About Me

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"Tout fait Maison" probably is the closest way to express how I like to live my life. I have always love making everything from scratch in my own kitchen since I was a little girl growing up in Hong Kong. Unfortunately kitchens in Hong Kong are much smaller and people do not always have the "real" oven there but only the toaster type oven. Therefore, things did not always turn out in my Hong Kong kitchen until I get my real kitchen here. To me, baking and working with dairy products are like doing science experiments. I get extremely excited when I see that my cheese is forming the way it should be or my bread is rising properly. When my end products come out perfectly, that is probably what I strive for. So I would like to share my secrets with all my friends who enjoy baking and enjoy kitchen experiments as much as I do. I have been a French trained aritsan chocolatier for the last 8 years and I still feel like there are so much to learn in the chocolate and pastry field. Having traveled the world and trained in two of the most amazing schools in France (Valrhona Chocolates and Lenotre),my goal is to spread my joy of baking to all of you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chocolate from Beans to Bar

I have been an artisan chocolatier for years now and have always been fascinated by how chocolate is made.  From a tree to a pod to beans then finally to bars, the whole process is like magic to me.  So years ago I have decided to try making a bar of chocolate from scratch and as it turns out, it was the most aromatic bar of chocolate I have ever tasted.  Now of course I could be bias because I made it but the process really led me to a different level of appreciating chocolates.  When I made that bar, I actually roasted the beans, did the cracking and winnowing (cracking open the beans and getting rid of the thin shells from the roasted beans), then the grinding, and refining, then tempering and molding. There was one step that I did miss was conching as I did not have the machine to really conch the cocoa like they do at the factory, chocolates getting to that smooth and melt in your mouth texture require a few days of continuous conching but at home, it is impossible to get to that texture unless you want to spend a lot of money to get a conching machine.  So the recipe that I am writing for you allow you to make your own bar of chocolate without having to purchase additional machines except ones that you probably already have at home.  I also started with Cocoa Nibs which will save you sometimes from cracking and winnowing as well.  Cocoa Nibs can be purchased online or at specialty stores and some gourmet supermarkets have them available as well. As you get really serious into making more fancy chocolates, you can explore to different types of beans and mixing them or add milk powder to make milk chocolate.  The only thing to keep in mind is that if you are mixing beans, please roast the same type of beans together and not to roast them altogether like you would with coffee beans. There are many kinds of cocoa beans out there, such as Ocumare Criollo, Forestero, Trinitario, etc.

 Things you will need:

A mini size food processor
Kitchen Scale


150g Cocoa Nibs
37g of Cocoa Butter (melted)
50g of superfine or powdered sugar (do not use granulated sugar)
Spices if you would like to add flavor to your chocolate

* This bar of chocolate will be dark chocolate and also it will be more grainy in texture than the store bought ones but will resemble more of the original Mexican style chocolate like the Mayan used to have.  They are great bars to make hot chocolate also. So please do not expect it to super smooth or you will be very disappointed.

To make the chocolate:

  • Roasting the cocoa nibs, you do not have to roast the cocoa nibs if you do not want to but by roasting them it will bring out the flavors more and if you like your chocolate to be a little smokier then you can roast them a little longer.  Depending on how much you want to roast the nibs, you can roast them from 5 to 25 minutes and from 250 to 325F.  Remember you are roasting not baking so when you start to smell chocolate then you are done, take care not burn them

  • Once they are cooled then you can transfer the nibs to the food processor

  • Start grinding for a few minutes, stop and grind again for another few minutes, keep on doing it until the cocoa nibs becomes a mass and it will not grind anymore and it will be really hard at this point so you might need to really get the mass loosen with a wooden spatula

  • Take out the cocoa mass now and transfer it to a bowl
  • Then add sugar to the cocoa mass stir them together evenly

  • Transfer the cocoa and sugar mass back into the food processor
  • Add the melted pure cocoa butter

  • Then start to process again, do the same thing like before start grinding for a few minutes and stop and start again until the mass become shinny liquid chocolate. By this time you will not believe how good the chocolate is smelling and will not be like any other chocolate you have ever smelled before

  • Now you will need to temper the liquid chocolate by heating it up to about 115F degree then let it cool down to 86F degree then bring it back up to 88F degree
  • Now you can pour the tempered chocolate into the bar mold

  • You can either let the bars set at room temperature but it will take a long time to harden or you can put them into the fridge and will set in about half an hour
  • Once set then loosen the molds by twisting it a little just like you would releasing ice tray then flip the mold over and the chocolate bars will fall out

Please note that because these chocolate bars will not be as shinny as the ones you buy in the store as they have not been conched for a long period of time to achieve the smoothness of those outside but this is a bar of chocolate that you make all by yourself!!


  1. You make it sound so simple! I think I will continue to just enjoy your bars when you bestow one upon me, because I know it's harder than you make it look!

    And when you temper the chocolate to 88 degrees, do you have to leave it at that temperature for a certain amount of time, or do you pour it as soon as it reaches 88 degrees?

    1. no as soon as you get to 88 degrees you just pour into the mold and let it set at that rate. actually this is a great project for kids =)

  2. Soo beautiful!! Love your photos and the way you explain things so accurately...but I'm more in awe of how there's not a speck of chocolate anywhere...whereas if you'd seen my kitchen
    you'd have thought I was attacked by the chocolate monster! Well done once again on a very interesting blog!

  3. Oh that is so funny! yeah, i am sorta a clean freak when it comes to this kinda thing so I keep wiping as I go. But chocolate monster eh, that's a cute one!

  4. Where do you get your molds? I have been looking for a 10 sectioned mold but I can't find them anywhere.

  5. Oh also they do come with these chocolate books too in France