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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

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Hi, I'm new tp posting here but I've lurked the forums off and on for a while now.  I wanted to relate my own experience with a home-brewed version of the EZtemper that I made after reading most of this thread.

 

I have a temperature-controlled box that I made for fermenting sausages, pickles, kimchi, and for drying charcuterie.  The box itself is a Coleman cooler that I bought on ebay.  It has a thermo-electric plate and fan inside that can either heat or cool depending on how you connect the 12-volt DC power supply.  It has no temperature control (it either heats or cools constantly) but I made a temp control using a temperature sensor and relay connected to a small BasicStamp microcontroller.  I can program any temperature that the box is capable of attaining, and the controller reads the temperature from the sensor and turns the heater/cooler on or off as needed.  It will get about 30 degrees F cooler/hotter than ambient temperature, so around 40F to 100F.

 

I set the temp to 33.5C with the box in heating mode and put a half-pint jar with solid chunks of cocoa butter inside.  After 12 hours, I needed to stir, and the cocoa butter was not soft and smooth, but after another 4 hours or so with stirring, it got to the mayo-like consistency described above.  Melted 500 g of dark chocolate, let it cool to 33C, and added 5 g of the cocoa butter.  Temper tested well, and I tried a few applications: cast a few half-sphere bonbon shells, and cast some bars.  Resulting snap and shine were both very good.  I can't remember how well the bonbon shells released, but I don't remember any problems (I'm trying to resolve some problems with shells sticking). 

 

Anyway, this does seem like a really good way of tempering.  My usual method of choice is to add 1% of microplaned chocolate when the melted chocolate reaches 33C.  The advantage of the cocoa butter silk is that you know there will be no unmelted lumps (even with microplaned chocolate, I seem to still see very small grains after tempering unless I stir, stir, hit with heat gun, stir, stir). 

 

I've recently been evaluating different degrees of pre-crystalization with a jerry-rigged temper meter (shot glass with chocolate sample in ice bath in the fridge and a USB thermometer plugged into my laptop outside the fridge logging temp vs time).  I'm looking at the curves resulting from adding different amounts of microplaned chocolate or silk.  Interesting results so far, I'll post something soon.

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I'm relatively new to the chocolate game but here's what i've learned re ganache/truffles for what it's worth..

 

I make my ganache by pouring hot (usually infused) cream over tempered chocolate. I use callets or fine chopped tempered chocolate. Wait for a couple of minutes and then stir to make the emulsion.

 

When I'm making truffles I'll do a piped ganache by pouring the ganache into a large tray to cool quickly. When it hits about 25c it gets a kind of plastic consistency. AT that point I table it briefly (see Grewellings excellent book for LOTS of great information about that..and ganache in general..its an invaluable aid I think).

 

Then I pop it in a piping bag and pipe long ""rods" of ganache. I find that easier than trying to pipe individual dollops, but that's probably more to do with my piping technique (or lack of). Leave it to set up and then slice it into sections according to size. Either leave it that shape or roll it briefly in your (gloved) hands to make a ball and then dip.

 

As for the tempering issue - if you're doing a coffee cup sized amount you'll struggle to temper/hold temper with it. It's too small an amount for practical purposes I think. I personally never try tempering less than about 400grams.(About a pound) Any excess can always be re-melted and re-tempered later. I use the seed method because it's the easiest and least messy way of doing it - just doing it by temperature can take a long while! Once it's in temper I just keep it in teh metal bowl I melted/tempered it in and monitor the temperature..stirring regularly to keep the heat distributed evenly and help prevent over crystallisation (when it goes too gloopy). When the temperature drops I hit it with a heat gun or hairdyer for a bit (stirring all the time and making sure you don't burn the chocolate) ...about 20 seconds at a time usually. If you monitor it you'll find you only need to raise it maybe a degree or two at most. Works for me :)

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

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Hello.  I’m brand new here and new to the world of tempering chocolate.  I’ve done a lot of homework, reading up on how to temper using the seeding method.  I take about 300g of chocolate and melt it to 120-124F.  Then I add 100g of seed chocolate (which is in temper) and cool it down to 84F.  I then heat it up to 89.5ish F.  I dip a knife in and wait for it to setup properly.  Once everything looks good I proceed to fill my polycarbonate molds with the tempered chocolate.  I then let them cool and release them from the molds.  The chocolate is then stored at proper temperature (60-62 degrees F and humidity at about 50%).  After a day or two or three I get some sort of bloom, but the bloom is only on the chocolate that didn’t touch the mold.  I’m attaching a picture. I wonder if anyone can help me out here? 

