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Chocolatiers:What's your essential equipment list?


martin0642
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Hi all - so things are moving on with the chocolate making business (although right now it's more business than chocolate making grrr). I'm trying to plan for what equipment I'm going to want/need/ooh want want want so I thought i'd see what you guys think...

 

I'd like a tempering machine at some point but it's not an essential, especially not at that price! So i'm thinking ..

 

Bulk polycarb molds (obviously)

Melting tank (what size are you smaller batch makers using? I'm thinking 6 litres )

Guitar cutter (yikes at the price but anything that saves time is a win right now)

 

What am I missing...? RIght now I can make/melt/temper chocolate and produce molded and dipped chocs just fine - but the process of slapping the bowl back on the heat, and rechecking temper every few mins is a huge time waster that I could do without. Equally - I can actually cut a slab of ganache reasonably fast but again...time saving is highly desirable. :)

 

ANy thoughts?

Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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Certainly enough of each mold that you can make a decent sized batch in one go. One or two 6 kg Mol'dart melters, perhaps a 3 kg if you are going to do a lot of dipping. The guitar is going to make cutting quick and dirty - the rate limiting step is going to be the dipping!

 

Frames for the ganache for the guitar. Caramel bars.

 

Stainless tables, rolling racks, sheet pans. 

 

Fridge, freezer, 3 compartment sink or dishwasher and smaller sink. 

 

Heat gun, microwave, various offset spatulas, scrapers, microwave safe bowls, dipping forks, scales, thermometers

 

Packaging.

 

Containers for storing finished product.

 

Airbrush if you are going to do any painted items. 

 

There is truly no limit!

 

 

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Seconding Kerry's comment about frames and enough polycarbs. We've had this discussion here before - I, like others, used to buy every cool mold, but ultimately we realized that we need lots of a few instead of a few of lots. I basically have three: Chocoworld 1433 dome (24 cavity), Chocoworld 1526 hearts (28 cavity) and a square magnet mold. In each shape I have 10 of each giving me the ability to do 240, 280, 240 of each  if I need to. I don't get slowed down now.

 

Other thoughts: a second melter (dark and white at the same time), airbrush/compressor with extra cups - I have to guns that I keep in my warmer in case one gets too cool. I do all of my cocoa butter warming in my dehydrator - precise and big enough to handle what you might do in the future. Be sure that your frames and trays are corresponding in size. Think about packaging and what you might need - shrinkwrapper? I print my own inserts on a color laser which I prefer to paying a printer. My stickers are printed.

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I have a guitar and a 6kg melter.  I actually get a lot done with a big bowl over a bain marie.  You do have to keep an eye on the temp, but I just keep a hair dryer handy to warm it as needed.  I usually have a few things going at once.  Even with the melter you still have to maintain the temper.  If left for a while it gets a thick layer on top or overcrystallizes.

 

I too, have Selmi dreams but feel like maybe I should just get a few more melters next.

 

Although I agree with Kerry that the sky's the limit, I don't think you necessarily need a guitar cutter right away if you are also doing molds.  Molds are cheaper.  Do like gfron1 suggests and get several of a few designs that will fit together nicely in your packaging, you can get started for $5-600 and supplement with a few hand dipped pieces.  You could also consider fleximolds like this for your hand dipped pieces http://www.trufflymade.com/product/square-chocolate-mold/

 

I've found that packaging and kitchen rent have been the biggest expenses.  Custom packaging is expensive, consider printing your own at home for tiny runs.  I use these for some items: //www.zazzle.com/custom_square_sticker-217389348496383495

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Awesome :)

 

Thank you folks! That's been a huge help. The bulk buy molds is first on the list definitely...swiftly followed by the melter. I hear what you're saying about the melter pastrygirl..but I think having something I can at least control the source temp on a bit better is going to be very useful. ANd yes gfron1..that's a good point about two melters. I have been eyeing up a large one that can handle two half gastronorms whch might do. BUt I suspect two full size will be needed. And another wet grinder - having to wait 40 hours or so for each batch of chocolate means I need to plan ahead a lot; which is fine but being able to have two runs simultaneously would be good (although also noisy..at night..in an apartment. Hmm.)

 

I've managed to find some frames that didn't break the bank but the bank is definitely going to get hammered at some point. The scales, thermometers etc I have in abundance (why I have 4 thermometers is anyone's guess but I manage to find a use for at least three of them!) Although I should get some caramel bars too I guess; damned expensive for what they are though - but also very useful..

 

The airbrush will be coming but I'm going to hold off on that until after I do my course with Ruth Hinks in a couple of weeks. I absolutely LOVE the airbrush stuff but I'm also seeing it crop up all over the place in commercial "master cholatier connoisseur blah blah" boxes and it often looks...overdone. 

 

Containers and packaging I have - but thank you for the heads up on the stickers pastrygirl! That's excellent. 

