chocolate conching 101

chocolate wheel

What is Chocolate Conching?

During chocolate conching, the components that make chocolate – cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar – are placed in steel vessels that stir the mass for several hours so the particles acquire a more uniform shape and are therefore more evenly coated with the cocoa butter.

Due to air flowing through the conche and heat created from friction, another crucial outcome of this process is achieved: excess water and bitter acids that affect the resulting flavor profile and texture are evaporated from the mixture. basically, chocolate conching is an important refining step in the making of chocolate.

When Was Chocolate Conching Invented?

Rodolphe Lindt, a Swiss chocolatier and founder of Lindt chocolate, invented chocolate conching in 1879. It is said that his invention may have been a happy accident when he left a mixer containing chocolate run overnight. When he returned, he noticed that the resulting chocolate was actually shinier, less grainy and had a better aroma than typical chocolate at the time.

His invention of chocolate conching made the mass production of chocolate much more practical. While his original conche took over a day to process a ton of chocolate, modern machines now process 3-10 tons in 12 hours or less.

Why is Chocolate Conching Important?

The conching process helps chocolatiers develop distinct flavor profiles through experimenting with variables like conching time and temperature. According to chuao chocolatier’s chef Michael Antonorsi, “In the conching process, some volatile acids get released, and the conching time is key to fine tune the amount of acidity you like in the chocolate. The longer you conch, the less acidic or tart the chocolate becomes. The taste I look for our chocolate is a slight tartness (hence a shorter conching time), which bring out the fruity notes we like.”  

Conching also helps determine the texture of the bar through controlled temperatures (this varies depending on type of chocolate), although chocolate tempering also plays a large role in the chocolate’s final texture and color. Typically, higher temperature leads to a shorter conching time.

If you enjoyed this blog post, learn about the science of chocolate tempering or discover the meaning behind chocolate percentages.

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