Make Your Own
Mixing elements of chemistry with world culture and history, this delicious kit contains everything you'll need to make 8 ounces of dark chocolate. Can be made on the stove or with a microwave - adult supervision is recommended! Great for class room activities, scout troops, birthday parties, home school, or after school. Makes a great gift for kids (ages 8 & up)!
Inside each Make Your Own Chocolate Kit, you'll find: organic, Fair Trade cocoa butter, organic, Fair Trade cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, starter crystals, a temperature indicator, paper candy liners, instructions, and the story of chocolate.
All you have to do is melt the cocoa butter, add the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir, stir, stir until it cools to the right temperature; add the starter crystals so that the chocolate "tempers," and enjoy delicious home-made chocolate from scratch! By the way, you also get some cacao beans - we thought you might like to taste a few.
Each Chocolate Kit makes 8 oz. of dark chocolate! That's about 20 chocolates. Yum!
The Legend Of Chocolate
Chocolate comes from cacao beans which were originally found only in Central and South America.
Cacao was so special to the ancient Aztecs that they told this legend: Their god, Quetzalcoatl, brought the cacao tree from Paradise to earth, traveling on a beam of the Morning Star. He gave the tree as an offering to the people, and they learned how to roast and grind its beans into a paste. They added spices and mixed it with water calling it "xocolatl" or "bitterwater". They believed that it brought wisdom and knowledge to those who drank it.
Today, cacao is an important part of agriculture in the tropics all around the world. The legend of chocolate lives on!
Lucía's Story - And The History Of Chocolate
What Does The Chocolate Kit Have To Do With Our World?
Lucía lives in a hot and rainy part of Costa Rica. Her parents and neighbors grow their own food to eat, and they also grow some crops to make money. In the tropics, many crops are grown on large plantations with lots of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which can hurt other plants and animals in the area.
But here, people are tending cacao trees organically, without any chemicals, so that they can keep their forest green and productive. A healthy forest has lots of different levels, which makes it possible for many different animals and plants to live together. Cacao has an important role to play because it is an understory tree, which means that it grows in the shade of taller trees.
Lucía helps to take care of the cacao trees and harvest the pods. She breaks open the pods, and puts the beans into big, burlap bags so that they can ferment for three days. Then, she spreads the beans out onto a cloth on the ground, and lets them dry in the hot sun for a week. When the beans are ready, she goes with her father to sell them. They get paid extra because they are growing organically.
Meanwhile, far across the ocean, the cacao is made into chocolate. When we buy candy bars, part of the money goes to pay for the shipping, part for processing, the candy wrappers, the advertising, the store owner, and lots of other stuff. Lucía’s family really gets only a small part of the price we pay for chocolate.
Chocolate as we know it has only become available in the last 100 years or so, even though cacao beans had been growing in Central and South America for a long time.
When the Spanish explorers came to Mexico in the 1500s, they found the Aztecs drinking "xocolatl" (pronounced "ho-ko-la-tol"), made from cacao beans, water, and sometimes, spicy peppers. Montezuma, the last king of the Aztecs, was known to have drunk 50 pitchers a day! The Spanish brought it back to Europe, but since they found it too bitter, they added vanilla and sugar. They wouldn't let anyone in Europe know how or where it grew, and guarded their secret for about 100 years, growing it on plantations in their colonies.
You have to remember that there weren't a lot of different drinks available then, as there are now. So eventually, when other people did find out about it, drinking chocolate became a very fashionable thing to do. Fancy clubs just for drinking hot chocolate were opened.
It really didn't taste that great, however, because cacao beans are about 50% fat. Chocolate became much better when, about 150 years ago, the Dutch chemist, Conrad Van Houten, invented the chocolate press. Then people could separate cocoa butter, the fatty part of cacao, from cocoa powder and, in turn, make hot chocolate and chocolate candy as we know it today.
Today, the huge demand for chocolate has turned cacao into an important cash crop, world wide. We hope, by including organic cacao in our Chocolate Kit, that we can help make it possible for both Lucía’s family and the forest to keep flourishing.