Full disclosure:  The temperature of my kitchen is always above 74 F.  In order to cool the molded chocolate, I place the molds in a thermoelectric wine fridge.  This fridge does not have a compressor thus the humidity is equal to the humidity in the room.  The fridge registers at 60-62F with 52% relative humidity, tested with a thermometer/hydrometer.  If I lived in a cooler climate my room temperature and humidity would be at these same levels. 

bad bloom.jpg

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Firstly, you are starting out too hot. There are unique qualities to very type/brand of chocolate, and you'll develop tricks to handling each type. That said, dark chocolate shouldn't get over 118°, it's probably best to start with 115° to be safe. Milk and white chocolate burn at lower temps, I'd say about 110°-113° for milk, and I wouldn't take white over 108°.

 

Are you stirring while cooling and reheating? You do not mention it -it is vital for the correct crystals to develop.

 

Before wasting time and product molding your chocolate, you should do tests. Take a small piece of acetate and smear a thin dab on it, cool and check after about 10-15 minutes. A crisp, shiny piece of chocolate should pop off easily. (You can also use parchment paper, but it gives a dull result which can be confusing. Before switching, use both acetate and parchment to see how the results should look.) If it doesn't turn out shiny and snappy, start over.

 

Good luck, tempering takes time to master!

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Thanks for the response Lisa.  I do stir constantly during the cool down period, sorry for not adding that detail.

 

I will do the following things tomorrow:

  • I will try a lower maximum temperature (after confirming with the manufacturer of the dark chocolate).
  • I will get some acetate and dab some tempered chocolate on it.  Should I cool it in the wine fridge like I'm cooling the molded chocolate?
  • I will compare with some parchment paper

Thanks!

 

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I have to disagree with Lisa. Melting your chocolate to 125f is not the problem, I routinely go over that. Yes, white chocolate can scorch easily, but you also want to melt all forms of cocoa butter before tempering. 

 

At what temp is all of your seed melted?  I seed but don't go by weight. There should be a few pieces of unmelted seed at 95f - enough to provide those stable crystals that you need but not so many that they won't melt out as the chocolate cools to 90. 

 

Also no need to buy acetate just for testing your temper. If it sets up quickly on parchment without any streaks or spots, go with it. (IIRC streaks mean too warm and spots mean too cool). 

 

74f is a bit warm for molding chocolate, I've learned that's about the max room temp I can be successful in. ( working with chocolate that is :)). Do you have a fan you can use to improve airflow and cool the chocolate quickly?  Maybe Kerry will stop by and explain the latent heat of crystallization. Do you have a real fridge closer to 40f?  Your wine fridge doesn't sound ideal. 

 

 

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Pastrygirl - I appreciate your feedback on this. I heard from the manufacturer that I should NOT go above 113F.  While this goes against what I've commonly read I will test this in about 1 hour.  I believe the manufacturer knows best since it is their product :) 

 

As far as the seed:  Once my melted chocolate is above 120F I add the seed and stir, stir, stir until it cools to 84F.  All the seed melts well before I reach 84F.  Is this a problem?

 

I realize that room temperature of 74F is too high for my chocolate to set.  That's why I have the wine fridge.  It's temperature registers at 60-62F.  I've tried a fan with a high room temperature but the chocolate never set.  I've tried a traditional/real fridge but I think it is too cold and too humid.

 

Does anyone here cool their chocolate in the fridge?  If so, can you explain your process?

 

Thanks!

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12 minutes ago, dannysdesserts said:

s far as the seed:  Once my melted chocolate is above 120F I add the seed and stir, stir, stir until it cools to 84F.  All the seed melts well before I reach 84F.  Is this a problem?

 

 

It is a problem if all your seed is melted when the chocolate is at 95. You still need some unmelted seed at lower temps to provide the most stable forms of cocoa butter crystals, which melt at lower temperatures. 

 

 

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Do you mind telling us what brand of chocolate you are using?

