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Troubleshooting Tempering


seawakim
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Thanks for the feedback.  Seems the chocolate was not spending enough time down about the 80 degree mark.  I re-tempered the batch, without seed, and let it stay down there for 20 minutes then increased the temp to about 89.  The chocolate tempered as expected.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm sure the answers to my questions are already in the forum, but my search so far has been fruitless. My apologies for the likely repetition.

 

First, a disclaimer - I am a total novice (as will be made evident by the content of this post).

 

So here's my issue. In the past, I've enrobed truffles and candied orange peels in an enrobing compound that my friends really liked, but I did not (for obvious reasons). Last year, I upped my game by purchasing this Kitchenaid temperature-controlled bowl: https://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KSM1CBT-Precise-Mixing-Tilt-Head/dp/B00U0VTDRU/ and buying some (what seemed high quality at the time) Ghiradelli chocolate wafers: https://www.webstaurantstore.com/ghirardelli-25-lb-queen-dark-chocolate-wafers/40863127.html. (I apologize for the low quality ingredients... I imagine I'm probably causing some cringing right now. Anyway, plowing on...)

 

My tempering method is to set the temperature to 120F, let the chocolate start to melt, start the paddle when a good amount of it was melted, and then wait for it all to melt. After it was nice and smooth, I set the temperature to 90F and seed with fresh chocolate (about 1/2 of what was in there already) and leave it stirring until the temperature was down at 90F and all the chocolate was melted. This seemed to work great last year, as it gave a nice finish for everything I made: https://photos.app.goo.gl/tL6eciLwgWxcrtrJ6. In fact, everyone loved it so much that I was planning on trying to sell some at our fall indoor farmers' market this year.

 

So in preparation and to test out some new ideas, I bought some more of that exact same chocolate, and I'm having two significant issues. First, the chocolate just does not seem to be behaving the same, as it isn't giving a nice glossy sheen. I don't have any pictures, but the stuff I've tried to make just isn't looking as nice. I'm really frustrated, because it seemed to work so well last year and I was planning on using this same method for all of my chocolates to sell. Could it be inconsistency in production? Is there some other obvious thing I'm missing? Here's what I've tried:

  • Heating to only 115F (mentioned on the Ghiradelli site)
  • Heating to 120F, seeding to cool to 85F, then warming back to 90F

Everything yields the same results.

 

And my second issue is that I had hoped to use some molds, but this was completely hopeless. This chocolate was just waaay too thick. So I'm assuming the answer to this one is easy - there is just no way to use cheap chocolate like this for molding. Is that assumption correct?

 

Thanks again for any tips, and again my apologies for asking what is likely a frequent question.

 

~Dan

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This is a puzzle.  The Ghiradelli wafers appear to be real chocolate (as opposed to "coating chocolate").  From the spec sheet, they seem more like milk than dark chocolate (they contain 41-50% cacao, plus sugar, milk fat, and vanilla), but that does not matter a great deal in terms of tempering.  I don't see any reason to heat the chocolate all the way to 120F, but again, that does not do any harm, just means the process of cooling down takes longer.  You are using the seed method to temper, so there is no reason to lower the temp down to 85F, then warm it back up.  The only issue that might apply is how much of the seed is completely melted as you get below 95F.  If you have studied the science behind tempering, you know that you are seeking to eliminate all crystals in the chocolate by heating it up, then trying to obtain a predominance of Type V crystals by introducing already-tempered seed chocolate.  But if all the seed is melting as the temp gets down to around 93F, then you probably don't have Type V crystals remaining.  In other words, you must have some unmelted seed as the chocolate gets below 93F.  When it is around 90F, you can fish out any unmelted seed (because there won't be much melting below 90F).  Assuming it in fact dark chocolate, you can take it down to 89F, then test to see whether it is in temper.  Webstaurant Store also carries Guittard, another reasonably priced chocolate; there is more variety to choose from in that brand.

