Photographer: Céline Clanet for Bloomberg Pursuits
Food

The World’s Best Chocolate Is From Tuscany

Amedei, six-time winner of the Academy of Chocolate's "Golden Bean" award, has achieved cultlike status among top chefs for its rich, creamy textures and full-bodied flavors. Owner and maître chocolatier Cecilia Tessieri explains the technique behind the most delicious chocolate in the world. Photographs by Céline Clanet for Bloomberg Pursuits.

  1. The Trip
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    The Trip

    The cocoa beans come from plantations in Venezuela and Ecuador and have been individually chosen by a local agricultural expert, who monitors the harvest, fermentation, drying, and bundling. From South America, they’re shipped to Amedei’s plant in Pontedera, Tuscany, a journey that can take more than 20 days.

  2. The Cut Test
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    The Cut Test

    To ensure quality, Tessieri uses a guillotinelike device to divide 50 seeds in half, then compares them with the agronomist’s previous samples. “The characteristics must match exactly,” says Tessieri, a rare female presence among master chocolatiers. “This is a very technical part of the process.”

  3. Roasting
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    Roasting

    Each bean is roasted individually at temperatures from 176F to 280F and, depending on the type of bean, from 10 to 40 minutes. The roaster, which dates from the early 1900s, is manually operated to give Tessieri even more oversight for quality control. At this point, the cocoa bean may end up destroyed; if it survives, the shell will be separated from the seed.

  4. Mixing
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    Mixing

    Chocolate nibs are ground into a fine paste and mixed with only three other ingredients: refined cane sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter. The mixture is kneaded for 72 hours—almost 10 times longer than at most chocolatiers—on machines from the 1800s. “It’s like a long massage,” Tessieri says. 

  5. The Cooldown
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    The Cooldown

    Temperatures are reduced to as low as 85F, then the chocolate is poured into plastic molds to be stored and shipped.

  6. Molded Chocolate
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    Molded Chocolate

    Despite the current rage for dark chocolate that is 80 or 90 percent cocoa, Tessieri has only one bar that goes above 70—Amedei's "9" bar seen here is 75 percent cocoa. "Anything higher creates an acerbic taste, she says.

  7. Packaging
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    Packaging

    The secret of the process is that Tessieri oversees all the steps of the production are followed one by one, from the quality of the bean to the individual packaging, to maintain her standards. "Think of it as the couture of chocolate," she says.

  8. The Finished Product
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    The Finished Product

    Each bar represents the efforts of three generations of women in Tessieri’s family: Her grandmother was the inspiration, and her mother designed the packaging. Bars can be bought online or at Amedei’s store in New York City.