What is "Bean to Bar"? It is a term used to describe the process when a chocolate maker begins with raw cacao beans, rather than with an already refined chocolate liquor. The reason this is exciting is because it gives the chocolate maker much more control throughout the whole process in order to achieve the fullest flavor potential of each batch of beans! At Two Little Monkeys, our bean to bar process takes around 3-4 days of work (and loving care) before our bars are packaged and ready to enjoy.
Craft Chocolate, from Bean-to-Bar
We sort because we don't want anything but the best beans going into our chocolate! Many unwanted things can find their way into cacao sacks on the farm; feathers, rocks, twigs etc. We also find some beans that just don't meet our standard. There is no speedy way around this process. To do it right, means to hand-select the best beans and discard the rejects.
Roasting cacao beans plays a major role in flavor development. Any tannins or acidity that remain after fermentation are reduced, while the complex chocolate flavors are enhanced. Each batch of beans requires it's own roasting profile in order to bring out the fullest flavor potential. We test as we go in order to ensure an ideal roast.
Once roasted, the beans are cracked in order to release the shell from the cacao nibs. The shells then need to be separated out, which is done with an airflow system that lifts the lighter shells away and drops the heavier nibs.
In order to prepare our cacao nibs for refining, we first pass the nibs through a traditional grain mill. This turns them into a course powder, which quickly transforms into chocolate liquor in the next step...
This is where cacao truely transforms into chocolate! Once the cacao powder has melted and is flowing smoothly (known as chocolate liquor), the sugar and vanilla are then added. The chocolate continues to refine anywhere from 30-36 hours in order to reduce the particle size to the point where the chocolate melts smoothly on the tounge.
TEMPER & MOLD
In order for chocolate to maintain a nice shine and snap when broken apart, it needs to be tempered. This is the finicky process of raising and lowering temperatures in order for the cocoa butter to reach its most stable form. Once tempered, chocolate is molded, tapped to release air bubbles and then sprinkled with flavor toppings.
Each of our bars are inspected for any flaws that may occur during molding and then wrapped by hand and stamped with flavor.