by Roger E. Oppenheimer, DDS, MAGD
I have been using the Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill for several years now with great results. I was introduced to making chocolate from cocoa beans by John Nanci, “The Chocolate Alchemist”1 it occurred to me to try and use the Wonder Junior Deluxe in my quest for the perfect chocolate.
Making Chocolate from cocoa beans is a fantastic process that enables you to produce the kind of quality that is virtually unavailable from commercially made chocolate. Since you are literally making the chocolate from scratch you are able to experiment with flavors, techniques etc. and ultimately process a product that will keep you very popular with friends and relatives!
I have purchased many different types of raw cocoa beans from Alchemist John. They all have very different flavors and nuances, similar to high quality green coffee beans. Currently, my favorite is the Bolivian organic 2011/12.
After receiving the beans, they are roasted.2 They then need to be cracked so as to separate the beans from the husk. This of course can be accomplished by hand, but is a somewhat tedious and tiring task. There are several commercial machines on the market that are able to do this for you3, but since I have a Wonder Junior Deluxe that does everything else so well, I figured why not try and use it “off label”. The problem I faced was to find a way to separate the two halves of the stainless steel burs to allow the beans just to be cracked and not ground.
I am certain that you experimenters out there will find alternative methods of accomplishing this task, but I would like to show you the method I use.
I fabricated a rubber spacer that allows a 1/8” separation of the stainless steel burs.
The first step is to place the mill side of the stainless steel burs on the mill (pic. 1), I hold the bur plate on the mill using duct tape, as shown in pic 2., 2 pieces of tape are sufficient to hold the plate in place. I then use strips of duct tape to hold 2 flat washers (pic. 3, 1+5/8” wide x 1/8” thick), to the face of the bur (pic. 4). As said before, I am sure there are many different ways of providing a temporary space between the bur plates, but this is the simplest I have found.
The next step is applying a food grade self curing material to the inside of mating bur plate and screwing them together with the adjustment knob. Since I am a dentist by profession, using any one of the many impression materials I have is what I used. You can duplicate my results by asking your friendly neighborhood dentist to help you, or you can simply use any food grade silicone in a tube. The silicone will take longer to set, but the results will be the same. Please note, that if you use food grade silicone, you must lubricate the bur cavity with a lubricant such as cooking spray to prevent it from sticking to the metal.
Pic. 5 is the mixing gun I used to place the material in the cavity (pic. 6). Pic. 7 is the way it looks filled, and then with the plates together (pic. 8). After the material cures thoroughly (length of time depends on the material used), remove the bur plates, and remove the hardened spacer (pic. 9, pic. 10 as removed untrimmed). Trim the spacer with a scissor or utility knife (pic. 11-13), and you're done! You now can put the spacer in the Wonder Junior Deluxe, and grind the cocoa beans into nibs (pic. 14).
After you have nibs, they need to be winnowed4. Once that is done, you can grind the nibs into chocolate liquor using the Wonder Junior Deluxe with the metal burs5. The friction of the metal burs is enough to provide the heat needed to soften the cocoa butter in the beans. I use the drill bit attachment to make grinding the nibs a bit easier.
The next step it to use a melanger to conch and refine the chocolate6, but sadly, that cannot be accomplished with the Wonder Junior Deluxe! Following melanging, the chocolate needs to be tempered and then used as is for dipping, or poured into molds for eating at another time.
Using the Wonder Junior Deluxe makes two important steps in the chocolate making process easy, and allows you to use this fabulous machine for yet another task.
I do not have any affiliation with WonderMill other than being a very satisfied customer.