10 Oct

I love chocolate but never saw it made.  Haigh’s Chocolates is an Adelaide institution. The family owned company has been making chocolate continuously in Adelaide for four generations.

The Beehive Building

The Beehive Building

The chocolate factory is right behind one of the shops in Adelaide….there are three. When you walk through the door of the factory and each of the shops (We visited all three. We got samples at every stop.)  the fragrance of chocolate is in the air. To a chocolate aficionado this is heaven.

Beehive Towers

The secret to great chocolate like great wine and great coffee is in the bean. Haigh’s beans come from rainforests in Ghana, Ecuador, Papua, New Guinea and a few other ‘secret’ locations. The flavor in the bean depends on climate, soil type and exactly how the bean is roasted.

Turning a cocoa bean into a beautiful chocolate is a long process. First the bean is roasted just right. Too much heat and the bean is burned. Too little heat and the bean turns bitter. Like wine makers, bean roasters are exacting in their standards.

Then the bean is crushed in a ‘winnower’ (looks a little like a church organ) to make nibs, the bits of the bean with the full chocolate flavor. Next, the beans are ground and mixed in the ‘melangeur.’

The cocoa liquor is pressed like grapes and then blended with extra cocoa butter and sugar.  The mixture is then ground in the mill to reach the consistency that is right for the palate.

Finally the chocolate enters a conching machine where more cocoa butter is added and the chocolate paste is mixed and beaten, mixed and beaten, mixed and beaten.  The aeration that occurs in this process imparts the deep, unique flavor to the chocolate.

How do you know if chocolate is the best? It should be shiny. It should break evenly. It should smell like chocolate. It should feel cool and not melt in your fingers right away. And it should have a full chocolate flavor.

Of course, tasting each piece is the best test of great chocolate. One has to test many to be really sure.

Chocolate Truffles

There is a way to taste chocolate. Scrape the chocolate over your bottom teeth with the shavings falling under your tongue. Allow the chocolate to melt and savor the flavor.

Chocolate Pandas

Haigh’s is concerned about the environment…they recycle rainwater, their packaging and even use cotton gloves for tastings in their stores. But even better they make special chocolates to support endangered species like the bandicoot, the Murray cod, and the Giant Panda. A life-size chocolate Murray cod is something to behold.

When we went through the factory we were guided by a really wonderful Aussie woman.

Beverly has been telling people about Haigh’s for 14 years. One of the women in the chocolate factory has worked there continuously since 1957.  These are people who love and are proud of what they do.

As we walked through the factory, the ladies who were working waved at us as they made chocolate covered cherries and chocolate truffles.  They expertly dip, roll and wrap each chocolate piece individually.

I kept thinking of Lucille Ball and Ethyl Mertz on the packaging line of their mythical chocolate factory. Only difference is, here the chocolate makers are experts and they are running the line…not the other way around.

Chocolate making is an art.

Milk Chocolates

No wonder I love every single piece of it.

5 Responses to “Chocolate!”

  1. Neil Freer October 13, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    I’m a certified undercover quality control agent…………I’ll have one of each please.

  2. Joyce Tate October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    And now I want chocolate … loved that Lucy & Ethyl episode!

  3. Maryl October 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Not only does the chocolate look yummy, the factory building looks like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Certainly not like the factories we see in the US. Hope you had a piece for each of us.

    • Jill October 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      I had mine and Danas.

  4. Ursula Freer October 11, 2012 at 2:57 am #


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