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Making Chocolate Bars


John DePaula
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I've been making lots of chocolate bars and want to learn some things to improve speed and / or quality.

Currently, I prep the molds by painting in a thin layer of chocolate first - just as I would for a bonbon. But this is very time consuming and I want to be able to make the bars by omitting this step.

In my last experiment, I tried and ended up with a very splotchy uneven finish. Luckily, I only did a few that way and I can reuse the chocolate. (The ones that I painted-in, from the same batch of chocolate, are brilliant and glossy.)

What I did was to ladle tempered chocolate directly into the bare mold. If my infrared thermometer was accurate, the mold was 21C (70F). According to the Ramon Morato book, my mold may have been too cold. He recommends that the mold is only a couple of degrees below the working temperature (say 30C for dark).

Do you think that a cold mold was my problem?

If so, what would you recommend to warm up the mold properly?

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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You could give them a quick blast with the heat gun.

What about spraying the molds with a thin layer of the same chocolate and cocoa butter, giving them a quick wipe on paper towels before molding?

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You could give them a quick blast with the heat gun.

What about spraying the molds with a thin layer of the same chocolate and cocoa butter, giving them a quick wipe on paper towels before molding?

I think spraying could certainly be faster. Not sure about the paper towels, though. Wouldn't that scratch the molds?

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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You could give them a quick blast with the heat gun.

What about spraying the molds with a thin layer of the same chocolate and cocoa butter, giving them a quick wipe on paper towels before molding?

I think spraying could certainly be faster. Not sure about the paper towels, though. Wouldn't that scratch the molds?

Sorry, didn't explain well, meant wiping the surface of the sprayed mold with paper towel as in this picture.

gallery_34671_3115_6136.jpg

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You could give them a quick blast with the heat gun.

What about spraying the molds with a thin layer of the same chocolate and cocoa butter, giving them a quick wipe on paper towels before molding?

I think spraying could certainly be faster. Not sure about the paper towels, though. Wouldn't that scratch the molds?

Sorry, didn't explain well, meant wiping the surface of the sprayed mold with paper towel as in this picture.

gallery_34671_3115_6136.jpg

Ah, now I get it! Thanks, Kerry.

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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I place my bar molds on the counter and use a piping bag with a big hole- not small like for filling with ganache. I fill the bars and then tap carefully to get air bubbles out and when the chocolate starts to set quite a bit I put in the fridge. I now have this method that I fill all bars about half way and then knock on counter and then start filling the rest of the way. The chocolate generates less heat while cooling this way as it is less thick for a bit.

I have also ladled chocolate into the molds while the mold sits on the corner of my tempering machine-balanced carefully. I half fill the ladle so I can control the amount of chocolate going in.

And Ihave tried the acetate and transfer method. There's a picture of the bar in that thread about closing bottoms! The piping bag method keeps the whole mold really clean.

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I place my bar molds on the counter and use a piping bag with a big hole- not small like for filling with ganache. I fill the bars and then tap carefully to get air bubbles out and when the chocolate starts to set quite a bit I put in the fridge. I now have this method that I fill all bars about half way and then knock on counter and then start filling the rest of the way. The chocolate generates less heat while cooling this way as it is less thick for a bit.

I have also ladled chocolate into the molds while the mold sits on the corner of my tempering machine-balanced carefully. I half fill the ladle so I can control the amount of chocolate going in.

And Ihave tried the acetate and transfer method. There's a picture of the bar in that thread about closing bottoms! The piping bag method keeps the whole mold really clean.

I've tried that to but it hasn't worked too well for me. The chocolate sets up quite fast in the bag, after only a couple of trays, then I have to switch to another bag; otherwise, I'll get bits of crystallized chocolate messing up the finish. I could go through a lot of bags for a run of bars.

So, I'm guessing that my molds at room temperature may be too cold. How warm is the room where you're working, Lior? My room is about 20-21C (~68F).

