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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

390 posts in this topic

I've tried tempering chocolate many different ways and can't seem to find the right way. Can someone please tell me a tried and true way of making this easy? Please help.

In the meantime, I'll keep eating the chocolate tempering "failures" right out of the bowl. :raz:


"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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The way I temper chocolate is to first melt it to somewhere between 115 and 120 degrees F. I've found this to be the most important step. If you bring the temperature of the chocolate to high you will not be able to achieve a good temper. Different chocolates have different maximum temperatures, so if you are having problems, this may be one area to investigate.

After you have melted the chocolate and brought it to the right temperature you then cool it down. You want to bring it down to around 80 degrees, but again this can vary slightly with the chocolate you are using. There are different methods you can use to cool, the chocolate. I use the Tabliering method and pour about 1/2 of the chocolate on a marble slab, where I spread it with a spatula to cool, and then add it back to the bowl. Then combine the cooled chocolate with the warmer chocolate in the bowl. You should now have achieved that approx 80 degree temp. But now of course the chocolate will be to think to work with, so you have to carefully rewarm it to around 90 (also varies slightly). To rewarm it, I usually just put it back over the water bath that I used originially to melt my chocolate, but have been off the heat for awhile. It is important at this stage I believe not to get the chocolate too hot.

I'm not a professional, but this is the method that works best for me. I usually achieve a very good temper. When I don't, I find that I have accidently warmed the chocolate too much.

Hope this helps.


Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

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Jacques Torres' website has a pretty straight forward couple of ways to temper chocolate at mrchocolate.com.

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And there is also available at candy-making supply stores a product called "Paramount Crystals."

It's comprised of vegetable oil and lecithin, in a white, granulated form.

You can put some of that in your chocolate if it siezes up - and it'll smooth right back out for you. I always keep some on hand just in case.

However, it only works one time per batch.

So if you screw it up a second time, you're on your own.

I've been told.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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some thoughts:

--- try to use a digital thermometer if you can, sometimes you can lose a good temper by waiting for a temperature reading on an older style thermometer. Plus, a 1 or 2 degree (F) reading can make or break it. Especially with summer coming on.

--- if you have the time, and a gas oven with a pilot, let your chocolate melt in there over night. Not with the oven on, just with the pilot. To obtain the best temper, chocolate (dark) needs to remain around 115 degrees for 8 hours or so. This will allow the crystals to melt completely and will make you end product much better.

--- if you don't have a marble handy, use the seeding method. Where you add tempered chocolate of the same kind to your warmed chocolate. Then continuously stir to bring the chocolate down to your desired temperature, then gradually warm to the finishing temperature. If your added peices melt away, add more. If there are any left at the end. Just remove them before using your tempered chocolate.


Timothy C. Horst

www.pastrypros.com

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There are many ways to temper chocolate. Since most people are only going to be tempering a bowlful at a time, it is not necessary to go to the complicated extremes most often described in books and chocolate articles.

If the chocolate to be melted is in good condition (i.e. shiny, with no signs of discoloration) simply warm it until it is fluid. (I do this in a microwave oven using a plastic bowl.) If using a water bath, remove it from the heat source and add 1/3 or 1/4 the weight of the melted chocolate in chunks of chocolate that are also in good condition. Stir until the melted chocolate appears to be thickening. Insert the thermometer into the center of the bowl to verify its temperature. If the chocolate is less than 90 degrees (88 degrees for milk or white chocolate), the chocolate is ready to be tested and used. Scoop out what's left of the partially melted chocolate chunks and place them on waxed paper. Refrigerate the chunks for about 10 minutes and store them at room temperature for future use. The chunks are reusable for the same purpose, or you can melt them down (or eat them).

To test your tempering prowess, smear a thin sample of the tempered chocolate on a small piece of waxed paper and refrigerate it for 3 to 5 minutes. If the sample is dry to the touch and evenly glossy, it's ready to be used. If it isn't, stir the chocolate gently, adding another chunk and check the temperature again.

Please note that this method is only applicable when using chocolate that is in good temper (shiny with no discoloration).

This and other methods are described in simple, but complete, instructions in my book, The Art of Chocolate.

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some thoughts:

--- try to use a digital thermometer if you can, sometimes you can lose a good temper by waiting for a temperature reading on an older style thermometer. Plus, a 1 or 2 degree (F) reading can make or break it. Especially with summer coming on.

I have a digital thermometer for "human" use.....would that work?

