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Molded Chocolates: Technique Questions [MERGED TOPIC]

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I am making molded bunnies for Easter and I am finding that the

necks are cracking and the head breaks away from the body. I have noticed that the neck is not as thick as the rest of the bunny. Total grams for this bunny is 200.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to rectify this? Oh yeah I didn't mention that after pouring into molds I place in the refridgerator.

Any suggestions are welcome!

Cheers

Mary - Rookie

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My first food related job was working in an ice cream parlor at around 14 years of age. The guy that owned it made a ton of molded chocolate for Easter. He never refrigerated it.

PJ

PS: If I had his molds today I could be independently wealthy.


"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I refridgerate chocolate to set it and that does NOT cause harm.

I believe the problem is in the molds design. Occasionally they don't design them well and it sounds like yours is too thin at the neck....unless your being rough unmolding? If your rapping it on the counter to loosen- when you tap it, thats when it's breaking in the mold. Have you tried being very gentle and just unmolding into your hand with no tapping on a solid surface?

Sometimes it's just better to find another mold. Even if you figure out how to be gentle releasing it, odds are it will break prematurely from this poor design.

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I'm kind of with Sinclair on this one. It might be the design of the mold. But there are ways around this. I once had to make a Christmas scene for a patisserie I worked at, and the Joseph figure always broke at the neck. The way around this is to make sure your first coating of chocolate on the mold is with a brush. Brush quite thickly around the weak spot on the mold. If you have to, do it twice, then snap together the mold and carry on (you might only need one shot of chocolate depending on the size of the mold).

There is no way around putting mold in the fridge if you are working on a large scale (also large molded figures must be refrigerated to avoid white streaks in the chocolate taking too long to set). Unless you really have twenty-four hours to spare and you are sure your room is cool enough for the chocolate to set properly, use the fridge.

(Molded figures always get refrigerated in my books. But I never, ever refrigerate molded chocolates. IMO, it's a telltale sign of an amateur)

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(Molded figures always get refrigerated in my books. But I never, ever refrigerate molded chocolates. IMO, it's a telltale sign of an amateur)

Huh?

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The trays of individual chocolates should always set at room temperature. If you put them in the fridge, you'll always end up with too thick a base.

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I just realized we couldn't refrigerate those hundreds of bunnies and eggs even if we wanted to. The only inside fridge was a lowboy. We sure could of froze them though!

The owner was a master with the chocolate. His knowledge and molds came from his father and perhaps farther back.

PJ


Edited by pjs (log)

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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Yeah, but you only refrigerate them for a few minutes. That's the idea: speed.

Ideally you let them set at room temperature, cool room temperature, around 14C. You get a better shine that way. But at Easter, who has the time to let the filled molds sit there for hours on end.

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Thanks to all who responded. Your advice is very helpful. I will give it a try.

mary

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Lesley, I was relating personal observations rather than experience or advice. :smile: I guess speed wasn't so big an issue then. This guy used to disappear into the basement around a month before Easter. My recollection of the basement was a bare lightbulb lighted place where all the refrigeration support equipment lived. Soon after, all these beautiful chocolate pieces would begin to emerge. I regret never watching him make them. BTW he always made one or two really big ones each year, without refrigeration. :wink:

Someday I'll recall how we dealt with the Great NYC Blackout. :biggrin:

PJ


"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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The trays of individual chocolates should always set at room temperature. If you put them in the fridge, you'll always end up with too thick a base.

Interesting. That never occured to me. I was taught to refrigerate, but after a bit of trial and error have been taking the molds out and letting them warm up to room temperature before doing the bottoms. It never occured to me I needn't refrigerate them at all!

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I foolishly offered to make some chocolate truffles for my sister's wedding reception. No problem there, pretty foolproof. Then, someone gave me some autumn leaf candy molds and my sister said that she'd like to have some chocolate leaves as well. Well, I've never worked with them before, and I know that I don't want to use those "chocolate" melts. You know what I'm talking about... little flavorless discs of something that some people mistake for chocolate. Blegh. How can I use real chocolate with these molds? Can anyone recommend a decent brand, as well? (Please keep in mind that we are on a budget. We have to sweeten up about 225 people.)

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If you don't want to work with confectionery coating (the disks you mention), you're going to need to temper the chocolate. Here's one description of the process. More can be found with a Google search. Make sure to get couverture to work with. The chocolate chips you get in the grocery store will just frustrate you. I like Callebaut -- it's decent quality, easy to work with, and fairly readily available. The link above is to Scharffen Berger chocolates. I've personally not used their product, but I always hear very good reports from those who have.

