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adrianvm

Making Sugar Free Chocolate (from unsweetened chocolate)

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I'm interested in sugar free chocolate.  I have seen various products on the market and generally find that they have a reasonable texture, but they are much too sweet.  Lily's has an "85%" product that is one of the better ones, but still not great.  I tend to prefer sugar based chocolate around 75% cocoa, depending on the specific chocolate, but for some reason the market seems to aim for something whose sweetness is more like 50%-60%, regardless of how they label it. 

 

I have tried making my own by selecting an unsweetened chocolate I like and adding sweetener.  If I use monkfruit or stevia powdered concentrate, this sort of works, though the flavor might benefit from more diversity of sweeteners.   But also the resulting chocolate has a somewhat odd texture once it melts in the mouth (not sure how to explain it).  I have suspected that this might be because the 25% sugar does something beyond simply adding sweetness.   If I look at the Lily's ingredient list they are putting erythritol and inulin in the chocolate.  I tried mixing these ingredients into some unsweetened chocolate, but I got a grainy texture, even though I started with fairly finely powdered erythritol and inulin. 

 

Is there a method for me to add these sort of bulking agents to unsweetened chocolate and get a decent texture with normal equipment?

 

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What's normal equipment for you? A melanger is normal for chocolate making but I'm not sure I'd call it normal in a generic home kitchen!

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I was thinking standard kitchen equipment.    I looked up melangers---are they the same as wet grinders?---and they are not small.  I don't think I have space for another piece of equipment, and definitely not something that big.  (I really don't have space for what I have already.)   Are these things basically a conching machine?  Given that the unsweetened chocolate is already conched, there's no way to add ingredients without a machine like this?   What I found puzzling was that when I added powdered ingredients to chocolate, the texture I got was coarser than either input, like the powders clumped.  And the chocolate had a strangely thick texture.  I haven't tried the blender or food processor yet---my experimental batches have been on the small size for those machines. 

 

Note that I don't find Lily's to have a perceptible cooling effect, despite its use of erythritol.  I don't know how much this response varies from person to person, but I find that when the amount of erythritol is small I don't seem to notice that effect.   (I find it very distracting in cakes that contain a larger amount, so it's not that I never notice it.)   There are other possible options such as allulose or bochasweet with no cooling effect. 

 

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6 hours ago, adrianvm said:

I was thinking standard kitchen equipment.    I looked up melangers---are they the same as wet grinders?---and they are not small.  I don't think I have space for another piece of equipment, and definitely not something that big.  (I really don't have space for what I have already.)   Are these things basically a conching machine?  Given that the unsweetened chocolate is already conched, there's no way to add ingredients without a machine like this?   What I found puzzling was that when I added powdered ingredients to chocolate, the texture I got was coarser than either input, like the powders clumped.  And the chocolate had a strangely thick texture.  I haven't tried the blender or food processor yet---my experimental batches have been on the small size for those machines. 

 

Note that I don't find Lily's to have a perceptible cooling effect, despite its use of erythritol.  I don't know how much this response varies from person to person, but I find that when the amount of erythritol is small I don't seem to notice that effect.   (I find it very distracting in cakes that contain a larger amount, so it's not that I never notice it.)   There are other possible options such as allulose or bochasweet with no cooling effect. 

 

Grinding with the melanger results in all the various particles in the mass become smaller and surrounded by cocoa butter. The sugars become amorphous so you no longer detect them as crystals on your tongue. You could try something like a Sumeet grinder (it's like a coffee grinder on steroids) but you will not get the same smoothness as you will with a melanger. 

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When I add a sugar to a a mixture that contains water, the sugar of course dissolves in the water.   In chocolate there is no water.  So is it the case that for chocolate, the sugar remains as separate particles, so achieving a smooth texture can only be accomplished by grinding to reduce particle size of the sugar and separate particles?   How is the Sumeet grinder different than using the Vitamix (which I actually have)?   It seems like I ought to be able to achieve a texture at least as fine as my inputs (powdered) rather  than the much coarser texture I actually got. 

