How does a chocolate-making machine work?

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Chocolate Information

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Have you ever wondered how chocolate is made? Enter the world of chocolate-making machines, where artistry meets engineering to create a symphony of flavors and textures.

In this blog post, we’ll take a close look at the inner workings of  chocolate-making machines. We’ll uncover the science and precision that go into transforming cocoa beans into the irresistible chocolatey goodness that we all love.

What is a chocolate-making machine?

Chocolate-making machines are specialized pieces of equipment used in chocolate factories and confectionery businesses to handle the different stages of chocolate production, from processing cocoa beans to molding and packaging the final products.  Chocolate-making is a transformational process that slowly changes the raw ingredients into quality chocolate and typically, there is a unique machine dedicated to each step of the process.

How exactly does a chocolate-making machine work? 

Chocolate-making machines come in a variety of sizes and designs, depending on the scale of production and specific processes they are designed for.  There are several categories of chocolate-making machines, each designed to perform a specific step in the production process:

  • Roasting and Cracking Machines Cocoa beans are first roasted to bring out their rich flavor. Machines control temperature and time to achieve the desired flavor profile. Once roasted, the beans are cracked so that their outer shells can be separated from the nib.
  • Winnowing Machines These machines separate the outer husks or shell of the cocoa beans, resulting in clean cocoa nibs. Most winnowing machines use either vibration or air blowers to separate the light shell from the denser nibs.
  • Grinding and Refining Machines To make chocolate liquor (100% dark chocolate) or cocoa mass, cocoa nibs are ground into a thick paste using large stones, heavy steel rollers, small metal balls or other grinding mechanisms. The heat generated by these machines melts the cocoa butter as it is released from the nibs.  These machines also reduce the particle size of the chocolate ingredients so that the resulting paste has a smooth texture.
  • Conching Machines To create chocolate with a smooth texture and rich flavor, manufacturers conch the chocolate. Conching involves mixing and agitating the chocolate for many hours (or days in some cases) to release volatile compounds and promote even distribution of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
  • Tempering Machines To create a shiny and stable finished chocolate product, manufacturers must temper the chocolate. Tempering machines heat and cool the chocolate while agitating it, ensuring that the chocolate solidifies properly.  Tempering involves a controlled crystallization of the cocoa butter molecules so that they have a specific form or pattern. This particular form, known as Form V, gives the chocolate its characteristic snap, sheen and melt.
  • Molding and Cooling Machines After the chocolate has been tempered, it is poured into molds to create various shapes of chocolate products. Molding machines ensure that the chocolate fills the molds evenly, doesn’t have any voids or bubbles and releases from the mold without sticking. Molding systems often include a vibration mechanism that shakes the molds so that the chocolate spreads out evenly.  The molds are then sent down a cooling tunnel before being inverted to release the chocolates.  After final cooling, the chocolates are set and ready to be boxed or wrapped.

Making chocolate from home with a CocoTerra chocolate making machine

CocoTerra automates the process of making chocolate, catering to both seasoned experts and newcomers to the craft. By seamlessly integrating the stages of grinding, refining, conching, tempering, and molding into a unified system, CocoTerra presents a comprehensive chocolate-making journey within a single, compact appliance. In just two hours, CocoTerra makes approximately half a pound of premium chocolate.   This is a huge step forward in terms of time efficiency and space convenience compared to present capabilities. With its unified approach to each step of the chocolate-making process and its substantial reduction in the time it takes to transform cocoa nibs into a custom batch of quality chocolate, CocoTerra democratizes the art of chocolate-making. This accessibility extends to kitchen enthusiasts, culinary connoisseurs, home professionals, experimenters, and even individuals involved in cacao cultivation – encompassing anyone intrigued by the notion of making small-batch chocolate at home. An individual with no prior knowledge of chocolate-making can be successful using our fully-automated CocoTerra machine.  The CocoTerra system will guide users through the entire chocolate-making process, from beginning to end.  Users can even customize the chocolate-making process, to make their own personalized batch of chocolate.  In an era where consumers are perpetually seeking out chocolate tailored to precise dietary needs, flavor profiles, textures, intensity preferences, health considerations and allergen restrictions, CocoTerra steps in to fulfill these needs.

10 Things you should know about chocolate-making machines

1. What mechanisms or technologies does the CocoTerra system use for all these different processes?

At the core of the grinding and refining process lies a chocolate-making technique known as ball-milling. This mechanism incorporates stainless steel media (balls) that are mixed with the chocolate ingredients to break them down into increasingly smaller pieces. Presently, industrial ball mills are used in both artisanal and industrial chocolate making. However, up until now, this technology has remained beyond the reach of home kitchens. For temperature controls, the CocoTerra chocolate maker includes a dynamic system of both active heating and cooling, a critical feature that facilitates chocolate tempering. To finish off the process CocoTerra introduces a patented spinning molding system, which spins the chocolate into the mold and shapes it into its final form.

