Chocolate is arguably THE most difficult confection to work with because the working temperature range is non-negotiable, very small, and when it's in that range it's constantly crystalizing in different ways. At it's working temperature, the chocolate must be agitated at all times or you're going to get streaks and bloom. You can either have someone stirring all the time, or invest in an inexpensive tempering machine that holds a few lbs of chocolate - something like a Rev 2, or ACMC machine.
Unfortunately there is no negotiating with chocolate, and absolutely no room for error in reheating. A simple error of 1 or 2 degrees F to high, and that's it, your chocolate's out of temper. When I'm training my staff, they actually spend an entire week practicing tempering by hand before they can use the equipment that does it for them. One of the things they learn, is that if they are reheating small amounts of chocolate (3-4lbs), they need to take it off the heat between 4-7 degrees BELOW the target temperature, because the bowl will still hold heat and drag the temperature up. If you wait until the chocolate is at the target temperature, the heat held in the bowl will drag it out of temperature.
The only thing I can suggest is stir stir stir. When you think you've stirred enough, you haven't, so stir stir stir some more.
The process can be very frustrating. I hope that helps.
Thanks so much, Brad. I was hoping you would respond since I have found your advice to others on this discussion forum so incredibly valuable. I will definitely stir more!
I am curious, when your staff reheats the chocolate in a DB is the water simmering or is it on low heat? I turn my water down to low after the chocolate has melted to ensure a slow reheating. And I'm assuming that since you didn't mention using a heat gun that you aren't advocating it :-)?
Nicole, the water is almost simmering (steaming lots), and we are using 8 litre stainless steel bowls and large stock pots. The water never touches the bowl, and the bowl sits very deep into the stock pot.
Heat guns put out very high, and very direct heat. You can actually burn the chocolate with a heat gun. You want gentle and uniform heat on your chocolate, or you'll get streaks. The only place my staff use forced air heat (from hand held hair dryers actually), is to clean the chocolate off the machines throughout the day, but never on the chocolate itself.
Below, Mark suggests what we call "reverse tempering" (my personal term), where you have over crystalized chocolate, and are introducing into the mix, chocolate that is uncrystalized and is in the process of cooling down from being completely melted (40 degrees +). I also teach this technique to our staff, although I usually suggest that they let the chocolate cool a bit more - usually to 95 degrees - before adding it to the existing, over-crystalized chocolate. This way, there's less risk of pulling the over tempered chocolate out of temper. I also suggest that they cool the over tempered chocolate a bit more - usually to 87 degrees just before they add the new product.
The temperatures Mark is suggesting could also be directly related to the amount of melted chocolate he's using VS. the amount of over-crystalized chocolate he has, and what temperature it's at too. In our case, it's usually a ratio of 30% over-crystalized to 70% melted chocolate.
The next step? Stir, stir, stir, then stir, stir, stir, then wait 5-10 minutes for the crystals to seed, or you'll get streaks.
A technique that works well for me is as you use up the chocolate, replace it with untempered paste. I add chocolate at 40C (104F). I will add it until the chocolate is back up to tempering temperature. But if you're not using up enough chocolate when dipping, you may not be able to add enough to bring the temp up enough. Since thickening is often overtempering, where your percentage of crystal is too high, adding untempered chocolate helps bring the percentage back to where it should be. After getting used to how it works it's a big help.
I'm curious to know how things are working out for you now!
I am new to this forum. I have done quite a bit of reading and this website has been very helpful.
Using fermented cacao beans from trees that I grew 4+ years ago, a small horizontal rotary roaster, a drill press modified to run a vertical ball mill at 60 rpm; and, a water-jacketed wheel tempering machine (which I designed as these equipment would be difficult to acquire/purchase overseas from the Philippines where I am situated), I am able to produce nice-looking, fine-textured and good-tasting 70% Cacao chocolates.
My chocolates contain ~60% beans, ~10% cocoa butter, ~30% raw washed sugar, ~1% vanilla powder and ~1% lecithin. The nibs are milled for about 36 hrs (50+50% of the sugar is added at 12 & 16 hrs, 50+50% cocoa butter at 20 & 24 hrs, 1% vanilla powder at 24 hrs; and 1% lecithin at 35 hrs.) After solidifying the liqour in bread loaf pans at room temperature for 3 days (Does it qualify as couverture at this stage?), it is chopped into small pieces and melted in the tempering machine. Over a 1hr and 15 minute period, the chocolate is heated to 122degF, cooled-down to 88 degF (by initially replacing heated jacket water with 86degF tap water and with 84degF ICED tap water) and finally warmed again to raise chocolate temperature to ~90degF.