If tempering seems daunting, you might reconsider conf. coating. I don't advocate it for every purpose by any means, but it's far easier to work with, and there are actually some brands that taste pretty decent. Guittard is pretty good.


B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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We're tempering chocolate in class, it's not that difficult, I promise!

The main thing is to make sure you have a digital thermometer. 5 degrees difference in temp can really affect the outcome of the product. So here's what you do:

Break your chocolate (I like the callebaut 63 percent, but you can use whatever you want) up into small pieces, but don't use chocolate chips, they have all kinds of other crap in them that will make it a pain to temper. Melt about 3/4 of the chocolate over a water bath in a bowl that just fits into the pan. If the bowl is too big for the pan, the chocolate at the edges can get overheated. Heat the chocolate to 118 degrees, and stir it often. When it's at 118 degrees, take it off the heat and set it on the counter to cool to 105 degrees. It goes faster if you stir it, but I definately wouldn't put it over an ice bath or even cool water since it'll cool too fast. When it's at 105 degrees, start adding pieces of the last quarter of the chocolate. Don't add them all at once, because you might not need them all. It's really important to keep stirring the chocolate once you've added the unmelted pieces. Keep taking the temperature and adding more chocolate pieces a little at a time until the temperature is at 88 degrees. There should still be a couple of little pieces of the unmelted chocolate you added left in the melted chocolate, you can fish them out with a spoon or even leave them in if they're small enough. If you've done everything correctly and the chocolate gods are in a generous mood, your chocolate should be in temper. You can test it by putting a little blob on a cool surface (not the fridge) for a couple of minutes. It should set up and you should be able to break it and hear a snap. If not, just melt the chocolate to 118 degrees and try again.

A couple more pointers:

Make sure no water gets in the chocolate. Wipe off the bottom of the bowl once you take it off the double boiler

Make sure your molds are clean clean clean. Any little bit of goo in them might cause the chocolate to stick. And obviously, make sure they're dry.

Once you've poured your chocolate into the molds, put it into the fridge for 10-15 min, to help it contract and pull away from the molds. If it's still sticking after half an hour or so, you might want to remelt the chocolate and try again, it might not be in temper.

Good Luck! :wink:


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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I think people have been slow to respond to you here because tempering chocolate has been discussed in depth several times. I was trying to find some of the links for you – but I can see that this might be frustrating because apparently it has been a while and they seem pretty well hidden away.

First you need to think about how much time you want to commit to this chocolate leaf project and decide if you really want to make these yourself or just purchase some.

If you decide you want to make these leave and that the waxy crap is out (yayayay – good choice on that at least) you need to locate some good chocolate. Chocolate for tempering is normally referred to as couverature (its French). Couverature has a higher percentage of cocoa butter. You do not want chocolate that involves paraffin or coconut oil or any fat other than cocoa butter.

Sourcing chocolate for tempering may not be easy depending on where you are located. You should use a dark chocolate because that is the easiest to work with. As was mentioned already – Callebaut is a very functional and widely used chocolate that is also fairly available. I think that Williams Sonoma sells it – another source of good chocolate is Sur La Table. Trader Joes has several chocolates that can be tempered as does Whole Foods. Or you can look on the web.

Your mold – you have just the one? This could be a slow job – you might want to look for another one or two so that you can produce more efficiently. Make sure it is nice and clean – I like to wipe my molds gently with a cotton pad or cotton ball – but if it is new and never used you should not have to do this unless you have gotten fingerprints inside the mold cavities. If you have just the one you may need to give it a cleaning once or twice during your production (either because you misstemper and need to clean our untempered chocolate stuck in your mold – or because you may see a decrease in shine after a couple of moldings as a little cocoa butter film may accumulate). If you must wash – use hot water – soap is generally frowned upon and definitely no abrasives. Dry the mold carefully with a soft towel and give each cavity a wipe with a cotton ball – if you rub vigorously you can build up static electricity that may cause the chocolate to refuse to release without a fight.

Now its time to temper and of course there are several methods to do that – you already have one that is perfectly serviceable.

You can chop your chocolate and melt it (direct warm) in the microwave. To do this your chocolate must already be in temper – which purchased chocolate should be – and you should be pretty sure of yourself and have an accurate thermometer

1) . This is not actually tempering in the strictest sense since you are merely raising the temperature gradually without allowing it to rise above 91F. Use a plastic bowl so that you do not have heat accumulation. Typically it is a good idea to temper at least 1 pound of chocolate.

