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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

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Thanks again for the helpful responses.  Watched the above video!  The Greweling book has been ordered!  A thermometer or two have been ordered :D.  More successful batches have been made and eaten so I'm sure the dentist is not happy.  I can report greater success and I owe it to this community.

 

I am not (yet) in the chocolate business.  I am hoping to take my knowledge and apply it this Holiday season.  I am humbled by everyone's willingness to help me and I appreciate all of the knowledge that is shared on this wonderful site.  

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On 11/10/2016 at 7:16 PM, dannysdesserts said:

Thanks again for the helpful responses.  Watched the above video!  The Greweling book has been ordered!  A thermometer or two have been ordered :D.  More successful batches have been made and eaten so I'm sure the dentist is not happy.  I can report greater success and I owe it to this community.

 

I am not (yet) in the chocolate business.  I am hoping to take my knowledge and apply it this Holiday season.  I am humbled by everyone's willingness to help me and I appreciate all of the knowledge that is shared on this wonderful site.  

 

I am continually humbled and amazed by the amount and quality of help I get here. There are some truly wonderful people who give a great deal to this site.......hopefully I'll be able to do the same when I have more experience :)


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

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I have gone back to tabling chocolate for tempering.  It has been foolproof so far and faster than any other method I've tried.  If you're doing huge batches for large-scale production, it might not be the most practical, but for the home chocolatier, I don't think it can be beat.  One tip to pass on, though is that once you've melted the chocolate, you need to let it sit at the high temperature for a couple of minutes to completely melt, or else you will get small grains of chocolate that don't fully melt.  You can smooth it out with an immersion blender, but this gets another tool dirty, actually raises the temperature of the chocolate and takes extra time.  

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Can a chocolate have 2 possible tempering settings?

For example, using a continuous tempering machine, it can be tempered at 49ºC / 32ºC, but eventually also at 54ºC / 34ºC ?

 

Thanks in advance!

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If the chocolate has been in temper for a while and has started to thicken despite being held at 32C, then yes you can raise the temp enough to melt out some of the crystals and have it still be in temper.  As long as you don't melt all the crystallization out - do test it before using.  Does that help?

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Thanks, but what I was trying to ask was if it's possible a chocolate to have 2 completely different temper temperature pairs, like 49ºC / 32ºC and 54ºC / 34ºC, or only one.

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you need to understand what actually is happening to the chocolate at those temperatures - the higher temperature doesn't matter because you're just melting out all the crystals to a liquid state. Then when you drop the temperature, you encourage the correct crystal to propagate (the ... IV? crystal I think). Once you have that crystal propagating in your liquid chocolate at the correct temperature, it's going to continue to be formed until you have a solid mass of chocolate, still at 32C, still in temper, but completely unuseable for enrobing or making molds. So you need to gently heat your chocolate every now and then to keep melting out the excess crystals without melting them all out, which is why you start the day at 32C but may end the day higher than that.

 

Is a continuous tempering machine something like a Selmi? In those, you shouldn't need to increase the temperature throughout the day because the chocolate in the big tank is high temperature and untempered, then gets cooled and tempered as it runs from the tank to the spout.

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I usually suspend most chocolate production in the summer months, but it appears, from some new business prospects, that I may need to change that practice. In some recent summer attempts, chocolates have sometimes been difficult to get out of molds (I have eventually gotten all of them out, but it has not been a pretty process, and the surface of some of them is dull). Therefore I am examining my tempering and cooling procedures to determine if they can be improved, and any advice would be appreciated.

 

I work in a home kitchen, so there are some limitations. With air conditioning I can get the temp down below 70F/21C and the relative humidity down to the 40-45% range. In the first stage of making chocolates (forming the shells) I allow the molds to begin crystallizing at room temp, then put them in the fridge (just my regular fridge, set at 38F/3.3C, for 10-15 minutes or so; I allow for a longer period of time for the second stage, closing the chocolates. I place the trays on racks in the fridge so as to allow for air flow below them. In cooler and less humid months, this procedure has worked without too many problems, so I am looking to humidity as the culprit.