 

As for the differences between using the same product and doing the same thing as in the past but getting different results, welcome to the fickle world of chocolate.  Room temperature and humidity can affect chocolate.  Photos would definitely help diagnose the issue further.

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Not many of us use the precise heat mixing bowl, but I believe @JoNorvelleWalker has used it for chocolate work, maybe she can weigh in.

 

You can thin the chocolate with cocoa butter as needed to make it more fluid.

 

Did you test your temper or are you only going by temperature only?  Temperature is important because your stable crystals won't form if things are too warm, but the crystallization is the main thing. 

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34 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

But if all the seed is melting as the temp gets down to around 93F, then you probably don't have Type V crystals remaining.  In other words, you must have some unmelted seed as the chocolate gets below 93F.  When it is around 90F, you can fish out any unmelted seed (because there won't be much melting below 90F).

This is interesting. I will definitely take another stab at it. I feel like I did have some unmelted seed in there at the end, but I'm not 100% certain. 

 

31 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

You can thin the chocolate with cocoa butter as needed to make it more fluid.

 

Did you test your temper or are you only going by temperature only?  Temperature is important because your stable crystals won't form if things are too warm, but the crystallization is the main thing. 

Ah, good to know. I don't have any yet, but I was wondering about this possibility. I'll pick some up and try that before resorting to a different chocolate (since I have 25 pounds of this stuff...)

 

I did test by spreading a sample on parchment paper. I can try again and take a picture, but it didn't seem as glossy as I remember it being last year. It did firm up within a couple of minutes (maybe too soon, which is part of my problem), so I felt like it was... "sort of tempered"?

 

Thank you @Jim D. and @pastrygirl for graciously continuing to answer my questions!

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13 minutes ago, Dan K said:

I did test by spreading a sample on parchment paper. I can try again and take a picture, but it didn't seem as glossy as I remember it being last year. It did firm up within a couple of minutes (maybe too soon, which is part of my problem), so I felt like it was... "sort of tempered"?

 

 

Another situation you must be concerned about is "over-tempering," the condition where too many Type V crystals have formed.  You can tell from the viscosity of the chocolate and (probably) from its setting up too quickly on parchment.  Over-tempering doesn't usually happen until you have been using the chocolate for a long time, but I've had it happen early.  There are two remedies:  (1) raise the temperature (being careful not to raise it above approximately 93F) and/or (2) add untempered chocolate (chocolate you have deliberately raised well above 93F and to which you have not added any seed--meaning that it will dilute Type V crystals in the chocolate in the bowl). 

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Most of my Precise Heat Mixing Bowl observations are in this thread:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/156096-chocolate-making-things-i-learned-in-my-early-months/?do=findComment&comment=2192337

 

Note I had no trouble tempering a 1800g batch for the egg.  Two things I ought to mention:  I never used the chocolate tempering function of the PHMB, and for chocolate work I never used the PHMB on the mixer -- stirring was by hand.

 

 

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Ok, I have a bit of an update. First, some photos of the frustrating part: 

D6A4A285-8A47-43D7-8953-4A667C55892F.thumb.jpeg.98764e64595f2817ac5e019db54fede6.jpeg

 

This was my temper test. It cooled quickly (within a couple minutes), but did not have a nice sheen and remained kind of soft - no snap.
 

Here are some molds I tried:

97379346-97EA-4C3D-8ED7-1547E9785247.thumb.jpeg.31c7db28050e5a2ee6705eeaa691c88a.jpeg

 

Ugh. Gross! It was so thick that they’re essentially solid chocolate. I could not get any to pour out of the molds. Just garbage. You can see that no amount of banging or tapping on the sides would get the air bubbles out, either.

