The Chocolate Life

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Hello all,

My name is Andrew and I am in the process of opening my first chocolate shop in Houston. My business will be creating 3.5oz 6x3.5" chocolate bars with a Selmi One tempering machine, and I had a few questions:

  1. What is the fastest way to cool one chocolate bar? By cool I mean solid and ready to eat.
  2. What is the fastest and easiest system to use, requiring the least amount of skills and experience?
     In other words, other options besides liquid nitrogen.
  3. I have looked into Irinox blast chillers and was wondering if anyone had any experience or comments on the efficiency and effectiveness of the system?
  4. Also, I have read earlier posts about a Holding Cabinet, and was wondering if this is needed?

Thank you,


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Replies to This Discussion

Andrew I don't have any comment on where you're heading. I do have a curiosity which will add to your discussion. Even if you cool something down rapidly you may beat the temper to the punch. We make a lot of bark and even if I bring its internal temp down to 43' it doesn't yet have the snap, the temper crack until a bit later.

I'm not evolved enough yet in my understanding of how aging works within chocolate but I'm betting there is still some aggregate setup time required before you are ready to consume the product in a way that is representational of what chocolate should be.

Makes me think that of an enrober belt if the goal of chilling something down ultimately fast was the real goal the cooling tunnels wouldn't be 15' long (or longer.)

A common batch size for us is about a 15# table of chocolate (5'x4'). It takes about 10m before I can cut it, then 20m before I can remove it from the table, and about 30m-1h before I feel its got the right properties and that's all at room temp of 70'.

As an aside, is your business about custom on demand product creation? Trying to figure out where your requirements are coming from.


Andy is right - you can chill it quickly but that doesn't mean it will be (stay) in temper.

1) The fastest way would be to use a cabinet specifically designed to crystallize chocolate. Optimum temperature is about 55F.

2) A specialized chocolate holding cabinet.

3) The smallest Irinox blast chiller is about $80k. Their CP40 chocolate holding cabinet is about $30k. I would not use one of the blast chillers (or anyone's for that matter - there are ones that are far less expensive). The Irinox CP40 is the Rolls Royce of chocolate holding cabinets. It works better than anything else on the market that you can buy. I can get you a 10% discount. Ritter has a museum store in Germany where they do custom bars to order and they use Irinox cabinets to cool the bars as quickly as possible. It still takes 10-12 minutes before they can be safely removed from the mold. The thinner the bar, the faster.

4) I don't know what temperature the Hilliard cabinet gets to. It's the only reasonably-priced cabinet you can easily buy here in the US. Ideally, you want 55F with sufficient airflow.

For what you are doing a custom cooler is probably the best idea and will be far less expensive than anything else you can purchase. How many bars do you think you need to cool at one time?

If you put the chocolate in the freezer for 10 mins will that do it or even a fridge?  Or is that too much moisture added? It's hard for me to believe folks need to pay up to $80k for a modified fridge.  Has anyone tried a wine chilling cabinet?  Or can you modify a fridge with a thermastat and fan unit, or is it way more scientific than that?  


When chocolate cools it gives up its heat - this is called the latent heat of crystallization.

Removing the heat i not just about the temperature of the environment it's also about airflow.

The reason devices like the Irinox exist is that they are purpose-built for doing exactly that. I was doing a test last week where we took a sheet pan of baked goods out of a 400F oven and put it into the blast chiller and the insides were at -40F in about 15 minutes.

The CP40 holding cabinet at $30k is a good alternative to a cooling tunnel when you don't have the space for one. Specifically, the CP40 can maintain the temperature and the humidity of the inside of the cabinet even when the door is being opened and closed repeatedly. This is called "recovery" and it applies to ovens as well - when you open the door of an oven and put something cold it in ... how long does it take for the oven to return to temperature? Specialty commercial refrigeration items like those made by Irinox are expensive - but they are worth every penny when it comes to solving specific production challenges and are more flexible than cooling tunnels.

It is possible to find Irinoxes at auctions for very good prices, especially on older models. Irinox is constantly adding new features to their products and much of the price increase in the past 10 years or so is due to significantly enhanced digital controls.

Hello Clay.  I'm in the same boat: just starting / low budget constraints.  I keep hearing of folks using Wine Cooler Cabinets that have temperature controls form 50 - 60 degrees.  What are your thoughts on using a wine cooler as the poor-mans chiller?  Do they have any type of humidity control?

Thanks again for the help, John Duxbury

John -

Are you handy?

I have a design for what I call a "static cooling tunnel." A ChocolateLife member has already made one and he finds that it really works well. Another ChocolateLife member will be building one in the next couple of weeks.

One of the keys is the use of a cooler designed for electronic equipment: it blows cool air constantly and dehumidifies and filters the air. You do need to duct the hot air to the outside - but the humidity is evaporated in the exhaust so that's pretty cool.

You can use a lot of different approaches for the shelving (e.g., wire Metro, Elfa), but basically you're building a positive pressure box to guide the flow of cool air past the molds - above and below. You can build the box in any width you like and you can vary the number of shelves, too.

You can use wine coolers but they don't have humidity control until you start spending some real money. You can build a "static cooling tunnel" for under $1000 that will hold over 100 molds at a time if you are resourceful.

Thanks Clay.  That sounds interesting.  We have a very "picky" Health Dept where I live.  Any feedback from the builders about the Health Inspectors?  I'm not extremely handy but I do learn very quickly and am game to try my hand at new things.  Under $1000 sounds about right for my budget.  Are there plans available? 

Once again, thanks for everything you do on your site.  The Chocolate Life is probably the most useful site that I visit on the web.



Most of the parts are metal or plastic that's food safe. If you use wood, you can paint it with food-contact safe paint. The one that's been built was made of wood and that's all the local health inspector asked for.

So - it might be best to use NSF-rated "Metro-style" shelving. Your budget will go up slightly, but the health inspector will be happier.

I can get you a written description. There are no drawings because this is all DIY based on the space you have to work with and how handy you are sourcing the components.

Thanks Clay.  I'd appreciate the description if you can pass it along.  I'll let you know my progress. John

I use a wine refrigerator and have no problem with condensation. Before I put the trays into the refrigerator my moulds are put onto a wire rack and immediate cooling is with a hurricane fan. Nothing fancier than that. This ensures that heat is pulled away from the mould evenly, before I did that I found that although the bottom of the chocolate looked good, the presentation side quite often bloomed.

Hi Clay. Can you send me the written description too? I've been wanting to rebuild/improve my cooling cabinet and would appreciate any other ideas out there. Thanks!

Okay - Here's the link to the description of the Static Cooling Tunnel (Google Docs).

All I ask is that if you build one, send me comments about how to improve on it and photos of your finished unit so I can share them.


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