It is possible to make high-quality chocolate in your kitchen. No, not that ersatz chocolate that has you combine cocoa powder and liquid sweeteners, which are to quality chocolate as hamburger is to rib eye. Real homemade chocolate starts with fresh beans that you roast, dehusk, and refine into bars. While there is no “recipe” for making artisan chocolate — the two ingredients are sugar and cacao beans — the process offers endless combinations of flavors based on the temperature, extra ingredients, and, of course, the beans. The difference between a fruity bean like Madagascar, a nutty Nicaragua Trinitario, or the powerfully earthy Ecuador Organic is vast, and the quality you get at home is rarely found in stores (Even the fancy $5, foil-wrapped bars in the supermarket often use poor quality beans, over-roast them, and add tons of sugar to cover up the poor taste.)
Between the beans and sugar, making chocolate costs about $1 per ounce of homemade chocolate. By comparison, for the very finest craft or artisan chocolate you might pay between $3 and $9 per ounce. Still, you shouldn’t make homemade chocolate if you’re trying to save money: By the time you figure in your labor and startup costs (you need a wet grinder and juicer, meaning you have to drop nearly $500 to start), economically you’d be better off buying your fine chocolate than making it. But the sight of those bars coming out of a mold, the smell of your house, and the hard-earned final product is more than just compensation for a few hours of labor and chocolate on every faucet and doorknob in your house. And besides, it’s good for the chocolate industry, says Shawn Askinosie, an award-winning chocolate maker. “Those who make their own will tell their friends and raise the value and awareness of fine chocolate. This will be good for the farmers and for the industry in general.”
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