Aggie Chocolate Expo: A Unique Chocolate Experience
One year ago, Utah State University was preparing for the grand opening of the Aggie Chocolate Factory - working both as a laboratory for food science students as well as an opportunity to teach the public the complexity of chocolate making.
Now, one year later, the Aggie Chocolate Factory opened its doors to students, alumni and visitors with its Chocolate Expo. The expo allowed folks to sample the new Aggie Ice Cream flavor the Scotchman, a new cherry chocolate jam, and products from local chocolatiers. Throughout the expo, presentations were given from chocolatiers and researchers such as Silvana Martini.
Martini is a food science professor at Utah State University where she focuses on fats, oils and sensory evaluation. Her connection to chocolate has to do with the fact that the taste and the texture of chocolate comes from the main ingredient - fat. She spoke about the complex process of chocolate making.
“Everything starts with a bean," she said, "and when you crack that bean open, it has a very thin shell… and inside is what we call the nib - the cocoa nib. And really what chocolate making is, is grab that nib and grind it and grind and grind and grind until it becomes a liquid. And [it] becomes a liquid because during the grinding, you break out those particles, you break out those cells and inside those cells you have all these fat.
"Fifty percent of the nib is fat and we call that cocoa butter. So you break down these cells, you free up these fats. The friction that is generated during the grinding process heats up the mass and melts the fat and it becomes a liquid that flows, and that’s what people call a cocoa liquor."
Professor Martini then says that each company goes about the actual process of making their chocolate in their own signature way.
“When you make chocolate you can use that cocoa liquor, you can use a cocoa powder, you can use that cocoa butter, and sugar and is you use milk chocolate, you add milk.”
Utah State University is home of the only university chocolate factory in the western Unites States.