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Molded and Filled Chocolates: Troubleshooting and Techniques


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So, I spent the night reading all posts in this thread, maybe skimming a few text heavy posts. My question and what I want to talk about, might have been answered elsewhere. But due to my so-so English skills, I really don't find anything good while searching the forum. Please point my in the right direction if you know where I could find an answer.

 

I've been experimenting with getting my kitchen temperature down to 20°, which works fine, humidity is at around 40% or sometimes hitting high 30s. Which I guess should be fine - if there aren't any issues related with too low humidity that I'm not aware of. The issue I have is that multiple shells really don't contract from my mold at the moment, and I have no idea why - it's not like they're all in the same spots, they can be all over the mold. I've made two tests today with dark chocolate (Cacao Barry Extra Bitter Guayaquil - I had to google that :D). With one test I heated up the mold to around 25° before pouring chocolate in the mold, and letting it set in room temperature (20°) - around half of the 21 shells contracted from the mold. With the other test I begun with the same process, but I let the chocolate set in my chocolate fridge at 16°. In this case, only 6 of the shells have contracted as they've cooled down.

 

What do you think? I must also say that earlier I just haven't cared about the temperature in the room. It have been at around 22-23°. Can it be that I don't agitate the chocolate enough while tempering it on my counter top? That it cools down much faster with less movement, due to the lower temperature? Should I don't bother with heating the molds? I'm thinking that maybe the chocolate I'm using also have done all the heavy lifting it can do - it's a 5 kg bag I've used for a while and re-tempered many times. Maybe a few too many? People usually state that chocolate can be re-tempered "forever" (okay, I might be reaching,) but maybe there is a limit after all?

 

Well, I'm going to try some more tomorrow without heating up the mold. Just to see if I get a different result. If I still have problems, I think it's time to open a new bag of chocolate.

 

You may ask why I even do this when it worked earlier? Well, I just want to try other things I guess - also since people say that 20° is the temperature to work at. 😁

 

 

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2 hours ago, Rajala said:

So, I spent the night reading all posts in this thread, maybe skimming a few text heavy posts. My question and what I want to talk about, might have been answered elsewhere. But due to my so-so English skills, I really don't find anything good while searching the forum. Please point my in the right direction if you know where I could find an answer.

 

I've been experimenting with getting my kitchen temperature down to 20°, which works fine, humidity is at around 40% or sometimes hitting high 30s. Which I guess should be fine - if there aren't any issues related with too low humidity that I'm not aware of. The issue I have is that multiple shells really don't contract from my mold at the moment, and I have no idea why - it's not like they're all in the same spots, they can be all over the mold. I've made two tests today with dark chocolate (Cacao Barry Extra Bitter Guayaquil - I had to google that :D). With one test I heated up the mold to around 25° before pouring chocolate in the mold, and letting it set in room temperature (20°) - around half of the 21 shells contracted from the mold. With the other test I begun with the same process, but I let the chocolate set in my chocolate fridge at 16°. In this case, only 6 of the shells have contracted as they've cooled down.

 

What do you think? I must also say that earlier I just haven't cared about the temperature in the room. It have been at around 22-23°. Can it be that I don't agitate the chocolate enough while tempering it on my counter top? That it cools down much faster with less movement, due to the lower temperature? Should I don't bother with heating the molds? I'm thinking that maybe the chocolate I'm using also have done all the heavy lifting it can do - it's a 5 kg bag I've used for a while and re-tempered many times. Maybe a few too many? People usually state that chocolate can be re-tempered "forever" (okay, I might be reaching,) but maybe there is a limit after all?

 

Well, I'm going to try some more tomorrow without heating up the mold. Just to see if I get a different result. If I still have problems, I think it's time to open a new bag of chocolate.