 

As for the sky's the limit.......yeah...don't I know it. I can't look through a chocolate supplies website without mentally selling my apartment to buy it all.......*sigh*

 

The stainless tables (and a huge marble top) will have to wait though..right now this is home production and I have nowhere to even think about putting those. (Fond memories of the kitchens i've worked in now...well except for the heat, noise, work rate and stupidly long hours of course) And given that it's home production there will be no microwave..I won't have one in my kitchen. For commercial purposes I know how useful they are but otherwise I think they should be taken out in a field and shot. 

 

I keep hearing that custom packaging is expensive - so I think that's going to have to wait. I've got good packaging to use for now and can use stickers to brand it.

 

Seriously guys - thank you. :)

 

 

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Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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Go to a metal shop and get them to make the caramel rulers for you - much cheaper and if you take goodies along you usually get an additional chocolate discount I have found.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

Go to a metal shop and get them to make the caramel rulers for you - much cheaper and if you take goodies along you usually get an additional chocolate discount I have found.

 

 

Haha! Brilliant idea - thank you :)

Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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I got acryllic sheets laser cut with cutting guides in different widths. I lay these on top of my slabbed ganache and use a chocolate scraper to push down and cut my ganache. All the standard widths of a guitar done for ~$110 - much cheaper than a guitar.

 

When looking at moulds, look for moulds which are easy to clean and likely to release easily. Ie., cocoa pods, quenelle and half spheres are classic designs because they do both of those things. Will make polishing moulds much quicker and cause less loss of product. Similar for bars, don't look for designs that are too intricate and fiddly to clean.

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I once shared your microwave phobia, but I think you need to get off that high horse if you are to be efficient.  I have now reduced by half (or more) the time it takes me to temper chocolate because I melt a large amount, getting it near its recommended maximum temperature, then pouring it into a tempering machine (same would apply to a Mol d'Art).  The waiting time at that point is just to reach the tempering point.

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

I once shared your microwave phobia, but I think you need to get off that high horse if you are to be efficient.  I have now reduced by half (or more) the time it takes me to temper chocolate because I melt a large amount, getting it near its recommended maximum temperature, then pouring it into a tempering machine (same would apply to a Mol d'Art).  The waiting time at that point is just to reach the tempering point.

 

Yes the microwave does come in handy.  The problem with melters is they are so slow, it takes a few hours to melt a full pan.

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19 hours ago, martin0642 said:

Haha! Brilliant idea - thank you :)

Online Metals

I've used Online Metals to buy metal bars in the past.  I've tried stainless steel (unpolished) and aluminum bars.  The aluminum are my favorite as they are much lighter.  I simply wash them in the sink with warm water and soap.  I then let them dry on a rack after removing excess water.

 

While I know that many people use Mol d'Art melters, I decided to use a Chocovision tempering machine.  I've been using it for years and it's been great.  I keep multiple bowls/baffles and can temper different (or the same chocolate) several times a day depending on my work flow.   Of course, when I made this choice, Kerry hadn't brought the EZ-Temper to market yet here in NA!

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 - Martin is in the UK - so I suspect some of the vendor choices for him will be different. Mold'arts will probably be less expensive where he is. Not sure what is equivalent to the Chocovision in the UK. 

 

I too like my aluminum bars more than the stainless - I like the idea of stainless but the weight and cost is a huge issue.

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Martin, are you doing all bean to bar and then also making confections? Very ambitious!  Which i respect and appreciate, but it seems like a lot of bean-to bar makers just do that and focus on the different profiles of the bean.  Do you  have a retail spot or wholesale accounts lined up?  I tend to have a lot of items because I like making different things, but it is sort of crazy-making for production and sales.  I think the people who just focus on a handful of items might be smarter 9_9  Have you considered getting another grinder or two and focusing on the craft of bean to bar to start building your brand?

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On January 29, 2016 at 7:39 PM, Je33 said:

I will be selling a Keychoc CH04 machine if your are interested? I have only used it a few times 

That would be a good sub for a Mold'art for him.

 

And welcome Je33 if we haven't already welcomed you.

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You don't really need a temperer,  a good melter, 6kg  is too small for any prodction work, bigger is better.  A microwave is a must, but the cheapest trick up your sleeve is electric heating blankets.  You can buy these cheeeep at drug stores, and you can easily set a 1/2 or2/3  hotel pan on these overnight, or to keep "ready" at temps around 37-38c.

 

 

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Thank you for the replies folks,  much appreciated :) I think I'm going to go with a melter/holding tank initially, but a tempering machine is on the list.. Probably the Chocovision Delta in fact.

 

Pastrygirl...not quite,  I'm doing nib to bar right now. I don't have space or resources to crack and winnow in quantity. Possibly ambitious but I like a challenge!  :)  It's a good selling point and I have to say I really like the chocolates.... Fino de Aroma nibs, no lecithin, no vanilla and the milk is quite dark (50%) and made with muscovado sugar in it. Gives it a deep almost caramel like taste. I know most people do chocolate making Or chocolatier work... I want everything in house. I

 

may, obviously, change my mind about that in six months time!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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On 1/28/2016 at 3:45 PM, lebowits said:

While I know that many people use Mol d'Art melters, I decided to use a Chocovision tempering machine.  I've been using it for years and it's been great.  I keep multiple bowls/baffles and can temper different (or the same chocolate) several times a day depending on my work flow.   Of course, when I made this choice, Kerry hadn't brought the EZ-Temper to market yet here in NA!

