THE ROASTING WORKSHOP
A chocolate to match his personality
Setting up his Roasting Workshop has meant that Patrice Chapon can now create chocolate using recipes that are perfectly aligned with his own vision. At every stage of the process, he and his team adjust the preparation time and dosage, depending on the nature of each bean, its origins and a host of other criteria, in order to achieve perfection. Just like a Master Chef reinterpreting his recipes with a personal touch, Patrice Chapon works with each cocoa variety according to his desires and inspiration. Which is why Chapon’s chocolates stand out and have a truly distinctive identity, a world away from products made by other chocolatiers.
A demanding selection process, as befits a high-quality elixir
As a roaster, Patrice sets great store by personally choosing the origins of the beans he uses. With his expert knowledge of the various varieties of cocoa, he always prefers to buy directly from farmers, thus ensuring a pure pedigree product, complete with certification attesting to the origin of the beans.
His many trips around the world brought him into contact with farmers from Venezuela, Madagascar, Peru and Mexico, from where he gets his beans today.
On his visits to the plantations, he seeks out varieties unknown even to the locals, who often tend to mix top quality and inferior quality beans up. And so Patrice occasionally stumbles on hidden treasures, and happily pays more for genuinely rare produce.
His unstinting commitment and unwavering curiosity keep driving him to explore new plantations and varieties around the world. Exciting journeys that result in great discoveries!
How Patrice Chapon processes his beans
A perfectionist to the core, Patrice Chapon made it his mission to restore machines from the last century, in a bid to produce his chocolate using traditional methods, in tune with his vision of the perfect chocolate.
It all begins when the beans arrive in their jute sacks. First, they are handled by the master roaster, who assesses their condition with a battery of moisture and fermentation tests.
If at least 75% of the batch reaches the required standards, the beans are then fed into the roaster. A number of tests are carried out to evaluate the roasting time and temperature, which changes with the origin of each bean. This stage is vital, because it’s only at the end of the roasting process that the chocolate-maker decides on the percentage of sugar to be added to each chocolate.
Once the beans have cooled, they are placed in a machine known as a ‘cacaotarare’ for crushing. They are ground, to remove their skin, then sorted by size. During this stage of the process, the germ of each bean is removed through suction.
The cacaotarare turns the beans into what are called ‘cocoa nibs’. They are then put into a ‘conche’ machine to be ground and heated by friction between 40° and 70 °C. Another key stage involves controlling the acidity, which is sucked out of the ground chocolate by an extractor fan. And that’s precisely where the skill lies: measuring how much is extracted in order to keep the exact minimum necessary for the final aroma. At this stage the cocoa passes from solid to liquid form, passing through several tastings to refine the duration and temperature of the conching. The aim of this stage is to achieve the perfect balance between acidity and bitterness.
At the beginning of the conching stage, the chocolate-maker adds the required amount of sugar. Kept at a constant temperature of 45°C, the conch operates for between 12 and 24 hours, until the perfect product emerges: a powerful dark chocolate that melts in the mouth but loses none of the crunchiness of pure cocoa.
The resulting chocolate, with a cocoa content that ranges from 74% to 76%, is finally ready to be used for coatings, crunchy bars, fragrant ganaches or fondant pralines!
At Easter time, we make metal casts from old moulds, which enable us to create original and authentic shapes and bring out all the lustrous sheen of the chocolate.
Here’s how we make an Easter fish step by step:
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