I've recently started a chocolate company in Taipei, Taiwan. Perhaps a foolhardy venture since Taipei is famously hot and humid pretty much year-round, but I'm up for the challenge.
Every couple of weeks while tempering I get one batch that thickens up like peanut butter. It's this consistency while around 32-33 C, but will happily return to a smooth liquid state if I heat it back up to 45C. I do all tempering "by hand," ie seeding with an immersion mixer. Works great 99% of the time.
My current understanding of what's going on is that the chocolate has gotten humid and the higher water content is causing it to be unworkably thick at "working" temperature. So my question is, provided I'm right that humidity is to blame, can chocolate be dehumidified? If I keep it at 50C for 24 hours will the water content decrease enough to make it workable again? Or longer? Logic says if the chocolate is room temp +10 or +20C then ... if there is water in there it's gotta evaporate, at least a little.
Edit: Using a 73-27-42 from Belcolade so it seems to me it should always be very liquid at 32 C...
Any experience or thoughts would be appreciated! :) Thanks,
If you're picking up environmental moisture, once the water's been absorbed into your chocolate, it's going to be very difficult to get out. Your best bet is to condition the air in the room to keep the RH <60%.. Since lecithin is an ampihillic emsulifier, it will hold on to water very tightly.
Based on your description, i don't think that's what is the problem however. If it's VERY thick at tempering temperatures, and VERY fluid at 45C, i think you're simply overseeding it during the cool down phase of tempering.
Thanks for the quick reply!
I've thought of the possibility of overseeding / overtempering. When this thick stuff does solidify it doesn't seem well tempered at all though. Unless light color + softness after cooling are also symptoms of having overseeded?
Also, in an over-temper situation, wouldn't re-heating somewhat to reduce crystallization, and then returning to working temp basically solve it? When faced with this thick stuff I have tried that, getting the temp >34 C to melt maybe half of the thick stuff, then stirring until it was back in the 32 C zone... Zero success with that so far, I just get peanut butter again haha.
Overtempering can be just as bad as undertempering, and can manifest itself in many, many ways depending on the specifics of your formulation and process. Which makes troubleshooting via boards challenging 8-) Heating would absolutely decrease overtempering, you're spot on. If you've got moisture present, i'd expect it'd be thick over a range of working temperatures. Do you use PGPR in your chocolate - if so that might explain what we're seeing. If not, it's as bit of a head scratcher. If it is moisture, you're going to have a very, very difficult time getting it out - it'd be best to condition the room such that it doesn't get in, in the first place.
I've had this problem too with hand tempering... you will need to let it sit with the lid on at 34C to rest.
The chocolate can easy get over worked when hand tempering and will cool down and over crystallise too much.
it is a good idea to dry your chocolate out, I wrap my blocks up in paper.