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Wondering if anyone knows if a conching or melanger is necessary to mix cacao powder, butter and sugar, or does it have to be liqeur? [ sic: liquor is the correct term and spelling. ]

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In the sense that you would use it for pre-grinding, refining, and conching - yes. It's is very small, though, and I wonder if it would be able to be run for 24-72 hours at a stretch, which is what it can take to convert nib and sugar into finished chocolate.

Beth and Clay,
I have used my Premier Wonder grinder to make some decent chocolate and have successfully had the machine run for 48-72+ hours (depending on batch size, I run until I am happy with texture/particle size, then release pressure on wheels and "conche" until happy with volatile acidity/aroma/flavor) for more than 10 batches. I have made up to 6.5lb batches in the Premier. I also have a Santha 40 melangeur. I am happy with both, although have had to replace the belt on the Santha and I think the Premier may be starting to slip (main nylon central "shaft" slipping in base locking ring).
Regards,
Tim

Hey Clay - curious to see - you mentioned before that you were working on a 40KG South Am universal? Any progress on that? Would you be willing to share contact details. Located in South America so maybe I could help.

 I am working with a company out of South America to bring a 40kg universal to the US for well under $10k - probably not until September at the earliest.

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