Onto the second part about chocolate even if it is not sweetened with Stevia. There are a number of processes that the raw beans have to go through before the familir product is made.
First of all the cocoa beans need to be roasted. This is a fairly simple process. It is actually more straight-forward than roasting coffee beans as it doesn't require a high temperature The roasting helps open the bean up and develops the cocoa flavour we all know and love.. It also ensures that any contamination from the fermentation proeriod is sterilsed.
At industrial scale they have special equipment to roast the beans, normally in a drum to ensure an even heat. It is possible to roast at home to make your own cocoa nibs.
Crack and Winnow
Once the beans are roasted it is necessary to separate the flavoursome bean interior for the husk.
First the beans are cracked. This sounds quite fun! You could just hit the beans with a hammer to loosen the husks but in a factory they have large mills to do it
' Then the husks need to be removed from the beans, this is known as winnowing and could be done at home by blowing with a hair dryer.
Making Cocoa Liquor.
This is involves breaking up the beans to make cocoa mass and really needs an industrial mill. The mass is melted and then is known as cocoa liquor
Conch and refine
This process is where we really see the start of the quality chocolate we are familiar with. It is done in a heated mill to break down the size of the sugar crystals and cocoa solids. The process also develops the flavour of the chocolate and gives it a smooth texture. During this process you also add sweeteners and Lecithin to stabilise the chocolate.
Our finished chocolate is a complex mixture of cocoa butter, cocoa solids plus other ingredients such as sweetener etc If the molten mixture is left to cool by itself, these solidify at different temperatures and the result looks dull and matte with a white bloom of fat particles. To avoid this a process called tempering is used. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers take a pride in doing themselves and with a bit of care it can be done at home.
Put in its simplest terms it involves melting chocolate very gently and then cooling equally gently while working it to keep it well mixed. When done correctly, the finished product will set with a gorgeous glossy finish and have an enticing "snap" when broken. When not done correctly it will still taste nice but not look so pretty!