Whether wrapped in foil, a chocolate bar, candies or pralines for Holidays and other events chocolate enters every household!!! The fact that 97% of French people eat chocolate at least once a week making them the 7th chocolate consuming nation in the world, show this country’s passion for chocolate which Maison Duplanteur seeks to share. This passion makes it interesting to find out what the origin of chocolate is, where do cocoa beans come from and how is chocolate made? Indeed, the transformation process is complex and Maison Duplanteur controls the process from A to Z.

Maison Duplanteur owns a 15 hectare cocoa tree plantation in Sierra Leone which gives it the unique possibility of managing the whole chain of production where the respect for ethical and environmental principles is strictly applied in addition to supporting the local populations.

Maison Duplanteur also sources cocoa beans from local cooperatives in Madagascar, Cameroun, Ghana and in the up and coming cocoa producing countries in Asia (Thailand and Burma).  All of the cooperatives that Maison Duplanteur work with hold the “ UTZ” label: this label guarantees reliable traceability for a responsible production of cocoa both socially and environmentally.

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Selection, drying, roasting, grinding etc.… there are no less than 10 stages from the harvesting of the cocoa pod to the finished product presented to the consumer.  Part of the chocolate –making process can be seen at the Maison Duplanteur manufacture in Grasse. The visit of the machines starts with the “guillotine” into which the beans are placed and split in two in order to assess their quality. The colour enables one to determine their quality and to sort them out in order to ensure that the bitterness of the “chocolate couverture” (thick chocolate paste) is minimal. The selected beans are then placed into the roaster set at 100 C where they are grilled in order to release their aroma. The beans are then placed into the grinder which crushes them into cocoa nibs and also separates them from the shell. The residue does not go to waste as it can be used as compost or to add flavour to lip balm for instance. The nibs are then placed into the “stone mill” in order to obtain the thick paste which is known as “chocolate couverture”.

Exactly like oenology, “chocology” exists in order to identify and define the flavours of different chocolates, the possible pairings that can be made, the country of origin of the bean that is used and the climate for the year in that region.  This shows that with chocolate one can travel!!!!! There are three types of cocoa: “forestero” which represents more than 80 % of the world’s production; “trinitarios” which is more refined providing rich and powerful aromas; and finally “criollo” which is the most refined and sweetest.

Finally, in the Maison Duplanteur laboratory, the chocolate maker adds sugar at the very end of the process thereby creating chocolate. The chocolate is then used to make chocolate bars, candies, or pralines. The coating machine makes it possible to coat the fillings of small chocolates which are home-made with the origin of the sugar used being controlled by Maison Duplanteur reflecting our philosophy of traceability and quality. It is fantastic that this philosophy is also that of consumers who are seeking tradition, traceability, and the use of local products.

Already known as a morale booster and energiser, cocoa powder and dark chocolate are also loaded with anti-oxidants and have beneficial effects for the heart. They are also full of nutrients, minerals and trace elements which boost the immune system and favour the growth and regeneration of skin tissue.

Cocoa beans are rich in flavonoids which are molecules that combat free radicals found in the body’s organism and limit bad cholesterol. According to a study published by the “ European Heart Journal”, regular consumption of dark chocolate decreases cardiovascular illnesses by 37 %, the risk of strokes by 48 % and the risk of heart attacks by 27%. These are more reasons not to hesitate to eat chocolate!!!

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