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Make Your Own Chocolate Kit

Manufacturer: Glee Gum

Model Number: 20205

Recommended Age: Ages 8 and up

Availability: In stock



Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Model Number: 20205

Product Dimensions: 5 x 6 x 2 inches



Mixing elements of chemistry with world culture and history, this delicious kit contains everything you'll need to make 8 ounces of dark chocolate. The chocolate can be made on the stove or with a microwave - adult supervision is recommended. Great for class room activities, scout troops, birthday parties, home school, or after school.

Inside each Make Your Own Chocolate Kits you'll find: organic cocoa butter, cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, starter crystals, a temperature indicator, paper candy liners, instructions, and the story of chocolate.

All you have to do is melt the cocoa butter, add the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir, stir, stir until it cools to the right temperature; add the starter crystals so that the chocolate "tempers," and enjoy delicious home-made chocolate from scratch! By the way, you also get some cacao beans - we thought you might like to taste a few.


The Sweet Saga Of Chocolate:
Chocolate comes in many shapes and forms – in bars and kisses, in steaming mugs of cocoa and cold, creamy milkshakes. But do you know where it comes from? The story begins in Central America, about two thousand years ago. Cacao, the tree that chocolate comes from, grows wild in the lush tropical rainforests there. The first people believed to have cultivated cacao and used the beans were the Olmecs, one of the earliest of the Mesoamerican civilizations (1200 B.C.E. - 400 C.E.). Though we don’t know much about how the Olmecs used cacao, we do know that their descendants, the Aztecs and the Maya, loved cacao so much that they gave it important roles in their cultures.

Throughout the Mayan civilization, which flourished from 250 C.E. to 900 C.E., cacao beans were consumed by most of the population in the form of an unsweetened cocoa drink made from ground beans. This drink was bitter, frothy, and a bit oily – it wouldn’t taste very good to those of us accustomed to modern chocolate! The Maya were the first known society to create cocoa plantations in order to grow large quantities of the crop. Elite Mayans drank their chocolate from elaborate vessels, and chocolate also played a role in royal and religious events, including marriage ceremonies.

The Aztecs copied the unsweetened liquid cocoa drink from the Mayans, calling it xocolatl (pronouned “ho-co-la-tol”), meaning “bitter liquid”. Xocolatl was made from cacao beans (also known as cocoa beans), water and, sometimes, spicy peppers, vanilla, or other flavorings. Montezuma, the last king of the Aztecs, was known to drink as many as 50 pitchers of the drink a day!

The Aztecs told this legend about the origin of cocoa: Their god, Quetzacoatl, brought the cacao tree from paradise to earth, traveling on a beam of the Morning Star. He gave the tree as an offering to the people, and they learned how to roast and grind its beans into a paste. They believed that it brought wisdom and knowledge to those who drank it.

When the first Spanish soldiers came to the Mexico in the 1500s, they found the Aztecs drinking xocolatl and brought the drink back to Europe. Because Europeans found the liquid too bitter, they added vanilla and sugar. The Spanish guarded the secret of where this delicious drink came from, growing it on plantations in their colonies. Drinking hot chocolate became wildly popular in Europe. Chocolate as we know it came into existence after 1828, when Dutch chemist Conrad Van Houten invented the chocolate press. The chocolate press separates raw cocoa into cocoa butter and cocoa powder, making a much tastier finished product. The rest, as they say, is history!

Cocoa has grown from being a small domestic crop grown by the Olmecs in a relatively small region of Central America to a worldwide cash crop. Annual cocoa production is now around 3 million tons, grown by 5 – 6 million cocoa farmers on four continents (North America, South America, Africa and Asia). So, although the cacao tree is indigenous to Central America, it is now cultivated in many tropical regions, particularly in Western Africa.

Most cacao trees are tended on small family farms. Cacao is an understory crop, which means that it grows best in the shade of other trees. Cacao trees form an important part of the rainforest ecosystem, providing food and habitats for animals that live there.

The cacao trees begin to bear fruit when they are about 4 years old. A few times a year, cacao trees produce large football-shaped pods that contain seeds embedded in a fleshy pulp. These seeds, or cacao beans, are what we use to make chocolate.

Cocoa harvests occur twice a year. Ripe pods are harvested by hand, and workers use special tools with hooked blades to cut them down. The pods are cut open and the cacao beans extracted by hand from the pulp surrounding them. Piles of beans are covered with leaves and left to ferment for 3 to 9 days. During fermentation, enzymes in the beans release the cocoa flavor and turn the beans a rich brown color. The beans are then dried in the sun, packed into sacks, and shipped off for processing.

Cacoa beans travel a long way from tree to factory, in just few months. But the journey’s not over yet! The beans still have a few steps to go before they become everyone’s favorite treat - chocolate. The beans are first sorted and cleaned, removing any last pulpy bits. They then undergo the ever-important roasting process, which is the key to bringing out the chocolate flavor. The beans are roasted in rotating ovens for up to two hours. They are then transferred to the winnowing machine, which cracks and removes the brittle outer shells, leaving behind something known as nibs.

These nibs are made of 53% cocoa butter, a fatty substance, and 47% pure cocoa solids. The next step in the process is to separate these two materials. This is achieved by first grinding the nibs, thereby crushing them into a paste known as chocolate liquor. And no, it’s not alcoholic! This liquor is then pressed, squeezing out the fatty yellow stuff known as cocoa butter. What is left over is finely ground into cocoa powder.