What are the precise temperatures the chocolate needs to be heated to, cooled down to and reheated to?


"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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some thoughts:

--- try to use a digital thermometer if you can, sometimes you can lose a good temper by waiting for a temperature reading on an older style thermometer. Plus, a 1 or 2 degree (F) reading can make or break it. Especially with summer coming on.

I have a digital thermometer for "human" use.....would that work?

What are the precise temperatures the chocolate needs to be heated to, cooled down to and reheated to?

I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Someone once told me that different "human" thermometers were calibrated differently so that a "normal" reading at each part of the body (mouth, ear, rectal) would read 98.6, even if the normal temp for that body part was different.

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some thoughts:

--- try to use a digital thermometer if you can, sometimes you can lose a good temper by waiting for a temperature reading on an older style thermometer. Plus, a 1 or 2 degree (F) reading can make or break it. Especially with summer coming on.

I have a digital thermometer for "human" use.....would that work?

What are the precise temperatures the chocolate needs to be heated to, cooled down to and reheated to?

I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Someone once told me that different "human" thermometers were calibrated differently so that a "normal" reading at each part of the body (mouth, ear, rectal) would read 98.6, even if the normal temp for that body part was different.

A "human" thermometer works the same way a "normal" thermometer, but usually has a smaller range of temperatures that it is calibrated to read. Also they usually work really slowly, definetely not instant read.


Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

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I have a digital thermometer for "human" use.....would that work?

I assume you're talking about those little thermos that "beep" when ready? They won't work well, response time is to slow.

The digital's that are utilized in pastry are "instant read" (or at least within a second or two). The temperature will be constantly changing, so you'll need as accurate a temp. as possible at any given moment.

Each manufacturer of chocolate seems to vary their tempering temps slighlty, but these are good averages ( I always work in celsius, so the fahrenheit temps. are an approx.) :

dark chocolate -- heat to 45 degrees C. (115 F.), then cool to 27.5 (82 F.) degrees C. take back up to a working temp of 31 - 32 (88-90 F.) degrees C.

for white and milk -- heat to 40 degrees C (105 F.)., then cool to 26 degrees C (80 F.). take back up to a working temp of 30 degrees C (86 F.).


Timothy C. Horst

www.pastrypros.com

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Lots of good advice here so far. My question for you Seawakim is 1) how have you tried to temper chocolate so far? Why not take us through the process you followed or the instructions you tried to follow? and 2) which chocolate (brand) did you try to temper and what form was it in--blocks that you chopped up or pellets/pistoles?

This is something I posted a while ago as a first introduction to melting and tempering--it might help you:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...ST&f=72&t=3568&

And Tim--have you ever used an IR thermometer in your chocolate work?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve -- I've tended to stay away from the IR type thermometers, mainly because I've heard there may be a chance of false readings due to a difference between surface temp. and core temp. Have you encountered this?

I use temperers(3) that use built in temperature control units for my work now. So I don't spend too much time with hand held thermometers anymore.


Timothy C. Horst

www.pastrypros.com

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They definitely give you a "false" reading in that sense--but it is immediately false, off by a degree or less if you stir your chocolate or take a reading in a tempering machine which is stirring the chocolate, and I just adjust how I work to reflect this (when the IR reads a surface temp of 91 it is really 92 etc.) I've found the IR much faster, cleaner and more accurate to work with than an "instant read" digital thermometer--the minute you stick the Taylor (or other digital thermometer) into the chocolate the chocolate which comes into contact with the metal probe starts to cool, so you have to keep swirling it around or you're not going to get an accurate reading anyway. Then you have to remove it, clean it, etc.

For Seawakim or a home user trying to do this--there's no need to go out and buy the IR, which is over $!00--a cheap Taylor digital insta-read is fine until you get a few tempering successes under your belt and get used to the way chocolate looks and acts at all the different temperatures. Once you understand what's going on--and learn what your chocolate does at 115 and 80 and that range of 88-92 or so--as has been mentioned on this thread--you'll start to work with chocolate without any thermometer.

But Tim--I also use that IR to take temp readings of lots of other things--zapping inside an oven, creme anglaises, inside freezers.

Care to share which model temperers you chose to buy and why you like them?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve -- That's what I really like about forums like these.... I admit it didn't cross my mind to use an IR thermo. in those respects.

Thanks for the tip !!

oops, didn't notise that last line.