SUGAR, COCOA BUTTER (CONTAINS SOY), COCOA POWDER, COCOA POWDER (ALKALIZED), AND DARK CHOCOLATE (CONTAINING SUGAR, COCOA LIQUOR, COCOA LIQUOR (ALKALIZED), COCOA BUTTER, AND MILK FAT).
|Serving Size 1/6 kit (38g)|
|Servings Per Container||6|
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 13 g||20%|
|- Saturated Fat 8 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 0 mg||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates 22 g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 2 g||7%|
|Sugars 19 g|
|Protein 1 g|
|*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your calorie needs.|
Before you start, read through all of the instructions and take a quick look in your kit to find the following ingredients:
cocoa butter (it's yellowish and hard)
confectioner's sugar (it's white)
paper candy liners (they're paper)
temperature indicator (it's black)
cocoa powder (the most finely ground particles)
starter crystals (medium ground particles)
whole cacao beans (biggest particles)
You will also need: a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and one quarter teaspoon of vanilla, if you have it.
You will need to melt the cocoa butter in either a 1 or 2 quart microwave safe, glass, NOT PLASTIC, bowl, or a double boiler.
1. MELT - If you're using a microwave: Put the cocoa butter into the microwavable bowl and heat it in the microwave until it is completely melted. This will take at least 3 minutes, and perhaps a few minutes longer if your microwave is of low wattage. Be careful, the bowl will be hot when you take it out! If you're using a double boiler: put the cocoa butter into the top pan of the double boiler, and melt it completely over hot water.
2. COMBINE - Now, remove from either the microwave or the stove, and empty the cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar into the bowl with the melted cocoa butter. Stir very vigorously about 50 times, until all the lumps have disappeared.
3. HEAT - Microwave: Put the mixture back into the microwave and heat it at 100% power for 40 seconds, but no longer! Double boiler: Put the mixture back over the boiling water and heat for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. When you take it out, stir the mixture again, 5 times vigorously.
Note: As you know, oil and water don't mix well, and by all of this vigorous stirring, what you're trying to do is to help get rid of some of the moisture in the chocolate. That way, the chocolate is smoother and better. You really can't stir too much!
4. COOL - Remove the backing from the the black temperature indicator, and stick it on the outside of the pan or bowl, near the bottom, so that it will measure the temperature of the chocolate. (You could also attach the temperature indicator to one of your knives and keep dipping it into the chocolate to take its temperature.) Wait about 10-15 minutes, stirring for about 20 seconds every 2-3 minutes. That ensures that the chocolate stays all more or less the same temperature as it cools.
Note: Making chocolate is really easy, but you do need to pay attention to the chocolate's temperature as you work. This recipe may look a bit like a scientific experiment, and in a way it is. Chocolate needs to be "tempered," which means that it is treated with heat so that it forms regular crystals. Tempering is what makes candy bars "crack" when you break them in half, and what makes them have shiny surfaces. The starter crystals we've included in this Kit are powdered chocolate bars, and since they're already crystallized, they "start" the rest of your chocolate crystallizing, when it hits 94° Fahrenheit. However, if it is too warm when you add them, they'll melt, and lose their tempering ability, and if it's too cold, your chocolate will already have begun to harden, without crystallizing regularly. So, watch the temperature indicator to make the best chocolate! And, by the way, if it doesn't seem like your chocolate tempered properly, don't worry, it should still taste great!
5. WHILE YOU'RE WAITING, find the cacao beans, rub them between your fingers to remove the shells. Then, taste some. Chocolate is just finely ground beans, along with some sugar. We've just made it a little easier for you to make your own by having the grinding and separating done in advance.
6. STARTER CRYSTALS - When the temperature indicator illuminates "94°F" with a green background, add the starter crystals. Mix well with the spatula, pressing any lumps against the side of the mixing bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, for extra flavor, (if you want) and pour or stir it into the little candy paper liners. Note: this is the point where you can be really creative- experiment with adding things, like nuts or marshmallows to your chocolate!
7. REFRIGERATE - for about 15 minutes until it's cold. (Note: If the mixture somehow got too thick to spoon out, you can place the bowl in a pan of warm water until it is workable, and then spoon it out. Be careful, however. Don't heat it too much, or you will lose the "temper," and then, you might lose your temper, too!)