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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My room is the same temp. Give thebag bursts of hot air with the hairdryer. ALso, I use enough for 3 molds, finish those and then refill same bag and do it again. I refill over the tempering machine. I always have 2-3 molds sitting on my machine while i fill others. The machine warms them up a bit. To do a a whole lot at one time is hard!! I always do no more than 6-9 while using the chocolate also for other uses. Also you can give the bag a shot of hot air before filling it. I am sure you have thought of all these ideas as well!! I wish I could help more.

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I work in a room about 65F average. When it's really cold, I sometimes put a little space heater down near the lower shelf of my table where my molds are to bring them up in temp a bit. But usually it seems that trying to heat the molds tends to create more problems than solutions for me.

I use a thick 100g bar and to get it to cool fast enough so that I don't get bloom in the middle where the chocolate is thick, I use a small fan that blows right across the tops of the molds. I also fill the molds with a ladle or from my machine, vibrate them well to get the bubbles out, then smooth the backs with an offset spatula. I don't get perfectly smooth backs, but hey, we're artisans, aren't we?

Jeffrey Stern

www.jeffreygstern.com

http://bit.ly/cKwUL4

http://destination-ecuador.net

cocoapodman at gmail dot com

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My room is the same temp. Give thebag bursts of hot air with the hairdryer. ALso, I use enough for 3 molds, finish those and then refill same bag and do it again. I refill over the tempering machine. I always have 2-3 molds sitting on my machine while  i fill others. The machine warms them up a bit. To do a a whole lot at one time is hard!! I always do no more than 6-9 while using the chocolate also for other uses. Also you can give the bag a shot of hot air before filling it. I am sure you have thought of all these ideas as well!! I wish I could help more.

Typically, I'm doing more than 40 at a time so it can be difficult, as you say. I haven't tried hitting the piping bag with a heat gun because I always thought it would throw the remaining chocolate out of temper causing the bars to be streaky. But now I'm going to give it a try.

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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I work in a room about 65F average. When it's really cold, I sometimes put a little space heater down near the lower shelf of my table where my molds are to bring them up in temp a bit. But usually it seems that trying to heat the molds tends to create more problems than solutions for me.

I use a thick 100g bar and to get it to cool fast enough so that I don't get bloom in the middle where the chocolate is thick, I use a small fan that blows right across the tops of the molds. I also fill the molds with a ladle or from my machine, vibrate them well to get the bubbles out, then smooth the backs with an offset spatula. I don't get perfectly smooth backs, but hey, we're artisans, aren't we?

I tried heating the molds with the hot air gun and my bars turned out splotchy. Maybe I did it too much or maybe with my gun it's hard to do it evenly resulting in hot spots.

I think I'll try placing my molds in a spare melter overnight to gently warm them up close to working temp...

After ladling in some chocolate, vibrating and scraping with a palette knife, I whack them once on the table to resmooth the back. In the end, they're usually pretty nice looking.

ETA: After filling, I place the trays in the refrigerator with a small computer-type cooling fan running to keep them evenly chilled while crystallizing.

Edited by John DePaula (log)

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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Hello all, :smile:

No one has mentioned Astuces in their answers. I googled it and almost all of the listings were in French...or pointed me back to this topic.

OK. Please. What is an Astuce(s)?

Thanks. Always learning...learning....learning....

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Hello all,  :smile:

No one has mentioned Astuces in their answers.  I googled it and almost all of the listings were in French...or pointed me back to this topic.

OK.  Please.  What is an Astuce(s)?

Thanks.  Always learning...learning....learning....

An 'astuce' is a clever way of doing something or solving a problem.

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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I wish I had to find solutions to do 40 at a time!!!!! Keeping them in the melter is a great idea. SOmeone should come up with a poor man's Selmi automatic temperer. Perhaps drill a hole in the x3210 for a tap of running chocolate, which could be plugged up with a bathroom sink plug?!!

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. . .

ETA: After filling, I place the trays in the refrigerator with a small computer-type cooling fan running to keep them evenly chilled while crystallizing.

Don't know what kind of fridge you have but I have found that with my glass shelves it is worth putting a cooling rack in there to hold the molds off the glass and ensure good circulation all around. Just a thought.

Edited to add:

Another thing that helped with splotchy surfaces was to put my empty molds under a reading lamp dragged over to my working table - keep it at about 60 w incandescent and about 2-3 feet above the molds. This seems to keep them warm without getting them hot enough to throw the choc out of temper.

