This is a continuation of the Cotton Tree Chocolate Tour entry. The review ended with our chocolate in the conching machine. After three days it was ready to move onto the next steps.
One of the best parts of today was the air conditioned room we worked in. AC was pretty rare in Belize!
The liquid chocolate from the concher was poured into tempering machines. Tempering is the process of heating and cooling the chocolate. This is what creates the glossy sheen. The machines look a bit like ice cream makers, spinning the liquid chocolate. When the temperature screen read 90 degrees, it was time to start making our bars.
We used measuring syringes to move the liquid chocolate between the tempering machine and the molds. The plastic bar shaped mold fits onto a vibrating mechanism that shakes out the air bubbles as the chocolate fills the frame. Then the molds are move to a shelf to cool. After a few hours they are ready to wrap.
Cotton Tree seals their chocolate in foil and then each bar is inserted into a small box. Our personal bars were sealed and then we stuck on a label with the Cotton Tree logo and our name.
This is a small factory that does a lot of the work by hand. It is very different than a big manufacturer. Still, the quality of the chocolate is impressive.
We each made three bars to take home which was pretty amazing. We started with cacao beans and ended with chocolate!