8. EAT!!! Enjoy your very own home-made chocolate! Share with your friends.In Latin, the name of the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the gods." It really is, isn't it?
Now that you know how easy it is to Make Your Own Chocolate from scratch, we know that you're going to want to make more!
Order a new kit for your friends, class, scout troop or your next birthday party: Order Now for only $13.95! They also make great gifts for kids (ages 8 and up)!
The Educator's Guide To The Make Your Own Chocolate Kit
I. Guide to using the Make Your Own Chocolate kit with a group
Verve's Make Your Own Chocolate Kit can be a terrific, interactive classroom activity for a wide range of ages and class sizes. We provide a sample lesson plan intended for grades 5 – 8, but the kit may be used with children from age 5 up, with adult supervision. It has also been used to great effect with high school home economics classes as a fun end-of-term project.
The Chocolate Kit relates to many topics, including Mesoamerican history, rainforest ecology, social sciences, geography, and more. We recommend using the kit in conjunction with our sample lesson plan, or creating your own lesson plan from the resources provided. Our "Resources" list contains other lesson plans that may be adapted to use the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. With the tabs to the left, you can review the instructions and story that come with the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. You can also find more info on our page for Educators.
Because this activity requires heat, a stove or microwave is required. You will also need a glass bowl or double boiler, spoons, pot holder, and a refrigerator if available; you may also use extra ingredients such as nuts or fruit to make your own personalized chocolate candies.
The Chocolate Kit makes approximately 20 pieces of chocolate, so one kit is plenty for groups of up to 20 students. We recommend that the teacher or group leader heat the ingredients, and allow the students to help stir, temper, and add other ingredients to their chocolates. Older students may be allowed to work in groups to make the chocolate themselves, if appropriate.
II. Sample Lesson Plan for Make Your Own Chocolate Kit
Grade Level: 5 - 8
Suggested Subjects: World History, Social Studies
Introduction: Flexible – 30 minutes or more
Chocolate-Making Activity: 20 minutes
Clean-up and Assesment: 10 minutes
Students learn about Mesoamerican history in a unique way as they explore the history of chocolate both as a crop and as a food product. Also touches on issues of global trade, European history, and natural resources.
1) Students will understand the timeline of Mesoamerican history and its major civilizations.
2) Students will learn about the source and origin of chocolate.
3) Students will learn about the cultural significance of chocolate to Mesoamerican and European cultures.
4) Students will explore issues of world trade, the expansion of food crops, and the significance of European colonialism from the perspective of natural resources.
1) Students will make their own chocolate from scratch.
2) Students will understand the history and ecology of chocolate, and will draw connections between historical events and their own lives.
1) World Map
2) Roll of long paper for timeline
4) Make Your Own Chocolate Kit
5) Double boiler or two bowls
6) Microwave or stove
7) Large spoon
The history of chocolate is in many ways the history of the Americas. All of the great Mesoamerican civilizations were known to have used cacao beans and to have consumed some form of chocolate.
Olmecs: The first known group to grow the cocoa plant as a domestic crop was the Olmec Indians of Southern Mexico, whose civilization flourished from 1200 BC to 400 BC, and who are thought to be the progenitors of later Mesoamerican civilizations the Maya and Aztecs.
Maya: During the Mayan civilization (AD 250 – 900), cocoa beans were consumed by most of the population, as an unsweetened cocoa drink made from ground beans. This drink would not taste very good to those of us used to chocolate today! The Mayans were the first known society to have created cocoa plantations to grow very large quantities of the crop. Elite Mayans drank their chocolate from elaborate vessels, and chocolate played a role in royal and religious events, even in marriage ceremonies.