At the moment, I'm using 3 tempering machines. Although I admit to using one more than the others. I have an ACMC table top that I think I bought back in '99 or so. It's been driving along all these years without a hiccup. I also have a small chocovision revolation, and a 10 lb. chocovision revolation. I tend to use the ACMC a little more, even though it's a little less in capacity, because it seems a little less tempermental to me than the others. Although I've heard some say they think they're the best bang for the buck. The small one doesn't get used at all hardly. For the price I think I really got my money's worth from them all. I dip and mold around 3000 pieces a week from the two of them.


Edited by tchorst (log)

Timothy C. Horst

www.pastrypros.com

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Seawakim, has this discussion helped you? What methods have you tried, and why were you not satisfied? Are you failing to achieve temper? What chocolate are you using, and what are you doing? Enrobing? Molding? piping? dipping? spreading and cutting???????

Personally, for small quantities and experimenting at home I live by the microwave method (turntable in microwave) and a plastic bowl. I really like using the infrared thermometer and find that it works just fine for me, but no thermometer of any sort is required.

I generally aim for direct warming - where you melt the chocolate carefully to prevent taking it out of temper in the first place. This requires that you melt the chocolate in spurts. Here is how I would suggest it. Assuming you have about 2 pounds of chocolate and are working with dark chocolate couverature. White and milk work at at lower temperature.

1- Chop up your chocolate and reserve about half of it. Place half in a plastic bowl

2- Using a microwave with a turntable and using high power microwave 1 minute then remove and shake (your chocolate will still be pretty much the same as when you put it in the microwave.

3- Microwave 45 seconds on high and stir (some of your chocolate will have melted and it will be a tacky lump

4- Microwave another 30 seconds and stir (alot of your chocolate should be melted by now - but there will probably be lumps). At this point test the temperature by whatever means you have available then decide if another 15 are required.

Temperature testing: Your goal in direct warmin is to not exceed 92 degrees F. (I generally stop at 90). If you are relying on touch to test temperature, it should feel cool to you. Temperature testing can be done without aid of a thermometer (home use only) by touching the chocolate on a spatula to the bottom of your lower lip. The chocolate should feel cool to you. It is also likely that there will remain unmelted lumps in your chocolate that you can fish out, smush patiently, or use force and whiz with the imersion blender (avoiding whipping air into the chocolate by keeping the blades submerged completely). The chocolate should mound slightly on the surface when poured from the spatula.

5- Test your temper with a piece of parchment. Cut a piece of parchment about 1x2 inches and touch one end to the chocolate to coat one side of one end. Set the test strip on a cool countertop and do something else for 1-2 minutes to avoid staring impatiently at the strip. After 1-2 minutes the chocolate should be firm and set up. If at the end of this period, the chocolate is still wet , you should return to the microwave and will have to temper it.

Actually tempering the chocolate using the microwave (assuming you still have your pristine chopped chocolate in reserve:

1- Heat the chocolate in the bowl until it feels almost stingy hot to you lower lip (120 degrees F) . Assuming you are starting with chocolate that is 93-95 this should only take another 30 seconds.

2- To conserve chocolate and avoid lumping, Add one handful of chopped chocolate to the hot melted chocolate and stir with the rubber spatula - this handfull will melt quite quickly and will reduce the temperature out your chocolate about 6-8 degrees

3- Continue to add chocolate by the handful until you have brought the chocolate down in temperature to 90 again. It will probably take 4 handfuls, and then test as above.

If you have melted all your chocolate and do not have temper, or are starting with questionable or out of temper chocolate you will have to resort to tabling the chocolate

1- melt the chocolate to 120 degrees F

2- pour about half to 2/3 of the chocolate out onto a clean dry marble

(you will want a bench scraper and a large offset spatula to aid in this job)

3- spread the chocolate over the surface of the marble using the offset spatula and admire it for a few moments, then use the bench scraper to move it from the edges to the center- scraping it off with the offset , then spread it out again. Depending on the temperature of the room and the marble, it may take awhile until the chocolate starts to crystalize

4- Scrape the cooled choloate into the bowl with your still warm chocolate and stir with the rubber spatula until it is smooth

5- test appearance, temperature, and conduct a temper test

Perhaps the problem you are actually having is KEEPING your chocolate in temper over a period of time while you work with it. This is the most difficult task because tempereef chocolate will set up very quickly.

To make your life easy, you may want to insulate your bowl by placing it on a towel, and not directly on the work surface, I have found that setting the bowl in the oven (gas with a pilot) can help extend the time, or keeping the bowl in the closed microwave has also worked. Of course, it is imperative that you are ready to use the chocolate when you get it tempered. This means that you have tour molds all ready to go, or your pieces ready for dipping, or truffles ready to coat, of whatever ready to roll.

