First we carefully melt the raw cocoa liquor and cocoa butter and then make our recipe – with added sugar for the dark chocolate and added cocoa butter, sugar and milk powders to make the milk chocolate recipe. Mackie’s mix then takes about 36 hours for refining and conching.
Refining is a grinding process, with revolving steel rollers which reduces the particle size to our target of under 20 microns - to create a lovely smooth texture of chocolate.
Chocolate tasting note: Your tongue loses its ability to determine texture and grittiness at around 50 microns, however if under about 15 microns the chocolate can get gummy.
Conching or kneading is the next step which removes unwanted elements from the cocoa by pressure / agitation and temperature – some bitter tastes and aromas are expelled to create our desired chocolate taste. The chocolate mix is then ready – and delicious! We now use some of this chocolate mix as the flavour for Mackie’s chocolate ice cream.
The chocolate is then pumped into the tempering machine which perfects the crystal structure of our chocolate. Tempering involves raising the temperature and cooling it again to a carefully monitored temperature curve. A ‘well-tempered’ chocolate will look, feel and taste good! It is glossy and unmarked, with nice smooth texture and a good, clean snap when you break it.
Finally we can add any extra flavour ingredients, like Mint or Honeycomb, to the molten mix just before it goes into our moulds which travel slowly through a long cooling tunnel. The chocolate sets and is popped out of the moulds automatically. The weight is checked and it goes through a metal detector before being wrapped.
Our machinery can make up to 2 tonnes of chocolate in a day – so the new factory will be able to make over 5 million bars of chocolate per year.