Chemical Engineering Students at UMD Offer Chocolate Creations for Valentine’s Day

DULUTH, Minn — With Valentine’s Day upon us, there are a lot of different places where you can find chocolate to buy for your sweetheart, but one place that may be a bit unconventional is the engineering building at UMD.

With the help of faculty members, chemical engineering students have a lab set up where they are able to take cocoa beans through each process necessary to end up with chocolate.  The beans come from a variety of countries and have a distinct flavor depending on where they are grown. Twice a year, they share their decadent in house creations with the public as a fund raiser to keep the operation going.

“We first take the beans that are already fermented and dried and we roast them.  After we roast them, we grind and winnow them to separate the cocoa nibs which have the chocolate in it from the husks which we don’t really want. After we separate the nibs, we mélange it. So basically we grind them down to a really small particle size and then that’s what gives the smooth flavor, or smooth kind of texture in your mouth when you eat it,” said Heide Herrmann, a junior at UMD.

The chocolate lab has been a staple at UMD for many years and plays a role in recruiting future chemical engineers.

“I actually heard about it when I toured as a junior in high school and then I kinda just knew that I wanted to get involved with it. So I just stopped by and talked to Steve and Lyndon and they welcomed me in, taught me the process, and now I’m here making chocolate,” said Herrmann.

There are a variety of chocolate creations available until Wednesday, or while supplies last, including chocolate bars, hot chocolate mix, and cocoa tea bags in addition to traditional homemade chocolate.

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