 

What Pastrygirl says is crucial about the seed:  above 93F or so, all (of most) of its crystals are melting and just becoming an additional part of the pool of untempered chocolate.  Seed begins to "count" when you are getting at the maximum for Type V crystals (approximately 92.8F).  Actually I wait to add seed until the choc. is around 95 and don't have to add so much that way and also don't have to worry as much about getting it all melted because there is less of it.

 

The aforementioned Kerry can explain the latent heat of crystallization better than I, but until she shows up:  You have to give the crystallizing chocolate a way to release the heat that is given off or it can get trapped in the mold and throw the chocolate out of temper.  Most experts say to let it sit at room temp until it shows signs of crystallizing (it gets that telltale matte rather than wet look), then put it in the (real) fridge for at least 5 minutes.  You may have to use your wine fridge as a substitute for the room-temp period of time.

 

Your room does seem too warm, but the wine fridge may be able to counteract some of that issue, but from what I have read, the choc. needs to cool off rather quickly to let that latent heat dissipate.

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I should have added to what I said above:  I think most people recommend adding seed to chocolate as soon as it reaches its max temperature because it helps to cool the choc. down faster, but it doesn't really help with tempering until it reaches the magic temp when Type V crystals form.  Or at least that's my understanding of what is ultimately a mysterious and sometimes unpredictable process.

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OK, quick updates.  I am using Santa Barbara Chocolate (Organic 72%) in the form of chips.  Their website tempering instructions only talk about using a microwave.  I am using a double-boiler.

 

I melted 8oz of these chips in the double-boiler until it read 112.6F.  I removed from heat and added in the room temperature seed chips and stir, stir, stir.  The temperature of melted chocolate dropped quickly, going to about 86F but all of the seed chips were not melted.  I placed the bowl back over the warm water portion of the double boiler and stir, stir, stir, while minding the temperature.  As it hit almost 89F I took it off the heat and stir, stir, stir.  As it cooled a half a degree I put it back on the heat, stirring all the time.  The chocolate was fully melted and the temperature had not gone above 89F.  I poured the chocolate into the cavities of the molds via syringe and put it in the 60-62F wine fridge.  I didn't make a test strip.  Now I wait...

 

Jim & Pastrygirl - I understand what you mean about the type V crystals and at what temperature they form.

 

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 Sorry to be late to the party.

 

Anna just told me about this topic. Real life does get in the way sometimes.

 

It looks like you are doing a mixture of two different methods of tempering together. You either want to seed in which  case you are adding your 100 g of tempered chocolate and expecting it to melt out about the time you reach your working temperature which is about about 31°C (88°F).   If your seed melts out before that add a few more callets so there is seed available at the working temp.

 

Or alternatively you can do the wild crystallization method where you cool it down to 27°C  (80.6 F)  for dark chocolate or 25°C  (77F)  for milk chocolate, then reheat to the working temperature  which would be approximately 31-32 C (88 to 90F)  for dark chocolate and 30- 31 C (86- 88F) for milk 

 

 What Jim mentions above about the latent heat of crystallization – when you first start seeing your molds thickening around the edges – pop them into the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes to carry off that latent heat and prevent them from throwing themselves out of temper.

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Thanks Kerry.  So should I be following the manufacturer and never heat above 113F regardless of which method I use?  Of those two methods, is one preferred?  Is one easier if the ambient temperature of the kitchen is above ideal chocolate making temperatures?

 

I just checked my molds and they look "solid" all the way across so I'm not going to place them in the fridge at all.  I'll report back how things look in another hour.  Seems to be that 2 hours is when the chocolate pulls away from the mold and is ready to go.  The spots don't appear right away though.  It can take up to two days for that to happen.

 

Thanks!

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Well, I have released the chocolate from the molds.  Now I wait and see...  I've taken two pieces and will leave them out in "room temperature" which is currently 78+F.

 

Edit: I checked the pieces and they have no snap to them, they are quite soft. I believe the heat to 113F and cool to 89F did not work.  I will now temper using the wild crystallization method.  I will melt to chocolate up to 113F, seed with tempered chocolate and cool to 80.6 and then reheat to 88-89F and report back. 


