Whole cacao beans are not always easy for the average consumer to find. And when you do find them, the beans need to be shelled, which is a messy process that may leave you vacuuming your kitchen for a week. So one way to make chocolate 'from the bean' in your own kitchen is to use cacao nibs. These are considerably easy to find compared to whole beans, and the shells have been removed, so you will have less of a mess to clean up after you have made your home-made chocolate.
I have recently used three brands of cacao nibs that are readily available in stores (and online). Giddy Yoyo (Toronto), Camino and Organic Traditions.
Giddy Yoyo also makes and sells raw chocolate and promotes a raw food lifestyle. I made chocolate from these raw cacao nibs once, then I roasted them to taste the flavour difference. Truthfully, I preferred the roasted flavour of my homemade chocolate best (see below for roasting instructions).
Camino sells 100 gram bags of organic and Fair Trade cacao nibs that come from Peru. Also raw, these nibs were tangy and acidic and offered a lot of bold flavour to my homemade chocolate. Once roasted, they also made for a great snack 'as is', if you can get used to the flavour of unsweetened nibs. Camino is available in many stores across Canada, like Loblaws and Superstore and these nibs can also be purchased online. I bought three cases!
Organic Traditions offers nibs in 227 gram (1/2 lb) bags. Also a little acidic, these are probably the most widely available in Ontario; I have found them at both Independent Grocer and HomeSense. With an unspecified origin, the packaging lists these nibs as organic. They are also raw.
I have seen nibs at American grocery stores in the health food section and I am sure that a health food store in your area would carry them. Or you can purchase nibs in both small and large quantities from Nuts.com (1 lb, 5 lb and 20 lb bags). They also sell peeled cacao beans, although they are more expensive and basically the same thing. Also, Nuts.com sells a Criollo variety of unpeeled cacao beans. While you are on their website, check out the cacao butter selection. Cacao butter is not easy to find, but you may want to add some while making chocolate to 'grease' your mixing equipment.
Where else you can buy cacao nibs online? Navitas Naturals Online sells 4 oz, 8 oz and 16 oz bags. In Canada, Upaya Naturals sells a Sunfood brand online. And for those serious about making fine flavor chocolate, make sure you visit the Chocolate Alchemy website for nibs or beans. For people on the other side of the world, Life Foods - a New Zealand website also sells cacao nibs.
If you are starting a chocolate business and looking for a steady supplier of cocoa beans and nibs, check the more recent list that I have posted on the blog here: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2016/08/where-to-buy-cocoa-beans-nibs-and-other.html.
Roasting Instructions for Cacao Nibs
To roast cacao nibs, pre-heat your oven to 300 F. Spread the nibs out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes and stir to ensure that the smallest pieces are not burning). Take them out of the oven when they start to smell like baked brownies.
Quick Recipe for Making Chocolate at Home from Cacao Nibs (62% dark chocolate):
Click here for measurements for an 82% dark chocolate and here for a recipe that calls for coconut sugar instead of cane sugar with 76% cacao solids, and visit here for a recipe for 70% dark chocolate as well as 62% dark-milk chocolate.
- Grind 4 oz of roasted (or raw if you prefer) cacao nibs in a small, single blade coffee grinder. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- Grind 2 ounces of dry sugar crystals (coconut or cane sugar) in the same coffee grinder. Add the scraping of one vanilla bean if you like and grind with the sugar. Add to the bowl with the cacao beans.
- Pour the ground cacao beans, sugar and vanilla bean into a dry blender. Start to blend on high. Let mix for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt about a 1/2 ounce of cacao butter over a double boiler or in the microwave (for 2 minutes on half power). Add to the blender. You will notice your chocolate becoming liquid as your blender warms up and the warm cocoa butter also begins to melt your chocolate.
- Ensure that your blender is not overheating. Turn on and off if it is and try to blend for about 10 minutes in total.
If you have a thermometer and your chocolate is about 88 degrees F, then pour it into a chocolate mold (or a small square pan or plastic container if you do not have molds) - you may get lucky and it will be in temper! If your chocolate is a bit white-ish or streaky once cooled, you will need to temper it. Since you are making your own chocolate from scratch, you will not be able to use the 'seed' method to temper it. Here are my detailed instructions for tempering chocolate in three ways: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2014/04/there-is-more-than-one-method-to-temper.html.
For choosing moulds, I find the thinner the pieces, the better the taste since your chocolate will be a little gritty still (you need to upgrade your equipment and spend about $300 on a 'chocolate refiner', also called a melangeur, if you want to make smooth chocolate at home. To buy one, search 'Santha' or 'Premier Chocolate Refiner' in Google).
Contact me at info at ultimatelychocolate.com if you have any concerns with your homemade chocolate project or this recipe. Good luck!
Below are some pics of the chocolate that I have made in my blender and Ninja smoothie attachment (which works better than the three-blade larger blender attachment), and although some can look perfectly smooth in photos, don't be fooled, blender chocolate still has a little unrefined grittiness to it. But the pride of making it yourself ensures it always tastes great :-) .
|Homemade bean-to-bar chocolate made with Peruvian cacao beans |
purchased from Jedwards Int.
|Milk and dark chocolate made in the Ninja Smoothie |
attachment on the Ninja Blender.
|Brazil origin chocolate made from cacao sent to me by an organic cacao farm - |
rustic-style dark-milk chocolate has a little crunch and tastes delicious!
|Brazil Origin dark chocolate with a smooth look but a rustic crunch.|
|Ground chocolate ready for tempering. |
This was my smoothest 'blender chocolate' batch yet.
|From bean-to-fish! I poured my tempered homemade |
dark chocolate into fish-shaped ice cube moulds to get this fun shape.