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Try adding a bit of lecythin too.

 

 

 

Teo

 


Teo

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6 hours ago, adrianvm said:

When I add a sugar to a a mixture that contains water, the sugar of course dissolves in the water.   In chocolate there is no water.  So is it the case that for chocolate, the sugar remains as separate particles, so achieving a smooth texture can only be accomplished by grinding to reduce particle size of the sugar and separate particles?   How is the Sumeet grinder different than using the Vitamix (which I actually have)?   It seems like I ought to be able to achieve a texture at least as fine as my inputs (powdered) rather  than the much coarser texture I actually got. 

Give it a try!

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On 7/30/2019 at 9:41 PM, Kerry Beal said:

Grinding with the melanger results in all the various particles in the mass become smaller and surrounded by cocoa butter. The sugars become amorphous so you no longer detect them as crystals on your tongue.

 

Are you certain that as sugar particles become smaller they become amorphous? They don't just become smaller and smaller crystals? Doesn't crystallization occur on the molecular level? I've powdered erythritol to incredibly fine textures in the past, and, no matter how small I go, the cooling effect is always there.


Edited by scott123 (log)

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On 7/30/2019 at 2:59 PM, adrianvm said:

Note that I don't find Lily's to have a perceptible cooling effect, despite its use of erythritol.  I don't know how much this response varies from person to person, but I find that when the amount of erythritol is small I don't seem to notice that effect.   (I find it very distracting in cakes that contain a larger amount, so it's not that I never notice it.). 

 

 

As far as I know, sugar/erythritol crystallization occurs on the molecular level. Because of this, no amount of physical grinding will ever mitigate erythritol's cooling effect. In order to lose the effect, erythritol has to be dissolved, and it has to be kept dissolved, which is extraordinarily difficult to do.  I've made at least a few hundred inulin/erythritol/water syrups, and I can tell you exactly how much inulin it takes to keep erythritol dissolved at various concentrations, but, achieving this without the water?  Yeesh. 

 

I've never tried this, but, it might be possible to make an inulin/erythritol solution and cook it to a stage where the water is boiled off and the erythritol is still a glass.  You could then powder that and have no cooling effect.  I don't even know if inulin can even be taken to a hard stage, though.  Inulin is basically very low sweetness dried corn syrup. Is there such a thing as corn syrup only hard candy?  My guess is no.

 

I'm guessing that, since you're reverse engineering stevia based candy, sucralose is most likely your big bad wolf, correct?  Erythritol provides almost no sugary texture. It's not in this formula for the bulk.  It's being used to help improved the quality of sweetness that you get from the Stevia, which is very poor on it's own with the bitterness of chocolate.  If you were open to another high intensity sweetener, you could achieve a very high quality of sweetening, lose the erythritol and, with it, all it's crystallization woes.  You could then treat this like real chocolate, and with the help of the talented chocolatiers here, grind the ingredients down, temper it, and end up with an actual chocolate bar.

 

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1 hour ago, scott123 said:

 

Are you certain that as sugar particles become smaller they become amorphous? They don't just become smaller and smaller crystals? Doesn't crystallization occur on the molecular level? I've powdered erythritol to incredibly fine textures in the past, and, no matter how small I go, the cooling effect is always there.

 

 

On 7/30/2019 at 12:19 PM, Kerry Beal said:

A melanger will be required to incorporate those sugars and fix the texture. You’ll still get to cooling effect in your mouth from the sugar alcohols though.

 


She knew you were gonna ask that and answered you back first. :D

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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, scott123 said:

 

Are you certain that as sugar particles become smaller they become amorphous? They don't just become smaller and smaller crystals? Doesn't crystallization occur on the molecular level? I've powdered erythritol to incredibly fine textures in the past, and, no matter how small I go, the cooling effect is always there.

