Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Pure cocoa liquor has a concentrated chocolate taste, and may be hardened and packaged as is for use in baked goods. But its flavor is relatively rough, bitter, and astringent and acidic. To make it into something not only edible but delicious, manufacturers add a few other ingredients: sugar for dark chocolate, sugar and dry milk solids for milk chocolate, some vanilla (the whole bean, or an extract, or artificial vanillin), and a supplement of pure cocoa butter. And they subject the mixture to an extended agitation called conching, a process named after the shell-like shape of the first machines. Conches rub and smear the mixture of cocoa liquor, sugar, and milk solids against a solid surface. The combination of friction and supplemental heat raises the temperature of the mass to 115–175°F/45–80°C (milk chocolate is kept at 110–135°F/43–57°C). Depending on the machine and manufacturer, conching may last for 8 to 36 hours.