Bean to bar chocolate 101: Understanding the Toska technique
Toska, literally translating to “nostalgia” in Russian, the word evokes a feeling of joyful reminiscence not unlike the one we feel when we take a bite of our favourite chocolate. But what about a chocolate bar that makes it so irresistible? Is it the best cocoa beans, an astute chocolate maker, the best chocolate ingredients or a foolproof technique?
Spoiler alert-All of the above.
What exactly is Bean-to-bar chocolate?
While technically every chocolate bar is a bean-to-bar, artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate takes it up a notch. To build a truly superior quality chocolate bar, attention must be paid and an in-house bean-to-bar processing unit, let's boutique chocolate makers (like us) do just that.
But what is the process? How is chocolate made? What makes a Toska bar so good?
Let’s take a deep dive into Toska’s bean-to-bar chocolate processing!
Sorting the beans
After being fermented & dried, beans coming in from the finest Indian estates in Idukki, Kerala and Eluru, Andhra Pradesh are greeted by Toska at our plant. Having received these heavenly cocoa beans, we set out to sort only the best from this lot, so as to maintain flavour & quality while making chocolate. Imagine biting into a chocolate bar you didn’t like, horrifying!
Next, we roast these fine cocoa beans, generally maintaining a temperature of about 98 degrees C for 10–15 minutes. This crucial process not only deepens the chocolate flavour but also eliminates bacteria, reduces the moisture content & loosens the bean shells.
Let’s get Cracking
Roasted cocoa beans, now ready to come out of their shells, are gently cracked to later remove the outer shell, while preserving the nib, or interior of the cocoa bean, securely inside.
With shells cracked, we move to the next part of our bean-to-bar process where the most desirable part of the cocoa bean, the nib, is separated from the shells through winnowing. Here, using air currents the light and empty shells are separated from the nib!
This grind is more rewarding than any other you might be doing!
Large machines grind cocoa nibs between fine plates and this repeated action slowly breaks down the nibs into the luxurious cocoa mass that we all know and love. But that’s not all yet…
What’s good CAN be made better and refined cocoa mass is proof of that. After the preliminary grinding of the nibs, this rich mass is refined further till every single nib has dissolved and what’s left is thick, silky goodness and nothing else.
At this stage, we take the cocoa mass i.e. all that has been extracted from the cocoa beans and set it to continuously mix and agitate at a controlled temperature. This process allows the flavour of the chocolate to deepen. It also determines the number of volatile acids that will remain in the final chocolate bar and above all, does a great job rounding off any stray bitter tastes in the chocolate.
Here our endeavour with the chocolate liquor is to subject it to rising and falling temperatures so as to bring it to the right consistency by equally distributing the crystals and essentially stabilising it. This process in the bean-to-bar journey is responsible for the quintessential shine and snap we all know and love in our favourite chocolate bars.
Pouring and Cooling
Congratulations! You’ve made it till the end!
The final step a Toska bar goes through is pouring and cooling!
These bars usually spend 10 mins cooling at 18 to 20 degrees Celsius temperature, after which they are sent for packing and then straight to your homes!
While every chocolate around the globe may go through a similar process of production, it is the finer details of our love for high-quality ingredients, our dedication to making truly delicious vegan options available, and our obsession with inventive flavours that makes Toska the avant-garde yet nostalgic experience it is.
So next time you bite into a Toska (and once your taste buds recover from overwhelming joy), we hope you taste these finer details and love our chocolate just as much as we do.