 

So then this morning, I tried actually warming above 90F as @Jim D. suggested - eventually up to 93F, and it finally seemed to work. I don’t have a great photo, but here are the 4 test products I made (boxed to give to friends to try):

355602FC-CBF3-488E-B718-EC01848A0E54.thumb.jpeg.87b1b746f07d76136bd7e83bdb4e92ea.jpeg
 

The left was my first attempt at colored cocoa butter and lustre dust (thanks @pastrygirl!), the second was my “sort of tempered” from yesterday, third was a warmer temp (maybe 92F) from this morning, and last was 93F, which was super easy to mold and pretty much exactly what I remember. I don’t know if you can tell (I’m doing this from my phone), but the sheen is really nice on that last one, and they really snap when you bite into them. (They’re filled with my first attempt at a wet caramel - soooo good!)

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking - calibrate! But I did! I have an electronic thermometer that I tested in boiling water (it read 212F) and that agreed with the the PHMB reading.

 

So my guess is maybe humidity? The kitchen temp is comparable to what it was in Nov/Dec, but it has been raining quite a bit lately, so I bet the humidity was higher. I haven’t tested it, but I do know it wasn’t high enough to trigger the basement dehumidifier.

 

It seems to me that this chocolate is in temper starting at 93F, not 90F, at least given the current weather conditions. I’m very skeptical, since I haven’t seen that high of a value before. Does this seem like a reasonable explanation, though?

 

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Yeah that top pic looks super thick, chocolate should flow

 

Since it was so thick and behaved better at higher temps, that sounds like over-crystallized.  Too much stirring at too low a temp, I'd guess.   I assume you have your KA on lowest speed but maybe don't stir constantly?

 

Did you mix the luster dust with something? You can also use it dry, just swirl it into the mold cavities with a clean dry paintbrush of appropriate size.

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Just now, pastrygirl said:

Yeah that top pic looks super thick, chocolate should flow

 

Since it was so thick and behaved better at higher temps, that sounds like over-crystallized.  Too much stirring at too low a temp, I'd guess.   I assume you have your KA on lowest speed but maybe don't stir constantly?

 

Did you mix the luster dust with something? You can also use it dry, just swirl it into the mold cavities with a clean dry paintbrush of appropriate size.

 

My advice is not to stir with the mixer at all.  Just use the PHMB standalone.

 

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5 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

Since it was so thick and behaved better at higher temps, that sounds like over-crystallized.  Too much stirring at too low a temp, I'd guess.   I assume you have your KA on lowest speed but maybe don't stir constantly?

Oooohhhh... that is quite possible. As @JoNorvelleWalker suggested, I should consider not using the mixer at all. I'll try that next time. I was indeed using the mixer on its lowest setting and leaving it to stir.

 

Quote

Did you mix the luster dust with something? You can also use it dry, just swirl it into the mold cavities with a clean dry paintbrush of appropriate size.

For the luster dust, I was just playing around. I tried to splatter in some purple cocoa butter first and then brush in the dust so the color would be visible after filling with chocolate. Literally my very first attempt at all of this (cocoa butter, luster dust, and molding), so I plan on messing around some more. It's great having a hobby that's edible! Ha!

 

3 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

My advice is not to stir with the mixer at all.  Just use the PHMB standalone.

Duly noted. I will try that next time. I also saw someone take the bowl out of the heating element to help it cool down faster. It seems like it takes forever to cool.

 

Thanks again for all the help. I appreciate the tips. I'm still frustrated that it was so easy 6 months ago and is now behaving so differently. The reason I even considered making some extra to sell was how easy it was. This experience has made me question whether I might be in over my head and should reconsidering my plans.

 

Hopefully I can figure out what's going on and find a consistent way to make this work. I'm suspecting that a contributing factor is my ignorance and I just happened to get lucky last year and have it go smoothly.

 

At least what I made is delicious. I especially like the caramels, and I also learned how to make orange-infused ganache by simmering some zest in the cream. Boy, was that good!

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@Dan K we spend all this time trying to coax chocolate into crystallizing, the hitch is you need to either use it right away or constantly maintain it.
“In temper” really just means a small % of the cocoa butter has  turned to stable crystals. As the chocolate cools more or is agitated more, that % increases and the chocolate gets more viscous. 

