packed in boxes to keep it resealable . Up ready to be sent out. We wrap our every single bars completely by hand .