The word “artisan” revives the sense of authenticity, goodwill, and trust from most of us. When it comes to chocolates, it means that the bars are made by hand using pure cocoa butter from sustainable cocoa sources from across the globe.
The artisan chocolate production starts by melting the cacao butter. Once melted, it is mixed with multiple fresh ingredients with minimal or zero preservatives to make sure that the end product will have the finest and most exquisite taste unique to artisan chocolates.
In general, the making of artisan chocolates is a rigorous process. This involves roasting, winnowing, grinding, pressing, conching, tempering, molding, and packing.
Much like branded chocolates, there are two kinds of artisan chocolates available – dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Dark artisan chocolates contain about 70% – 99% cocoa, while milk artisan chocolates have about 35% – 65%.
Though not all bars are made with the same components, most artisan chocolates will have the following printed on their labels:
Bean to bar chocolates are made rigorously, with the brand controlling every stage of production. This starts right from purchasing down to creation to promote brand quality, transparency, as well as sustainability. Companies using this trade model encourage traceability, ensure best practices are employed, and regulates how workers are treated.
Fine chocolates (aka specialty chocolates), on the other hand, refers to the quality of cacao being used during production. These are made with fine cacao beans, in contrast with regular chocolates made with ordinary cacao beans. To produce fine beans, the farmers ferment the beans and pulp for 5-6 days. The laborers will then dry the beans manually or via mechanical dryers. Once the beans reach 7% – 7.5% moisture content, they are stored and made available for production.
Chocolate lovers are used to storing their bars and candies inside the fridge with freezing temperatures. Artisan chocolates are different. Instead of the fridge, they’re meant to be stored at a cool and dry place to avoid condensation on the surface or also known as drawing out of sugars from the chocolate.
The chocolates are not allowed in areas that get too warm (for example, areas exposed to direct sunlight and bright lights). Otherwise, the cocoa butter will come out of the mixture. The storage area should also be away from strong odors and drastic temperature changes to maintain good quality and rich taste. Ideally, the bars are kept at temperatures ranging from 16°C to 22°C.
When stored in a sealed container (Tupperware box, ziplock bag, etc.), your chocolate bar can last from 3 to 12 months. To be sure, always check the “Best Before” or “Expiry Date” at the back of the label.