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2 hours ago, Dan K said:

Oooohhhh... that is quite possible. As @JoNorvelleWalker suggested, I should consider not using the mixer at all. I'll try that next time. I was indeed using the mixer on its lowest setting and leaving it to stir.

 

For the luster dust, I was just playing around. I tried to splatter in some purple cocoa butter first and then brush in the dust so the color would be visible after filling with chocolate. Literally my very first attempt at all of this (cocoa butter, luster dust, and molding), so I plan on messing around some more. It's great having a hobby that's edible! Ha!

 

Duly noted. I will try that next time. I also saw someone take the bowl out of the heating element to help it cool down faster. It seems like it takes forever to cool.

 

Thanks again for all the help. I appreciate the tips. I'm still frustrated that it was so easy 6 months ago and is now behaving so differently. The reason I even considered making some extra to sell was how easy it was. This experience has made me question whether I might be in over my head and should reconsidering my plans.

 

Hopefully I can figure out what's going on and find a consistent way to make this work. I'm suspecting that a contributing factor is my ignorance and I just happened to get lucky last year and have it go smoothly.

 

At least what I made is delicious. I especially like the caramels, and I also learned how to make orange-infused ganache by simmering some zest in the cream. Boy, was that good!

 

Since the PHMB is induction heated I doubt removing the bowl will help the chocolate cool faster.

 

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There is a video showing the use of the PHMB to temper chocolate, but NOT using the paddle, just stirring.  I suspect the use of the paddle may be contributing to your probable overtempering (as pastrygirl explained).  Other tempering machines, such as the Chocovision ones, rotate the bowl constantly, but that is not as much movement as the KA provides.  I didn't mean to suggest that the chocolate should be raised to 93F as the "working temperature."  I said you should raise it well above that temp to melt it initially.  Then you add additional unmelted chocolate to lower the temp, making sure there is unmelted seed as it gets to 93F, let the seed melt until the chocolate temp is around 89-90F, stir it for a few minutes, then test it.  Dark chocolate should then be in temper.  As you work with it, over time it becomes overtempered, and that is the time to raise the temp and/or add untempered chocolate.  You mentioned that cooling down the chocolate takes time.  Yes, that is a (yet another) problem.  Adding unmelted chocolate speeds it up, but without a very expensive tempering machine (such as the Selmi), patience is required.

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1 hour ago, Jim D. said:

There is a video showing the use of the PHMB to temper chocolate, but NOT using the paddle, just stirring.  I suspect the use of the paddle may be contributing to your probable overtempering (as pastrygirl explained).  Other tempering machines, such as the Chocovision ones, rotate the bowl constantly, but that is not as much movement as the KA provides.  I didn't mean to suggest that the chocolate should be raised to 93F as the "working temperature."  I said you should raise it well above that temp to melt it initially.  Then you add additional unmelted chocolate to lower the temp, making sure there is unmelted seed as it gets to 93F, let the seed melt until the chocolate temp is around 89-90F, stir it for a few minutes, then test it.  Dark chocolate should then be in temper.  As you work with it, over time it becomes overtempered, and that is the time to raise the temp and/or add untempered chocolate.  You mentioned that cooling down the chocolate takes time.  Yes, that is a (yet another) problem.  Adding unmelted chocolate speeds it up, but without a very expensive tempering machine (such as the Selmi), patience is required.

Yes, I understand the issue. In my last attempt, I did just as you said (or thought I did, anyway), and let it sit for a bit after melting, added some seed and stirred by hand to cool it the rest of the way, and it was just not tempered at 90F. Warming it up above 90F did the trick, which I know should not be the case. I'll try it again in a few days (I'm traveling at the moment) to see if I can nail down the process.

 

And again, just to reiterate, using the seeding method in the machine (using the KA paddles to stir, even) worked perfectly 6 months ago. I do understand that it's not ideal, and there are all these other possible complications that I'm now trying to resolve. What I don't understand is why the chocolate is behaving so differently now.

