To get you in the mood for Easter, here’s a special chocolate gift for you: I’m taking you on a virtual tour of a raw, bean-to-bar chocolate factory!
Rrraw is a small French company that makes high-quality, delicious stone-ground chocolate that is also raw, vegan, and organic. I have been in touch with the super friendly owner, Frédéric Marr, for years, and I finally had the chance to visit the workshop a few weeks ago. So I took lots of pictures to share with you!
Their range of raw chocolates includes square vegan truffles and chocolate bars in various flavors, such as coconut, cashew, seven spices, hemp seed, pollen, aguaymanto… I am also quite taken with their chocolate-covered cacao beans, crunchy and brittle in their smooth coating.
All these raw chocolate treats are produced by hand in a small manufacturing facility in Montreuil, just outside of Paris.
Raw chocolate in Paris: how raw chocolate is made
Everything starts with the cacao beans, fermented but still raw, that have been shipped by boat from the plantations.
No roasting of the beans here, contrary to a conventional chocolate operation. The first step is to crush the raw beans in a crushing machine.
This makes it possible to separate the nibs from the papery husks, which can be saved for “tea” or composted.
The nibs are then placed in a stone grinder that grinds them at a low temperature, until they release the cocoa butter and turn liquid.
This is the point where conventional chocolate makers will conch the chocolate, i.e. mill it very finely so it is entirely smooth. Here, a lightly nibby texture is preferred, so there is no conching involved.
While the chocolate is still in the grinder, the sweetener (coconut sugar, cane sugar, or agave syrup) is added, as well as some of the flavoring ingredients; others will be added at the tempering stage instead.
The chocolate is then transfered to a tempering machine that will take it on a specific temperature cycle to allow it to set to a perfect texture and appearance.
You can also see the tempering machine in action.
Some cacao nibs are added back in during this process to give the chocolate a little bit of grit.
This is then poured into molds — either big square molds for the truffle cubes, or decorated molds for the chocolate bars — and allowed to set at room temperature.
If it’s chocolate bars, they’ll simply be removed from the molds; well tempered chocolate will pop right out.
If it’s truffles, the large squares are put into the slicing machine to cut into little cubes…
… that will be broken apart by hand, and dusted with raw cocoa powder.
When completely set, all products are sent off to a work center for disabled adults who handle the packaging of the chocolate and the fulfillment of customers’ orders.
If you’re keen to see all this for yourself, Frédéric, offers factory tours one Saturday a month. It is easily accessible by metro, and curious chocoholics will thoroughly enjoy the visit.
Where can you find Rrraw chocolates?
Rrraw chocolates are sold in select boutiques in France, at trade shows, and distributed through their online shop, which ships internationally. The team at Rrraw is offering a special discount for C&Z readers: use promo code ZUCCHINICHOC to get a 10% discount on your order! You can also follow all things Rrraw on their Facebook page.
And if you have access to a French shipping address, you can also enter to win some chocolates; head over to the French version of this post to participate.
Join the conversation!
Have you had raw chocolate in Paris or elsewhere? What are your favorite makers of minimally processed chocolates?