A chocolate maker is a person who produces chocolate out of freshly harvested cacao beans. The profession is often confused with being a chocolatier, a person who flavors already prepared chocolate with other ingredients, such as flavor extracts, citrus zest, or nuts, and molds it into individual pieces before decorating them. Chocolate making is generally a long scientific process that requires precise techniques to ensure the most flavorful product.
The process of chocolate making begins with the harvesting of cacao beans, husked seeds that grow on the cacao tree. The cacao beans, also referred to as cocoa beans, are then removed from the husks and heated to dry out the beans and enhance their natural flavors. Once the beans are heated, a chocolate maker may process them into a powder or liquid, or shape them into a block.
Pure cacao beans have a bitter taste, even after being heated, so one of the main duties of a chocolate maker is to mix the pure cacao with other ingredients to sweeten it. Chocolate is typically classified by the ratio of pure cacao beans to sweeteners. If the product contains no additional ingredients, it is classified as unsweetened chocolate or baker’s chocolate and is usually only used for desserts that already contain other sweet ingredients. Chocolate makers can sweeten pure cacao by mixing it with sugar, butter, or milk; however, the exact ratios of pure cacao to sweeteners may vary depending on the specific chocolate factory’s sweetness classifications. For example, milk chocolate is one of the sweetest types of chocolate and may contain less than 50 percent pure cacao beans, while the rest of the mixture is made up of sugar, butter, and milk.
To become a professional chocolate maker, a person will typically be required to take courses at a culinary or pastry school. The coursework will often focus on not only the process of making chocolate, but also the chemistry behind the products and the history of chocolate. Once an aspiring chocolate maker completes a chocolate making educational program, he or she can find employment at chocolate factories as a laboratory technician, a position in which he or she may help develop new chocolate recipes or oversee the production of large amounts of chocolate for national chocolate or candy companies. Chocolate makers may also be able to work at smaller, artisan chocolate companies to make gourmet chocolate by hand.