 

I think another test I need to do is with better chocolate. I'm very suspicious of the product now.

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Since you were able to melt it and it's not seized, it's probably not the chocolate ;)

 

There may be chocolates that are easier to use, but even experienced chocolatiers using expensive chocolate have failures.  I've been at this several years and have probably tempered a literal ton of chocolate but sometimes I still get it wrong. 

 

 

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also: the potential for functional slave chocolate aside there’s not necessarily shame involved in using something that isn’t absurdly expensive. it’s certainly not cringeworthy. i use a local chains storebrand chocolate a lot: always for practice and often just because. it’s totally fine and closer to the expensive stuff in taste than it is different. this goes double for anything where you’re adding a lot of flavour from something that isn’t chocolate since you’re going to flatten the distinctiveness anyway. 

Edited by jimb0 (log)
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I love the discussions in this thread! I'm with pastrygirl, sometimes it feels like I lost all my experience when some chocolate doesn't temper. I had that happened to me last year(?), in this thread I think. :D

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I have a question about the working principle of tempering machines ... do they have any attachment for measuring the tempering quality of the chocolate ... or do they rely solely on the temperatures of the chocolate?

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3 hours ago, Altay.Oro said:

I have a question about the working principle of tempering machines ... do they have any attachment for measuring the tempering quality of the chocolate ... or do they rely solely on the temperatures of the chocolate?

 

measuring the "tempering quality" of the chocolate is as simple as sticking a spatula in and testing the temper. If you mean, are they monitoring the level of crystallisation, no, I don't believe so. it's done by knowledge of how the cocoa butter crystallises, using temperature and movement to generate the correct crystals.

 

that being said I don't actually have one so I could be completely wrong :D

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7 hours ago, keychris said:

 

measuring the "tempering quality" of the chocolate is as simple as sticking a spatula in and testing the temper. If you mean, are they monitoring the level of crystallisation, no, I don't believe so. it's done by knowledge of how the cocoa butter crystallises, using temperature and movement to generate the correct crystals.

 

that being said I don't actually have one so I could be completely wrong :D

 

Ok no lamp saying that the chocolate is now in perfectly tempered state and ready to use 🙂 we need to manually test the temper 👍

Do we need to adjust the temperature occasionally to prevent overtempering?

For example ... if I start the machine in the morning, can I use the tempered chocolate all along the day without any intervention?

 

Edited by Altay.Oro (log)
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@Altay.Oro what type of tempering machine are you talking about -- different machines work differently. Is this a wheel machine, a bowl machine, a semi-automatic machine, etc.. Do you own a tempering unit? Are you planning to purchase one?

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8 hours ago, curls said:

Do you own a tempering unit? Are you planning to purchase one?

 

No, I'm just asking out of curiosity ... if not all, what type of tempering machines can provide perfectly tempered chocolate all along the day without any intervention?

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3 hours ago, Altay.Oro said:

 

No, I'm just asking out of curiosity ... if not all, what type of tempering machines can provide perfectly tempered chocolate all along the day without any intervention?

I would recommend looking at the automatic tempering machines. If you were in the USA then, you would probably be working with Tomric for a Selmi machine (https://tomric.com/confectionery-equipment/tempering/) or TCF Sales for a temperer from one of the other manufacturers (https://www.tcfsales.com/products/c248-automatic-continuous-tempering-moulding-and-enrobing/). 

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Gianduja was tempered (with EZtemper silk).  I agree about the thinness of the shell being a possible factor.  Of course, it's difficult to tell how thin it is until it's too late.  I made a similar filling in a grooved dome, and with that, I made sure the shell was not thin--and I could tell because the grooves were no longer completely visible.  Those bonbons fell out of the mold without issue.  And no, I was not impatient.  I tried to unmold after 15 minutes or more.  Not a single bonbon fell out (that was got to be the worst feeling in the world).  I tried an hour later, then froze them.  Around 100 came out, the rest were as in the photo.  I hate that CW dome!

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