Friday, October 16, 2015

Pressing Cocoa Butter from Cocoa Beans with The Chocolate Doctor

Last Friday, Dr. Kerry Beal (a.k.a. The Chocolate Doctor) stopped by for a visit while she was working up here on Manitoulin Island. And for some afternoon fun, she brought a cocoa butter press! This was super exciting for me, since I have not had the opportunity to extract cocoa butter from cocoa beans. And yet, it is such an important step in the making of many fine chocolates.

Kerry's little cocoa butter press was ordered in from Piteba in Holland. And in actuality, it is an 'oil expeller', which the company's website says can express the oil from any nuts and seeds that have with more than 25% oil, and they include a spec sheet on settings for cocoa beans. Although, as many of us know, cocoa beans are very different. 

The original cocoa butter press was invented by Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 in Amsterdam, which began the Van Houton cocoa powder and beverage line (once the cocoa butter is pressed out of cocoa beans, you get a hard mass leftover that can be ground into cocoa powder). Cocoa butter is desired by chocolate makers to add in to chocolate for a creamier mouthfeel.

Small presses are not widely manufactured and sold these days, and some chocolate makers are forced to build their own in order to make truly single origin chocolate (ref). But Kerry somehow got her hands on this press from Holland and has been testing it out to extract cocoa butter for use in the EZtemper

On Friday, we used the Piteba oil press to try to extract the cocoa fat from some Brazilian cocoa beans from Cacao Bahia farms, with the hopes of using the cocoa butter extracted to make single origin chocolate. I make homemade chocolate in the blender, so I need a little extra cocoa butter added to my chocolate to help the appliance grind the chocolate down. And I prefer that the cocoa butter comes from the same beans that I use to make the chocolate.

Also, since I have an EZtemper, all the cocoa butter that I need to temper the chocolate is 1% of the entire batch of chocolate being tempered. The EZtemper would then keep the cocoa butter at a precise temperature, so when added to chocolate that is at 33.5º Celsius or less, it tempers it instantly.

We tried whole unroasted beans - with shells on - as was the method told to Kerry by the maker of the oil expeller, but that was a bust.  Shells came out the hole where butter as supposed to drip from, and cocoa butter came out where the cocoa mass should have! But there was hope, since some cocoa butter did come out - just not from the right spot. Unfortunately, this method caused some waste of beans and extracted very little cocoa butter.

This is the tiny amount of Brazilian origin
cocoa butter that we extracted - it is difficult to see in the picture,
but to give you an idea, the container it is in is a very small 1/4 cup measure.
But it may be enough - a little can go a long way in the EZtemper!

So we tried again with nibs. That too didn't work well, but after a third attempt that evening with warmed steamed beans, Kerry achieved enough to get 1% for use in the EZtemper.  She has since been working on a method of cooking the chocolate mass to extract the cocoa butter, which seems to be working better than the press that should have extracted it. You can see this method on her YouTube page:

I do plan to use the small amount of cocoa butter that we extracted - it is a very tiny amount, but the aroma is so chocolaty that it should not be wasted!  I will use it in the Brazilian-origin chocolate that I am making next week. I'll let you know the results soon! 

But right now, I have a festival to get ready for on Saturday.  If you are local to the Sudbury-Manitoulin region, you can find me at the Espanola Pumpkin & Fibre Arts Festival on Saturday, selling a special pumpkin-spiced chocolate TOFFLE, as well as all my other chocolate creations.