 

By grinding they will be come smaller and smaller crystals - I'm going to paste something from Beckett - The Science of Chocolate here which discusses amorphous sugar. Electron microphotographs show sugar is amorphous in chocolate (properly made chocolate I'd argue). So I wonder what would happen if we dissolved these sugar alcohols, then freeze dried them before adding to the cocoa mass. Although if a melanger is too dear and takes up too much counter space then a freeze dryer might not be much better!

 

"Sugar can also exist as a glass, i.e. a non-crystalline, though solid, structure. A good example is a clear, boiled-sugar sweet, which is often mint flavoured. This happens when sucrose solutions are dried too quickly and the individual molecules do not have time to form the crystalline structure when the water is removed. One way to manufacture amorphous sugar is to freeze-dry a sucrose solution. Amorphous sugar is not birefringent as it does not possess a structure such that it can bend the light in a polarising microscope. There are other ways of determining amorphous sugar in sucrose systems (see Project 1 in Chapter 12).

Amorphous sugar is important in chocolate making as it can effect both the flavour and the flow properties of liquid chocolate. Its surface is very reactive and can easily absorb any flavours that are nearby. It is also formed from crystalline sucrose at high temperatures. These may occur when sugar is milled. If there is no other material around, the sugar may take up a metallic note. (This can be demonstrated by finely grinding sugar in a food mixer with a metal blade or bowl and then dissolving the sugar in water; it will taste metallic compared with a solution made from the original material.) On the other hand, if it is milled together with cocoa,

26 Chapter 2

some of the volatile cocoa flavours are absorbed by the amorphous sugar rather than escape into the atmosphere as they would otherwise do. This will then produce a more intense flavour chocolate. Care must be taken when milling sugar, especially by itself, because of the high risk of an explosion.

The amorphous state is an unstable one, and in the presence of water it will turn into crystalline material. Once the change has taken place the moisture is expelled, as crystalline sucrose is essentially anhydrous. About half the mass of chocolate is sucrose, so the particles within it are very close together. The moisture on the surface makes them stick together. This eventually builds up a skeleton, which holds the sugar together even if the fat melts and runs out of it. This is the basis of a method used to create a chocolate suitable for sale in hot climates. If the chocolate has not yet been solidified, the stickiness on the surface of some of the sugar greatly increases the viscosity of the liquid chocolate.

Crystalline sugar can also absorb moisture, depending on its surrounding conditions. The storage conditions that should be used can be determined by means of sorption isotherms. Figure 2.11 illustrates the curve for sugar at 20 1C. As was noted earlier, the equilibrium relative humidity is the relative humidity at which water is neither taken in nor given out. This means that between 20% and 60% humidity the sugar will maintain a moisture of between 0.01% and 0.02%. At higher humidities the moisture content increases dramatically. Damp sugar may be microbiologically contaminated. In addition it will stick together and form lumps, even if the humidity is reduced again.

In the chocolate industry, sugar is stored in large silos containing many tonnes. Great care must be taken with the storage conditions as otherwise the silo will block up and fail to empty. Very often the air inside them is dehumidified."

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27 minutes ago, scott123 said:

 

As far as I know, sugar/erythritol crystallization occurs on the molecular level. Because of this, no amount of physical grinding will ever mitigate erythritol's cooling effect. In order to lose the effect, erythritol has to be dissolved, and it has to be kept dissolved, which is extraordinarily difficult to do.  I've made at least a few hundred inulin/erythritol/water syrups, and I can tell you exactly how much inulin it takes to keep erythritol dissolved at various concentrations, but, achieving this without the water?  Yeesh. 

 

I'd be interested in seeing the information about inulin-erythritol syrups.   We made lemon posset with erythritol and had issues with crystallization, and this sounds like a strategy for controlling it. 

 

27 minutes ago, scott123 said:

I've never tried this, but, it might be possible to make an inulin/erythritol solution and cook it to a stage where the water is boiled off and the erythritol is still a glass.  You could then powder that and have no cooling effect.  I don't even know if inulin can even be taken to a hard stage, though.  Inulin is basically very low sweetness dried corn syrup. Is there such a thing as corn syrup only hard candy?  My guess is no.