Edited by Anna N (log)

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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Hello all,  :smile:

No one has mentioned Astuces in their answers.  I googled it and almost all of the listings were in French...or pointed me back to this topic.

OK.  Please.  What is an Astuce(s)?

Thanks.  Always learning...learning....learning....

An 'astuce' is a clever way of doing something or solving a problem.

Thank you. :smile:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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. . .

ETA: After filling, I place the trays in the refrigerator with a small computer-type cooling fan running to keep them evenly chilled while crystallizing.

Don't know what kind of fridge you have but I have found that with my glass shelves it is worth putting a cooling rack in there to hold the molds off the glass and ensure good circulation all around. Just a thought.

Edited to add:

Another thing that helped with splotchy surfaces was to put my empty molds under a reading lamp dragged over to my working table - keep it at about 60 w incandescent and about 2-3 feet above the molds. This seems to keep them warm without getting them hot enough to throw the choc out of temper.

Thanks, Anna, that's a good idea with the lamp.

My 'fridge has wire shelves so I think the circulation is good. Bars were not working at all for me until I added the little fan in the refrigerator.

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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I want to add a relevant link to this topic:

Closing Molded Chocolates, How do you do it?.

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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  • 5 months later...
"...the little fan in the refrigerator."

John, how did you hook that up, please?  It sounds like what I need!

Jennifer

It's really very simple. Just a dc cooling fan like the one used in desktop computers. You can buy an ac - dc transformer to connect directly to the fan. I used some wire to suspend the fan from the bottom of the wire shelf. Voila!

Usually, someplace like RadioShack can set you up with all that you need to do this.

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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I wish I had to find solutions to do 40 at a time!!!!! Keeping them in the melter is a great idea. SOmeone should come up with a poor man's Selmi automatic temperer. Perhaps drill a hole in the x3210 for a tap of running chocolate, which could be plugged up with a bathroom sink plug?!!

Lior - What are you using today? How about you John? Several folks have discussed "tempering" in Mol d'Art melters over the years....

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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Steve,

I, too, use 2 Mol d'Art melters for my production (like Lior - I am small!). I love them. I got extra pans to hold different chocolates... I wish I would have ordered more.

John,

To clarify about your fan - it's electric? Does the cord just get squished in the seal of the door? I wonder if a battery operated fan would do the trick????

Thanks!

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I work in a room about 65F average. When it's really cold, I sometimes put a little space heater down near the lower shelf of my table where my molds are to bring them up in temp a bit. But usually it seems that trying to heat the molds tends to create more problems than solutions for me.

I use a thick 100g bar and to get it to cool fast enough so that I don't get bloom in the middle where the chocolate is thick, I use a small fan that blows right across the tops of the molds. I also fill the molds with a ladle or from my machine, vibrate them well to get the bubbles out, then smooth the backs with an offset spatula. I don't get perfectly smooth backs, but hey, we're artisans, aren't we?

I tried heating the molds with the hot air gun and my bars turned out splotchy. Maybe I did it too much or maybe with my gun it's hard to do it evenly resulting in hot spots.

I think I'll try placing my molds in a spare melter overnight to gently warm them up close to working temp...

After ladling in some chocolate, vibrating and scraping with a palette knife, I whack them once on the table to resmooth the back. In the end, they're usually pretty nice looking.

ETA: After filling, I place the trays in the refrigerator with a small computer-type cooling fan running to keep them evenly chilled while crystallizing.

I had an order for 200 (8 oz custom bars) for Christmas and I was having a real problem with splotching and streaks. I was given a suggestion to get a plastic storage container, such as Rubbermaid and tape a light bulb to the inside of the lid. That way I was able to keep the molds warm. I would check the temp with my laser thermometer before filling. Once the bars began to set I would put in the fridge.

Pat

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John,

To clarify about your fan - it's electric?  Does the cord just get squished in the seal of the door?  I wonder if a battery operated fan would do the trick????

Yes and yes.

Battery operated fan might work well, assuming the cold from the 'fridge doesn't affect the battery.

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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