2) Wave on Hi 1 minute then check your chocolate (it will probably still be pieces that are just a bit soft – maybe a tiny bit of melt)

3) Wave some more but just 10-30 seconds at a time. Check after each waving to see the melt and sample the temp.

4) After approximately 2 minutes your chocolate should be almost all melted (not all – that would be a bad sign) with many small lumps (good sign)

5) Stir with a rubber spatula smushing lumps as you do

6) Take the temp – you want it to be 91F or lower if you come up with 93F then you need to proceed to real tempering methods

7) Test the chocolate – dip a slip of parchment, or the blade of a knife in the chocolate and set it on your counter (hopefully you will be working in a comfortably cool area – too cold will mean the chocolate sets up quickly and may make it hard for you to do your molding – too warm and the chocolate will be problematic – too humid is also bad since very moist air can also cause chocolate to take on a grayish film. The dipped paper or blade should be smooth and hardened without streaking or spots in about 1 minute. If after 1 minute you still have a blade or paper that is coated in wet chocolate then you probably are too warm and will need to proceed to real tempering.

8) Never pour chocolate into your molds unless you are absolutely certain that it is in temper – otherwise you have a lot of washing up to do and waste a lot of chocolate.

The hot water method – as described previously – that should work

This is Seeding – you ‘seed’ the melted chocolate with tempered chocolate pieces. Typically you will melt 2/3 and reserve 1/3 for seeding.

You can do this same effect by dropping a block of tempered chocolate into your bowl of melted chocolate and stirring it around until the melted chocolate has cooled sufficiently and responds appropriately to the temper test. At this point you just pull out the remainder of the block and save it for later.

Tempering using an Ice Bath or Marble

This is real honest to goodness tempering – perhaps when you have messed up or don’t have any tempered chocolate left to work with.

1) Warm your chocolate (all of it) to 120F (you can do this over hot water or in the microwave.

2) Assuming you do not have a marble or any tools – you can use an ice bath to temper your chocolate you will probably want a metal bowl for this.

3) Set the bowl of warmed chocolate into a larger bowl with some ice and just a bit of water

4) Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate

5) You will notice that the chocolate at the bottom in contact with the cold ice sets up quickly – so you want to keep that moving and incorporate it into the main body of the chocolate

6) Assuming you are working with a pound of chocolate you should cool down fairly fast

7) Lumps may be an issue – do the best you can to get rid of them

8) Test and use

9) Be very careful since you have water hazards with the ice – get that out of the way and wipe off the bowl immediately

Tabling (Tablier - if you insist on the french) – same basic theory classically achieved

1) Pour about 2/3 of the chocolate out onto your marble (I would recommend a large marble 18x24. You will also want an large offset spatula and a dough scraper or nice large clean metal paint scraper

2) Using the large offset – spread the chocolate out in a thin layer so that it approaches the edge of your marble but not so that it drips off the edges

3) Let it set for a moment then scrape it up with the scraper – cleaning regularly with your spatula

4) You will probably have to repeat the spreading and scraping procedure a couple of times – it will be obvious when the chocolate is getting to the right temperature since it will get thick and pasty

5) Scrape up your cooled chocolate and stir it into the warm chocolate smushing any lumps

6) Test for temperature (you are always looking for 91F or below – note that under 88 the chocolate will be harder to work with for molding since the fluidity is less the colder it gets – the microwave is your friend but only used sparingly – no more than a 6 second burst to be safe

Now you have to mold off all those leaves

If the leaf shapes are complex and have creases and small points you may want to use a clean soft paint brush to brush chocolate lightly into the mold so that all the surface of the cavity is coated before you pour chocolate into the mold. The reason for this is to avoid bubbles and air holes in the finished chocolates. The down side is that once you finish with the brush the chocolate will set and you have to clean and dry it before reusing. (you can set the brush in a bowl over some hot water to keep it from hardening – just make sure to squish out the chocolate on the brush with a paper towel before using it again since that chocolate will be over warmed at will cause bloom in your mold. (bad)

I am assuming that you are using one of those clear plastic molds available at many craft and candy supply shops. The difficulty in working with this type of mold is that they are not rigid like a polycarbonate mold. If you are using a real polycarbonate mold thet is great.

Pour the tempered chocolate (88-90F) into the mold cavities – at least try to keep the stream focused on filling the holes – you could use a ladel for this – but that’s just one more thing that will now be coated in hard chocolate that you have to clean later.