 

In the many eGullet threads on tempering I have seen a recommendation for adding a small fan to the refrigerator to help dispel latent heat, but have not tried that. I have read a lot on humidity in fridges and learned that whereas the RH is quite low as long as the door has been kept closed for a while, it rises quickly when one opens the door (as when putting a mold in), and it stays high for quite some time; testing with a hygrometer has mostly confirmed this fact. One would deduce from this observation that fridges are not the best way to cool molds, yet it is what virtually everyone on eG does. Peter Greweling, whom I think many of us take as an authority, does not (surprisingly) call for cooling the molds below room temp when making the shells and mentions cooling only after the capping stage--where he recommends 15 minutes in a fridge at about 41F/5C, specifying that the fridge "must not have high humidity."

 

All this (especially the humidity quote from Greweling) has led me to investigate cooling cabinets especially intended for chocolate-making, which is probably what Greweling has at his disposal. So far research has led to two options: Hilliard's (a U.S. company) and Everlasting (Italian, but the products are available in the U.S., though at 220V). When I asked Clay Gordon of the Chocolate Life site how these fridges differ from regular ones, he stated that they are specifically built to deal quickly with the humidity "hit" caused by opening the door. The Hilliard's cooler goes down only to 58F/14C (which does not sound low enough, but I have not checked with the company) and Everlasting to 35.6F/2C. The cost of both units is quite high, but I am just investigating at this point.

 

I am also trying to determine whether having the area around a regular fridge (in my case, the kitchen) at a low RH (40% or so) makes a difference in the fridge's "recovery time." It makes sense to me that it would help, but I am not a scientist. Clay recommended trying Moso charcoal bags to reduce the fridge's humidity.

 

And, as long as I'm trying to be comprehensive in this posting, I will add that, on a rainy day in the cooler months, high RH does not seem to affect the chocolates--though logic would dictate that it would.

 

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

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Yes, I'm using a continuous tempering machine like Selmi. 

 

This photo from today shows 2 attempts, the tempering temperature of the right one is 2 or 3ºC less than the left one.

Chocolate in the right one was rather thick, the one on the left have some kind of microbubbles that vibration don't eliminates.

 

How thick should a tempered chocolate be? And microbubbles are a symptom of what?

P_20170705_122719.jpg

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1 hour ago, Choky said:

How thick should a tempered chocolate be?

 

Depends on how much cocoa butter is in it. Are you using couverture (30%+ cocoa butter)?   Not all chocolates are suitable for molding, for exactly that reason.  Some have less cocoa butter and may be great for baking or as an ingredient, but too thick for molding.  For example, Barry-Calleabut uses the 5 drop scale on their chocolate- 1 drop will be very thick, 5 will be very runny.  You might use a 1 drop chocolate in a brownie recipe but should switch to a 3 or 4 for dipping or molding.

 

As for bubbles - I don't know, I think bubbles are just bubbles.

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9 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I usually suspend most chocolate production in the summer months, but it appears, from some new business prospects, that I may need to change that practice. In some recent summer attempts, chocolates have sometimes been difficult to get out of molds (I have eventually gotten all of them out, but it has not been a pretty process, and the surface of some of them is dull). Therefore I am examining my tempering and cooling procedures to determine if they can be improved, and any advice would be appreciated.

 

I work in a home kitchen, so there are some limitations. With air conditioning I can get the temp down below 70F/21C and the relative humidity down to the 40-45% range. In the first stage of making chocolates (forming the shells) I allow the molds to begin crystallizing at room temp, then put them in the fridge (just my regular fridge, set at 38F/3.3C, for 10-15 minutes or so; I allow for a longer period of time for the second stage, closing the chocolates. I place the trays on racks in the fridge so as to allow for air flow below them. In cooler and less humid months, this procedure has worked without too many problems, so I am looking to humidity as the culprit.

