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Cleaning chocolate molds after airbrushing


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On 3/25/2019 at 6:59 PM, Kerry Beal said:

Toastess TWT-20

What a terrific idea this cleaning technique is (coming from someone with sore hands from rubbing cocoa butter from the tops of molds for hours on end last night). The TWT-20 seems to have been replaced by larger models, though there are still some older ones on eBay. Of course Amazon saw me looking and came up with several other suggestions (a little creepy but sometimes helpful). One I saw has a temperature control. You have mentioned those shop cloths before. No doubt I can find them, but I think you said previously you just toss them in the washer. How in the world do you get the colors out? I would also be a bit concerned about cocoa butter going down the drain (I am fanatical about the kitchen sink when I wash molds, having required one plumber visit in the time I have been working with chocolate). I suppose the shop cloths are not cheap enough to throw them away? (I can hear the gasps now, but at least I'll stop wasting paper towels. 😄)

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21 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

What a terrific idea this cleaning technique is (coming from someone with sore hands from rubbing cocoa butter from the tops of molds for hours on end last night). The TWT-20 seems to have been replaced by larger models, though there are still some older ones on eBay. Of course Amazon saw me looking and came up with several other suggestions (a little creepy but sometimes helpful). One I saw has a temperature control. You have mentioned those shop cloths before. No doubt I can find them, but I think you said previously you just toss them in the washer. How in the world do you get the colors out? I would also be a bit concerned about cocoa butter going down the drain (I am fanatical about the kitchen sink when I wash molds, having required one plumber visit in the time I have been working with chocolate). I suppose the shop cloths are not cheap enough to throw them away? (I can hear the gasps now, but at least I'll stop wasting paper towels. 😄)

Temperature control would be helpful - that sucker gets hot!

 

The blue towels you see in that picture are Scott Shop Towels. I don't wash them, I use them like hefty paper towels and pitch them when I'm done. I also have the reusable cloth towels that I bring home (unused) from the disposable obstetrical packs - I don't let them get that dirty so those I do wash and reuse.

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21 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

Temperature control would be helpful - that sucker gets hot!

 

The blue towels you see in that picture are Scott Shop Towels. I don't wash them, I use them like hefty paper towels and pitch them when I'm done. I also have the reusable cloth towels that I bring home (unused) from the disposable obstetrical packs - I don't let them get that dirty so those I do wash and reuse.

Exactly what I needed to know and wanted to hear. Thanks.

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

Of course Amazon saw me looking and came up with several other suggestions (a little creepy but sometimes helpful). One I saw has a temperature control.

Do you have a brand and/or model number?

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1 hour ago, jbates said:

Do you have a brand and/or model number?

Here is the one I was checking out. I didn't post the link before because I haven't decided definitely. It's a little larger than I wanted, and space is at a premium in my setup. But I like that the heat is (somewhat) adjustable since I don't want to melt the chocolate shells. There are a lot of warming trays out there, it turns out.

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I have a Salton glass top warming tray I have had forever.  It lives on my dining room table.  I no longer use it for heating because at some point the plug standards changed and it no longer plugs in correctly anymore.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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This warming tray is 15 1/2" x 12" (large enough for my largest molds, plus some extra room for moving the mold back and forth), is completely flat, has temperature control, and is priced around $35.

 

@Kerry Beal, is it possible, using this method of removing excess cocoa butter, to put off cleaning the molds until I have finished spraying, or do I still need to stop and do it after each is sprayed? The former would be so much more efficient (the gun wouldn't cool off as fast, for one thing), but I realize there are limits to how much a heated surface can accomplish.

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35 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

This warming tray is 15 1/2" x 12" (large enough for my largest molds, plus some extra room for moving the mold back and forth), is completely flat, has temperature control, and is priced around $35.

 

@Kerry Beal, is it possible, using this method of removing excess cocoa butter, to put off cleaning the molds until I have finished spraying, or do I still need to stop and do it after each is sprayed? The former would be so much more efficient (the gun wouldn't cool off as fast, for one thing), but I realize there are limits to how much a heated surface can accomplish.