 

You may ask why I even do this when it worked earlier? Well, I just want to try other things I guess - also since people say that 20° is the temperature to work at. 😁

 

 

 

I had a similar issue today with some cavities releasing the chocolates without any coaxing at all, others took banging on the counter, still others took time in the freezer.  I also find this very frustrating because there seems to be no logical explanation.  For what it's worth, my space was 20C, the molds were room temp, I don't heat the molds (I have tried it for caramels that tend to leak, but it seems to make no difference).  All molds had been painted then sprayed with colored cocoa butter--all done at the same temp, same place, more or less same time.  I don't think there is any limit to how often you can temper the same chocolate since I don't think Type V crystals know how old they are.  I have not encountered an expert who said chocolate could be too old (as far as tempering it goes--taste might be another matter).

 

The good news was that every single chocolate eventually came out of the molds in question, with only one damaged with cocoa butter left behind in the mold.  Obviously they are not contracting properly.  But with some other molds every piece fell out immediately or with slight coaxing.  All had been done on the same day, same chocolate, etc.

 

In desperation, I'm now looking at two additional factors.  So could you first tell me what molds you were using?  The mold that gave me the most trouble today was CW 1433 (15g dome).

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3 hours ago, Rajala said:

So, I spent the night reading all posts in this thread, maybe skimming a few text heavy posts. My question and what I want to talk about, might have been answered elsewhere. But due to my so-so English skills, I really don't find anything good while searching the forum. Please point my in the right direction if you know where I could find an answer.

 

I've been experimenting with getting my kitchen temperature down to 20°, which works fine, humidity is at around 40% or sometimes hitting high 30s. Which I guess should be fine - if there aren't any issues related with too low humidity that I'm not aware of. The issue I have is that multiple shells really don't contract from my mold at the moment, and I have no idea why - it's not like they're all in the same spots, they can be all over the mold. I've made two tests today with dark chocolate (Cacao Barry Extra Bitter Guayaquil - I had to google that :D). With one test I heated up the mold to around 25° before pouring chocolate in the mold, and letting it set in room temperature (20°) - around half of the 21 shells contracted from the mold. With the other test I begun with the same process, but I let the chocolate set in my chocolate fridge at 16°. In this case, only 6 of the shells have contracted as they've cooled down.

 

What do you think? I must also say that earlier I just haven't cared about the temperature in the room. It have been at around 22-23°. Can it be that I don't agitate the chocolate enough while tempering it on my counter top? That it cools down much faster with less movement, due to the lower temperature? Should I don't bother with heating the molds? I'm thinking that maybe the chocolate I'm using also have done all the heavy lifting it can do - it's a 5 kg bag I've used for a while and re-tempered many times. Maybe a few too many? People usually state that chocolate can be re-tempered "forever" (okay, I might be reaching,) but maybe there is a limit after all?

 

Well, I'm going to try some more tomorrow without heating up the mold. Just to see if I get a different result. If I still have problems, I think it's time to open a new bag of chocolate.

 

You may ask why I even do this when it worked earlier? Well, I just want to try other things I guess - also since people say that 20° is the temperature to work at. 😁

 

 

 

Among the top reasons why shells won't contract are:  not properly tempered chocolate and a shell too thin. If you heat your mold before pouring chocolate in it, you may end up with that problem depending on the fluidity of your chocolate. (I work in a room at 18C and I never heat my mold before ''shelling'')

 

It's important to let your shells crystallize a little bit  at room temp before placing them in a cold place. As soon as the chocolate start setting (normally it should take like 2 mins, if it's taking more than that, maybe your chocolate is not well tempered enough) you can place it in a colder place to help the shells contract. Your chocolate fridge at 16C is perfect. 

 

For your next batch, before pouring your chocolate in the mold, make sure your chocolate is properly tempered by dipping a piece of parchment paper in it, place it on the marble countertop and let it set at room temp. If it takes more than 2 mins to set and doesn't have that nice velvet shine, you gotta re-temper, otherwise you will waste your time afterwards with shells that wont come out of the molds.