 

In the many eGullet threads on tempering I have seen a recommendation for adding a small fan to the refrigerator to help dispel latent heat, but have not tried that. I have read a lot on humidity in fridges and learned that whereas the RH is quite low as long as the door has been kept closed for a while, it rises quickly when one opens the door (as when putting a mold in), and it stays high for quite some time; testing with a hygrometer has mostly confirmed this fact. One would deduce from this observation that fridges are not the best way to cool molds, yet it is what virtually everyone on eG does. Peter Greweling, whom I think many of us take as an authority, does not (surprisingly) call for cooling the molds below room temp when making the shells and mentions cooling only after the capping stage--where he recommends 15 minutes in a fridge at about 41F/5C, specifying that the fridge "must not have high humidity."

 

All this (especially the humidity quote from Greweling) has led me to investigate cooling cabinets especially intended for chocolate-making, which is probably what Greweling has at his disposal. So far research has led to two options: Hilliard's (a U.S. company) and Everlasting (Italian, but the products are available in the U.S., though at 220V). When I asked Clay Gordon of the Chocolate Life site how these fridges differ from regular ones, he stated that they are specifically built to deal quickly with the humidity "hit" caused by opening the door. The Hilliard's cooler goes down only to 58F/14C (which does not sound low enough, but I have not checked with the company) and Everlasting to 35.6F/2C. The cost of both units is quite high, but I am just investigating at this point.

 

I am also trying to determine whether having the area around a regular fridge (in my case, the kitchen) at a low RH (40% or so) makes a difference in the fridge's "recovery time." It makes sense to me that it would help, but I am not a scientist. Clay recommended trying Moso charcoal bags to reduce the fridge's humidity.

 

And, as long as I'm trying to be comprehensive in this posting, I will add that, on a rainy day in the cooler months, high RH does not seem to affect the chocolates--though logic would dictate that it would.

 

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

The Hilliard cabinets are essentially a box with doors, racks and an air conditioner in it. It's got lots of air circulation. 

 

I'm betting that the school where Peter teaches probably has Irinox holding cabinets. The French Pastry School has them as do a lot of european confectioners. They are completely adjustable for temperature and humidity. 

 

I've got friends who have set up an air container in a window and just place their product on a speed rack in front of the unit. Other folks have made a box that looks like a dumb waiter - the door opens the same way - and again it's got air conditioned air blowing down into it. 

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@Jim D.  First, ugh.  Can you charge these prospective customers enough to make it worth the frustration?  :unsure:

 

What are your overnight temps?  I don't have AC so I just get up super early to beat the heat.  Is humidity lower at a certain time of day?  Despite our (in)famous Seattle rain, we have relatively dry summers, so I only worry about humidity when making macarons.

 

I would definitely try a fan or several.  A large box fan at 70F might be better at blowing away that latent heat of crystallization and not adding humidity than a home fridge with no fan.   Otherwise, how about putting a pizza stone in the fridge ahead of time to pre-chill - wouldn't that conduct heat away faster than just the air in the fridge?

 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

@Jim D.  First, ugh.  Can you charge these prospective customers enough to make it worth the frustration?  :unsure:

 

What are your overnight temps?  I don't have AC so I just get up super early to beat the heat.  Is humidity lower at a certain time of day?  Despite our (in)famous Seattle rain, we have relatively dry summers, so I only worry about humidity when making macarons.

 

I would definitely try a fan or several.  A large box fan at 70F might be better at blowing away that latent heat of crystallization and not adding humidity than a home fridge with no fan.   Otherwise, how about putting a pizza stone in the fridge ahead of time to pre-chill - wouldn't that conduct heat away faster than just the air in the fridge?

 

 

 

This is making me think - Jim - do you have wire racks in your fridge or solid glass shelves?

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38 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

This is making me think - Jim - do you have wire racks in your fridge or solid glass shelves?

 

I have solid glass shelves, but I add racks to get the chocolate molds off the surface.

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1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

The Hilliard cabinets are essentially a box with doors, racks and an air conditioner in it. It's got lots of air circulation. 