 

35 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

This warming tray is 15 1/2" x 12" (large enough for my largest molds, plus some extra room for moving the mold back and forth), is completely flat, has temperature control, and is priced around $35.

 

@Kerry Beal, is it possible, using this method of removing excess cocoa butter, to put off cleaning the molds until I have finished spraying, or do I still need to stop and do it after each is sprayed? The former would be so much more efficient (the gun wouldn't cool off as fast, for one thing), but I realize there are limits to how much a heated surface can accomplish.

I give everything a quick 'cold' wipe as I go along to remove the excess - the hot plate doesn't get brought out until the end. 

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On ‎3‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 6:41 AM, Kerry Beal said:

 

I give everything a quick 'cold' wipe as I go along to remove the excess - the hot plate doesn't get brought out until the end. 

How does this the warming tray differ from an electric skillet which has a warm setting?? Do you have a temp read for your minimal setting? Wondering if I am missing something by not having this appliance?

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1 hour ago, A Polderman said:

How does this the warming tray differ from an electric skillet which has a warm setting?? Do you have a temp read for your minimal setting? Wondering if I am missing something by not having this appliance?


I would assume, not having actually tried this technique myself, that any heated flat surface large enough for the mold to slide across to wipe the surface would work. But it might be tricky in anything with high sides unless it has a large enough interior surface to take the sides getting in the way out of play.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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2 hours ago, A Polderman said:

How does this the warming tray differ from an electric skillet which has a warm setting?? Do you have a temp read for your minimal setting? Wondering if I am missing something by not having this appliance?

No minimal - one temp and it’s warm enough to burn me if I leave it on.

 

40 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:


I would assume, not having actually tried this technique myself, that any heated flat surface large enough for the mold to slide across to wipe the surface would work. But it might be tricky in anything with high sides unless it has a large enough interior surface to take the sides getting in the way out of play.

Exactly - there are no sides in mine so molds can slide freely.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have previously exclaimed over @Kerry Beal's idea of using a warming tray and shop towels to clean colored cocoa butter from molds, but that was in the abstract. I have just finished trying it. I bought the shop towels, and my sister happened to have a warming tray she wasn't using. It has temp control, but the lowest setting is still fairly warm. I placed a Silpat on the tray (it tempered the heat somewhat), then the towels on top of that. I must say I am impressed. Instead of spending (literally) hours using an offset spatula and countless paper towels cleaning molds after the cocoa butter crystallized, today I sprayed each mold, then turned it upside down on the shop towels, rubbed it back and forth, and in 5 seconds the top was free of cocoa butter.  Yes, if I used paper towels immediately after splattering or spraying a mold, the cocoa butter would come off, but it takes me far more than 5 seconds. And the brief time needed with a warming tray allows me to put the sprayer down, rub the mold, and get back to the sprayer, allowing less time for the cocoa butter to cool down. Someone who posted in another thread was seeking a way to hold on to the sprayer and wipe the mold at the same time; it's theoretically possible with this method as the Silpat keeps the towels from sliding around. After I finished spraying and all cocoa butter had crystallized, I saw a few places I missed, so I heated up the tray and ran each mold over a shop towel briefly. Every bit of cocoa butter came off, even with being quite firm at that point.