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4 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

I had a similar issue today with some cavities releasing the chocolates without any coaxing at all, others took banging on the counter, still others took time in the freezer.  I also find this very frustrating because there seems to be no logical explanation.  For what it's worth, my space was 20C, the molds were room temp, I don't heat the molds (I have tried it for caramels that tend to leak, but it seems to make no difference).  All molds had been painted then sprayed with colored cocoa butter--all done at the same temp, same place, more or less same time.  I don't think there is any limit to how often you can temper the same chocolate since I don't think Type V crystals know how old they are.  I have not encountered an expert who said chocolate could be too old (as far as tempering it goes--taste might be another matter).

 

The good news was that every single chocolate eventually came out of the molds in question, with only one damaged with cocoa butter left behind in the mold.  Obviously they are not contracting properly.  But with some other molds every piece fell out immediately or with slight coaxing.  All had been done on the same day, same chocolate, etc.

 

In desperation, I'm now looking at two additional factors.  So could you first tell me what molds you were using?  The mold that gave me the most trouble today was CW 1433 (15g dome).

 

Strange this. But as @Muscadelle is writing, it's probably not tempered well enough. But if it isn't, how come some of them contract? Is it that I need to keep it at the end temperature for a bit longer to ensure that most crystals have melted away?

 

I'm using CW1217 - 30 mm diameter hemispheres. The most simple mold of them all? Well with that said, I'm going to try again today in an hour or two when my brain has awoken. This time without heating the molds. Just to see if there's a difference. The reason I'm trying to heating the molds is just to play around, see if there will be less marks on them. Greweling is writing about "uneven cooling spots," and that unheated molds can cause that.

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I suppose that at this stage you know how to temper chocolate and check if it is tempered or not.
If you are making multiple molds then the answer could be this: you did not stir the bowl after emptying the excess chocolate from the previous molds. After pouring chocolate in the mold it starts crystallizing quicker than when it's in the bowl, mainly due to the drop in temperature becoming in contact with the mold. Then you let it rest for a bit of time before emptying the excess, so it crystallizes even further. Result: the excess chocolate that gets poured back in the bowl has many more crystals than the chocolate that was left in the bowl. If you don't stir it, then with your next ladle you risk picking a part of chocolate that has few crystals (the one that was always left in the bowl) and a part of chocolate that has lots of crystals (the excess that went back in the bowl). Some cavities will be filled with the one with few crystals, these will contract normally; others will be filled with chocolate with lots of crystals, these will not contract much.
The volume contraction is given by the crystallization: the more cocoa butter changes from non-crystallized to crystallized, the more contraction. If you start with chocolate with lots of crystals, then the contraction will be really small.
The one in your last photo has 2 different stages: shiny chocolate (the one which was always in the bowl) that contracted, non-shiny (the one that fell as excess) that contracted really few.
Solution: stir the chocolate in the bowl (just a couple rounds) before each time you pick up a ladle.

 

 


Teo

 

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Teo

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1 hour ago, teonzo said:

I suppose that at this stage you know how to temper chocolate and check if it is tempered or not.
If you are making multiple molds then the answer could be this: you did not stir the bowl after emptying the excess chocolate from the previous molds. After pouring chocolate in the mold it starts crystallizing quicker than when it's in the bowl, mainly due to the drop in temperature becoming in contact with the mold. Then you let it rest for a bit of time before emptying the excess, so it crystallizes even further. Result: the excess chocolate that gets poured back in the bowl has many more crystals than the chocolate that was left in the bowl. If you don't stir it, then with your next ladle you risk picking a part of chocolate that has few crystals (the one that was always left in the bowl) and a part of chocolate that has lots of crystals (the excess that went back in the bowl). Some cavities will be filled with the one with few crystals, these will contract normally; others will be filled with chocolate with lots of crystals, these will not contract much.
The volume contraction is given by the crystallization: the more cocoa butter changes from non-crystallized to crystallized, the more contraction. If you start with chocolate with lots of crystals, then the contraction will be really small.
The one in your last photo has 2 different stages: shiny chocolate (the one which was always in the bowl) that contracted, non-shiny (the one that fell as excess) that contracted really few.
Solution: stir the chocolate in the bowl (just a couple rounds) before each time you pick up a ladle.