 

I'm not sure how this differs from the Irinox (or the Everlasting), though the Irinox seems much more advanced, with all sorts of controls. Do you know if the Hilliard has a specific humidity control? Their website doesn't give a lot of details. It seems odd to me that a cabinet specifically designed for chocolates would not go lower than 58F/14C.

 

What did you think of my theory that if the room holding the (regular) fridge has low RH, the fridge won't have such a difficult time adjusting to the adding of a mold of chocolate?

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Air conditioned air has lower humidity. The Hilliard is not adjustable for humidity as far as I can see.

 

For sure I think a low humidity room isn't going to give the fridge as much of a challenge.

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15 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

@Jim D.  First, ugh.  Can you charge these prospective customers enough to make it worth the frustration?  :unsure:

 

What are your overnight temps?  I don't have AC so I just get up super early to beat the heat.  Is humidity lower at a certain time of day?  Despite our (in)famous Seattle rain, we have relatively dry summers, so I only worry about humidity when making macarons.

 

I would definitely try a fan or several.  A large box fan at 70F might be better at blowing away that latent heat of crystallization and not adding humidity than a home fridge with no fan.   Otherwise, how about putting a pizza stone in the fridge ahead of time to pre-chill - wouldn't that conduct heat away faster than just the air in the fridge?

 

 

Daytime temps would be unacceptable for working with chocolate, but I turn up the AC and, as I said, get the temp and humidity down to acceptable levels. I am convinced it is the period of refrigeration that is doing the damage, and thus it is the humidity, probably not the temp (Greweling recommends a chilling temp of 41F, and my fridge is set for 38F, so that isn't much of a difference). The Everlasting chocolate fridge looks like the best option (aside from the Irinox that Kerry mentioned, but that will be for my next life, when I run a chocolate factory), but delivery time is 60 days, so the point would be moot, at least until next summer. Meanwhile I'm going to get some more Moso dehumidifying bags and a little battery-operated fan for the fridge (there is one that gets some high marks on Amazon). For the full benefit of a chilled pizza stone, I wouldn't be able to put the molds on a rack and get circulation underneath, and as I said, I don't think the fridge temp is the issue. All this experimentation may be for nothing (especially considering that Greweling doesn't mention chilling the molds when the shells are first made), but we will see.

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2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

For the full benefit of a chilled pizza stone, I wouldn't be able to put the molds on a rack and get circulation underneath, and as I said, I don't think the fridge temp is the issue. All this experimentation may be for nothing (especially considering that Greweling doesn't mention chilling the molds when the shells are first made), but we will see.

 

If there is no fan in your fridge, you're not getting much air circulation to begin with, so I was thinking that putting the molds directly on a cold surface would chill them more quickly.  But I'm no physicist :) 

 

I don't routinely chill molds, only when it is warm in the kitchen - like above 70F.  My work fridge is the sort that has wire racks and cold air blowing from both sides of a central column (2 door restaurant reach-in).  Since the air blows directly on the molds, I don't need to leave them in very long - maybe 10 minutes for solid bars.  So yeah,  a fan in the fridge should definitely help.

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That is an interesting point.

In this case I'm using a chocolate that is 40% fat and has a molding suitability of 2,5 out of 5.

If I well understand, fat amount is not the only thing influencing viscosity.


Edited by Choky (log)

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What actual chocolate are you using - I've never seen one that is 2.5 drops. 

 

In the production of chocolate there are other factors that influence viscosity such as lecithin (just the right amount), conching and the introduction of extra cocoa butter. At the point where you are using it - the temperature and if you add additional cocoa butter are probably the only influences you can bring to bear on the viscosity. 

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@Jim D. I am puzzled by your summer chocolate making issues. I too am making chocolates in Virginia in a home kitchen with a home fridge (with glass shelves) and have thankfully not experienced the issues you are having with unmolding. I shall share my process in the hopes that it may help you with your troubleshooting.

