The Santha 11 grinder now available for sale online. The design of the grinder (shown below) is simple, consisting of a motor that rotates a cylindrical stainless steel bowl that has a granite base. There are two granite roller wheels that do all the grinding action. The pressure of the rollers against the bowl base can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the white plastic tension cap at the top of the shaft.
The instruction manual states that the Santha 11 can refine anywhere from 1 to 8 lbs (0.4 to 1.8 kg) of chocolate in 12 to 36 hours.
My first attempts at making chocolate, I’m glad to say, weren’t a failure. A reasonable chocolate can be made by using this machine. So far I have concentrated on making dark chocolate with a fairly high cocoa content of between 60 to 75%. (I have also made a 100% cocoa chocolate and it is not surprising that it was bitter but very good for cooking and drinking.) The following steps describe the basic procedure I am using at the moment – there is plenty of scope for improvement. Just three ingredients are used: cocoa beans, white sugar and a small amount of coconut oil.
Step 1 Roasting
Raw cocoa beans are placed as a single layer on trays and roasted in a pre-heated oven. Initially the temperature is set at 150 degC for 5 minutes, then to 130 degC for 30 minutes. The trays are taken out of the oven and left to cool.
Cocoa beans ready for roasting
Step 2 Separating
The roasted beans are crushed with a mortar and pestle to slightly break them. It is unnecessary to grind the beans, just hit them with the mortar to fracture them. This leads to a pile of broken bean seeds (nibs) and the much lighter husks, all of which is placed in a shallow pan.
Breaking the roasted beans
The husks are then separated from the nibs, a job that is best done outside as it is messy. This ‘winnowing’ is achieved by using a hair dryer set at a cool, medium air flow. Move the nibs around the pan by hand so all of the husk material is blown out.
Using a hair dryer to winnow the husks from the nibs
Step 3 Weighing and mixing the ingredients
The cocoa nibs are weighed and the amount of sugar that is needed is estimated based on the desired proportions of cocoa and sugar. A typical mix I have been using is one containing 70% cocoa and 30% sugar. The required amount of sugar is weighed. Cocoa nibs and sugar are then put in a food whizzer to blend and breakdown the ingredients. This step leads to a dry paste mix.
Step 4 Grinding (and more grinding)
This is the tricky bit- grinding the chocolate is not a simple matter of throwing the mix into the bowl, turning it on and then walking away.
The idea is to get the mix to act like a fluid so it is moving freely over and under the rollers. Temperature and the addition of extra fats, in this case I am using coconut oil, are two things that can be controlled (well, sort of) to achieve a nice chocolate fluid. The roller pressure, which is increased by tightening the tension cap, is another consideration.
Firstly, the bowl must be completely dry and can be preheated to 60 deg C in the oven to help start the refining process. The grinder is turned on with the bowl empty – yes, it is LOUD, and the dry paste mix from Step 2 is slowly added. I find it best to place a small fan heater next to the bowl so it is kept warm, especially if it is a cold day. At the start, the rollers are run with little pressure against the granite base and I have seen suggestions to initially run the Santha without the white tension cap screwed on. I prefer to put some tension on the rollers by using a washer and a butterfly nut, which is substituted later by the tension cap to gradually increase the pressure.
Adding the dry paste to the grinder bowl
Early stage of the grinding. Tension cap is shown removed.
The dry paste mix progressively gets less viscous by the softening of the cocoa fats by the friction of the grinding action and the fan heater. This is generally insufficient to get a smooth fluid flow around and under the rollers, and so coconut oil is added. I find that generally only small amounts of the extra oil is needed.
Coconut oil added. A butterfly nut and washer is used to finely adjust pressure at this early stage
Once the mix is moving well, the nut and washer is removed and replaced with the white tension cap and the pressure increased. The grinder is left to run for 10 to 12 hours, checking from time to time to see if there are no problems.
Tension cap screwed on and chocolate is fluid
Step 5 Tempering
After the refining/conching by the Santha, the chocolate is ready to be tempered. The chocolate is placed in a ceramic bowl, so it can be warmed in a microwave if required. Roughly a quarter of the chocolate is poured onto a granite slab and a wide spatula is used to spread the mix back and forth until a toothpaste consistency is achieved. This ‘seed’ mass is then returned to the ceramic bowl and mixed in with the rest of the chocolate.
Tempering the chocolate
The chocolate is then poured into moulds – plastic takeaway containers are useful – and placed into the fridge to cool. That’s the end of the process!
Chocolate poured in moulds