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  • 8 months later...
On 3/25/2019 at 4:31 PM, Kerry Beal said:

I have one of these warming trays with no edges (and it's quite warm)

 

I put shop towels on it 

 

Then rub with dirty molds across the warm shop towels 

 

IMG_9393.thumb.jpg.47d0562b14be98e8f9b2168a23eda4a3.jpg

 

 

 

@Kerry Beal, do you think the heat from the tray might throw the cocoa butter out of temper?  I ask because I am using this method of cleaning molds, and it is very quick and effective. But I am having more difficulty lately with cocoa butter sticking to the molds. For a while I was completing all airbrushing on all molds (which sometimes meant several colors), then, at the end of the day, rubbing the molds, but that meant the tray had to be very warm and took quite a bit of time, since the c.b. had crystallized thoroughly by then. So I returned to rubbing each mold after airbrushing it with a single color (or splattering it or swirling a color in it). And I let the shop towels pile up on the tray to mitigate the heat, since even on a low setting, the warming tray is quite warm. But the issue continues. Of course, there are dozens of possible reasons the c.b. might be sticking.  I know you said your tray is quite warm, so was wondering if you had noticed this issue.

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I haven’t found a problem - I would expect issues around the bases if there was. I don’t let them spend any amount of time on it - just rub them across only as much as required to clean off the surface.

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On 12/27/2019 at 5:27 PM, Kerry Beal said:

I haven’t found a problem - I would expect issues around the bases if there was. I don’t let them spend any amount of time on it - just rub them across only as much as required to clean off the surface.

 

I am pleased to report the result of some experimentation:  With the molds at room temp (approx. 70F/21C) and the warming tray heated thoroughly (but with heat mitigated by a Silpat and several layers of shop towels), I rubbed several molds on the towels for several seconds. The temp rose to around 72-73F/22-23C) as measured by an IR thermometer.  I rubbed a couple of molds for about 10 seconds (probably the most I would ever rub one), and the temp was closer to 80F/27C. So, as far as I can judge, there was no danger of causing the cocoa butter to go out of temper. If I had a substantial buildup of cocoa butter (as happens with the Fuji spray gun), just to be safe I would probably rub for a while, wait a few seconds, then continue.

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  • 1 year later...
On 12/31/2019 at 11:51 AM, Jim D. said:

 

I am pleased to report the result of some experimentation:  With the molds at room temp (approx. 70F/21C) and the warming tray heated thoroughly (but with heat mitigated by a Silpat and several layers of shop towels), I rubbed several molds on the towels for several seconds. The temp rose to around 72-73F/22-23C) as measured by an IR thermometer.  I rubbed a couple of molds for about 10 seconds (probably the most I would ever rub one), and the temp was closer to 80F/27C. So, as far as I can judge, there was no danger of causing the cocoa butter to go out of temper. If I had a substantial buildup of cocoa butter (as happens with the Fuji spray gun), just to be safe I would probably rub for a while, wait a few seconds, then continue.

 

I have continued to use the method described in this thread for cleaning colored cocoa butter from molds but am having further issues.  As I stated previously, the warming tray I have gets quite warm, and I have compensated by laying towels between the surface and the molds.  I takes quite a few towels to get the temp down to a safe level (which I would consider well below 90F).  But in the last two batches, more bonbons than I care to think about came out with damage around the base and bits of CB staying in the mold. The spots are exactly where heat would have had an impact on the shell.  So excess heat in rubbing off the CB came to mind.  The second time I was very careful, swiping the mold for a few seconds, removing it for a few seconds, then swiping again.  But the issue occurred again.  Today I laid even more towels on the warming tray so that the surface temp on the top was around 85F or so.  But that temp is not really high enough to get the CB off without much effort and time.

 

I went back to another method I have used, and that is scraping the mold.  Even done with the mold upside down, this is quite difficult and very messy--and it's difficult to get proper leverage to scrape well.  When the procedure is done right side up, the scrapings go into the cavities.

 

So it's back to the drawing board.

 

The more (apparently) sensible way of cleaning the molds is to rub them immediately after spraying, so I tried that again.  But in the time it takes to paint a mold thoroughly, the CB crystallizes and won't come off without lots of effort.  Meanwhile the CB in the airbrush is cooling off.  It's difficult enough to keep CB at the proper temp without being interrupted constantly.  I suppose if I stopped to wipe a mold after each pass of the airbrush, the CB would come off, but the time spent seems really problematic.