I use the 122degF, 88degF and 90degF temperatures as they were specified in the Tempering (Dark) Chocolate video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMjU9Nnz_oQ. Admittedly, I am unable to cool-down to 80degF as specified in the video (as that would require very cold or chilled water). Are these the correct temperatures for tempering 70% Cacao Bean chocolates? The use of iced or chilled water to cool-down before settling to the tempering temperature is not mentioned in this discussion thread. Is the use of iced or chilled water correct?
Despite the above attempts to temper, my chocolates do NOT have the snap of properly-tempered chocolates. They are dark colored but NOT as-dark-as commercially-sold dark chocolates. They also produce very fine white powder-like bloom on their surfaces after a few days. What am I doing wrong?
I look forward to everyone's feedback, comments and suggestions. Thank you in advance.
I am a small chocovision tempering machine and set the temperatures at 118 drop it to 86 and take it back up to almost 90. After I get it in the mold, I have been putting them in 50-60 temperatures and can pop them out of the mold in about an hour. No bloom and great snap. When I let the mold harden at 70 degrees plus and it took many hours, bloom started coming out after about hours in the mold if the chocolate was not hard yet.
I have been using similar proportions of liquor, butter and sugar. I try to get my percentages closer to 65%-70% liquor, 5-9% butter and 25-30% sugar. I have been making slight adjustments to see how different the results might be. As far as the timing in the small cocao town melanger, I usually run the liquor by itself for 12 hours, and then start adding the sugar over about an hour period while I also add the additional butter. I stop the machine somewhere between 20 and 24 hours. Used some nice Equadorian liquor last time and was able to use less sugar and only conched for 16 hours because I liked it so much at that point. I added the sugar at 8 and needed those 6 hours to grind the sugar, the cacao was really good.
At the start of this thread, Nicole said she was " ... tempted to try using a cold water bath instead."
Thomas, how do you drop temperature from 118F to 86F? Does your Chocovision use cold or chilled water? How long does it take?
Heating chocolate (in a double boiler or a hot-water jacketed machine as in my case) is easy. But cooling from 115F (or higher) to 88F (or lower) is DIFFICULT. It also does not appear to be well discussed in this forum.
Using a marble or granite slab (presumably in an air-conditioned or cold room) makes sense. But, can we just really use fans & blowers for chocolate in containers? Can 86F or a lower temperature really be achieved?
In the Philippines, where I am and as it is December, Ambient Temperature is 84-88F and Cocoa Liquor Temperature (at room temperature liquid & near solid state) is 88F.
Presently, my tempering process cools down from 115F to 88F (with 88F Seed Chocolate added at 95F to aid in the cooling process) by gradually creating a 78F iced-water jacket under the chocolate container bowl of the tempering machine. However, even with constant stirring & scraping for 30 minutes we can only cool down to 88F. Beyond 30 minutes, some more cooling is possible but the chocolate starts to be un-stirrable/un-workable.
Is the use of chilled water (to cool down chocolate during tempering) correct? How long does this process take? Is there an appropriate time period?
The machine using a air fan to cool and heat up the chocolate. It holds around 24-25 oz of chocolate and probably takes around 45 minutes to go through the entire process until I am ready to pour into the molds. My instructions were to add the seed when you achive maximum tempurature and there is an indicator which beeps when it reaches 90 degrees so you can remove the seed. I end up using 3 1.2 oz bars for seed to produce 21 bars, meaning I really make 18 1.2 oz bars with a pound and half.
I was trying to table temper without a seed on the countertop for many months with inconsistent results. My problem was when it got down into the 80's, the tempurature would fall too fast and get to the low 80's before I could mush it into the other, warmer chocolate. I also had because after I mushed the cooler and warmer chocolate, the tempurature would still be above 90. I have someone in the industry who wants to teach me how to table temper. I could see doubling or tripling the size of my batches, getting more molds and increasing my capacity. Right now, I can usually temper and mold about 4.5 lbs in a 4-5 hour stretch.
Since your chocolate is artisanal, you should do temper checks everytime. Then you'll know the correct temps for YOUR chocolate. The temp curve can vary depending on the type of cacao, the process, the amount of cacao butter, hte quality of the cacao butter, the type of chocolate, etc. When you decrease the temp in your chocolate, make temper checks at different temperatures until you get the right one and write it down :)