Ingredients - pure and simple
KokoMana chocolate is hand-made from the finest locally sourced ingredients: cocoa nibs and Fiji cane sugar. Nothing else: no emulsifiers, stabilisers, preservatives or mysterious ‘E numbers’!
The wonderful thing about this pure and simple recipe is also its greatest challenge: you can taste everything that is in the beans! Flavours like vanilla and citrus, that are popular in commercial chocolate, can be used to hide imbalances, distract from faults and in general ‘hide a multitude of sins’! We are not claiming that our beans (and our chocolate) are perfect – but we do not try to hide our faults. Try the chocolate and see what you think!
Even the texture and ‘mouthfeel’ of our chocolate come straight from the beans. Most chocolate makers add in extra cocoa butter, often of less certain origin than the beans. By keeping a high proportion of cocoa nibs in our chocolate (70% or 85%), we can rely on the cocoa butter naturally occurring in our beans – and especially the ‘heirloom’ cocoa varieties that we grow, which have a naturally high cocoa butter content. Again, come and try the chocolate – and let it melt in your mouth!
To develop the flavour of the beans, they need to be fermented and sun dried. Click on ‘processing’ for more details of these key steps.
The chocolate is hand-made in batches of about two kilograms. That’s enough for about 25 of our standard, 55g bars, with some extra set aside for tasting.
We roast the beans in an electric oven to develop a full chocolate flavour – but gently to preserve the natural fruity flavours from our Trinitario beans. The beans are ‘cracked’ (coarsely ground) in a juicer and then winnowed, to remove the seed coat… leaving us with the perfect cocoa ‘nibs’ we need for fine chocolate.
The chocolate is conched and refined in wet spice grinders. The dry ingredients (cocoa nibs and Fiji pure cane sugar) are placed in the machine and as it grinds, with stone wheels turning on a stone base, the friction heats and melts the cocoa butter, first to a coarse, granular paste and eventually to the smooth cream of pure chocolate. We conch and refine for at least 12 hours, sometimes as long as 18 hours, to obtain a smooth texture and perfect taste – still fruity but with no off-flavours.
The chocolate is tempered, by hand, on a stone table in our certified, food-safe kitchen, cooled to 22°C and dried to around 60% humidity. By ‘working’ the chocolate and cooling it to exactly the right temperature, we ensure that all the cocoa butter is in the ‘Type 5’ crystal form.
As the molten chocolate is stirred for the last time, we add in any flavouring. We are experimenting with very small ‘hints’ of flavours that we believe help to enhance, not mask, the flavour of the chocolate – sea salt (a pure product from New Zealand) or chilli (from Fiji’s Sigatoka Valley). The chocolate is then piped into polycarbonate moulds and encouraged to set quickly in a chiller.
Pop the bars out of their moulds… and the chocolate is ready to taste!