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Im doing a little experiment here in Guatemala and I have some issues tempering something which is called ceremonial cacao.

It is the criollo bean fermented for about 3 days and then slightly roasted for about 15-20 minutes just enough so that its possible to hand peal the beans. This process seems to be the traditional way and is done by about 10 local families here.

From what i heard this bean has only about 30% fat and is very rich in Theobromines.

So what i did is i got a cocotown melanger here and i am experimenting with this stuff.

So far i add just enough butter (about 10%) so that it is possible to liquify the cacao liqueur and i added panella (unrefined cane sugar), because i am very inspired by the dark flavor it develops this way after about 30 hours in the melanger.

All is good but when i try to temper it im not being successful.

Now i am not an expert in tempering by hand but my normal method of heating it up to 120 then let it cool to 80 and back up to 88 while constant steering is not really working...

Do i need to add more butter or is panella a bad idea?

I am happy for any hints or ideas to try out.

Tags: cacao, ceremonial, criollo, tempering

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It most assuredly has more than 30% fat in it. Unless it is very immature.  Tell us more about why you think it didn't work, what did you see, photos are helpful..

Hey Sebastian

Im using a food thermometer which is not very precise  (you can easily be 1-2 degrees off) , im still waiting for the digital one i ordered from the states.

I did manage to temper industrial dark chocolate decently with only this thermometer back when i was in the states, but like i said im no expert and i am happy to hear what i did wrong.

The 30% is what i heard from the locals without any reference,

the beans do have the little sprout inside (sorry for my english i dont know if that is the right word, but when you crack the bean you can see the very little beginning of the plant inside)

I only have my mac at hand right now for pictures but i hope you can see the problem :-)

Thanks a lot

The picture is from the batch i made 4 days ago


It's called fat bloom, and is the result of not being in temper.  If you're just starting to temper, an accurate thermometer is critical, and you're going to need someway of cooling the chocolate once it's been tempered.  The germinated bean won't impact  your ability to temper, but it's not likely to taste very good as a result.

Ok would it be sufficient if i put the bowl of chocolate in a pot of cool water and steer?

The digital thermometer should be here by the end of this week.

Also the locals told me that the germinated bean is a sign of quality and they choose their bean by that, i understand from you that is negative for the taste,

What is the difference when the bean germinates and do you have any idea why the locals here with all their cacao rituals and traditions prefer the germinated bean?

Last question... i noticed that the panela heats up the drum more then normal sugar, this morning it was up to 125 fahrenheit, Is that to hot? Do i need to place a cooling fan next to it?

For tempering, you essentially need to heat the mass up to 120, cool it down to about 81, and then reheat it to about 88.  it does not really matter how you do this so a bowl of cold water would be fine, assuming it is sufficiently cold to allow you to get your chocolate to about 81f.  you do not need a thermometer to temper, however it greatly, greatly, greatly increases your likelihood of success - for at this time, since you're not accustomed to tempering, you don't really know what success looks/feels like - so the thermometer will guide you.

Local taste preferences vary greatly around the world.  in many places in east asia they don't ferment at all.  in some places in c. america they bury the beans with lye in the ground.  hard to say why a local flavor preference develops the way it does.

The sugar won't heat up the drum at all, it's getting warmer due to the frictional heat generated during grinding.  what it is likely to contribute, however, is moisture, which is rarely a good thing for dark chocolate.  if your chocolate is very viscous, it's a potential contributor to that.


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