Some corrections and amplifications, courtesy of Steve DeVries, chocolate master:
- Steve pointed me to Cacao domestication I: the origin of the Cacao cultivated by the Mayas, by Motamayor et al. This paper outlines a genetic study of a few types of Forestero, “Modern Criollo”, and “Ancient Criollo” cacao plants. It definitely supports the theory that modern Criollo is not a definite type of cacao, but that there is a spectrum of Trinitario plants that span the genetic spectrum from Forestero to Criollo.
- I got the difference between wet and dry conching wrong. His explanation is far better. Basically, when chocolate comes out of the roll refiner, it is a light, feathery mass with a huge surface area. Dry conching is conching this mass without melting the surface area out of it (which may entail leaving lecithin out to maintain low viscosity.) Wet conching occurs when the mass collapses, leaving a smaller surface area, and hence less driving off volatiles.
- Peters, the original inventor of milk chocolate, used a condensed milk process to get the first milk chocolate. Producers have since moved through clabbered milk, to spray/roller drying, or creating milk crumb. (side comment: It’s interesting that there is so much focus on dark chocolate, when milk chocolate is a more elaborate product in many ways. It doesn’t show the characteristics of the bean like dark chocolate does, but milk chocolate has an incredible variety of flavor possibilities.)
Thanks Steve! For more erudition from Steve, check out his interview at chocomap.com.