The do-it-yourself (DIY) movement extends to everything, even chocolate. We at CBTB have our own series of DIY tours of SFBA chocolate, but other people are going beyond enjoying others’ chocolate creations and are making their own — at home.
Taking over the kitchen
The New York Times calls them Kitchen-Counter Chocolatiers: chocolate-making hobbyists who do their own version of bean-to-bar in their own kitchens. They use common household tools like blow dryers and juicers to mimic commercial processes, even jerry-rigging Indian rice grinders to work as conching machines.
It sounds like chocolate-geek fun — it certainly isn’t done to save money, because the article states that the “cost of a homemade bar can be twice what you’d pay for a high-quality bar at retail.”
But the people interviewed are doing it for different reasons — some have food allergies, others want to give hand-made presents, some just want the control and connection to nature of making their own (kinda like the trend among Silicon Valley techies of home butchering).
The article estimates that setting up your home chocolate manufactory will cost $500, and the process requires “days of attention.”
Count me out right there. I have enough projects in my life living in a 100+-year-old house. If you are intrigued though, you might want to start with cacao nibs, instead of whole beans, and using basic kitchen equipment you already own to see if chocolate making is for you. The Ultimate Chocolate Blog has a “quick recipe” for making dark chocolate at home from cacao nibs.
Start in the middle
But if all that roasting, grinding and tempering is too much, even with the time-saver of starting from nibs, you could visit the “chocolatiering atelier” in NYC where you start with tempered chocolate which you mold, decorate and add toppings to yourself.
A mouse-click away
Or maybe you would be interested in the easy peasy custom chocolate route: Chocomize, a NY company, offers an “online creation station” where you can choose from 3 Belgian chocolate strengths, then select up to 5 toppings that they hand-place on your bar. After the bar hardens and cools, they package it and ship it to you.
The 70 possible toppings range from nuts and fruits (all the usual suspects including macadamia nuts, cranberries, and ginger) to spices & herbs (how about lavender or cardamom?), candies (pop rocks? cookie dough?), decorations (such as edible gold flakes and crystallized violet petals), and a miscellaneous category that encompasses coffee beans, bacon, potato chips and pretzels.
Depending on what you choose, your bar will cost from $5 to almost $15, plus shipping. So no matter how baroque you go in gilding your bar, it will still come out cheaper than starting from scratch in your kitchen. And instead of requiring “days of attention,” you can spend those days anticipating the arrival of your unique handmade bar.