The microwave comes in handy to zap the chocolate 6-10 seconds when it starts to get really cold - but make sure you test the temperature and temper after heating - especially if you are molding.

Tempering chocolate and working with it is all about timing and practice. As you grow more comfortable, you will be more attuned to visual cues about temper, and will be able to work more comfortably and confidently with it. Its a new skill and you shouldn't expect to just master it immediately.

Good luck and we hope to hear about some of your chocolate projects soon.

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Of course, maybe the real answer to your question -- if you have tried these methods and found them too difficult -- is that there is no easy way, no magic shortcut unless you want to go to the dark side and use the - ugh - coating chocolate-like substance. This, you just make liquid and use, but then it isn't chocolate, and you didn't temper anything, so it isn't what you asked.

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i dunno about that.

i heat the chocolate, then cool it down in an ice bath, and then rewarm it.

i've never had a problem making chocolates this way.

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i dunno about that.

i heat the chocolate, then cool it down in an ice bath, and then rewarm it.

i've never had a problem making chocolates this way.

That's what I used to think too. Not knowing any better, I thought, "I don't really know what tempering is, but that Torres guy on TV just throws it in the microwave until its mostly melted, then stirs it up a bit." I did the same, and it came out fine. I tried it again a few weeks later, and all I got was a useless gritty mess. I was just lucky the first time. Since then I have read up on the topic (chefette's discussion above is great) and figured out that the process is somewhat complicated and you have to be careful to get it right every time.


Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Chefette's tempering instructions were very accurate and describe a simple way to melt chocolate without breaking the temper. Just remember that this method can only be used when the chocolate to be melted is in good temper, since you can't maintain the temperature in chocolate that didn't have it to begin with.

I do not believe that tempering chocolate is the monster that many believe it is. Don't get caught up in worrying about what kind of thermometer to use and lots of confusing temperatures. Use any thermometer with a range of 80 to 130 degrees. Never heat chocolate over 120 degrees. If the chocolate you're melting is in good temper (shiny, unblemished) it is not necessary to melt it to any specific temper; just melt it until it's fluid. The only time you must melt it to any specific temperature is if it is out of temper (blemished, etc.). In that case it is important to melt the chocolate to 115 to 120 degrees to assure that the bad crystals that it contains are completely melted before you attempt to retemper it.

Use whichever tempering method you prefer. The important temperatures to remember are 90 degrees for dark chocolate and 88 degrees for milk and white chocolates--give or take a couple of degrees.

Once you've tempered the chocolate, it is not necessary to keep taking its temperature. You'll know when it gets too cool because it will become increasingly thick and difficult to handle. Yes, I know that there are ranges within which the chocolate is in its best temper, but few people would be able to discern that in the finished product.

Relax when tempering chocolate. Don't get caught up in all of that scientific mumbo jumbo--unless you are responsible for tempering a vat of chocolate in a factory. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to temper a little bowl of chocolate. All you need is a little common sense and a basic understanding of the parameters within which you must work.

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the ice bowl method is a perfectly acceptable method for tempering chocolate. the temper you attain isn't the BEST per se, but for at home use it's fine.

i also work in a fine-dining restaurant, and we use that when we make petit fours.

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Thanks for your input, chocartist, and welcome to our discussions.

As chocartist mentioned, a sense of relaxation is important. As complex a substance as chocolate is, and though temperature is obviously crucial, I'd advise that the primary hurdles to pass are patience and cleanliness.

I'm sure someone has already mentioned it, but always test the chocolate on a strip of parchment, or a knife, or even a plastic bowl scraper. Never proceed if you are unsure. Take the time to make your adjustments gradually- avoid the temptation of ice and double boilers, which can cause harsh spikes in temperature and introduce water into the equation, which is always risky. Not necessarily an investment a home enthusiast will want to make, but a $25 heat gun can be quite useful, if you can't fit into a microwave.

I was doing a demo recently and when the topic of specialized chocolate tools arose, I noted that the most important tool in chocolate work, for me, is the blowtorch. I find myself constantly cleaning my marble, cleaning my spatulas and scrapers and forks. Keeping the sides and rim of a bowl of tempered chocolate clean and free of hardened chocolate is paramount. You can't come close to producing fine chocolate candies or elegant garnish work without a high level of cleanliness.

