The fermentation of the beans is key in developing the final chocolatey flavor and removing some of their inherent astringency. Kind of makes you wonder what absent minded genius first left a pile of cacao beans lying around for a week before remembering to dry them.

Drying, Roasting, and Cracking

The fermented beans are quickly dried to prevent mold formation, which is usually done by spreading them out in the sun, though inclement weather can require machine-aided drying.

The dried beans are then roasted to develop the flavors that were first formed during the fermentation process. After roasting, the beans are cracked and winnowed to remove the shells and other debris.

What you have now are referred to as cocoa nibs, sometimes available at high-end grocery or specialty stores. The nibs themselves taste chocolatey at this point (and delicious, to me), but aren't at all sweet, so nibs probably aren't what you'd reach for while in the middle of a cripplingly intense chocolate craving.

Cocoa beans – whole and crushed – contain tryptophan and serotonin, which usually act as good agents of both anti-depression and anti-stress.

 

(continue at http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2010/03/how-to-make-chocolate-from-bean-to-bar-basics-jacques-torres.html

Roasted Cocoa Nibs (250g)

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