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Molding solid chocolate with inclusions


tammylc
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I'm continuing to play around with my ideas for a line of candy bars. My first two have been huge successes. For the third idea I have, I'd be looking at solid chocolate with hazelnut and toffee inclusions. I don't have any bar molds, but will be looking into getting some. When molding chocolate with inclusions are there any tricks I should be aware of to get a nice finish on the chocolate?

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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are you considering stirring the inclusions into the tempered chocolate before filling the molds?

from all of the "artisan" products out there, most chocolatiers make that type of bar by either:

a) putting the inclusions in the molds first and then pouring tempered chocolate on top, vibrating and allowing to set

or

b) pouring the chocolate into the molds, vibrating and then sprinkling 'inclusions' (i'll use air quotes on that because they aren't really inside) on the back of the bar and letting them settle in a little bit

either way, the packaging for the second method is usually clear so that you can see the flavor of the bar. to me, this is more like bark.

at any rate, other than that, there isn't anything special done to the chocolate or molds. i've made bark where i've stirred things into it, but i usually just pour it out onto parchment, so i'm not worried about shine...if i remember correctly though, it usually comes out fine on top...

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I just tried this very thing! Hazelnut and toffee inclusions in bars of milk chocolate. I can tell you that the bars are not especially attractive. I am thinking for my next effort I will pre-coat the molds with plain tempered chocolate, let it set up and then fill with the chocolate with the inclusions. Has anyone tried that?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Yes, definitely that's the way to go. Paint-in some plain chocolate first, then fill as desired. Otherwise, I'll get bubbles or some of the inclusions (e.g. candied orange) will mar the finish.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Yes, definitely that's the way to go.  Paint-in some plain chocolate first, then fill as desired.  Otherwise, I'll get bubbles or some of the inclusions (e.g. candied orange) will mar the finish.

Thanks, John. Is hand-painting with plain chocolate the way to go, or is it possible/desirable to make a standard shell as Anna describes? When you're painting it in, are you just doing a single thin layer of chocolate, or building up a couple of layers?

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Yes, definitely that's the way to go.  Paint-in some plain chocolate first, then fill as desired.  Otherwise, I'll get bubbles or some of the inclusions (e.g. candied orange) will mar the finish.

Thanks, John. Is hand-painting with plain chocolate the way to go, or is it possible/desirable to make a standard shell as Anna describes? When you're painting it in, are you just doing a single thin layer of chocolate, or building up a couple of layers?

I have made both chocolate coffee beans & bars by 1st making a shell as for molded chocolates. Then put in ground coffee & filled the mold. The one thing you have to watch for is that the mold is deep enough so the inclusions are covered in order to get a smooth bottom when finishing.

Mark

www.roseconfections.com

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Yes, definitely that's the way to go.  Paint-in some plain chocolate first, then fill as desired.  Otherwise, I'll get bubbles or some of the inclusions (e.g. candied orange) will mar the finish.

Thanks, John. Is hand-painting with plain chocolate the way to go, or is it possible/desirable to make a standard shell as Anna describes? When you're painting it in, are you just doing a single thin layer of chocolate, or building up a couple of layers?

So far, I'm just painting in a single thin layer, but I try to get good coverage. I think you could take the additional step of proceeding as you would for a molded bonbon, e.g. ladling in more chocolate then letting it drip out to form a shell. I haven't found that to be necessary, though.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Yes, definitely that's the way to go.  Paint-in some plain chocolate first, then fill as desired.  Otherwise, I'll get bubbles or some of the inclusions (e.g. candied orange) will mar the finish.

Thanks, John. Is hand-painting with plain chocolate the way to go, or is it possible/desirable to make a standard shell as Anna describes? When you're painting it in, are you just doing a single thin layer of chocolate, or building up a couple of layers?

I have made both chocolate coffee beans & bars by 1st making a shell as for molded chocolates. Then put in ground coffee & filled the mold. The one thing you have to watch for is that the mold is deep enough so the inclusions are covered in order to get a smooth bottom when finishing.

I have found that with whole hazelnuts, the mold would have to be prohibitively thick in order to get a smooth back. So I don't. And no one seems to mind.

The down side is that the bar may not sit absolutely flat, but... I don't mind.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Andrew Shotts just fills the mold & just outs stuff on the top.

I have done that and it's certainly an option but I would also like the option of a nice looking bar with inclusions. I am pretty sure Cadbury's Fruit and Nut has a smooth top and that is the style I would like to achieve.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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  • 14 years later...

