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How to Make Chocolate

This is quite likely the dream project of many children, as well as a few of their mothers! But be warned, making chocolate is a finicky business, and you won't be turning out huge bars of Toblerone. In fact, it might be a good idea to purchase some inexpensive molds for small, flat decorative chocolate shapes like flowers, animals, and birds. These aren't too hard to find, and are usually available around Easter and Valentine's.

The chocolate you make will be pure chocolate, not the chocolates you get in a gift box. That takes even more time and patience than either Mom or the kids may have. Start your project with raw cocoa beans, which can be found through many online sites.

Beans need to be roasted by spreading them in a single layer on a pan, and leaving them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes at 400F degrees. Allow them to cool, and then peel off the husks, which is a really fiddly job.

Next, you'll want to break them up. Spreading them out on a tea towel, placing another over top and using a hammer will work, but possibly too well. A more restrained and easy to control way of breaking them into pieces is with a mortar and pestle. Once you have pieces, put them in a clean pepper or other mill and grind them. Be careful though, because as the bits get smaller, they tend to liquefy. Grind just to the point where you can put them back in a dish and use the mortar and pestle again for the final mashing.

By now you have a mush. Heat the dish in a pan of water, and then grind a little more in the mortar. It should have reached a fairly smooth consistency after this stage. Now you can add a drop of mint flavoring, and your sugar. A rule of thumb is 1/2 cup sugar per pound of cocoa beans processed, but you may want to start out with less, in order to see how sweet it gets. Pour into molds, and you have pure chocolate!

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