As small as that "in temper" window may seem, with experience and familiarity with how particular chocolate brands behave, and even certain work environments, you will eventually be able to sense things without constantly poking a thermometer into the chocolate. Chocolate work for me, admittedly it is on a small scale, has become my moment of zen, my right brain time- usually my reward to myself for getting everyting else done early or on time. It is when I'm most relaxed; I tend to do it right around the end of prep and beginning of service, when the rest of the kitchen is in full swing and stressed. I even use the marble to temper, because I like the movement and the feeling that I'm closer to the chocolate. And my thermometer of choice is usually that area just below the bottom lip, or as my friend Martin Howard likes to say, "cocoa butter is a great moisturizer, and if you forget to wipe it off, the crazy people on the subway ride home won't bother you."

Chocolate is complex and fickle, yes. But if it ain't fun, don't bother.


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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vox makes a good point. Sometimes you have to use whatever methods your environment allows. I forget sometimes that I am blessed with a chocolate friendly kitchen; the temperature is relatively stable, and I have the space and modest equipment to work with. Ideally, is it best to take shortcuts? Not to me. Is the end result acceptable? It can be, but who wants merely acceptable?

With chocolate, I like to know "where it is" at all times, and conventional tempering methods help in that sense, in addition to helping me identify and fix any problems that may arise.


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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I'm sorry I haven't been on the board very much, but wanted to say thank you to all of you who helped unravel the mystery (it was to me) of tempering chocolate.

I've tempered, I've moulded, I've eaten. I've used different chocolates, different moulds and thanks to you all and getting better results every day. I'm learning so much from this thread and enjoying reading about about the different methods everyone is using. Now, if I could only get my hands on one of those infrared thermometers..... :wink:

Thank you for all the help.


Edited by seawakim (log)

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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Something that I always found important to keeping the chocolate in temper was the room temperature. Too cool and it hardens quickly.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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Hi all --

I've just finished reading all the info on chocolate tempering and decided I must join this forum immediately! Please forgive the length of this, my first foray into the forum world, but I'm full of questions and frustration...

What prompted my visit in the first place was the delivery of my new Chocovision Revolation 10lb tempering machine, which was supposed to make my job easier. Two days later, and I still have no tempered chocolate. Of course, it's the weekend so I can't get support from Chocovision, and time is a-wastin'. I know someone on the board also owns this machine, and I would LOVE some help.

The problem: I loaded 3lbs of milk choc and let the machine go through its default settings, just to see what would happen. The first thing I noticed was that it heated the choc in the melt cycle to 42.2 C, which I don't think is correct. Then I put in the seed chocolate and hit the temper button, expecting the temp to automatically drop to 27-28 C, then go up to 31-32 C. Instead, it just dropped to 32.2, beeped to tell me to remove seed choc, then leveled out at 32.2 until it beeped again to tell me it was ready to go. It never dropped below the 30s.

Am I crazy, or did the machine miss a step somewhere?

Then I tried to manually enter the temps to melt up to 45 C, cool to 27 C, then warm to 32 C. It didn't seem to make any difference, as the machine just went about it's business, beeping indiscriminately, demanding I remove seed choc when there was none, refusing to melt ALL of the choc, etc.

The resulting chocolate which was supposedly ready was impossible to use in both cases. I did the spatula test, and the chocolate refused to harden. I tried using it for both dipping and molding, failures all. The chocolate is thick, dull, will not harden no matter what I do, will not come out of the mold, and hangs off my truffles like glue.

Can someone explain this behavior? I can certainly temper with the microwave, but then why did I buy this expensive machine?! And now I have bowls of ganache with nowhere to go.

Other questions about tempering with the machine and otherwise:

--what do I do when I have lots of leftover melted choc that may or may not have been tempered correctly? Can I just let it harden then pop it back into the machine and start all over?

--how do I temper already melted chocolate that has been sitting around for awhile? Do I need to add seed choc and bring it up to melting temp again, or what?

--how many times can I put the same chocolate through the tempering process?

--I found molding and dipping with the machine extremely uncomfortable and messy as the opening is too small. Should I transfer the choc to another bowl? Any suggestions to make the process faster and more comfy?

I was expecting to be able to take this machine out of the box and actually use it immediately, with minor manual adjustments. I am a chocolate novice, yes, but a trained one who thought she knew what she was doing until this beast arrived. But now I'm about to hoist it out the window. I am at wit's end, and would greatly appreciate any and all advice.

Thanks a lot!

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