I recently came into a streak of what seems to be serious bad luck with tempering. Six failed attempts on three batches of chocolate. And this after years of relatively successful hand tempering.
Here are the variables:
Southern california summer weather. Right now this means heat wave, often we have temperatures in the mid 90's
I have tried to mitigate this by tempering in the morning and tempering in an airconditioned lab. Both corrections have been unsuccessful.
Change in heat gun. I doubt this could be having an effect.
Change in cocoa butter. I recently purchased 50lbs of non-deodorized organic cocoa butter from J Edwards. Picture attached.
A white chocolate made with their deodorized organic butter came out fine. I am doing an experimental batch of dark with some of this added to check it out.
My question to all of you is as follows. Can a difference in cocoa butter grade effect my temperature curve, or be contaminated somehow and not temper at all, causing problems in the temper process?
Please help if you can.
Any recipe change may require change in the temperatures during tempering.
Could you describe your tempering process?
The technical answer to your question is yes, however in practice with hand tempering, it always boils down to time, temperature, or contamination. A heat gun is a combination of both time and temperature - i'd not be so quick to rule out it's role.
Are you using a thermometer? if not, why not? if yes, is it calibrated?
do you have any other formulation changes, or are nuts / soft centers involved?
Okay, so I guess we can't discuss this without getting into all the details, here goes.
I temper with a thermometer. Recently I've been using an infrared one, but I had successfully used candy thermometers as well. After having all this trouble I ordered a thermometer that can be calibrated.
Here is my process.
Start with chocolate cooled to 80 degrees
For dark warm to 123, for milk 105
Re-cool to 83 I have tabled the chocolate on a marble slab and mixed it back in for this stage, and also cooled it in a cold room.
Warm to 89 for dark and 86 for milk chocolates.
place in molds.
This is kind of simplified, but that's the regular gist.
The recipes that went wrong contained the following extra ingredients: Sichuan pepper topped with dried candied kumquat, dried bhut jolokia hot pepper, cardamom topped with espresso beans.
All batches were tempered twice to no avail. I will proceed with a different cocoa butter today and see how it turns out.
No need to start with it at 80 degrees. also no need to be so precise warming up to 123/105. just heat them both up to 120 or so regardless of if they're milk or dark. your milk may need to be cooled lower depending on how much milk fat is in it. the more milk fat, the cooler you need to work.
In addition to what Sebastian correctly written above.
1. It looks like ingredients you use should not cause blooming problems due their nature. They may still cause tempering problems if you mix them into chocolate when they are too cold or too hot.
2. The problem may be in the actual temperatures of chocolate during the tempering.
quote from your post:
"Re-cool to 83 I have tabled the chocolate on a marble slab and mixed it back in for this stage, and also cooled it in a cold room.
Warm to 89 for dark and 86 for milk chocolates."
Unfortunately these "rule of thumb" temperatures will not ensure correct temper in all situations.
Any changes in the recipe may require change of these temperatures.
I would suggest experimenting with small batches of the chocolate (without mixing in the ingredients) that you have and cooling to different temperatures, making records and finding the best settings for the chocolate you have. I know that this is time time consuming (bloom doesn't show straight away) but if the chocolate comes out of moulds very well and looks good you are half way there.
3. Another possible issue is the temperature of moulds. If too cold or too hot they will couse chocolate to bloom even if correctly tempered.
Thanks for the pointers everyone!
I have had increased success, although it is definitely baby steps at this point. So many little details to remember! So far using the deodorized cocoa butter seems to bring about better results. I am on the market for an automatic tempering machine as well, which might help out.