Craft cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate-making, on an artisan basis, is a long and painstaking process with numerous steps, many of them involving a scientific approach. Wild Sweets® By Dominique & Cindy Duby is ranked as one of the '25 Best Chocolatiers in the World' and awarded 'Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America'. As Canada's only artisan science-based cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate-makers, we produce locally sourced chocolate in Richmond (Greater Vancouver area) and collaborate closely with the University of BC in Vancouver on various research projects relating to the science of chocolate-making within Wild Sweets® micro-batch laboratory settings and small-scale machinery.
Healthy Antioxidant Chocolate…
As a science-based cocoa bean to bar chocolate-makers, we use science to identify and optimize the best production methods, but also to identify and apply production methodology that retain, and/or improve, the health benefits of cocoa. And specifically aiming for the highest levels of antioxidant properties in our chocolate. We are currently doing a second research project in collaboration with the University of BC on that topic to end April 2022.
Following the initial research project, we found that cocoa beans are naturally high in antioxidants and potentially offer a wide range of health benefits. However, standard production methods of processing cocoa beans into chocolate, especially at the industrial level, greatly reduces the level of antioxidants depending on the methods (process and machinery) as well as on the temperatures that the cocoa beans / chocolate is exposed to. We also found that the antioxidant activity of cocoa was caused not only by polyphenol content, but by a complex balance between the degradation of polyphenols versus the production of MRPs.
Subsequently, we developed a specific SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that provides a balance between producing the highest quality chocolate possible while providing the highest level of antioxidants. Following the initial projects, we have installed a roasting software on our roaster so that we can monitor and change the roasting profile based on data collected. We also changed the sequence of our bean to bar production SOP and we are conducting another 1-year research project with UBC again to further investigate the those changes and the cocoa polyphenols as well optimizing methods to maximize the net balance.
As a side note, as part of the literature research, studies showed that the presence of milk product in chocolate (I.e. milk but also what some call ‘dark milk’ chocolate) and/or pairing with a milk based beverage prevents the absorption of polyphenols from dark chocolate thus neutralizing its positive effect!
Nutraceutical Antioxidant Chocolate…
We are also scientifically testing new cocoa bean to bar functional chocolate products that will add to the health properties of the chocolate. Specifically, we are developing nutraceutical adjuncts to add to the polyphenols rich bean to bar chocolate such as beta-glucan polysaccharides from medicinal mushrooms grown, in our own laboratory, on substrate made of our own cocoa bean husks. Healthy never tasted so good!