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I live in Samoa where I produce passionfruit wine, brandy and liqueur and have access to lots of cocoa beans (theobroma). I'm thinking of small scale production of passion fruit liqueur filled chocolate but my knowledge of chocolate making from beans is restricted to what I've picked up scouring the net. Any advice on where to pick up cheap but reliable equipment and about how you insert the filling would be appreciated

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Robert,
There is no cheap and reliable way to make chocolate. Making chocolate takes years of research and huge investments of time. I would highly recommend buying premade chocolate from a company who has already mastered it and then learning to fill chocolate. That would take a trip through pastry school to learn how to work with chocolate well enough to fill it with liquid.

I don't mean to sound defeatist, but what you are talking about is two separate undertakings, both of which are labors of love and passion that will each require years of training before even attempting.

Thanks,
Matt
Thanks for your advice Matt. I'm sure you're right. I already make tropical fruit liqueurs and have tried so many other things in my 84 years to date and made them work that this is a challenge I can't resist. I'll let you know in another 4-5 months or so how things go. All the best - Bob
Bob;

One great resource for getting you started on small scale chocolate production is a website called www.ChocolateAlchemy.com. John Nanci (the owner), sells everything you need to take chocolate right from the cocoa bean to the bar.

I found his site about 5 years ago, and at that time started making chocolate recreationally with no formal training at all.

His forum also has a wealth of information if you wish to pursue making chocolate yourself.

Making chocolate really isn't that hard. The best part is that you get to savor all of your mistakes!

Cheers
Brad Churchill
www.SoChoklat.com
Thanks Brad. I've been scouring the net about making chocolate for the past few months and came upon that fascinating ChocolateAlchemy site early on. I also ordered Peter Greweling's book Chocolates and Confectionary from Amazon. It was recommended by an artisan chocolate maker from Australia contributing to my post on Chocolate Alchemy. Just got it the other day and it is a great help in understanding the process. Great to hear from people with similar interests willing to share their experience. Makes you feel good about life. - Bob Rankin
Brad,

Your site is intriguing. Do you ship into the U.S.?

Bob,

What I meant is that it is hard to make good chocolate. You must start with good beans. I don't know what variety of beans you have in Samoa, but it is very important to ferment them correctly and many areas of the world do not.

Many are making chocolate, few are producing great chocolate. The most common flavor killers are dramatic over roasting and/or WAY too much conching. Also the wholesale addition of vanilla to the point that it becomes the dominating flavor. Keep in mind not to over roast, not to over conch and not to add too much vanilla and you may have the chance of presenting the world with a unique product that is worth making instead of just buying pre made.

Good luck and keep TheChocolateLife posted.

Thanks,
Matt
Thanks Matt. Samoa has trinitario beans and twenty years or so ago commanded a premiun price on the world market. This premium price was lost through inefficient and careless drying by many growers. With the growing reliance of the Government on foreign aid and remittances from overseas Samoans, and its neglect of agriculture, the industry is only a shadow of its former self - hopefully our project may help in a small way. As with all developing countries the main problem in setting up any new venture is finding the necessary finance - no such thing as equity financing or venture capital in our place. Just pay through the nose in exhorbitant bank interest on any loan and count yourself lucky to get it. Not the way to develop the potential of a country but nobody seems to care. Once again thanks to ChocolateLife and its followers for this interesting and helpful dialogue. - Bob Rankin
Bob,
Sounds like the beans have a lot of potential. I wish you luck. I am good friends with a few highly awarded chocolate makers. If the farmers would like to send samples of the beans, I could put you in touch. However, it would be best to wait until the drying issues are ironed out.

I hope to hear more from you. I distribute expensive chocolate in the U.S. and would totally be willing to pay for samples when you are ready with finished product.
Best,
Matt
Thanks Matt, I'll certainly get back to you if we finish up with a quality product. I'm a NZer who first went to Samoa in 1950 and has been there most of the time ever since. My wife is Samoan and her father will supply us with beans from his village plantation so we know we'll have no problem about the quality of the fermented and sun dried beans we get from him. Up till now he's been selling his beans to local producers of cakes of cocoa for drinking - a popular beverage in Samoa but unrefined and rather fatty to my taste. Drinkers load it with sugar.- Bob Rankin

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