The Chocolate Life

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I've noticed many here are already experienced chocolate makers, so I apologize for the very basic question.

I started my first chocolate training this past Monday and I am absolutely excited about this new world that is opening up for me.

I want to start small, learn slowly and create beautiful, tasty chocolate (like everyone else, I guess). But I am not sure I understand what I really need to get started from home.

What would be the essential tools to get started?

This is what I think I need:

- Couverture chocolate
- Bowls
- Pans
- Rubber or wooden spatula
- Thermometer
- Gloves
- Cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, etc (to cover the truffles, for instance)

What else? Am I missing something critical? I know there is a lot more to it, but I want to get started sooner than later.

Thank you,

Andre Costa
Chocolatier-to-be

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We started out with above items plus:

- A good digital scale
- A heatpad (helps keep tempered chocolate warm)
- Basic dipping tools (forks, etc.)
- Immersion blender (essential for fixing those first broken ganaches)
- A sense of adventure ;)

Cheers,

Rob
I should move the "sense of adventure" to the top of my list.
Thanks. Great tips.
Chocolate melter
Temperer (optional)
IR Thermometer (I think it is essential...)
Chocolate Refrigerator with a fan
Molds (if you're doing molding)
Ganache frames and/or caramel rulers
etc. etc. etc.

Bon courage!
Thank you. The IR thermometer is absolutely on the top of my list! Chocolate refrigerator? ai ai ai...this thing is going to get expensive!
Hi Andre, these things don't necessarily have to be expensive. With tasks like cooling and tempering, the most important thing is to understand what the tool is doing and how. This is just some basic chemistry that will have been explained by people like Minifie and Beckett (who have published books on the subject). So start with some study and research to get a grip on what is going on.

Once you understand that, you can look around for cheaper, or free alternatives. Often other industries have very similar equipment that is available cheaply second hand and can be adapted. You may even find that you can do things like tempering by hand, or partly by hand (of course this is dependent on the quantities that you are working with).
Hi Langdon Stevenson.

Thank you for the info.
I started my first chocolate training this past Monday, so we've been tempering like crazy and all by hand. I like it a lot, honestly, but I also know it will become "old" after a while - and, as you said, depending on the quantities I start working with.

I still need to do some more research on tempering machines - the feedback I've heard so far have not been great...probably because the people I've been listening to are also newbies to the subject.
Wow, I wish I could have afforded such luxuries. ;) I still temper everything manually.
Hi Devil, can you tell us how big a batch you can temper? When you say manual, do you use a jacketed pot and automatic stirrer/scraper, or is it all by hand?
All by hand...I work with two batches... one at 33C and one at 35C. The 35C is regularly added to the 33C to prevent over-temper and solid chocolate is regularly added to the 35C batch to keep a good melted supply on hand. Using this method I keep ~5kg at 33C and ~5kg at 35C. (we use fancy equipment now to maintain temperature and cause cavetation for crystalization, but all that is just extraand mostly purchased for other reasons)

I suppose using this method, one could temper much more chocolate by hand, I just don't have a need to... I could easily go through a few hundred kg in a shift, and that is way larger than I'd ever like to be.

Granted this is fairly small scale, we're only eight months old as a company, and most of our work is in consulting and development, but I think that in the early stages of a company, I'd hold off on fancy equipment as long as possible... especially when the economy is shaky.
Thanks for the feedback Devil, much appreciated. Necessity is the mother of invention and it sounds like you have come up with a pretty neat and affordable solution for tempering.
Pretty much, we started this company more or less on accident with no customers and a little under $3k and the offer to borrow a commercial kitchen off-hours.

Now less than a year later, business is booming... I work about 140 hours a week. I don't sleep, and I have no social life, but I get to play with Michel Cluizel everyday.. so I suppose everything has it's pros and cons.

I just noticed that you're from down under, my partner is a skippy as well! She used to work at a shop in Melbourne.
Nice job all round then. Premises can be one of the hardest things to get (expensive if you are renovating, or doing it yourself). Sharing is a great idea if the hours suit.

:-) I was in Melbourne in the 90's, but moved north following work. Ask your partner if she knows where a number 6 tram goes from and to - that will give you a good idea of where I used to live and work ...

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