 

As luck would have it, Felchlin chocolate and AUI sponsored a two-hour video demo by Luis Amado a couple of weeks ago.  He cleaned off CB with a warming tray.  So I emailed him to ask the brand, and he told me.  I checked with the company and was told the tray has a surface temp range between 80 and 180F.  If that is true, it sounds like an improvement, but these trays aren't usually very accurate in maintaining temp.  On the other hand, I would expect some level of quality as the cost is $555.

 

So what do other people do to clean CB from molds?  Any insights would be helpful.

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

 

I have continued to use the method described in this thread for cleaning colored cocoa butter from molds but am having further issues.  As I stated previously, the warming tray I have gets quite warm, and I have compensated by laying towels between the surface and the molds.  I takes quite a few towels to get the temp down to a safe level (which I would consider well below 90F).  But in the last two batches, more bonbons than I care to think about came out with damage around the base and bits of CB staying in the mold. The spots are exactly where heat would have had an impact on the shell.  So excess heat in rubbing off the CB came to mind.  The second time I was very careful, swiping the mold for a few seconds, removing it for a few seconds, then swiping again.  But the issue occurred again.  Today I laid even more towels on the warming tray so that the surface temp on the top was around 85F or so.  But that temp is not really high enough to get the CB off without much effort and time.

 

I went back to another method I have used, and that is scraping the mold.  Even done with the mold upside down, this is quite difficult and very messy--and it's difficult to get proper leverage to scrape well.  When the procedure is done right side up, the scrapings go into the cavities.

 

So it's back to the drawing board.

 

The more (apparently) sensible way of cleaning the molds is to rub them immediately after spraying, so I tried that again.  But in the time it takes to paint a mold thoroughly, the CB crystallizes and won't come off without lots of effort.  Meanwhile the CB in the airbrush is cooling off.  It's difficult enough to keep CB at the proper temp without being interrupted constantly.  I suppose if I stopped to wipe a mold after each pass of the airbrush, the CB would come off, but the time spent seems really problematic.

 

As luck would have it, Felchlin chocolate and AUI sponsored a two-hour video demo by Luis Amado a couple of weeks ago.  He cleaned off CB with a warming tray.  So I emailed him to ask the brand, and he told me.  I checked with the company and was told the tray has a surface temp range between 80 and 180F.  If that is true, it sounds like an improvement, but these trays aren't usually very accurate in maintaining temp.  On the other hand, I would expect some level of quality as the cost is $555.

 

So what do other people do to clean CB from molds?  Any insights would be helpful.

Find a Chefman glass top warming tray - you can turn that sucker way down low. I suggested one to Luis because he was using a really hot one when we were down there. 

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1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

Find a Chefman glass top warming tray - you can turn that sucker way down low. I suggested one to Luis because he was using a really hot one when we were down there. 

 

Thanks for that suggestion.  This is the one he told me he has:  https://www.katom.com/042-GRS36I120QS.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwhaaKBhBcEiwA8acsHDWWNziX2YGbRCT1ZgESbvNe-mQGtfy4rmEJnCHedhmjV928DTO8JxoCXjwQAvD_BwE

 

Do you recall if that is the one you saw? 

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49 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

 

Thanks for that suggestion.  This is the one he told me he has:  https://www.katom.com/042-GRS36I120QS.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwhaaKBhBcEiwA8acsHDWWNziX2YGbRCT1ZgESbvNe-mQGtfy4rmEJnCHedhmjV928DTO8JxoCXjwQAvD_BwE

 

Do you recall if that is the one you saw? 

 

I'm not Kerry but that's not a Chefman.  (I have the smaller Chefman.)

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

Thanks for that suggestion.  This is the one he told me he has:  https://www.katom.com/042-GRS36I120QS.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwhaaKBhBcEiwA8acsHDWWNziX2YGbRCT1ZgESbvNe-mQGtfy4rmEJnCHedhmjV928DTO8JxoCXjwQAvD_BwE

 

Do you recall if that is the one you saw? 

