The maturation of chocolate
After exploring the differences between real expiration dates and those displayed on our favorite bars, we explore the maturation of artisanal chocolate to modify, or even improve, the flavor.
A trend that we discovered when meeting several artisan chocolatiers who are starting to reserve part of their production for maturation of chocolate in a controlled environment. Does this process really work? A practice that divides experts, but which could also hold great vintages for us in the world of Bean-to-Bar.
After conching, some artisans decide to mature their chocolate before tempering it. Typically, they package the chocolate in large untempered blocks and let them sit in a dry place, for a few weeks, or even up to six months, before tempering them and turning the chocolate into bars ready to be sold. Why encourage such a practice which could be seen as a waste of time?
It seems that maturing untempered chocolate has two main purposes: getting rid of bad flavors and helping the "good" flavors integrate into a pleasant tasting experience.
When making Bean-to-Bar chocolate, without artificial additives or preservatives, the flavors continue to develop for weeks after crushing and conching. The crystal structure of the chocolate therefore continues to develop and the unpleasant flavors generally disappear while the pleasant flavors integrate into a rounder flavor profile. This step in the process of making a Bean-to-Bar bar is not essential, but it can give the chocolate a more consistent and developed flavor.
We can cite as an example the chocolate from Rakaa , Bourbon Cask Aged 82% which has matured for two months in bourbon barrels to offer a magnificent combination of woody aromas and a very round profile for a bar of this intensity.
Rakaa , Bourbon Cask Aged 82%
However, other professionals believe that the maturation of artisanal chocolate is just a waste of time and brings no benefit: when the cocoa beans are already of high quality and are carefully processed, it does not There's no need to get rid of unwanted flavors to achieve the most harmonious final flavor profile.
In conclusion, chocolate maturation is an additional step that the chocolatier is free to ignore or include in the bean-to-bar transformation process. The flavor profile of a chocolate is a delicate and complex balance reflecting the inspiration of the so-called Bean-to-Bar artisan.
Some artisans shared with us their passion for this process, even pushing the maturation to more than 12 months, then 24 months, thus discovering new, unsuspected aromas. We could thus envisage the arrival of rare vintage tablets, where craftsmen would offer their most beautiful creations that have survived the years.