 

It is not clear to me if you run your AC all summer or just while chocolate making -- I run the AC all summer at 73 F. If it looks like the chocolate is not setting up quickly enough, I lower the AC anywhere from 68 to 70 F. I put the molded chocolate shells in the fridge for ~10 minutes after they have started to crystallize. I check to see if the shells have released from the mold & only remove them from the fridge if 95%, or more, of the shells have released. I do not put filled & uncapped molds in the fridge -- I let them set up (usually overnight). They set up in the kitchen or my chocolate room in the basement. After I cap / close the molds, they spend ~10 minutes in the fridge and are unmolded. The difficult to unmold chocolates go back into the fridge for another 10 minutes (repeat fridge cycle as necessary).

 

I don't think that this is the cause of your problems but I should mention that I do not airbrush my molds with colored cocoa butter -- I think this is your preferred decoration method. Most of my chocolates are unadorned. The few that I decorate are either a swipe of colored cocoa butter, colored cocoa butter splatters, or transfer sheets.

 

Wishing you the best of luck in solving your summer chocolate issues. Hopefully you don't need to purchase a commercial cooling / refrigeration system.

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8 hours ago, curls said:

@Jim D. I am puzzled by your summer chocolate making issues. I too am making chocolates in Virginia in a home kitchen with a home fridge (with glass shelves) and have thankfully not experienced the issues you are having with unmolding. I shall share my process in the hopes that it may help you with your troubleshooting.

 

It is not clear to me if you run your AC all summer or just while chocolate making -- I run the AC all summer at 73 F. If it looks like the chocolate is not setting up quickly enough, I lower the AC anywhere from 68 to 70 F. I put the molded chocolate shells in the fridge for ~10 minutes after they have started to crystallize. I check to see if the shells have released from the mold & only remove them from the fridge if 95%, or more, of the shells have released. I do not put filled & uncapped molds in the fridge -- I let them set up (usually overnight). They set up in the kitchen or my chocolate room in the basement. After I cap / close the molds, they spend ~10 minutes in the fridge and are unmolded. The difficult to unmold chocolates go back into the fridge for another 10 minutes (repeat fridge cycle as necessary).

 

I don't think that this is the cause of your problems but I should mention that I do not airbrush my molds with colored cocoa butter -- I think this is your preferred decoration method. Most of my chocolates are unadorned. The few that I decorate are either a swipe of colored cocoa butter, colored cocoa butter splatters, or transfer sheets.

 

Wishing you the best of luck in solving your summer chocolate issues. Hopefully you don't need to purchase a commercial cooling / refrigeration system.

During the summer I have the AC on most of the time but turn the temp down when I am preparing to make chocolates. As I said previously, I have the temp no higher than 70F and the relative humidity around 45%. I use the airbrush in the basement and have a window AC that I turn on when I'm doing this work, so the environment is about the same. Yes, I do decorate most of my molds. There is no question that adding colored cocoa butter adds a level of possible difficulty, but I do actually make sure the c.b. is in temper (if I heat it too much, I get the temp down, then add some EZtemper silk, and I test it every time, though I know most people don't).

 

So you try to get all the shells to release from the molds before filling them? I am impressed. I have tried that, but sometimes a shell will break, so I mostly gave up on that. Sometimes it is easy to tell that they are not stuck to the cavity wall. In general, I find that if one piece comes out of a mold satisfactorily, eventually they all will--though it may not be a pretty process.

 

All in all, we seem to follow mostly the same procedure, except that, like Kerry, I resort to the freezer for a few minutes if necessary.  As I always say, chocolate is a mystery. For example, why will one chocolate release perfectly from the mold and the one next to it will be stuck?

 

I am concluding that the issue that prompted my original post arose from some shells that would not release from the mold, and when I put them back in the fridge repeatedly, they picked up humidity, thus no shine. Here is where one of those cooling cabinets made for chocolate, which supposedly recover quickly from humidity, might have come in handy.

 

Thanks for your response and your ideas.

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