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Does anyone know any "easy" way of getting the right temperature curve for an artisan chocolate? I've been trying to temper it by trial and error, but I was wondering if there is like a shortcut or something :(

Tags: artisan, chocolate, curve, temperature

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Temperature curve for what?  Grinding?  Roasting?  Tempering?  Storage? 

Tempering. I've managed to temper it, but I'm not 100% satisfied with the result yet :( I'll wait a couple of days to see how the chocolate bars react in storage.

In my experience, there is no "easy" way to temper (or learn tempering as you seem to be suggesting), although it gets more reliable the more you do it.  There are too many factors (ambient air temperature, humidity levels just to name two to start with) that affect your outcome.  It takes A LOT of practice, so just keep with it.  If you have the technical/science aspects down, you will come to understand the "art" aspects of tempering and the 2 will give you the result you want. 

I know how to temper, I just need to figure out the temperature curve, I know there are some machines that do it for you and give you the exact temp when the chocolate develops the right amount of cristals. 

Either way, I managed to figure it out, I'll just have to wait to see how the chocolate reacts.

the temperature range I use is to bring the chocolate up to at least 113 degrees (this can vary alot) and then bring it down to 80 degrees.  Then you bring it back up no more than 92. Is this what you are wanting?  an important piece that I have discovered is to make sure it has been at each temperature at least 10 min.   

All the info you need is here.  Read and practice. Then practice again.  Then practice some more 8-)

Daniela -

I've been working with some of the customers who've purchased FBM tempering machines through me and from what I've learned from them, it's a challenge to find the right temperatures at which to work - they are not the same as commercial chocolates, especially when there is no added cocoa butter in the recipe.

As Sebastian says, there is no substitute for experience. And when you're working with a new chocolate, trial and error is also involved. The more experience and practice you have the less trial and error is involved (generally speaking).

Also - don't be surprised if the temperatures are not what you expect them to be. One FBM customer I work with has a commercial chocolate (from a very well-known company) that wants the melting temperature to be above 60ºC. I kid you not.

The FBMs are set to shut down before the temperatures get that high to protect the equipment and the chocolate, but we couldn't get it to work properly at any lower temp. So the FBM techs walked the customer through the process of re-setting the alarm temperatures and then also provided additional heating capabilities and specialized insulation to keep the working bowl warm enough.

We recently had a change in our fermentation process, since we own the plantation and make our own chocolate, I had little/no guide to follow. After some experiments, I managed to temper the new chocolate and keep it in temper while setting :) At the end, the only difference was 1 degree when decreasing the temperature of the chocolate.

I know there's no substitute for experience, but what I did was to try another day, more relaxed and after a good night's sleep haha. When I wrote the question the chocolate was driving me crazy :(

Thank you :)

Let me take a moment to reflect on something that most people don't spend a lot of time considering.

The reason you temper is to co-erce the building blocks (tri-glycerides) from which cocoa butter is made, to crystallize in ways we want them to behave.  Left to their own devices, said tri-glycerides will NOT do what we want them to do.  Here's the part that most people don't spend much time thinking about.  The cocoa butter that almost everyone uses to make their chocolates is extracted from nibs at some point.  Those nibs may have been fermented, or not.  They may have been alkalized, or not.  They may be from Africa - or not.  Some of it will be solvent extracted, some will be pressed.  You get the picture.  The incoming raw material cocoa butter stream - for most people - can be wildly variable.  Which means that chocolates fundamental building blocks - the triglycerides - will be variable also.  Which means that there's going to be an operational range for any given chocolate - because the materials used to construct that product will have varied.


Asking what's the right temperature is akin to asking if red cars are better than yellow ones - it's almost impossible to answer (hint: a red bugatti veyron IS the answer..but i digress).  Rather, there's a window of temperatures in which you're likely to find a high degree of success.

Now, there are a very few folks who understand how to manage this incoming cocoa butter variability and minimize it's impact in finished chocolate.  Let me stress - a very few.  None of them are cocoa butter suppliers (i.e., if your core business is pressing, and you make you $ from selling bulk cocoa butter to people who make chocolate - i've yet to meet anyone in that business who understands how to use DSC crystallization curves and blending to normalize their product).  Many of them also work in lot sizes in the hundreds of tons range...

You should therefore assume that your equipment will not have one setpoint that will work 100% of the time - and this is where experience comes in - rather you're going to need to learn what 'right' feels/looks like.  Yes there are plenty of technical ways to do this, but most folks here aren't going to be able to afford them.  You can get 80% of the way there by learning how to 'read' your process and chocolate.  There will be characteristics that indicate you're in/out of temper.  How the chocolate 'strings' when you pull it up with a fork.  How it's luster changes to very matte when the lights reflect off of it.  How it pulls away from a piece of wax paper after 30 seconds in your tunnel.  etc.

Practice over and over and over, and learn from your failures.  Learn what right and what wrong looks and feels like.  At some point, you'll be the cocoa butter whisperer, and you'll be able to simply look at something and pretty confidently be able to tell me if it's in or out of temper, over/under tempered, etc.

Sebastian -

A great reply, thanks for taking the time and providing the insight. 

Here's one technical issue that I think a lot of people don't understand completely: While chocolate may be "properly tempered," it does not mean that all of the crystals are formed. There are enough of the right crystals to force the development of the proper crystals in the chocolate as it cools down completely. So, "Why raise the temperature after hitting the bottom point? Why is there a three-point "curve?"

It was explained to me that by raising the temperature you retard crystal formation giving you a longer window within which to work. If you take the temperature to the bottom and keep it there, the chocolate will quickly become too thick to work with. Can you provide any additional insight into this explanation? (And set me straight if I heard wrong.)

Thanks,
:: Clay

Clay - the way that I understand the 3 point curve - is that you cool down the chocolate and in the process get 'wild' crystallization - form 1 through 5 form.  By reheating you are melting out the unstable form 1 through 4 and as long as you don't exceed your working temperature - will be left with form 5 as the majority of crystals.  Then as time goes on, crystals grow on crystals and more and more form 5 crystals take over the bowl!

Lets break down the three points of the curve and see what's happening:

1st stage - this is the heating stage - it's purpose is to 'create the blank slate' and melt out all the residual crystals.  you have no idea what the history of your chocolate was.  perhaps it's in good temper, perhaps it's not.  you don't want to gamble with what someone else has done with it, nor how it was stored or transported to you.  you want to have the highest likelihood of success - so you'll start by 'erasing' all the crystals that exist.  This is done by holding at about 110-120F for x amount of time.

2nd stage - this is the cooling stage - as your chocolate cools, some of the cocoa butter that's giving up it's thermal energy (heat), and as it gives up enough heat, it'll turn from a liquid to a solid (crystallize).  as it does this, it'll release a little big of energy (called the latent heat of crystallization) - for those of you who use a tricor, that's why you hold the curve such that it looks like a skijump, you get the 'jump' part of the curve.  What you're doing here is forming lots of crystals - some of them will be what you want, some of them will be types you don't want.  We'll deal with the types you do'nt want in the next phase.  If you go too low here, or hold it for too long, you'll form far too many of these 'bad' crystals that you do'nt want, and end up with something that's 'overtempered'.

3rd stage - slight warm up - what you're doing here is warming it enough to melt out those crystals that formed in phase 2 that you don't want.  if you warm too aggressively here, you'll melt out not only those crystals you want to melt, but also the good ones you spent so much time forming, and you'll have to start again.

Daniela - depending on where you are in CR, the next time i'm down i may be able to stop by and give some pointers.  Some of my best memories are in Costa Rica (i do miss rafting on the pena blanca!)

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