I'm making my first foray into selling at a market, in this case an indoor winter market, and plan to make items I haven't tried before.  Thus an investigation into making bars with inclusions.  My first beginner's error was spending many hours researching tablet molds on all the usual sites (Chocolate World, Chocolat Chocolat, etc.).  I wanted a mold as completely flat as possible so as to display the inclusions (which will not really be inclusions but added on top of the "wet" chocolate).  It didn't occur to me that any design on what is meant to be the top of the finished piece doesn't matter since I will be decorating what was intended to be the bottom.  For tablets where I will be adding a simple flavoring (orange oil, mint oil, etc.), I can use the tablet molds as they were intended, and for those, an interesting design will be desirable, but a design is wasted on the bars with inclusions.   So my questions are:

 

For the tablets with flavoring only, I will splurge on some good-quality molds.  But as these molds are quite expensive, and the typical one makes only 4-6 tablets, I will probably buy only a few and reuse them repeatedly in a single molding session (fortunately making a simple chocolate tablet is quick and easy).  Am I overlooking something in this decision?

 

For making tablets with additions on top, it would not be feasible to reuse a few molds multiple times, but the cost of purchasing so many molds would be prohibitive.  But along comes Amazon, where vendors sell polycarbonate bar molds that are really inexpensive (half the cost of a single CW mold--and they make 4 tablets from a single mold).  Knockoff molds I have bought previously have usually been OK, though not of the same substantial quality as those from the established mold manufacturers.  Is there a reason I shouldn't go with those sold on Amazon, especially because I will be caring only about the bottom of the finished tablet?

 

Finally, how do I unmold the tablets with additions on top?  I see many elaborate and beautiful designs on bars made with fruits, nuts, seeds, etc., and can't imagine that some of those additions don't come dislodged in the unmolding process.  Is the only solution that I have to make sure each one is securely in contact with the chocolate?

 

Thanks for any help.

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3 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 It didn't occur to me that any design on what is meant to be the top of the finished piece doesn't matter since I will be decorating what was intended to be the bottom.  For tablets where I will be adding a simple flavoring (orange oil, mint oil, etc.), I can use the tablet molds as they were intended, and for those, an interesting design will be desirable, but a design is wasted on the bars with inclusions.

 

Can't say I agree with this 'wasted design' idea. Why not be beautiful on both sides? How will you package these bars?

 

Or, just make bark without a mold for your inclusion flavors.

 

 

3 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

For the tablets with flavoring only, I will splurge on some good-quality molds.  But as these molds are quite expensive, and the typical one makes only 4-6 tablets, I will probably buy only a few and reuse them repeatedly in a single molding session (fortunately making a simple chocolate tablet is quick and easy).  Am I overlooking something in this decision?

 

Quick and easy relative to multi-layer decorated bonbons, but not really that quick.  Allowing time for crystallization and release, you might get 3 or 4 batches made in a day.  Guess it depends on your production goals.  If I need to make 200 bars, I'd rather make 4 batches of 50 than 8 batches of 25.

 

3 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

For making tablets with additions on top, it would not be feasible to reuse a few molds multiple times, but the cost of purchasing so many molds would be prohibitive. 

 

What do you see as the difference?  Be thoughtful of allergens, otherwise it's all just chocolate, inclusions or no.

 

3 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Finally, how do I unmold the tablets with additions on top?  I see many elaborate and beautiful designs on bars made with fruits, nuts, seeds, etc., and can't imagine that some of those additions don't come dislodged in the unmolding process.  Is the only solution that I have to make sure each one is securely in contact with the chocolate?

 

I'm sure a few lost pieces will happen, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  I think chocolate will hold onto smaller, more irregularly shaped pieces than large smooth ones. 

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28 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

Can't say I agree with this 'wasted design' idea. Why not be beautiful on both sides? How will you package these bars?

 It's the cost of the plain molds vs. the interesting more ornate ones.  As I stated, the first are half the cost.  And this market gig may last only this winter, so I don't want to go into huge expense for equipment that may be used only 12 times.  As I'm trying to make this a profitable venture (which my bonbons aren't to any great extent), I plan to use clear cello/plastic bags to hold the bars, not nice packaging as you and many others use.

 

32 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

What do you see as the difference?  Be thoughtful of allergens, otherwise it's all just chocolate, inclusions or no.

For the non-decorated tablets, I just fill each with chocolate, scrape it, let it set a bit, refrigerate it, turn it upside down, and out they come.  For the decorated ones, I have to stop to distribute the decorative bits and then use more care to unmold them.  I saw somewhere that you let them crystallize for a while, then turn them upside down onto baking sheets for finish crystallizing.  All that takes more time than the simpler version.  I have made little square caraques for Valentine's before, and they take barely any time at all.  I'm thinking of using those to make a little packet of "mint squares" (which I think will sell quite well--mint doesn't scare people the way something described as "hazelnut praline gianduja with feuilletine" might).

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11 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

I'm trying to make this a profitable venture

 

Oh, that changes everything 🤣  Is this a weekly/ongoing market?

 

Lots of people use cello bags, keep it simple and show off the product.