 

 


Teo

 


Thanks Teo. I usually never check my chocolate, so I'm thinking that it's not tempered properly now. As I wrote, it's much colder than normal, so maybe I'm off with the temper for some reason here. I just made a new test and went down to 27,5° with my dark chocolate - with much better result. Still 5 of the shells didn't contract successfully. I wish I could figure out why certain shells behave like this. I'm only doing one mold right now, testing things out.

 

What do you guys think about this? That little streak below the spot reflection. It's not a reflection but some kind of mark on the shell. Dirty mold? Something else?

 

image.png.4959625613d2d0f31d5a386dd0c4057b.png

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@Rajala, I am more puzzled by the fact that you were using a hemisphere.  My followup post to my previous one was going to be that I have trouble with domes, almost never with any other shape.  But I mean domes, not hemispheres.  I was going to say that I almost never have trouble with hemispheres falling out of the mold without an issue; in fact, any "flattened round" cavity does not often give me trouble (such as the ones called quenelles, the cocoa pods, the flattened domes).  Nor do molds with some design to them (ones I call "grooved domes," the CW pyramids, squares with designs--all give no problems).  There was a thread on eG some years ago from @lebowits discussing his problems with shelling domes, but I don't recall there was ever a definitive answer.  Since I do all the things mentioned above in this thread (stirring the pot between shellings, testing the chocolate, etc.), I'm wondering if geometry plays a role as well.  But then I know many chocolatiers use nothing but domes.

 

My other idea about the cause is overtempering.  In a recent thread, someone was saying his/her chocolate (in a Chocovision machine) got overtempered quickly.  That person has not replied to my response, but I was going to ask how to know so definitively.  One can tell from the "feel" of the chocolate that it's getting too viscous, and the chocolate in the molds changes its look more quickly, but aside from a temper testing machine, I don't know how to judge.  I read somewhere (probably eG) that overtempered chocolate does not release well from molds.  I don't know if that is true, but it might be a clue.

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6 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

I read somewhere (probably eG) that overtempered chocolate does not release well from molds.  I don't know if that is true, but it might be a clue.

 

I think it is so that the over tempered chocolate contracts before it hits the mold. And if the chocolate don't contract... We know the story. :)

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1 hour ago, Rajala said:


Thanks Teo. I usually never check my chocolate, so I'm thinking that it's not tempered properly now. As I wrote, it's much colder than normal, so maybe I'm off with the temper for some reason here. I just made a new test and went down to 27,5° with my dark chocolate - with much better result. Still 5 of the shells didn't contract successfully. I wish I could figure out why certain shells behave like this. I'm only doing one mold right now, testing things out.

 

What do you guys think about this? That little streak below the spot reflection. It's not a reflection but some kind of mark on the shell. Dirty mold? Something else?

 

image.png.4959625613d2d0f31d5a386dd0c4057b.png

 

 

That chocolate indeed seems well tempered. I always work with half-sphere too. That spot looks like a release mark, and it's very tiny. I feel like @teonzo might have pinpointed a very probable cause. Either that or your cooling process may not be fast enough. When I put my mold in my chocolate fridge, I lower the temp of the fridge by1 or 2 degrees so that the cooling system kicks in and there's a nice cool air flow that helps the chocolate contract quickly.

 

Next time, watch your shells contract from the molds: If you see a tiny spot that sticks, you can be pretty sure it will leave a mark, and it's due to the contraction of the chocolate, not the cleanliness of your molds.

