Who hasn’t dreamed of finding the Golden Ticket to enter Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Well, while most us know of Roald Dahl’s book or the popular film with Johnny Depp, the first version with Gene Wilder came out years ago.
Our Chocolate Factory is a large, award-winning artisan laboratory located in Cervasca in the Province of Cuneo, North-West of Italy. A land that, like Switzerland and Belgium, boasts of a century-old tradition of chocolate making. The famous Gianduiotto was also born on the slopes of the Alps, on the Italian side. The founder Giovanni Bramardi, after a long experience as a confectioner in Paris, opened this workshop for chocolate production.
The passion for chocolate led the Bramardi management to select the best cocoa qualities like Criollo and Trinitario from Central and South America, Madagascar and Ghana to create a blend that gives the chocolate a unique and distinct flavour.
But how is chocolate made?
We start with the mixing process: The cocoa paste, obtained from the processing of seeds selected by the master Chocolatier, is mixed with other ingredients to obtain the dark, milk or white varieties.
We then move on to CONCHING:
The ingredients’ blend is mixed for a long duration in special mixers called conches. This process takes place at a controlled temperature, just enough to keep the mixture liquid, taking care to smoothen out the lumps and make a perfectly smooth and homogeneous mass. Conching among other things, also helps oxidize the tannins.
Then comes the TEMPERING process:
Since cocoa butter tends to crystallize in a polymorphic and irregular way, the mass of melted chocolate must be cooled cautiously to get the desired crystallization. This helps produce chocolate that breaks, but also melts softly.
The resulting chocolate can be used to make molds with a classic tablet shape, used for coverings or in case of Bramardi chocolates, to coat an even more precious filling. The heart of chocolates is prepared by slowly grinding toasted hazelnuts first, then the cocoa and sugar in the old cold- mixing stone mill. The result is a paste with a tempting fragrance that is further refined, conched and tempered to make it velvety and pleasing to the palate.
The chocolates are produced by extrusion: The chocolate structure is placed on the ribbon of the production line by a nozzle similar to the classic pastry bag of the pastry chef. The chocolate mixture has to be perfect, to make it stand.
And what role does compressed air play in this process?
Compressed air is used to operate various machines reliably and constantly. Like in the case of conching- where a single operation goes on for days.
Mr. Franco Beccaria, heir of Founder Bramardi and owner says, “I am an artisan and am concentrated on making savory chocolates. I know nothing of compressed air. For me, a good compressor is a machine that you install and forget. ELGi has been a good choice, it performs and stays quiet at work. So, I can concentrate on my craft.”
The experience, the careful selection of raw materials, the knowledge of the gestures necessary to obtain a superlative result, in order to transfer the gesture in the machine and feel its correctness during the process are important to making chocolate. The artisans may rely on machines for these. For other processes, like the tempering on a marble table, the skilled hand of the craftsman does not want to be replaced.