 

I agree the mint squares should sell well.

 

I'm not familiar with the cheap Amazon molds you mentioned, are they sturdy enough to scrape as usual?  If you scrape it level then add inclusions, you may get overflow as the inclusions settle in and displace the chocolate.  This may or may not bother you.

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I use a shaker table and add my inclusions while I am shaking my chocolate filled moulds. All my inclusions are safely "glued" to the chocolate bar and don't come out when I release the bars from the moulds.

 

Also, I agree with @pastrygirl on having two pretty sides to my chocolate bars - mould design side and inclusions side.

 

Maybe figure out how many bars you have to sell to pay for your new moulds. Also, discounts for purchasing larger quantities of moulds, and the time savings of more moulds / fewer batches.

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17 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

 

Oh, that changes everything 🤣  Is this a weekly/ongoing market?

 

Lots of people use cello bags, keep it simple and show off the product.

 

I agree the mint squares should sell well.

 

I'm not familiar with the cheap Amazon molds you mentioned, are they sturdy enough to scrape as usual?  If you scrape it level then add inclusions, you may get overflow as the inclusions settle in and displace the chocolate.  This may or may not bother you.

We have a very successful summer farmers' market plus a December market, and some vendors have decided to add a January-March market indoors and invited me to join.  For obvious reasons (this is Virginia) I reluctantly decided against the summer market, and I'm too busy in December.  I suspect the indoor version will be popular, but no one has any idea whether it will continue beyond 2023.

 

Here are the Amazon bar molds.  Reviews say they are not really heavy polycarbonate, but customers have found them satisfactory.  And they are half the price of CW molds.  I once bought a cocoa pod mold of this type, and I can't tell it from the ones from CW.

 

I hadn't thought of the overflow from inclusions, but of course that would happen even with the heaviest, most expensive mold.  I am going to experiment when the Amazon molds arrive.  I'll probably end up underfilling the molds to allow for what is to be added.

 

Thanks for all the hints.

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25 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

Could you use the Amazon ones for everything?  Then you have a cohesive look & only one size of packaging to worry about.

 

They look like the usual sturdy injection molded polycarbonate.

I had thought about that.  I would like something more "interesting" for the plain bars, but will certainly take a look when the molds arrive.  I'll experiment with the molds both with and without inclusions.  One practical concern:  Plain bars are more likely to show release marks, whereas a design would cover up some of those.

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Man, picking out a mold for bars can be daunting. I really wanted a nice design first and foremost, and I wanted a 2 ounce size. I’m kind of a geek about these things even though it’s “just a hobby”. When I started out I bought several different ones and realized that the polycarbonate ones are the way to go. Then I spent hours searching. I ended up getting the CW1936, which has worked out really well for me. I’ve gotten lots of comments about the design, and even a suggestion from a chef on how to wrap it (I use paper backed foil). Having said that, having a beautiful designed bar, I wouldn’t want the inclusions to take away from it.  My brother has some friends that have a small bean to bar business. When I checked out their website, the first thing I noticed were bubbles in the bars with inclusions (and their regular bars too). I know it doesn’t affect the taste, but the aesthetic is so important, especially if you’re trying to make a product at a premium price. 

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I got two different models of the inexpensive molds from China (via Amazon) and tried them out:

 

tablets.thumb.jpg.d8cc5041a9ee78157f2f0c04a49c3d27.jpg

 

The inclusions (toppings really) are what I had handy to test the molds and the process.  The ragged edges of several examples are the result of my poor scraping.  The molds are less sturdy than similar ones from the usual vendors, so more difficult to handle--I will probably place them on the counter for scraping next time.  To my surprise, the adding of the toppings doesn't make the molds overflow significantly.  I found an excellent video from chocolatier Paul Young that showed the procedure in detail.  The finished tablets are 5mm thick, obviously not so thick as to make biting a hazard but thick enough to support the toppings.  The bottom tablet in the photo shows what was intended to be the top of the finished tablet--completely acceptable in appearance, I would say.

 

Conclusion:  If I weren't trying to save money on equipment for this (perhaps short-term) project, I would probably look for similar molds from Chocolate World, Pavoni, Martellato, etc., that would be sturdier, but for my purposes, I think these will do nicely--at half the price.  Now I need to look for the best freeze-dried fruits that are out there--a daunting task, I fear.

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9 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

I've been happy with freeze dried apples & raspberries from here:

 

https://www.northbaytrading.com/dried-fruit/freeze-dried-fruit

 

 

Good idea.  I've ordered from them previously and will check again.  Do you think non-dried fruits will work?  I'm thinking of some of the delicious glacéed apricots I have had.  I suppose they would need to be dried on paper towels thoroughly and maybe prepared just before I go to the market.  Nuts.com also has some good "half-dried" apricots that are supposedly dried but remain supple.

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