 

 

That's all I have! Keep us posted on your results :)

l5oQy+k3RzS+a5Vquls0vw.jpg

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Is there anything one can do about the contraction marks? Or or do I have to live with it? A chef once told me; "a cake always have a front and a behind." - I guess you can apply that to bonbons as well then? :)

 

I'll try your suggestion. I'll lower it to 14° when I put them in the fridge next time. I'm gonna do a new test soon. This time going down to 27,5° and heating the molds to around 25-26° just as a test.

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One comment - change one thing at a time as you work to sort this issue. If you change a bunch of things - you'll never discover what the problem is/was!

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4 minutes ago, Rajala said:

Is there anything one can do about the contraction marks? Or or do I have to live with it? A chef once told me; "a cake always have a front and a behind." - I guess you can apply that to bonbons as well then? :)

 

I'll try your suggestion. I'll lower it to 14° when I put them in the fridge next time. I'm gonna do a new test soon. This time going down to 27,5° and heating the molds to around 25-26° just as a test.

I don't know, they do keep happening to me from time to time, but maybe I'll try like really mixing the chocolate between each molds, I've been given them a few swirls but maybe it will help to be more careful. Also, sometimes it's due to my shells being too thin and they can't contract enough to release from the mold entirely, leaving a mark.

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1 minute ago, Kerry Beal said:

One comment - change one thing at a time as you work to sort this issue. If you change a bunch of things - you'll never discover what the problem is/was!

 

Haha, good idea. I always try to rush things. And I would believe you would tell me "you can't rush chocolate"? :P

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12 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

I had a similar issue today with some cavities releasing the chocolates without any coaxing at all, others took banging on the counter, still others took time in the freezer.  I also find this very frustrating because there seems to be no logical explanation.  For what it's worth, my space was 20C, the molds were room temp, I don't heat the molds (I have tried it for caramels that tend to leak, but it seems to make no difference).  All molds had been painted then sprayed with colored cocoa butter--all done at the same temp, same place, more or less same time.  I don't think there is any limit to how often you can temper the same chocolate since I don't think Type V crystals know how old they are.  I have not encountered an expert who said chocolate could be too old (as far as tempering it goes--taste might be another matter).

 

The good news was that every single chocolate eventually came out of the molds in question, with only one damaged with cocoa butter left behind in the mold.  Obviously they are not contracting properly.  But with some other molds every piece fell out immediately or with slight coaxing.  All had been done on the same day, same chocolate, etc.

 

In desperation, I'm now looking at two additional factors.  So could you first tell me what molds you were using?  The mold that gave me the most trouble today was CW 1433 (15g dome).

Jim - those deep dome molds are terrible for requiring coaxing of various sorts to get them out. I think it's suction created by the particular shape. I once made the mistake of using a couple at a demo for the Luxury Chocolate show in Toronto - there I was with no freezer and a few hundred people in front of me - whacking the molds on the table repeatedly. Not great when you are mic'd. 

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3 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

Jim - those deep dome molds are terrible for requiring coaxing of various sorts to get them out. I think it's suction created by the particular shape. I once made the mistake of using a couple at a demo for the Luxury Chocolate show in Toronto - there I was with no freezer and a few hundred people in front of me - whacking the molds on the table repeatedly. Not great when you are mic'd. 

 

I remember that story vividly; I'll bet that mic picked up some choice language.  In fact, I often think of the incident when I am banging molds on the counter (thankfully I'm not doing this at a show!--and thankfully polycarbonate and granite both withstand great abuse).  I think it was you who recommended the domes that are a little more flattened out, such as CW 2207:

 

Chocolate mould sphere

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12 hours ago, Muscadelle said:

 

Among the top reasons why shells won't contract are:  not properly tempered chocolate and a shell too thin. If you heat your mold before pouring chocolate in it, you may end up with that problem depending on the fluidity of your chocolate. (I work in a room at 18C and I never heat my mold before ''shelling'')

 

It's important to let your shells crystallize a little bit  at room temp before placing them in a cold place. As soon as the chocolate start setting (normally it should take like 2 mins, if it's taking more than that, maybe your chocolate is not well tempered enough) you can place it in a colder place to help the shells contract. Your chocolate fridge at 16C is perfect. 

