Recipe: Shitty Chocolate

3 min read

This chocolate is untempered because that’s such a faff, and doesn’t worry about getting the perfect roast times and drying times and fermentation times that are so important to making it actually taste nice. All of that is really delicate and fine-tuned stuff which isn’t the focus of this post: this is intended more as a quick and dirty proof-of-concept for when you’ve come across some cocoa trees and want to have a go at making some chocolate from it yourself.

I first tried this with some cocoa from Namrole. We were riding around town and the surrounding area and ended up out past the airport to the end of the road. All the way along that last stretch of the journey there was forest on either side, so we stopped by one of the many cocoa trees and grabbed about four fruits to take home (in addition to the bunch we sat and ate at the side of the road). Unfortunately when we got back home the beans got infested by maggots during the fermentation stage due to a bad seal on the tupperware, so really the chocolate used in this recipe comes from much closer to home: Hila, a village in Leihitu up on the north coast of Ambon’s big island.


  • 3 cocoa fruits
  • Sugar


Crack open the fruit by bashing it on the floor.

Suck on the beans inside and enjoy the sweet pulp they’re covered in.

Leave beans in a sealed tuppperware for 5 days to ferment. Shake every day.

If you have an oven, roast at 150°C for 30-60 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven, use a pan with a steamer rack. Put the cocoa in the steamer, but don’t add any water to the pan. Cover and turn to a medium heat for 30 minutes or until dry. Then dry fry (stirring often) for another 30 minutes.

Peel the beans down to the dark, cracked inner bean. This bit takes ages but you end up getting the hang of it after a while. The trick is to kind of slide your nail under the outer layer and pop it off, but it’s fiddly and annoying.

Add sugar to taste (~⅙ the mass of the cocoa for dark chocolate), maybe a little milk powder if you like.

Grind/blend as much as possible. It’s supposed to be so finely ground as to form a paste from the oils that come out of the beans, but if you can’t do that just accept that you’ll have a grainy and gritty bar of chocolate. I used a pestle and mortar, but a high-powered blender might work. Unfortunately we usually use this setup to grind chilli for sambal, so the chocolate was a bit spicy in the end.

Squash into bottom of tupperware, put in fridge.

This sone turned out… hmm. I mean it was pretty cool that it tasted like dark chocolate, it definitely had that taste. And it was melty and it was chocolatey, there’s no denying it. But at the same time it was weirdly spicy from the pestle and mortar, it was burnt-tasting from my poor roasting of the beans, and it was super grainy. Actually the graininess wasn’t as bad as it sounds: rather than giving you a sense of dirt it was more a vague sense of rustic home-madeness. But it’s chocolate! Sort of!