 

 

I do not think it is right to describe inulin as "low sweetness dried corn syrup".  That description should go to "corn fiber" which I think is a type of dextrin, a product that is synthesized through enzymatic modification of corn starch, and is chains of D-glucose.   Inulin is present in chicory root and sunchokes and just needs to be extracted from the roots, and it is made from chains of fructose. 

 

27 minutes ago, scott123 said:

I'm guessing that, since you're reverse engineering stevia based candy, sucralose is most likely your big bad wolf, correct?  Erythritol provides almost no sugary texture. It's not in this formula for the bulk.  It's being used to help improved the quality of sweetness that you get from the Stevia, which is very poor on it's own with the bitterness of chocolate.  If you were open to another high intensity sweetener, you could achieve a very high quality of sweetening, lose the erythritol and, with it, all it's crystallization woes.  You could then treat this like real chocolate, and with the help of the talented chocolatiers here, grind the ingredients down, temper it, and end up with an actual chocolate bar.

 

 

I'm not exactly reverse engineering here.  Commercially produced no-sugar chocolates are too sweet.  And they don't use beans that I like, so the flavor isn't great.   I can buy unsweetened chocolates that I like, so I thought that I could sweeten them myself.   I'm not sufficiently committed to this to actually make my own chocolate from beans, or to purchase a large special purpose machine---my kitchen is small.  The commercial bar has erythritol and inulin.  Why is the inulin there?  I would assume that the erythritol crystals can't grow in a chocolate bar---or am I wrong about that?  It seems like it must be there for bulk reasons.   

 

While the flavor of my chocolate sweetened with just stevia wasn't idea, it also seemed that something was odd about the texture and mouth feel.  I thought this must have to do with the lack of a bulk sweetener, hence the idea that I should add some bulking agent.  (I did hope that adding erythritol would improve both flavor and texture.) 

 

Are you saying that when I added powdered erythritol to my chocolate that crystal growth occurred?  The grains grew together?  If my problem is really all about crystallization then I could use allulose or maybe bochasweet, neither of which have erythritol's strong tendency to crystallize.  I chose erythritol because I had it on hand in powdered form.  I've never felt like grinding sugars in the blender gave as fine a texture as the commercial powdered product.  (Though I haven't revisited that matter recently.  Maybe my spice grinder could do better.) 

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1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

By grinding they will be come smaller and smaller crystals - I'm going to paste something from Beckett - The Science of Chocolate here which discusses amorphous sugar. Electron microphotographs show sugar is amorphous in chocolate (properly made chocolate I'd argue). So I wonder what would happen if we dissolved these sugar alcohols, then freeze dried them before adding to the cocoa mass. Although if a melanger is too dear and takes up too much counter space then a freeze dryer might not be much better!

 

 

This is all fascinating stuff, but it doesn't explain how sugar becomes amorphous in chocolate.  A smaller and smaller crystal is still just a crystal. What's causing the sugar to glass?  The heat?  The trace amount of water in the chocolate? The electron microscope doesn't lie, so if it's saying the sugar is amorphous, it's amorphous.  This may be one of those 'not fully understood' areas, but it would be really nice to know, since whatever it is that causes sugar to glass, might be helpful in getting erythritol to glass as well, although keeping erythritol amorphous, as I said, is exponentially more difficult.

 

Freeze drying definitely sounds intriguing.  But, yes, the equipment may not be practical here.

 

Come to think of it, I have made inulin caramels where I added the cream too quickly to the caramelized inulin, and I ended up with a thin  hard layer of inulin on the base of the pan that took a very long time to dissolve. If you took this and poured it on a silpat like brittle, Inulin is most likely too hygroscopic to be ground, but perhaps this 'brittle' might be pulverized and then melanged. I'm not sure I'd put this in a blender or a melanger I'd value, though, since inulin in this cohesed, concentrated form is going to be far harder than sugar.  I've had old chunks of conglomerated polydrextrose (a close cousin to inulin) that were very stressful to the hammer that I was using to break them down into smaller pieces.


