Made in Michigan: Mindo Chocolate Makers sweet (and bitter) treats

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DEXTER (WJRT) (11/14/2018) - Millions of people love to sink their teeth into a chocolate bar, but very few know how they're made.

The finished product from Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter.

Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter makes chocolate from scratch, turning cocoa beans into milky smooth candy bars, baking powders and even tea.

Barbara Wilson is entering her 10th year of owning the company.

"We purchase cocoa beans directly from small farms in Ecuador," she said. "We only buy our cocoa beans from Ecuador."

The beans are then fermented, dried, roasted and then ground with sugar to balance out the bitterness of the cocoa bean. But for people who like the bitterness, they offer a 100 percent cocoa bar.

"One hundred percent means there's no sugar or any other ingredients added to it -- no milk or anything," Wilson said.

Once the initial process of breaking down the bean is complete, it's time for the chocolate to be tempered -- a rather difficult process.

"That's getting the cocoa butter crystals to line up the way we want them to line up and that's so it has that nice shiny surface and the dark color and the snap that we like," Wilson said.

Summer Osentoski, a certified pastry chef who works at Mindo Chocolates, loves creating delicious treats with a nonstop supply of top quality chocolate produced in the building.

"It's honestly fantastic, like it's incredible because I am elbow deep almost literally in something that's normally a luxury for people, and I get to provide something that makes people smile," she said.

Osentoski can make treats especially for people with gluten intolerances, food allergies and who follow a vegan lifestyle.

"We don't add anything extra to it," she said. "A lot of other chocolates, they'll add emulsifiers or stabilizers to help urge the process along as far as tempering goes. We don't add any of that."

The chocolate is then poured into molds, placed on a cooling rack and polished to smooth out any imperfections.

After the chocolate comes out of the kitchen as tasting tiles, it goes into the packaging room, gets wrapped in foil, heat sealed and wrapped again with a label.

Mindo Chocolate produces about 280 pounds of products per week, or 14,500 pounds per year.

"American chocolate is coming up, and being the leader and sort of the trendsetter and everybody's following what they're doing in the United States and so it's exciting be a part of that," Wilson said.

Mindo Chocolate offers tours and tasting at their facility in Dexter. The company also sells chocolate online and at a number of retailers across the state.

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