I realize this is a bit late, but I'm still happy to answer your question.
In order to pan products, you must have some sort of specialized machine for it; the Kitchen Aid attachment is a good beginning option and not overly costly. From there, stand-alone panning machines can range in the $3000 - $6000 USD range, or even above to $16,000 or more. When purchasing equipment, consider how much product you would have to sell in order to pay for that machine. A large reason people do not do the process anymore is because larger companies have made it so incredibly cheap to buy, and a small confectionery shop would have to charge significantly higher prices to make a profit. While many people are happy to pay for a quality product, there are 10 times more who either cannot or will not choose that option.
There is no standard recipe for panning, just as there is no standard recipe for caramel, ganache, etc.; each chocolatier or confectioner employs their own unique process depending on what ingredient they want to coat, what they want to coat it in, how they want to finish their product (some products are given a glazed or shiny appearance, others are given a truffled appearance) and the equipment they have available.
That being said, there is a standard process that most follow in order to get a quality product. In addition, to my knowledge there is not a lot of information or literature available on the panning process, and very few people actually perform it nowadays. It is mostly something reserved for large confectionery companies, i.e. Mars, Nestlé, etc.
Basic Technical Process:
For sake of example, let's use hazelnuts, however you could use most any nut, or even freeze-dried fruits like bananas, raspberries or blueberries.
That is the basic, and by basic I mean fairly complex and intricate, process. It represents only a small portion of what you may do with panning products, and as always with chocolate, your imagination is the only limit.
A basic quantity recipe you may start with could be:
400 g hazelnuts
135 g sugar + 45 g water (to caramelize the nuts)
1000 g crystallized chocolate
100 g cocoa powder
One final note on the panning process: some people prefer to use non-crystallized chocolate (and may advise you to do so), at a temperature of about 40C (104F), however we do not. We have found better results with a crystallized product than not, but you may certainly experiment yourself.
Feel free to ask any other questions; I will be happy to answer as best I can.
A great, informative post. Thank you.
Thank you, that is the most informative post on panning I have been able to find anywhere...
At what point would you speed up or slow down the pan?
This is by far one of the best contributions anyone has made here on TCL. Thank you for this. For a beginner panner this is invaluable information.
The Kitchen-Aid attachment, provided you already own a Kitchen-Aid, is a great way to get started. It is fun and inexpensive, and allows you to try out the process before making a bigger investment. Stand-alone panning machines can cost, as far as I know, upwards of $3000-$4000 and don't do much larger a volume than the attachment, which costs between $500-$750. And personally, I would rather get multiple attachments if I could spend the 3/4k, because it would allow you to process different flavors at the same time.
The detractor of both of these machines is that you don't have a built in heating/cooling unit, the latter of which is very necessary to do a proper product and volume. Chocofreeze is an expensive substitute, but I did use that at times to speed up the process. The next step up is a machine like the Selmi Comfit, which pans around 40kg at a time and costs about $16000, and has a built in air compressor.
The Kitchen-Aid is painfully slow once you realize that you really need to start producing more, and if you factor in time wasted + lesser product quality with the smaller machines, something like the Selmi Comfit begins to seem more and more reasonable financially.
1 kg capacity (finished product)
Stand-Alone (various brands)-
2-4 kg capacity (finished product)
40-45 kg capacity (finished product)
Union Machinery makes a small coating pan for under $2000. I bought one about two months ago. It has no heating/cooling.
I use my air conditioner, a fan and a hair dryer as my cooling/heating sources.
Here's a picture of some milk-chocolate panned macadamias done in this pan.