Edited by scott123 (log)

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Here's another interesting experiment mentioned in Beckett's The Science of Chocolate.

 

PROJECT 1: AMORPHOUS AND CRYSTALLINE SUGAR Apparatus:

Beaker.
Magnetic stirrer.
Thermometer sensitive to better than 0.1 
1C.
Balance capable of reading to at least 1 g.
Granulated sugar.
Skim milk powder.
Boiled sweets, 
e.g. Fox’s Glacier Mintss (NB not pressed or tabletted sweets such as Poloss which are more crystalline).

Aim:

To show how amorphous and crystalline sugar differ when they dissolve in water.

209

210 Chapter 12

The crystalline sugar causes the water to cool down as energy is required to separate the molecules (heat of solution). Amorphous sugar is in an unstable state, however, and gives out energy when it changes to its stable, lower-energy crystalline state. This means that there is spare energy so the water becomes warmer.

Procedure:

  1. Pour 10ml water into a beaker and place on the magnetic stirrer.

  2. Place the thermometer in the water and continue the stirring until the temperature is constant.

  3. Breaktheboiledsweetsintosmallpieces.(Thiscanbedoneby placing them within a material bag and crushing them with a hammer. CARE: TAKE APPROPRIATE PRECAUTIONS.)

  4. Weigh out about 10g granulated sugar and also of the crushed amorphous material.

  5. Drop this quantity of granulated sugar into the water and record the temperature for the next five minutes.

  6. Repeat the procedure using the amorphous sugar. This time the temperature should rise.

  7. The experiment can also be tried with skim milk powder.This contains lactose, which is normally in an amorphous state owing to the rapid spray-drying process. This normally gives a much greater temperature rise than the boiled sweets.

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On 8/1/2019 at 9:12 AM, scott123 said:

 

Come to think of it, I have made inulin caramels where I added the cream too quickly to the caramelized inulin, and I ended up with a thin  hard layer of inulin on the base of the pan that took a very long time to dissolve. If you took this and poured it on a silpat like brittle, Inulin is most likely too hygroscopic to be ground, but perhaps this 'brittle' might be pulverized and then melanged. I'm not sure I'd put this in a blender or a melanger I'd value, though, since inulin in this cohesed, concentrated form is going to be far harder than sugar.  I've had old chunks of conglomerated polydrextrose (a close cousin to inulin) that were very stressful to the hammer that I was using to break them down into smaller pieces.

 

You've made caramels where inulin completely replaces the sugar?   Using the same method as with sugar, like making an inulin syrup and then cooking it until the water is driven off and the inulin browns?   I have often wondered whether caramelizing some of these alternative sweeteners might transform them into other chemicals that the body metabolizes differently. 

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I tried mixing with a blender.  My batch was small and I used a tiny blender cup, which made it impossible to see what was actually happening inside.  The end result was that the powders (erythritol and inulin) incorporated reasonably well---much better than when I used a whisk.  But in the final chocolate I still detect a powery texture, so I suspect this indicates that ultimately the only way to get a truly smooth result is the melanger. 

 

I'm still curious about inulin syrup, how to make it and what one can do with it. 

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Try adding some lecythin. You are using sweeteners with higher molecular weight than the usual sucrose, this means that if they are not "lubricated" then they will tend to clump together, forming "grains". Since you are starting from cocoa mass then you don't have enough lecythin in that (if there is any).

 

 

 

Teo

 


Teo

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Note that erythritol has a lower molecular weight than sucrose.  Inulin, on the other hand, will be higher.  

 

It's not clear to me how adding lecithin could make the result better---it's not going to make the particle size smaller than the initial particle size in the input powders.  It seemed to me like the texture I got was really controlled by the input particle size.  Unless the blender can actually make the inulin and erythritol particles smaller.   I am thinking I might try one more attempt, where I use a regular blender bowl so I can see what's happening and really process for a long time, though I don't have high hopes.  And I don't see any harm in adding a bit of lecithin.  How much lecithin does one usually use?  Liquid form would be better, presumably.    