 

This.  And, while not a high-ticket item, a hairdryer is quite handy if you don't have heat gun. It can help keep chocolate in temper, easy to use for cleaning molds, and counter tops, etc.

And, the microwave....especially the microwave.  On days like this, when a call comes in at 10:30 am for huge order that's needed the same afternoon... I'm not sure if anything is faster or handier for speeding up the chocolate melting than the trusty, dusty microwave. =)

-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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On January 29, 2016 at 7:39 PM, Je33 said:
4 hours ago, ChocoMom said:

 

This.  And, while not a high-ticket item, a hairdryer is quite handy if you don't have heat gun. It can help keep chocolate in temper, easy to use for cleaning molds, and counter tops, etc.

And, the microwave....especially the microwave.  On days like this, when a call comes in at 10:30 am for huge order that's needed the same afternoon... I'm not sure if anything is faster or handier for speeding up the chocolate melting than the trusty, dusty microwave. =)

Gotta agree on the microwave - when I was down in Utah in November, I went to visit a new bean to bar manufacturer to show them the EZtemper. They didn't have a microwave so it was a bit of a challenge to melt some chocolate for the demo. After fiddling with heat guns for a while we finally set up a pot of water on an induction burner and put a stainless bowl over it. I can have chocolate tempered in less than 5 minutes with a microwave and the EZtemper.

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6 hours ago, martin0642 said:

Thank you for the replies folks,  much appreciated :) I think I'm going to go with a melter/holding tank initially, but a tempering machine is on the list.. Probably the Chocovision Delta in fact.

 

Pastrygirl...not quite,  I'm doing nib to bar right now. I don't have space or resources to crack and winnow in quantity. Possibly ambitious but I like a challenge!  :) It's a good selling point and I have to say I really like the chocolates.... Fino de Aroma nibs, no lecithin, no vanilla and the milk is quite dark (50%) and made with muscovado sugar in it. Gives it a deep almost caramel like taste. I know most people do chocolate making Or chocolatier work... I want everything in house. I

 

may, obviously, change my mind about that in six months time!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you interested in the Keychoc ch04 at all? I would also suggest saving up and getting yourself an EZtemper 

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The tempering machine vs melter debate is an interesting one. I have VERY limited space to play with so I'll probably avoid the microwave on those grounds alone - if all it's doing is melting up chocolate then that's a lot of space gone for little reason. I get why it's useful; but the equivalent space filled with a melter or tempering machine makes more sense ot me; given the added value they have in terms of holding chocolate at temperature whilst I use it. It seems the melting/holding tank may be the best option in terms of initial outlay (and then aim for the EZTemper perhaps :)) but something like the Delta with a dispenser attachment is also quite attractive...probably for when I get more orders in though - I am at a VERY early stage with this so massive production is an issue I can only dream about :)

Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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On 1/30/2016 at 10:38 PM, Je33 said:

Are you interested in the Keychoc ch04 at all? I would also suggest saving up and getting yourself an EZtemper 

 

 

Hi Jess - possibly - where are you based?

Budding, UK based chocolatier .....or at least..that's the plan 

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Ok so I've been watching (aka drooling over) Kerry's videos of the EZ Temper.......I'm slightly wary of the accompanying postage and customs charges (especially the customs charges!) but wow! GIven the application with ganaches as well as chocolate this seems like an excellent idea - much more so than a tempering machine at my stage I think.

 

*sigh* like you say Kerry...the sky's the limit........

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6 hours ago, martin0642 said:

The tempering machine vs melter debate is an interesting one. I have VERY limited space to play with so I'll probably avoid the microwave on those grounds alone - if all it's doing is melting up chocolate then that's a lot of space gone for little reason. I get why it's useful; but the equivalent space filled with a melter or tempering machine makes more sense ot me; given the added value they have in terms of holding chocolate at temperature whilst I use it. It seems the melting/holding tank may be the best option in terms of initial outlay (and then aim for the EZTemper perhaps :)) but something like the Delta with a dispenser attachment is also quite attractive...probably for when I get more orders in though - I am at a VERY early stage with this so massive production is an issue I can only dream about :)

Devil's advocate here - my  chocolate room microwave is on wall brackets like these that I found for about a buck as a thrift store.  No counter space required..

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. Sadly wall space is lacking too. At some point and hopefully soon,  I'll find bigger premises, possibly rented kitchen space, possibly an alternative I'm discussing with a local business run by friends... But right now it's working with what I have. Having made a ton of chocolates for my ever growing taster panel, I appreciate how limiting this us. But hey... It's a challenge right?  :)

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