Edited by dannysdesserts update to show results out of temper (log)

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I'm sorry but at 78F chocolate is probably going to soften--and will certainly lose its sheen and snap.  I took chocolates to a July 4 party packed in a cooler with lots of ice, and they were fine...until they had sat out for 15 minutes on a warm and very humid Virginia day.  They tasted fine but had a dull look and felt a bit tacky to the touch.

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1 hour ago, dannysdesserts said:

Well, I have released the chocolate from the molds.  Now I wait and see...  I've taken two pieces and will leave them out in "room temperature" which is currently 78+F.

 

Edit: I checked the pieces and they have no snap to them, they are quite soft. I believe the heat to 113F and cool to 89F did not work.  I will now temper using the wild crystallization method.  I will melt to chocolate up to 113F, seed with tempered chocolate and cool to 80.6 and then reheat to 88-89F and report back. 

 

That's not the wild crystallization method 

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Luck, The Force or, more likely, the magic of the EZ Temper has been with me thus far. I somehow completely missed the part about waiting. I've been lining my molds and tossing them straight in the fridge and haven't had a single piece that was out of temper. But now that I've said that out loud, I've probably captured the attention of the chocolate gods and should probably start doing the waiting period from now on.

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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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17 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

That's not the wild crystallization method 

I think I made a mistake Kerry.  If I don't add any seed at all then I'm using wild crystallization method?

 

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13 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:

I've been lining my molds and tossing them straight in the fridge and haven't had a single piece that was out of temper. 

Tri2Cook - How long do they stay in the fridge?  Are you making filled or solid chocolates?

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1 minute ago, dannysdesserts said:

I think I made a mistake Kerry.  If I don't add any seed at all then I'm using wild crystallization method?

 

Correct - you take it down low enough for form IV and form V crystals to form - then heat to melt the form IV.

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16 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:

Luck, The Force or, more likely, the magic of the EZ Temper has been with me thus far. I somehow completely missed the part about waiting. I've been lining my molds and tossing them straight in the fridge and haven't had a single piece that was out of temper. But now that I've said that out loud, I've probably captured the attention of the chocolate gods and should probably start doing the waiting period from now on.

I sometimes don't have the patience to wait - still works.

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Just now, Kerry Beal said:

Correct - you take it down low enough for form IV and form V crystals to form - then heat to melt the form IV.

I assume I can use untempered chocolate (or my messed up attempts) and temper it using this method?  I hope this is true so I don't have to end up eating all my mistakes! :P

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Just now, dannysdesserts said:

I assume I can use untempered chocolate (or my messed up attempts) and temper it using this method?  I hope this is true so I don't have to end up eating all my mistakes! :P

Yup - works when you don't have good seed.

 

Remember - time, temperature, agitation

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Just now, Kerry Beal said:

Yup - works when you don't have good seed.

 

Remember - time, temperature, agitation

I have to admit that I've read TONS of posts here about tempering.  I'm honored to be getting advice from all of you experts here, particularly you Kerry.

 

My latest attempt is cooling now.  I used the seed method again, heating the mass to 113F, cooling to 86F and then back up to 89F.  I have had success with some Valrhona using this method.  My next attempt will be to take my "mistake" and heat it to 113F, cool it to 80.6F (while stirring) and then warm to working temp of 88-89F (while stirring).

 

I really wish I had the $$ for the eztemper machine!

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24 minutes ago, dannysdesserts said:

I have to admit that I've read TONS of posts here about tempering.  I'm honored to be getting advice from all of you experts here, particularly you Kerry.

 

My latest attempt is cooling now.  I used the seed method again, heating the mass to 113F, cooling to 86F and then back up to 89F.  I have had success with some Valrhona using this method.  

I think you are misunderstanding a little about the seed method.  It is explained on the website of your chocolate manufacturer.  You don't need to go down to 86F or to any temperature lower than the final working temp.  As the Santa Barbara website states:  "Add 4oz of unmelted coins to the fluid chocolate, stir until all pieces are melted and the temperature of the chocolate has reduced to 89°F or 86°F depending on which chocolate you are working with."  So all you have to do for dark choc. is to go from the melting point down to 89 (86 is for milk choc.).  It doesn't do any harm to go lower, then back up, but you are wasting time.


Edited by Jim D. (log)
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