Tapping is generally the next step – this gets out air bubbles – tapping is hard if you are working with a plastic mold.

Next you use the clean offset or spatula to scrape off the excess chocolate back into the bowl. If you are working with the plastic you should probably leave the mold on the counter and carefully scrape the chocolate off – ideally you now have the cavities evenly filled with chocolate all smoothed off even with the surface of the mold and the mold surface just has a light smear of chocolate.

Pop the mold into the fridge for about 15 minutes then remove. The leaves should just pop right out when you invert the mold. (keep your fingers crossed)

Good luck


Edited by chefette (log)

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Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thank you all so much. That doesn't sound too bad. Luckily, I have until October to take a few trial runs at this, but I think I have enough information to get things moving. I've got six molding trays, so I think I'm in good shape there.

One last question... time frame and storage. How far ahead can I make the leaves, and how should they be stored until the big day?

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When you mold pieces part of your achievement should be a beautiful shine so you want to avoid getting your finger prints on your leaves - cotton gloves or those white polyester waiter's gloves will work. I would store the leaves flat with plastic or special candy seperator pads in between the layers, tightly wrapped and kept in a cool dry place.

You could keep a container in the fridge but that is unnecessary and subjects your chocolate to nasty odors which it readily absorbs and to moisture so I would not recommend that.

Theoretically you could do your leaves now and with careful storage they will be just fine come October - but I find that especially in the summer the chocolate takes on a film and it gets a bit funky tasting (in my humble opinion) So I would wait til closer to the event to mold up your leaves.

You will probably want to do your truffles no more than a day or two ahead so that they are at their peak - you could do your leaves a couple of weeks ahead and they will be fine. But I would definitely practice several times before October so that you start feeling more confident with tempering and molding - so that you know how much chocolate you will need - how much time it takes.

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Hi, I wanted to see what people use as their preferred method for putting the tempered chocolate into the chocolate molds.

I traditionally used a ladle and poured chocolate into the mold then used a scraper to clean off the extra chocolate. I let it sit for a little then empty the chocolate either back into my chocovision machine or onto a silpat.

I saw a picture of a chocolatier ( I think norman love on the back cover of fine cooking but I would have to check) using a squeese bottle and putting the chocolate into each individual cavity. Then empty the molds onto a silpat or back into the machine. It seems a little more tedious but could be a cleaner technique.

I always seem to get chocolate all over the place and make a mess.

Any one have any experiences to share. What do you thinkg of the using the bottle?

thanks,

Jeff

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The photo is of Christopher Elbow and it looks like he is filling the moulds with ganache with the squeeze bottle. they are already lined with white chocolate and the next pic shows him covering the bottoms of dark ganache with white chocolate. I think if one used a squeeze bottle, by the time you get to the last cavity, the first ones would have started to set up and you'd end up with some pretty thick shells.

I get chocolate all over the friggin place too. The best way to clean it off your counters is with a scraper, or if you like fire, melt it with a blowtorch and it cleans pretty easy.


Edited by choux (log)

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Choux- you are so right, love the blowtorch cleanup.

I thought I was just being a slob when it came to chocolate......

just unmolded some keylime bon bons, not technically perfect, they sure taste good. :biggrin:

I fill my chocolate coated molds with the ganache in a squueeze bottle-very clean way to add two fillings.

eg: Peanut butter & jelly, smore, choc rasp....


Edited by bripastryguy (log)

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Whenever I watch a Food Network Chocolate competition, I always think the sculptures are pretty and all, but I totally can't believe how clean thier work area is. I know that cleanliness is part of the score, but it would totally drive me crazy to have to wipe up every single drop as soon as it lands. And forget about keeping chocolate from getting all over the front of me. And smears on my face that my husband never tells me about.

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I use a ladle, this is the quickest way to get production done. You are right about a squeeze bottle taking too long, the chocolate would be set by the time you get finished. Also, the more that you do, the more ways you learn how not to make a mess. Scrapers come are very useful for this.

I do use a squeeze bottle to fill the cavities with the ganache though as it shows on the back of the Fine Cooking magazine.

Christopher Elbow

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I use disposable pastry bags to fill the cavities, I have a vision that I would have 2 or 3 spots left to fill and trying desperately to get the last drops out of the bottle! At least with a pastry bag I can get every last drop out.

Christopher, will you ever ship to Canada??

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Sorry for getting back so late to all your responses. Thanks for the help. I will continue to use the ladle scraper method and practice, practice, practice. Hopefully, I won't make a mess...

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