The Chocolate Life

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CHOCOLATE: 1lb of dark bittersweet belgian wafer (melted whole)

METHOD: Double Boiler, seed, no seed

TOOLS: Polycarbonate mould, chocolate thermometer, heatproof bowl, plastic soup ladle

For my first attempt at tempering I used 1lb of chocolate and held 10% of that to the side for seeding.   I added the wafers to the glass bowl in whole, without cutting them down.  I set my stove to about 6, which was probably too high because by the time all the chocolate was melted my therm. read over 133 F, when my aim was 122 F max.  I took the bowl off my pot and added the seed while stirring.  The chocolate was obviously too hot, because it took over 25 mins for the temperature to decrease to 90 while stirring the entire time.  At this point I was also interrupted by something, so decided to just leave the chocolate in the bowl and start over.

30  minutes later I began my second attempt.  This time I held the heat at 1 and watched the temp climb slowly and steadily.  Once it reached 110 F I took the bowl off the heat and placed it into my sink which had water and ice (I did not get any water into the mixture).  I stirred and stirred until the temp cooled down to 84F (7 mins or so).  I could not add any seed because I had none left.  When it reached 84 F I placed it back on the pot to raise the temp up to 87 F (while stirring the entire time).  My mistake was that I turned off the heat when I removed the bowl to cool down, so it took a bit longer to bring the heat up to 87 F and I believe the temp dropped down to 83 or 83 before I could bring it back up.  When it reached 87 F i took the bowl off the pot and ladled the chocolate into my molds.  I used a large knife to remove the excess off the mold, and began tapping it on my kitchen counter for a few mins, to remove air bubbles.  I let it sit on the kitchen counter for a few hours before placing it into the refrigerator.  This morning it was tough to get the chocolate out of the bars, but I managed to get one. 

Here are a few pics of how it turned out.  Obviously not that great, but I would like some critiques on my end product, my method, and the areas that I went wrong.  I would also like some instructions on the correct way to remove the chocolate from the moulds, as they seem stuck and easily break when removed.  Thank you!

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Hmm you should warm your molds before filling them with chocolate, just a little bit with hair dryer or a heating gun, that should avoid the temperature shock in the chocolate. Do you have a marble table? or granite? perhaps you can try decreasing the temp in the marble. The inverted bain marie method you used it's tricky.

The important thing is to heat the chocolate til it feels warm, then decrease it. It'll feel cool when you put in on your lip and it'll "shrink", then warm it just a tad so you can work with it.

You have to wait for the chocolate to contract in the fridge, you'll see a air gap between the mold and the chocolate, that way you know it's released

You did great for your first time!  Congrats. 

A few tips...

When your chocolate is very hot, don't add the seed right away.  Cool it first.  When  your chocolate is above 34C, all the seed is doing is cooling it down - it's not adding any beta 5 crystals above that temp.  So if seed chocolate is at a premium - wait until it's around 36C before adding it.

You need to check your temper before proceeding with molding.  Dip a small piece of parchment or a knife into your tempered chocolate.  Set your timer for 3 minutes.  The chocolate should be set at around the 3 minute mark - maybe 4 - not more than 5.  Check for streaks.  It might be set but streaky - if so, stir more to develop more crystals.  What you're looking for is a nice glossy finish.  Oh, and the temper check is done at room temp. not in the fridge.

I would suggest you master tempering before attempting molding.  You can just pour your chocolate out on parchment paper.  Put a fan on it for best results.  Molding has it's own set of challenges and the first of those is a well tempered chocolate. 

If you have time, you can melt your chocolate using your oven light.  Put your chocolate in the oven overnight with just the oven light on.  Your bowl of chocolate needs to be fairly close to the light - and preferably a stainless steel bowl for heat retention.  Works like a charm - and no water involved!  To keep your chocolate at working temperature you can use a yogurt maker (although you might have to buffer your bowl with a towel or something). 

Best of luck with attempt #2!

Thank you for the replies.  I actually heated my mold in a convection oven for 30 seconds before pouring the chocolate.  Its funny, the other bars came out with no marks on them at all...they looked great, but did not have that "snap", so I know it wasnt a perfect temper.  i will take all your tips into consideration!

When using seed method if you over heat the chocolate you have to allow it to cool to less than 110F before adding seed and continue stirring till reaches optimum temp or even slightly less then warming 1-2 degrees to reach optimum working temp. If your intent is to mold then you don't want the mold warmer than chocolate, allow chocolate to set (65-70 degree room) then refrigerate briefly to allow choc to shrink from mold. Good luck, you did very well for your first time other than rushing. Good things are worth waiting for.

Thanks Ryan!  When adding seed do you use a % of the chocolate weight you are working with?  I hear the double boiler method is very tricky, so am looking foward to practicing with my melter when it arrives.


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