People make all sorts of stuff at home, like curry, slime, art, and beauty products. So why don’t more people make chocolate at home? These days it’s likely you could buy all the necessary ingredients from your local specialty foods shop. Yet very few people do it, which is one of the reasons you should. Like, today.
1. Very Fulfilling & Scaleable.
Making chocolate at home is a very fulfilling hobby, as you can get as into researching it as much or as little as you want. There’s a lot of science behind how each process works, from the pod to the bar, but if you have no interest in all that stuff then there’s no need to look into it. Starting & continuing to make chocolate at home is as easy as buying ingredients, putting them into the machine, and then pouring the chocolate out (or directly into your mouth). Yet just like scaling how much you understand about the science behind chocolate making, you can also scale how much labor you put into preparing and planning ingredients, running a huge variety of experiments on your various batches of chocolate.
2. Completely Home Made.
If you’re yearning to make something with your hands or cook something that really lasts, a typical batch of chocolate is a few kilos (~7 pounds), so there will be plenty left over. Most makers will actually set aside chocolate from each batch to age, like wine. Using your hands to create something can be very therapeutic, not to mention the fact that if you control what goes into it, you know for sure that it’s all natural and minimally-processed.
3. Accepting Community.
The community of craft chocolate is one of the most accepting ones out there (for the most part). As it grows bigger, sometimes it seems like people are becoming more competitive and worried about image and vanity metrics (followers, mainly). But underneath is all is a massive foundation of supportive home chocolate makers and craft chocolate lovers who can answer basically any question you might have about your newest hobby. It’s seriously one of the best parts of my day to chat with chocolate friends online about troubleshooting chocolate makers and what new bars or origins we’ve tried.
4. World Travel for Less.
Speaking of origins, the cacao you use to make your chocolate will be the determining factor in the final product. You have some say, of course, but there’s no way to improve bad cacao, and the art of getting great flavor out of great cacao is one I personally have yet to master.
The good news is that there are always more origins to explore, each with its own unique story to tell. Experimenting with different origins is like taking mini-vacations to each locale, albeit just for a moment. In one week you can make batches of dark chocolate with the same percentage of cacao, and if the beans each come from Madagascar, Ecuador, and Indonesia, then I guarantee the chocolate will taste completely different. If you’ve never tasted micro-batch chocolate before, then you’ll truly be stunned.
5. Universally Attractive By-Product.
Your friends will love you for all the free chocolate, and best of all, the ingredients themselves aren’t very expensive.
Once you’ve made a few batches of chocolate with different origins or different levels of refining or at different percentages, it’s becoming glaringly obvious how different each batch tastes & looks & feels in your mouth. Beyond this, however, you can change the types of ingredients you use and experiment with inclusions, customizing each batch to your individual preferences.
7. Unique Hobby.
Making chocolate at home is a seriously interesting hobby. After years of gauging others’ reactions, I’ll happily go over my interests when asked (and not just to clarify the difference between a chocolate maker and a chocolatier). I have yet to get a negative reaction to my extracurricular activities.
On the other hand, whether or not you care about public opinion, home chocolate making has gone from a unique and difficult hobby to simply an obscure one. With demand so high these days, there’s enough infrastructure for home chocolate making that it’s still accessible to anyone with a few bucks and a blender. Or if you want to make really smooth chocolate, anyone with a few hundred bucks and a shipping address.
8. Teaches Appreciation for Our Food.
Home chocolate making teaches you an appreciation for the ingredients you use every day. Just learning how chocolate is made by physically creating some can make you wonder; how was that flour or wine or butter made? Most of the foods we cook & bake with underwent massive transformations before arriving to us, and making your own foods gives you a completely different understanding of the transformation. Plus, it’s a family-friendly hobby!
9. It Could Make Money.
I hesitate to even mention this one, partly because it’s obvious, but also because I don’t want anyone to pursue a hobby with the initial goal of making money (and that goes double for chocolate). Home chocolate making should be a stress reliever and a creative outlet for you, and if you put the pressure of income on it, then you’re immediately going to become emotionally distanced.
Ensure that chocolate making is the passion of your life before you commit yourself to it, because once you decide to make money off of it, chocolate can become a stress point.
So remember that making chocolate at home doesn’t commit you to opening a business or selling what you make. In fact, I actively discourage that. Chocolate making is a tough profession that requires a lot of skill to do well, and it’s truly all-consuming. I’ve been making chocolate at home for three years now; in fact all the pictures in this article are from my home chocolate making experiments. Yet I’ve never had any inclination to sell my bars. I have no desire. But I love understanding the process, the difficulties and the joys, because it helps me understand the food I eat better.
If you’d like to understand your food better, why not pursue chocolate?
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