 

For your next batch, before pouring your chocolate in the mold, make sure your chocolate is properly tempered by dipping a piece of parchment paper in it, place it on the marble countertop and let it set at room temp. If it takes more than 2 mins to set and doesn't have that nice velvet shine, you gotta re-temper, otherwise you will waste your time afterwards with shells that wont come out of the molds.

I haven't found that using a set number of minutes is necessarily helpful. Milk and white choclate often don't show signs of setting until much longer than 2 minutes even if in perfect temper. Chocolate freshly tempered will take longer to start setting up than chocolate that has been in temper for a while. That being said - if I see no signs of my chocolate starting to set around the edges in 10 minutes then I'm pretty damn sure I'm not in temper. 

 

I agree that letting your molds sit at room temperature until you see signs of them starting to set around the edges before bunging them in your cooler is wise. It's the whole latent heat of crystallization thing - when chocolate is rapidly crystallizing (particularly if it is in good temper) - it gives off heat - “the latent heat of crystallization”. It can get warm enough to throw itself out of temper. So once you have molded your item, made your shell etc - wait until you see it starting to lose shine and become glossy around the edges - that is the time of most rapid crystallization and the time to pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes or so to carry off that latent heat. A fridge with wire shelves that gives good air circulation all around the mold is ideal. With clear molds - I leave it in until I see the chocolate starting to separate from the mold. (please forgive my repetition here - I have this whole spiel about latent heat on my computer in 'notes' and I probably send it out once a week to someone who asked me on my website why they are having problems). 

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32 minutes ago, Rajala said:

Is there anything one can do about the contraction marks? Or or do I have to live with it? A chef once told me; "a cake always have a front and a behind." - I guess you can apply that to bonbons as well then? :)

 

I'll try your suggestion. I'll lower it to 14° when I put them in the fridge next time. I'm gonna do a new test soon. This time going down to 27,5° and heating the molds to around 25-26° just as a test.

You can buff with a badger hair brush (I use a japanese varnish brush from Lee Valley) - but then your entire surface will be matte.

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10 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

 

I remember that story vividly; I'll bet that mic picked up some choice language.  In fact, I often think of the incident when I am banging molds on the counter (thankfully I'm not doing this at a show!--and thankfully polycarbonate and granite both withstand great abuse).  I think it was you who recommended the domes that are a little more flattened out, such as CW 2207:

 

Chocolate mould sphere

It might have been. I would be interesting to see if the molds that Suzanna Yoon is using are the easier ones. Even the two that CW makes that are the same shape - one is a few grams less than the other seem to release differently. 

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On 11/29/2020 at 10:45 AM, Kerry Beal said:

Jim - those deep dome molds are terrible for requiring coaxing of various sorts to get them out. I think it's suction created by the particular shape. 

 

I just remembered that @gfron1 uses domes that look deep (I don't know the weight).  Perhaps he could weigh in on any unmolding difficulties he has had with them.  I think @pastrygirl uses them as well.

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5 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

I just remembered that @gfron1 uses domes that look deep (I don't know the weight).  Perhaps he could weigh in on any unmolding difficulties he has had with them.  I think @pastrygirl uses them as well.

 

I use CW2295, 29 mm diameter 21 mm deep. I don't think of them as particularly problematic ... I love how easy to polish they are and haven't had anything too stubborn lately.

 

750E4CAF-0021-47FD-BED8-C7C8DD12B6AE.thumb.jpg.cad8c7b5641d77c6c2ecd2a4f49ce297.jpg

Edited by pastrygirl
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1 minute ago, pastrygirl said:

 

I use CW2295, 29 mm diameter 21 mm deep. I don't think of them as particularly problematic ... I love how easy to polish they are and haven't had anything too stubborn lately.


Same mold I use and, with full knowledge that the chocolate gods are going to punish me severely for saying this, I've never had a problem with unmolding.

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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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