Our Chocolate factory is in a converted tractor shed on the farm.
Working with chocolate is always interesting being an intriguing mix of science and nature. It really feels like there’s a degree of magic involved – and we can learn something new most days!
Here’s how we make Mackie’s Dark Chocolate.
First we carefully melt raw cocoa liquor and add some sugar and other secret ingredients. The chocolate mix then spends about 36 hours in the conche – where the refining and conching process creates our desired perfect smooth texture and delicious chocolate notes. If you have tasted raw cocoa liquor, you will know that it is very, very bitter and that just makes us appreciate the lovely taste of the final chocolate mix even more!
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 – this is where some of the bitter tastes and aromas are expelled to create our desired chocolate taste. The chocolate mix is then ready – and delicious!
We also use our chocolate mix as the flavour for Mackie’s chocolate ice cream!
The chocolate is then pumped into our second room for tempering 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 add any extra flavour ingredients like Mint into the molten mix just before it goes into our moulds which travel slowly through a long cooling tunnel. The chocolate sets as it cools and is popped out of the moulds automatically. The chocolate bars are wrapped and packed into cases to send out to our customers. We check that the weight of the bar is correct and it goes through a metal detector before being wrapped.
We can make up to 2 tonnes of chocolate in a day – we hope to be able to make over 5 million bars of chocolate per year.