Aztecs: The Aztecs copied the unsweetened liquid cocoa drink from the Mayans, calling it "xocolatl" (pronouned "ho-co-la-tol"), meaning "bitter liquid". Xocolatl was made from cocoa beans, water and sometimes, spicy peppers, vanilla, or other flavorings. Montezuma, the last king of the Aztecs, was known to have drunk as many as 50 pitchers of the drink a day! The Aztecs told this legend about the origin of cocoa: Their god, Quetzacoatl, brought the cacao tree from paradise to earth, traveling on a beam of the Morning Star. He gave the tree as an offering to the people, and they learned how to roast and grind its beans into a paste. They believed that it brought wisdom and knowledge to those who drank it.
Europeans: When the first Spanish soldiers came to the Mexico in the 1500s, they found the Aztecs drinking xocolatl and brought the drink back to Europe. Because Europeans found the liquid too bitter, they added vanilla and sugar. The Spanish guarded the secret of where this delicious drink came from, growing it on plantations in their colonies. Drinking hot chocolate became wildly popular in Europe. Chocolate as we know it came into existence after 1828, when Dutch chemist Conrad Van Houten invented the chocolate press, which separates raw cocoa into cocoa butter and cocoa powder, making a much tastier finished product. The rest, as they say, is history!
Cocoa has grown from being a small domestic crop grown by the Olmecs in a region of Central America to a worldwide cash crop. Annual cocoa production is now around 3 million tons, grown by 5 – 6 million cocoa farmers on four continents (North America, South America, Africa and Asia).
Discuss this history with your students. Have your students create a timeline beginning with the Olmecs and continuing through the present day. Chart the history of chocolate both as a crop and as a food product throughout the years. Have your students research more about the history of chocolate (using the linked websites as resources) and add this information to the timeline. Using a world map, have the students chart the places where cocoa has historically been grown and consumed. Using different colors for different time periods, chart the changes in where cocoa has been grown and consumed worldwide.
Explain the Aztec myth to your students. Have the students think about the cultural significance of chocolate to the Aztecs. Ask them whether chocolate has always been eaten and used and thought about in the same way throughout history. Why might the Aztecs consider chocolate to be a gift from their gods?
Now tell your students that they are going to see firsthand how chocolate is made from the raw ingredients cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Explain that cocoa butter and powder are the fats and the solids, respectively, of the cocoa plant. Using the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit, have the students work in teams of 5 to make their own chocolate according to the instructions. Alternately, the teacher may do all of the steps involving heat and have the students take turns helping to stir. Give each student a paper liner and have them place things – nuts, raisins, marshmallows, etc. in it to their liking, then spoon the warm chocolate in on top to make their own piece of candy.
Have the students write their own modern-day myths about the origin of foods they enjoy. Use the Aztec myth of chocolate as a jumping-off point. As a class, discuss the significance of myths and why ancient cultures told myths to understand their world.
Resources and adaptable lesson plans:
Index of chocolate topics on the Exploratorium website.
Includes linked lesson plans on rainforests, their human inhabitants, and the foods they produce. Excellent lesson on the Chachi Indigenous group and their cultivation of cocoa. Great resources, including firsthand stories of kids who live in cocoa-producing rainforest areas.
A lesson that uses chocolate-making to demonstrate the phases of matter, excellent for use with the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit.
• Please read through all instructions before beginning.
• Allow students to observe the cocoa beans and explain that the cocoa powder and cocoa butter are the solids and the oils separated out from the cocoa bean.
• Check with parents to make sure all children are allowed to eat the final product.
• If the chocolate seems to be taking a long time to cool, the temperature indicator is not broken – it simply won’t read any temperature outside of its range. Place the chocolate in the refrigerator for short amounts of time and keep a close eye on its temperature.
• Have fun!
The Sweet Saga Of Chocolate
Chocolate comes in many shapes and forms – in bars and kisses, in steaming mugs of cocoa and cold, creamy milkshakes. But do you know where it comes from? The story begins in Central America, about two thousand years ago. Cacao, the tree that chocolate comes from, grows wild in the lush tropical rainforests there. The first people believed to have cultivated cacao and used the beans were the Olmecs, one of the earliest of the Mesoamerican civilizations (1200 B.C.E. - 400 C.E.). Though we don’t know much about how the Olmecs used cacao, we do know that their descendants, the Aztecs and the Maya, loved cacao so much that they gave it important roles in their cultures.