 

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On 8/20/2019 at 5:27 PM, adrianvm said:

It's not clear to me how adding lecithin could make the result better

 

First of all I must say I'm not good in giving technical/scientific explanations in English since it's not my first language, so don't expect a perfect explanation (you can find it in some technical books on chocolate).

Chocolate is a suspension of dry matter (cocoa solids or whatever you call it, sugar, so on) in fat (cocoa butter). Fat is a continuous phase, dry matter is divided in small particles that are suspended in the fat phase. Lecithin is used as a lubricant / surfactant / whatever it's called, so that the dry matter (especially the non cocoa ones, like sucrose, milk powder and so on) can disperse in small particles. If you don't use an emulsifier like lecithin then it's more difficult to get small phase variations, you risk to end up with big particles in the fat phase, while the goal is getting the smaller particles possible.

Since you wrote that your experiments end up with granules that are sensible in the mouth even if you start from powders which do not have granules that are sensible in the mouth, then most probably it's just a matter of not being able to get small particles in the suspension of your chocolate. If you add lecithin you should be able to avoid this effect.

First pages that I found with a quick google search:

https://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/news/research-science-chocolate-12-07-12

https://www.pnas.org/content/116/21/10303

 

 

 

On 8/20/2019 at 5:27 PM, adrianvm said:

How much lecithin does one usually use?  Liquid form would be better, presumably.  

 

Usually it's around 0.5%, almost never over 1%.

I never used liquid lecithin, so I don't know how it works. If it is water based then avoid it for obvious reasons.

 

 

 

Teo

 


Teo

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I finally got back to this and did another trial:

 

6 oz unsweetened chocolate

1.5 oz powdered lakanto (erythritol) sweetener

0.5 oz inulin powder

1/4 tsp (liquid) lecithin

 

The lecithin was very difficult to measure.  I weighed out a teaspoon and it weighed about 6 g.  But when I tried to use 1/8 tsp I'd say only half went into the mix because it was so sticky, so I added some more. 

 

I processed this in my vitamix (small bowl) at power 6 for about 30 s and then at power 10 for about 45 s.  It was smoother than my previous result I did in the 8 oz blender cup, but it still has a slightly grainy mouth feel.  I suspect that the melanger is needed to break down the particle size of the powdered erythritol and inulin.  The blender just isn't good enough. 

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Hi, 

I was just playing with making some sugar free chocolate bars and I tried combining cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and erythritol. I didn't have a clumping problem though there is that cooling effect. The other problem I have is that they are melting very quickly when you touch them. I was thinking to add lecithin to help stabilise but not sure what else should be done. I used a 2:1 ratio of cocoa butter to cocoa powder. Should I try less cocoa butter? 

IMG_20191110_210636_Bokeh.jpg

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When you say you used a 2:1 ratio of cocoa butter to cocoa powder do you mean by weight?  That seems like a very large amount of cocoa butter, much more than is typical.   I think it should be more like 1:1 ratio.  I think you'll get better results by doing like I was doing and using unsweetened chocolate as your starting point.  Note that with the formula I followed posted above I did not notice a cooling effect from the erythritol---there isn't enough erythritol to cause that problem.   However, the chocolate is not super-sweet like everybody making sugar-free chocolate seems to prefer.   Note that I did not have problems with "clumping" but with the mouth feel of the chocolate being coarse textured. 

 

I think the reason your chocolate melts quickly is that you didn't temper it.  Lately I've been tempering using Mycryo but if you don't want to go that route the easiest way is to add tempered chocolate as a seed to control crystallization of the cocoa butter. 


Edited by adrianvm addition (log)

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@chocofoodie, that seems like an extreme amount of fat.  Was it very thin and liquid when melted?

 

Since couverture chocolate is in the 30-40% fat range and cocoa powder already has 10% fat or so, I think you should flip your ratio and try 2:1 dry: fat or even 3:1

 

Your pic looks tempered, I think it melts quickly because it is mostly cocoa butter.

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