Pure Imagination: Chocolate Bar Making Class Recap

Last Thursday our very own Community Teaching Kitchen was turned into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory! In this class, participants learned about the different components of chocolate, how to temper chocolate, and ultimately how to make their own chocolate bars.

The class was taught by Lauren Deitsch, the Innovation Manager at Unreal Candy. Formerly, she was the Research and Development Specialist at Lake Champlain Chocolates and got her degree in Baking and Pastry from The Culinary Institute of America. Needless to say, Lauren has a wealth of chocolatey knowledge that she was beyond excited to share with the class. Community members came to the class for a variety of different reasons but one similarity stuck out, every one shared a deep (dark) love of chocolate!



Lauren began by explaining the different components that make up chocolate. She separated each component out into bags to show that there are many different parts that make up this beloved treat. An important clarification Lauren made is that the percentage that we see, is the amount of cocoa bean that is in the chocolate product. So for example in chocolate bar that is 75% chocolate, three quarters of that bar is made up of product from a cocoa bean. Here are the ingredients that make up chocolate:

  1. Chocolate Liquor – roasted cocoa beans ground into a paste. This is what gives chocolate its primary flavor. About 55% of this paste is made up of cocoa butter.
  2. Cocoa Butter – fat pressed from the roasted cocoa beans. The more cocoa butter added to a chocolate makes it thinner when melted and harder when set.
  3. Granulated Sugar – this determines the level of sweetness in a chocolate. Organic sugars can add a fruity note.
  4. Soy/Sunflower Lecithin – phospholipid extracted from soybeans or sunflower seeds. Added to make chocolate thinner when melted without having to add so much cocoa butter which is costly.
  5. Vanilla – adds subtle vanilla flavor and rounds out the flavor of chocolate


After explaining the various parts that make up chocolate, Lauren demonstrated the step by step process of how to temper chocolate. Chocolate tempering refers to the process of slowly heating chocolate to a melted state to a temperature where one can work and results in a smooth, glossy finished product. Although a fairly easy process, Lauren explained the importance of tracking the temperature and being patient with your chocolate. Slow and steady wins the big chocolate prize here. 

Here is the step by step process we followed in class:

How to Temper Dark Chocolate

  1. Heat chocolate to 120F.
    1. Microwave – heat in 30 second intervals.
    2. Double Boiler – bring water to boil and then turn down to medium heat. Place bowl of chocolate on pot and stir chocolate until melted to 120F.

**Chocolate burns and develop off flavors above 120F. Don’t overheat.

  1. Add about 20% of the weight of the melted chocolate in as either chopped chocolate or discs. Let all of these melt. The goal is to continue adding chocolate pieces until the melted chocolate reaches 88-90F. Once you’ve reached 88-90F, make sure all the discs and pieces have melted completely. If not, heat just slightly to melt.
  2. Visually check to see if the chocolate has streaks by dipping a spoon or spatula in the chocolate and letting it set for 5 minutes. If streaks are present, continue stirring until streak free. If chocolate contains spots, add a few more chocolate chips and continue stirring.
  3. At this point, chocolate should be streak free and full of shine and sets within 5 minutes at room temperature. This means the chocolate is tempered! Do not heat over 90F, otherwise, temper will break. If chocolate begins to thicken, heat back up with hair dryer or heat gun to just below 90F. Constantly keeping the chocolate warm will prevent it from getting too thick.


After the tempering demonstration, it was time to make some chocolate bars! Each participant got to choose from a variety of toppings to put in their very own chocolate bar. Some of the combinations ranged from almond shavings with cardamom to sea salt with chopped hazelnuts. It was fun to see what everyone came up with! After each individual picked out their toppings, Lauren showed everyone how to ladle the tempered chocolate into the bar molds and top with the different dried fruit and nuts. Lauren made it look easy, but for the rest of us, this step got a little messy.




After everyone filled their mold and topped their bar, we placed them in the refrigerator to set. While the chocolate bars set, the group moved into our community room and sampled three different chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates single origin Blue Bandana chocolate line. Instead of mixing chocolate from all around the world, the cocoa in each of these bars comes from one country, they refer to this chocolate as “bean to bar.” The nature of this chocolate line is that it is a direct trade model. Due to the fact that the chocolate is coming from one country, it eliminates the middleman in the supply chain, which results in a more transparent transaction or exchange of goods. In class, we sampled bars from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Tanzania. Participants were fascinated by the noticeable flavor differences from each bar. The Guatemalan chocolate was fruity whereas the Dominican Republic chocolate had hints of coffee. For more information about the Blue Bandana project click here.

After the bars had set, each participant had fun wrapping each of their chocolate bars! Everyone went home with a smile on their face and two glistening bars that looked as good as the chocolate bar that sent Charlie to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

Here are some resources to check out if you want to dive into the world of chocolate:

  • Recommended Brands of Chocolate - Agostoni, Barry Callebaut, Belcolade, Cocoa Barry, Guittard, Luker, and Valrhona
  • Places to Buy Chocolate

o   Chocosphere - https://www.chocosphere.com/default/

o   World Wide Chocolate - http://www.worldwidechocolate.com/

o   King Arthur Flour- https://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/ingredients/chocolate

  • Places to Purchase Molds/Equipment

o   Tomric - http://tomric.com/

o   Chocolat-Chocolat - http://www.chocolat-chocolat.com/home/index.html

o   Pastry Chef Central - http://www.pastrychef.com/

o   JB Prince - https://www.jbprince.com/

o   King Arthur Flour - https://www.kingarthurflour.com/

o   Kittredge - http://www.kittredgeequipment.com/

o   Thermoworks - https://www.thermoworks.com/


Interested in other City Market classes? Check out our class listings here. Also, try out this simple yet decadent, quick and easy chocolate cluster recipe that will be sure to satisfy any sweet tooth! Special thanks to our Social Media Coordinator, Chad Estey, for coming to the class and taking these great photos!