Throughout the Mayan civilization, which flourished from 250 C.E. to 900 C.E., cacao beans were consumed by most of the population in the form of an unsweetened cocoa drink made from ground beans. This drink was bitter, frothy, and a bit oily – it wouldn’t taste very good to those of us accustomed to modern chocolate! The Maya were the first known society to create cocoa plantations in order to grow large quantities of the crop. Elite Mayans drank their chocolate from elaborate vessels, and chocolate also played a role in royal and religious events, including marriage ceremonies.
The Aztecs copied the unsweetened liquid cocoa drink from the Mayans, calling it xocolatl (pronouned “ho-co-la-tol”), meaning “bitter liquid”. Xocolatl was made from cacao beans (also known as cocoa beans), water and, sometimes, spicy peppers, vanilla, or other flavorings. Montezuma, the last king of the Aztecs, was known to drink as many as 50 pitchers of the drink a day!
The Aztecs told this legend about the origin of cocoa: Their god, Quetzacoatl, brought the cacao tree from paradise to earth, traveling on a beam of the Morning Star. He gave the tree as an offering to the people, and they learned how to roast and grind its beans into a paste. They believed that it brought wisdom and knowledge to those who drank it.
When the first Spanish soldiers came to the Mexico in the 1500s, they found the Aztecs drinking xocolatl and brought the drink back to Europe. Because Europeans found the liquid too bitter, they added vanilla and sugar. The Spanish guarded the secret of where this delicious drink came from, growing it on plantations in their colonies. Drinking hot chocolate became wildly popular in Europe. Chocolate as we know it came into existence after 1828, when Dutch chemist Conrad Van Houten invented the chocolate press. The chocolate press separates raw cocoa into cocoa butter and cocoa powder, making a much tastier finished product. The rest, as they say, is history!
Cocoa has grown from being a small domestic crop grown by the Olmecs in a relatively small region of Central America to a worldwide cash crop. Annual cocoa production is now around 3 million tons, grown by 5 – 6 million cocoa farmers on four continents (North America, South America, Africa and Asia). So, although the cacao tree is indigenous to Central America, it is now cultivated in many tropical regions, particularly in Western Africa.
Most cacao trees are tended on small family farms. Cacao is an understory crop, which means that it grows best in the shade of other trees. Cacao trees form an important part of the rainforest ecosystem, providing food and habitats for animals that live there.
The cacao trees begin to bear fruit when they are about 4 years old. A few times a year, cacao trees produce large football-shaped pods that contain seeds embedded in a fleshy pulp. These seeds, or cacao beans, are what we use to make chocolate.
Cocoa harvests occur twice a year. Ripe pods are harvested by hand, and workers use special tools with hooked blades to cut them down. The pods are cut open and the cacao beans extracted by hand from the pulp surrounding them. Piles of beans are covered with leaves and left to ferment for 3 to 9 days. During fermentation, enzymes in the beans release the cocoa flavor and turn the beans a rich brown color. The beans are then dried in the sun, packed into sacks, and shipped off for processing.
Cacoa beans travel a long way from tree to factory, in just few months. But the journey’s not over yet! The beans still have a few steps to go before they become everyone’s favorite treat - chocolate. The beans are first sorted and cleaned, removing any last pulpy bits. They then undergo the ever-important roasting process, which is the key to bringing out the chocolate flavor. The beans are roasted in rotating ovens for up to two hours. They are then transferred to the winnowing machine, which cracks and removes the brittle outer shells, leaving behind something known as nibs.
These nibs are made of 53% cocoa butter, a fatty substance, and 47% pure cocoa solids. The next step in the process is to separate these two materials. This is achieved by first grinding the nibs, thereby crushing them into a paste known as chocolate liquor. And no, it’s not alcoholic! This liquor is then pressed, squeezing out the fatty yellow stuff known as cocoa butter. What is left over is finely ground into cocoa powder.
We’ve finally arrived at the ingredients you’ll find in your Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. The last few steps - mixing the cocoa powder with cocoa butter, sugar, and other ingredients - are up to you! So the next time you pop a piece of chocolate in your mouth, contemplate all the work that’s gone into that one delicious bite!