We’ve finally arrived at the ingredients you’ll find in your Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. The last few steps - mixing the cocoa powder with cocoa butter, sugar, and other ingredients - are up to you! So the next time you pop a piece of chocolate in your mouth, contemplate all the work that’s gone into that one delicious bite!

Before you start, read through all of the instructions and take a quick look in your kit to find the following ingredients:
cocoa butter (it's yellowish and hard)
confectioner's sugar (it's white)
paper candy liners (they're paper)
temperature indicator (it's black)
cocoa powder (the most finely ground particles)
starter crystals (medium ground particles)
whole cacao beans (biggest particles)

You will also need: a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and one quarter teaspoon of vanilla, if you have it.

You will need to melt the cocoa butter in either a 1 or 2 quart microwave safe, glass, NOT PLASTIC, bowl, or a double boiler.

1. MELT - If you're using a microwave: Put the cocoa butter into the microwavable bowl and heat it in the microwave until it is completely melted. This will take at least 3 minutes, and perhaps a few minutes longer if your microwave is of low wattage. Be careful, the bowl will be hot when you take it out! If you're using a double boiler: put the cocoa butter into the top pan of the double boiler, and melt it completely over hot water.

2. COMBINE - Now, remove from either the microwave or the stove, and empty the cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar into the bowl with the melted cocoa butter. Stir very vigorously about 50 times, until all the lumps have disappeared.

3. HEAT - Microwave: Put the mixture back into the microwave and heat it at 100% power for 40 seconds, but no longer! Double boiler: Put the mixture back over the boiling water and heat for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. When you take it out, stir the mixture again, 5 times vigorously.
Note: As you know, oil and water don't mix well, and by all of this vigorous stirring, what you're trying to do is to help get rid of some of the moisture in the chocolate. That way, the chocolate is smoother and better. You really can't stir too much!

4. COOL - Remove the backing from the the black temperature indicator, and stick it on the outside of the pan or bowl, near the bottom, so that it will measure the temperature of the chocolate. (You could also attach the temperature indicator to one of your knives and keep dipping it into the chocolate to take its temperature.) Wait about 10-15 minutes, stirring for about 20 seconds every 2-3 minutes. That ensures that the chocolate stays all more or less the same temperature as it cools.
Note: Making chocolate is really easy, but you do need to pay attention to the chocolate's temperature as you work. This recipe may look a bit like a scientific experiment, and in a way it is. Chocolate needs to be "tempered," which means that it is treated with heat so that it forms regular crystals. Tempering is what makes candy bars "crack" when you break them in half, and what makes them have shiny surfaces. The starter crystals we've included in this Kit are powdered chocolate bars, and since they're already crystallized, they "start" the rest of your chocolate crystallizing, when it hits 94° Fahrenheit. However, if it is too warm when you add them, they'll melt, and lose their tempering ability, and if it's too cold, your chocolate will already have begun to harden, without crystallizing regularly. So, watch the temperature indicator to make the best chocolate! And, by the way, if it doesn't seem like your chocolate tempered properly, don't worry, it should still taste great!

5. WHILE YOU'RE WAITING, find the cacao beans, rub them between your fingers to remove the shells. Then, taste some. Chocolate is just finely ground beans, along with some sugar. We've just made it a little easier for you to make your own by having the grinding and separating done in advance.

6. STARTER CRYSTALS - When the temperature indicator illuminates "94°F" with a green background, add the starter crystals. Mix well with the spatula, pressing any lumps against the side of the mixing bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, for extra flavor, (if you want) and pour or stir it into the little candy paper liners. Note: this is the point where you can be really creative- experiment with adding things, like nuts or marshmallows to your chocolate!

7. REFRIGERATE - for about 15 minutes until it's cold. (Note: If the mixture somehow got too thick to spoon out, you can place the bowl in a pan of warm water until it is workable, and then spoon it out. Be careful, however. Don't heat it too much, or you will lose the "temper," and then, you might lose your temper, too!)

8. EAT!!! Enjoy your very own home-made chocolate! Share with your friends. In Latin, the name of the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the gods." It really is, isn't it? Now that you know how easy it is to Make Your Own Chocolate from scratch, we know that you're going to want to make more!

Lesson Plan:
Verve's Make Your Own Chocolate Kit can be a terrific, interactive classroom activity for a wide range of ages and class sizes. We provide a sample lesson plan intended for grades 5 – 8, but the kit may be used with children from age 5 up, with adult supervision. It has also been used to great effect with high school home economics classes as a fun end-of-term project.

The Chocolate Kit relates to many topics, including Mesoamerican history, rainforest ecology, social sciences, geography, and more. We recommend using the kit in conjunction with our sample lesson plan, or creating your own lesson plan from the resources provided. Our "Resources" list contains other lesson plans that may be adapted to use the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. To view the instructions and story that come with the kit, go to the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit main page. You may also find The Sweet Saga of Chocolate to be helpful.

Because this activity requires heat, a stove or microwave is required. You will also need a glass bowl or double boiler, spoons, pot holder, and a refrigerator if available; you may also use extra ingredients such as nuts or fruit to make your own personalized chocolate candies.

The Chocolate Kit makes approximately 25 pieces of chocolate, so it is plenty for groups of up to 25 students. We recommend that the teacher or group leader heat the ingredients, and allow the students to help stir, temper, and add other ingredients to their chocolates. Older students may be allowed to work in groups to make the chocolate themselves, if appropriate.