Sunday, April 22, 2018
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20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2878

Red Hat Queens sample finished chocolate flavors
After the presentation, members of the Red Hat Queen’s Council got to sample the different flavors of chocolate made from the beans that come from Mexico, Venezuela, Vietnam and Tanzania.

Winter Texans looking for something fun to do with a group from their park may want to try the Mozna Chocolate Factory, located at 115 Brazil St. in Hidalgo. This small factory, now starting its third year of operation, gets cacao beans from Mexico, Venezuela, Vietnam and Tanzania and turns them into healthy chocolate bars with 70 percent cocoa. While the bars are not as sweet as a Hershey’s chocolate bar, according to our tour guide they are full of antioxidants that are good for the heart and help lower blood pressure.

Danny Williams provides visitors with a history of chocolate that started with the pre-Columbian cultures 4,000 years ago in Meso-America. Cacao beans were reserved for the wealthy, meaning royalty and rich merchants. Although it made a very bitter drink, it was recognized for its healthy nutrients. It was referred to as the “food of the gods,” Williams said.

20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2860

Making bars of chocolate
Danny Williams, manager at Mozna Chocolate Factory, demonstrates the final steps of making chocolate bars.

The factory name, Mozna means “you can” in Polish. The monkey in the logo is associated with the monkeys that in some cultures climbed the cacao trees and picked the pods, throwing them down to harvesters. Trees can grow as tall as 30 feet tall. The beans grow in pods that contain 20 to 30 beans per pod.

Both Aztecs and Mayan tribes drank the bitter drink. It was referred to as “xocolatl” by the Aztecs, who drank it hot. The Mayans drank it cold.

It was not sweetened until the 1500s when Christopher Columbus discovered the drink on his voyages to the New World. Columbus took the drink back to Spain where the Europeans added sugar or honey to make it more palatable.

20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2822

Chocolate beans
Danny Williams, manager of Mozna Chocolate factory, shows what the cacao pods look like and talks about the different flavors found in the different chocolate beans that come from various parts of the world.

The first chocolate bar was invented in 1877. And in 1895 the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania opened, creating one of America’s favorite candy bars.

Williams told the group that chocolates grown in different areas have a different taste based on soil conditions and other factors. Many people prefer the chocolate grown in Tanzania best.
After being picked, the beans are fermented for about five days to help with the acidity. They are dried in greenhouses after being fermented. The beans are shipped in burlap bags containing about 60 kilos, or about 120 pounds of beans.
Once they arrive at the factory they are put in a roaster. Williams usually roasts about 11 kilos at a time at 130 degrees Celsius.

20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2844

Testing the chocolate
Ladies were given spoons so they could taste the liquid chocolate in the German chocolate mill as it was prepared to be made into bars. The mill mixes the nibs from chocolate beans with butterfat and sugar to form the chocolate.

After roasting, the second step is winnowing, which takes the shells off the beans. The shells fall in a bag while the beans are ground to nibs that fall into a bucket.

The chocolate is then placed in a German mill where it is ground with 500-pound granite rollers. It is mixed with confectioner’s sugar and eight percent coco fat and is liquefied. It is milled for five days until the chocolate reaches 0.04 on a chocolate micrometer readying.

At this point Williams passed out spoons so each person could taste the chocolate as it swirled in the mill. This particular chocolate was from Mexico and had a hint of vanilla in it. When ready, the chocolate was poured into large bar molds and refrigerated. Then the large bars were put into a tempering machine that melted the chocolate at 45 degrees Celsius, then cooled to 31 degrees.

20180312 Chocolate Factory Tour Red hats GU 2817When ready, the chocolate was poured into candy molds, shaken to get air bubbles out and refrigerated for proper setting before being packaged for selling.

Williams had samples of each of the types of chocolate for tasting and also a variety of chocolates for sale.

Mozna chocolates can be found locally at the farmer’s market at Firemen’s Park, at two Espresso Cup Café locations, 2260 E Bus. 281, and 1108 S. McColl in Edinburg. And they can be purchased at the Mozna Factory, 115 E. Brazil in Hidalgo.

For more information about the tour, call Danny Williams at (956) 648-1235. While the tour the Winter Texan Times attended was a Red Hat tour, this tour would be excellent for all kinds of Winter Texan tour groups – especially for chocolate lovers!

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