thanks so much for all you share Clay. It is very informative and I get alot out of this website. I look forward to hearing more about this machine. As my business grows I would love to upgrade to a larger capacity, quicker method. I have sooo much more to learn about making chocolate, but seem to be making many people happy in the meantime. If you don't mind explaining, I am trying to understand if I should be dry conching first. At this time I melt alot of cacao butter, and half that amount cacao liquor, and pour it into the cocoatown melanger, and then quickly add the powdered sugar. This I grind for up to 4 hrs before adding any other ingredients. Would I benefit in this case by dry conching, just letting the liquor grind by itself, or has this step already been done by the company who produces the liquor or paste I buy? (Or is this up to the producer?)
Taste the liquor. What's the texture? How much acidity is in it? That will tell you if the liquor has been conched at all - or just refined. There's no standard procedure for this, but I would guess that most liquors are not conched though they may be ground finely enough so that the texture is okay ... but not all are.
Both sugar and cocoa butter tend to grab on to aromas - good ones and bad ones - making it harder to drive them off. A general strategy would be to work with just the liquor for several hours before adding any other ingredients (e.g., sugar) and then grind/refine/conche until you get the flavor you want and then add the cocoa butter.
Question - commercial powdered sugar or sugar you are powdering yourself? Most commercial powdered sugar has cornstarch in it and you don't want that in your chocolate bar.
if you don't mind me asking the price you paid for the cocoatown melanger?
$500, and I am finding it is wearing out quickly, not sure if I am causing that or it is because of the nylon washer they use. I am finding they are wearing quickly.