Nope - when I was down there he had a big chunk of steel sitting on something hot. 

 

When I got home I discovered the Chefman and suggested it to him.  That one has an edge - the Chefman doesn't which I think is an advantage. 

 

I have the smaller one two - picked up a second one for $25 CDN from London Drugs. 

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  • 3 months later...

Hi @Jim D.I know this post was from a while ago, but I have been combing through all the chocolate forums looking for tips and tricks for production and I thought I would share on of mine.  I am not sure how you are backing your chocolates, but if you are piping, then shaking/leveling without scraping the chocolate off the back of the molds, then you can simply clean the surface after your molds are already set and popped out. We use a warming gun and a microfiber cloth, but it could be done with the warming tray as well without the possibility of throwing your cocoa butter out of temper. Just a thought!

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1 hour ago, Lauren S. said:

Hi @Jim D.I know this post was from a while ago, but I have been combing through all the chocolate forums looking for tips and tricks for production and I thought I would share on of mine.  I am not sure how you are backing your chocolates, but if you are piping, then shaking/leveling without scraping the chocolate off the back of the molds, then you can simply clean the surface after your molds are already set and popped out. We use a warming gun and a microfiber cloth, but it could be done with the warming tray as well without the possibility of throwing your cocoa butter out of temper. Just a thought!

 

That sounds like a good idea--except that I don't pipe the chocolate to seal the molds--I ladle it on, then scrape.  I can't imagine how anyone does more than a very small number of molds without having the chocolate cool and over-crystallize in the piping bag and become unusable.  I've tried it.  In all the videos where I have seen it done, the chocolatier is making a single mold or perhaps a couple.  Do you use this method?  How many molds can you do at a time?

 

Incidentally I have abandoned the idea of using a warming tray to get colored cocoa butter off molds (before the shells are created).  I got too many that showed signs of melting around the top (that is, the eventual bottom).  I lowered the heat as much as I could but still suspected I was creating a mess to be revealed later at unmolding.  I continue to use the warming tray turned up to high for melting chocolate from molds when I am cleaning them.  The next time I make chocolates I am going to spray all the molds with a given color, then immediately scrape them.  It makes a mess (and extends the time required for airbrushing), but that's better than having ruined chocolates.  I will still use the warming tray to keep paper towels hot to help with the final stages of scraping, on the assumption that paper is a poor conductor of heat.

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  • 2 months later...

I continue to try various methods of cleaning cocoa butter from the tops of molds.  I set up some shop towels near the spray gun and tried wiping each mold after it was sprayed.  A few of them came out OK (most c.b. gone), but a few seconds more of spraying, and the c.b. had crystallized to the point that removing it was impossible.  I tried the more extreme step of wiping after spraying each side of cavities (that is, before full coverage).  That was, as one would expect, better, but putting down the spray gun to wipe, then picking up the gun to spray more proved to be too time-consuming--the gun had to be reheated very often.  So I went back to the tried-and-true but incredibly messy job of manually scraping off the cocoa butter.  The problem is getting the little pieces out of the mold.  I even tried a vacuum cleaner, but the c.b. shards were too stubborn.  So I brushed them out one cavity at a time.  Then, when most c.b. was gone, I gently heated a warming tray, put a thick towel on top, then did a couple of wipes with a shop towel, paused, wiped some more (to keep the temp from getting too high).  For almost all molds, this system worked.  But in the photo below you will see the result in some molds.  The issue doesn't show up, of course, until the bonbon comes out of the mold.  Please take a look and let me know whether you think it is overheating that is causing this damage to occur.  I can't think of anything else, but I am puzzled by the fact that it occurred only in this particular mold and only in some of the molds.  I used the same mold for another bonbon, sprayed approximately the same, and not a single piece had the damage.  Thanks in advance for any ideas.

 

cocoabutter.thumb.jpg.5117d20f316303a31842315f95bac72b.jpg

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