2. Can I make chocolate that meets my specific health and dietary requirements?

One of the great benefits of CocoTerra is that you can customize your chocolate for your health and dietary needs. Vegan, Keto, and allergen-free chocolate recipes are all available.  Whether you want no refined sugar, low-sugar, or no-sugar options, you are in control of how you sweeten your chocolate.  For that added boost, you can even add health supplements, such as protein powders or puffs, and other additives to create your chocolate power bar. CocoTerra will provide users with a variety of health-conscious recipes and you can always create your own to make chocolate that fits with your lifestyle.

3. What is the output of the CocoTerra machine, i.e. what form and shape is the chocolate In?

Each batch of CocoTerra chocolate is approximately a half pound or 250 grams of ingredients, the equivalent of 3-4 bars of chocolate. The chocolate comes out as a ring of chocolate, like a bar of chocolate that is connected onto itself.  The chocolate ring can be gifted whole or broken up to be shared with family and friends. The goal of the CocoTerra molding system is to support a variety of molds with different patterns and shapes. The CocoTerra chocolate can also be re-melted (and easily re-tempered with the seeding method) for use with third-party molds or in other recipes.

4. Why does the machine mold the chocolate into a ring?

The CocoTerra chocolate maker uses a patented centrifugal system to dispense and mold chocolate. This method has several advantages over other methods of chocolate making. First, chocolate is very viscous and difficult to move so by spinning the chocolate-making chamber, CocoTerra does not have to rely on pumps or gravity to move the chocolate. Second, CocoTerra ensures that there are no voids or air bubbles in the chocolates since it fills the mold completely as it spins. Third, the chocolate also gets filtered during the molding process as the chocolate moves from the processing chamber and into the mold.

Finally, by spinning the chocolate once it’s in the mold, the machine leverages convection to cool the chocolate. The CocoTerra approach requires little chocolate-making expertise during the molding process (besides deciding on a mold decoration and design!). It’s effective, efficient and pretty cool.

5. Can I use my own molds with CocoTerra?

Yes! You can easily re-melt the chocolate from the CocoTerra machine and pour it into your own molds (using the seeding method to re-temper).  Depending on the recipe, you may also be able to pour the chocolate from the CocoTerra mold into your own mold while the chocolate is still liquid (this doesn’t work in all cases since the temper can be finicky with some recipes). 

6. Does the CocoTerra machine do chocolatiering as well as chocolate-making? Can I add inclusions and flavorings?

The CocoTerra machine will transform basic chocolate-making ingredients into chocolate, and also provide opportunities for decorating and shaping the chocolate. The mold can be outfitted with transfer sheets, which are colorful decorations that can be used to create customized designs on the chocolate. You can also use colored cocoa butter to paint the molds with custom designs; this gives you the freedom to create your own unique chocolate. The machine comes with a recipe collection that includes different flavors and ingredients such as spices, nuts and raisins that can be added to the chocolate, but you’re also free to create your own recipes. Just be sure not to add any wet ingredients (e.g. alcohol based flavor extracts) since this will ruin the chocolate. 

7. Does the machine have a “temper only” setting?

Yes, the CocoTerra machine can be run in a tempering-only mode. You can use this feature by breaking up solid chocolate or melting it and pouring it into the processing chamber, then running the temper cycle. Once the chocolate has been tempered, the system will then mold it as usual.

8. How do you clean the machine?

Cleaning is easy. The machine has two parts that require cleaning: the mold ring and the processing chamber. The mold ring can be rinsed in a sink with warm water or put in the dishwasher.  The processing chamber is also a quick clean. Simply flush warm water through the chamber while swirling around the media (the balls) which will bounce around and clean the system. The balls inside of the chamber will clean the interior surface of the chamber, while the water flushes out the bottom. The chamber can be fully cleaned in the sink or it can be put in the dishwasher as a quick rinse.  The outer lip of the chamber can be cleaned with a small brush.

9. Will the balls inside the processing chamber spill out?

No.  The processing chamber is sealed so that the balls remain inside and do not come out.

10. Is the machine safe for children?

Children are likely to enjoy participating in and/or watching the chocolate-making process, but as with any kitchen appliance, kids should be supervised while using the CocoTerra machine.

Chocolate-making machines are at the heart of any chocolate-making operation. From roasting cacao beans to final molding and packaging, these machines open a world of opportunities to create, innovate, and savor the pleasures of chocolate-making like never before.

We hope you enjoyed this article. For more great recipes, check out the rest of our CocoTerra blog

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us through our social media channels.  We are @cocoterra_co on Instagram and Pinterest and @cocoterraco on Twitter and Facebook.

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