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Guest opinion: Adventures in chocolate making

By Anneli Byrd - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 7, 2022

Photo supplied

Anneli Byrd

I don’t know what it is about human nature that people simply can’t stand doing things the easy way — or at least not for very long. So, I was thrilled when my daughter, rather than buying me an expensive box of Belgian chocolate for my birthday, instead came over with everything to make chocolate from scratch! The only thing we didn’t do was grow the cacao beans ourselves (but don’t rule that out for next time). If you’d like to make chocolate yourself, you can just follow our simple 28-step procedure.

  1. Excitedly spread everything all over the counter, so as to leave no space to work.
  2. Put most of it back in the box so there’s space to work.
  3. Watch an instructional video, preferably with a British instructor because of the accent.
  4. Open the cacao beans. Taste a cacao bean.
  5. Spit out the cacao bean.
  6. Measure out the beans. Wonder if what is measured will make one bar or 100?
  7. Roast the beans “until they smell like brownies.” Take turns chanting, “Are they done?” “Maybe just a little longer.”
  8. Remove beans and wonder if they’re done.
  9. Let beans cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, put sugar through the food processor to make it “more powdery.” Wonder why instructions say this step technically needs industrial equipment, but not why we can’t just use powdered sugar.
  11. Put the beans in a plastic bag and joyously crush them with a rolling pin. Shouting is necessary.
  12. Wonder if they are crushed enough? Too much?
  13. Put the beans in a bowl.
  14. Get the blow dryer.
  15. Head out to the back porch.
  16. Aim the air in the bowl to blow the shells away while the nibs remain in the bowl.
  17. Discover the high setting is a bad idea.
  18. Continue to blow both shells and nibs all over the porch. Acknowledge that blow drying is the best part of cooking, second only to using a blow torch.
  19. Use leaf blower to blow shells onto the grass. Hope the lawn will now emit chocolate notes while mowing.
  20. Put the nibs in the food processor with a carefully measured amount of sugar and grind until they are of a “fudgy” consistency. Continue adding more random amounts of sugar and some cacao butter. Maybe more sugar?
  21. Now “conch” the chocolate. This means putting our pitifully small amount of fudgy goodness in the KitchenAid to mix for a whole hour.
  22. Decide that it isn’t nearly enough and repeat the whole process using twice as many beans this time!
  23. Meanwhile, temper some white chocolate (store bought) by warming it up and pouring it out on a small, marble Lazy Susan. Play with it using a big scraping tool while feeling very professional.
  24. White chocolate is ready! Have molds handy. Use nuts, flavor extracts, edible shimmers and special colors to make a truly random assortment of chocolate. The color and shape will have nothing to do with flavor. What you get will be a surprise!
  25. The dark chocolate is ready! Repeat steps 20-24.
  26. The second batch is ready! Repeat steps 20-24.
  27. Sample the chocolate that has been sampled steadily since step 20. It will not be awful. Be proud of the mediocre quality! There will be lots and lots of it! Bonus: The chocolates from the flower mold will look exactly like bath soap! More surprises might be in the future!
  28. Exhausted, go out for dinner.

There you go. Like I said, anyone can make chocolate so long as they have a shaky grip on rational behavior and low standards. The only thing I would do differently next time is to have that box of Belgian chocolate nearby to sustain me while I work.

Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.

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