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XOCO's chocolate

There will be pastries and tortas and churros at Rick Bayless's new street-food shack, XOCO*. But there's one thing the restaurant's chefs are doing that nobody else in the city can touch: They're making chocolate from raw cocoa beans. Here's how it happens.
1. Cocoa farmers in Tabasco�Mexico�s chocolate center�scoop the cocoa beans from their pineapple-sized pods (pictured) and allow them to ferment slightly. They ship them directly to XOCO in burlap sacks.
2. Led by chef/manager Shaw Lash, the team at XOCO toasts the raw beans in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.
3. �The skin of the beans is trash,� Lash says. So they �winnow� the beans, tossing them by hand in a large bowl to separate the skins from the beans. The winnowed beans are then passed through a wheatgrass juicer a few times, which extracts a bitter, spicy and roasty chocolate �liqueur.�
4. In Mexico, this is the part of the process where the chocolate would go to a fabrica de chocolate�a chocolate factory�to be ground into a paste. At XOCO, they mimic the process with a melanger, where the chocolate is ground for four hours with two granite wheels. (This is also the point in the process where commercial chocolate makers add stabilizers and preservatives, additives that XOCO, which will make chocolate every day, doesn�t need.)
5. Cinnamon and sugar are added to the liqueur. Chocolate meant for drinking is 50 percent sugar; chocolate meant for bars is 33 percent.
6. The ground, liquid chocolate is poured into trays and allowed to set. Paired with hot milk or water, it�s turned into drinking chocolate.
7. Tempered and poured into molds, it�s ready to eat.
By David Tamarkin. Photographs by Martha Williams. |

*XOCO (pronounced SHO-ko) is slated to open at 449 N Clark St this month.

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