I realize this is an older thread, but in preparation for actually working with chocolate today, I've been doing a lot of reading and read through this whole thread as well as some others. Thank you to all here who asked and answered questions. I had good success today on take 3 or 4 of doing molded chocolates thanks to what I learned here.
I have some dome polycarbonate Chocolate World molds. This is what I did after gleaning from all the shared knowledge here.
When I got the used molds, I washed them in hot soapy water in my sink. The next times I used them, I've just rinsed them using hot water, at the end of today's batch, I heated them up and rubbed off the excess chocolate with a soft towel. I think heating and wiping off is the process I will follow as long as things don't get too messy. After I polish them, I will store them face down in a box in an attempt to not get dust on them until I am ready to use them again.
I polished my molds using vodka and some cotton make up removal pads. In previous attempts I polished with a clean soft cotton cloth, but found that the next time I used them I got little spots on the chocolates. I also understand some use 91% isopropyl, but went with the vodka option.
I tempered my chocolate using some silk trying to keep the chocolate as hot as possible while still staying in temper. I don't have A/C, but it was a moderate day in the Bay Area, so the house about 68- 70. I set my bowl of chocolate over a water bath kept at temperature with a sous vide and an acrylic top to keep the water and its vapor out of the chocolate.
I did not warm my molds before filling. I had 4 molds to fill. I filled them each with a small metal ladle. As experience and reading here has taught me, I tried to use as little chocolate as possible to completely fill so that I didn't have so much to wipe off. I tapped my filled mold on the counter and also tapped on the sides of the mold with my taping knife to get the bubbles up through the chocolates to the surface. I am not using the ideal chocolate for molding, but it's what I have and since I have quite a bit of it, I will use it up then get the proper couverture. I also hand dip chocolates and the chocolate I have works well for that, not as well for molding.
I filled one mold at a time. Once I had tapped out the bubbles, I scraped across the top with my newly acquired stainless steel taping knife from Home Depot. This knife worked better than the dough pastry scraper I had been using. I held the knife at between 45 and 80 degrees or so and tried to take off as much as possible in one pass. I scraped off the sides carefully as the knife is pretty sharp and it wasn't as easy to scrape smoothly in that direction. I did one more pass with the knife across the top to make sure it was clean.
I varied how long I let the chocolate sit in the molds. The shortest was about a minute, just waiting and then dumping it back into my chocolate bowl. Longest was to set it down, fill the next one then empty the first into the bowl. The ones that sit longer had a tendency to have a harder time emptying and left a lip of sorts close to the edge. Once I also turned one mold over and set the mold corners on the edges of a jelly roll pan to let it drain. That left a lip too. After the shells were emptied, I again scraped the top with my taping knife. They scraped clean nicely.
Once the shells exhibited the matte finish that shows they are beginning to crystallize, I put each tray into my household fridge, at 43F, 6C - I know it's a bit cold but it's what I've got! I left them for about 15 - 30 minutes or until I could see that all or most of the shells had released. This is the first time I put my shells into the fridge. On this forum several of you said this is what you do. In addition, the recommendation came from Michael at Michael's Chocolates in SF whom I met the the Chocolate Craft Experience and who was generous with his time and help.
While the shells came back to room temp, I made my fillings, a raspberry pate de fruit of sorts and a Corazon ganache (blood orange, pomegranate and passion fruit.)
I filled my shells when the filling was about 85 - 88F. My first layer in was raspberry, then the ganache.
I tempered my ganache using silk but couldn't remember how long people had waiting before capping. I knew that you can cap sooner if the ganache is tempered, just couldn't remember how long. I decided to wait about an hour. The ganache had clearly begun to set so I decided it was good enough.
To cap, I sparingly covered the ganache with tempered warm chocolate (I know I should have warmed the shells first with my hair dryer, but I forgot - next time!). I tapped on the molds as before to help get rid of air bubbles, then scraped off with the taping knife. I tried to minimize the number of passes as the bottoms actually seem to get worse with more passes. Usually no more than two passes. If I had a hole in the bottom, I used my spatula to put a small dollop of chocolate on it.
I read about using acetate sheets for nice shiny bottoms, but I didn't have any, though I do have some sheet protectors like @Jim D. used, decided against using them for now.
Once the bottoms started to crystallize, just a couple minutes later, I popped them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.
I let them come up to temperature for 30 minutes or so, then demolded them onto a jelly roll pan. Indeed, hearing them all fall out onto the pan was music to my ears as in the past lots of banging and even freezing was required to coax them out. If you bang too hard on your molds, they will crack! This time all four trays came out pretty cleanly. I did need to do a gentle tap a couple times, but not more than I think is expected.
The chocolates are not perfect, I see some lines across the tops of a few of them and they're not as shiny as I wish they were, but my best so far. I also have some that are leaking, but not surprising as I forgot to heat the shells before capping.
Thanks again for all the questions and answers posted here. I was reminded today about the quote I saw here "if it were easy, anyone could do it." It's not easy but it sure it fun and satisfying when it works.