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Chocolate Melter/Holder


Stephanie Wallace
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I have no difficulty tempering chocolate, but I do have a hard time keeping it at optimal dipping temperature for long periods of time. Can I buy a temperature-controlled melter, into which I can pour my tempered chocolate, for significantly less than I can buy a home tempering machine? If so, what model should I look for?

Thanks,

Jonathan

Formerly known as "Melange"

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I have no difficulty tempering chocolate, but I do have a hard time keeping it at optimal dipping temperature for long periods of time. Can I buy a temperature-controlled melter, into which I can pour my tempered chocolate, for significantly less than I can buy a home tempering machine? If so, what model should I look for?

Thanks,

Jonathan

A mol d'art melter can be had in 3 sizes 3 kg, 6 kg and 12 kg. Prices are about $450 for 3 kg to about $829 for the 12 kg. I have the 6 kg size. You can actually temper in it by seeding. Given the big open surface area the chocolate does tend to thicken considerably over time.

I tested out a food warmer called a Grande Chef CW11. It is made by a company in Orangeville, Ontario. It costs around $300 CDN as I recall. It was no good for tempering, because if you tried to adjust the temperature it would turn itself off, but it could hold the same low temperature forever. It would made a great unit to hold your chocolate at the working temperature for a long period. Again the chocolate does thicken over time. I can't find an internet link to the company but they can be reached at (519) 942-4470.

I just keep my tempered chocolate in an pyrex 8 cup measure and I use my heat gun to bring the temperature of my chocolate up to the working temperature as it cools, or I add untempered warm chocolate to bring the temperature up if I need more tempered chocolate. The cooler tempered chocolate tempers the untempered warmer chocolate.

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Kerry

I have a Chocovision X tempering machine, the chocolate tends to thicken over several hours. According to your post, you said this is a function of the surface area? I have used other machines that have a large surface area like the mol d'art and this was never a problem.

Mark

Mark

www.roseconfections.com

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Kerry

I have a Chocovision X tempering machine, the chocolate tends to thicken over several hours. According to your post, you said this is a function of the surface area? I have used other machines that have a large surface area like the mol d'art and this was never a problem.

Mark

Mark,

I guess I have made the assumption that it is related to surface area because the chocolate seems to thicken more quickly in the mol d'art compared to anything else I have used and it has the largest surface area. You know what they say about assuming.

Kerry

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Kerry

I have a Chocovision X tempering machine, the chocolate tends to thicken over several hours. According to your post, you said this is a function of the surface area? I have used other machines that have a large surface area like the mol d'art and this was never a problem.

Mark

it could be if the ambient room temperature is very cool. but i think overall it is a function of what crystalline formation you have in your chocolate. it might just be at the right point where all the crystals just go nuts and congeal!

i use the heating pad in a bowl method and it isn't ideal either. i think one of the keys is to stir pretty frequently while dipping in order to bring some of the warmer chocolate which is nearer to the heat source up to the surface. stirring is good for chocolate!

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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My understanding (which may be flawed) is that the temp at which we are working with the choc is the temp at which it is going to start setting up, which makes it normal that the 'source' choc can't be kept liquid and in perfect temper over long periods of time. Some method wuch as the heating pad in a bowl or the heat gun and stirring is therefore a necessity, not an abnormality, to keeping the source chocolate liquid.

I also use a mol d'art 6kg and must occasionally use a heat gun in addition, and I use a Little Dipper (at about twice the price) which must be 'added to' (choc) and re-tempered throughout the day. Neither is the solution, so I guess what I am saying is that there is no 'smallish' machine to my knowledge which will do what you want.

Hope this helps.

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the primary reasons for thickening of chocolate are threefold

1) temperature

2) crystalline formation

3) moisture

if you're temperature is too cold, obviously things will begin to firm up. However, most of us can rather quickly rule that out, and for the seasoned worker, that's likely not the issue. The more likely culprit is that since most of these 'temperers' (weather or not they're actual temperers or just controlled melters) have rotating bowls, there's a good bit of shear and agitation at the interface of the chocolate and the bowl - this is one of the drivers to create addtional solid crystals out of the fluid cocoa butter. as you increase the ratio of solid crystals to fluid butter, your surface area increases and you've less cocoa butter to keep things fluid. viola, viscosity increases. many large scale tempering units (talking industrial here) use both temperature control and agitation of one sort or another in their tempering profiles.

Moisture usually isn't the biggest driver (moisture as in high RH environments), as most of you are working with small batches. However, if you've got a piece of equipment that has a relative large top surface area exposed to the air (ie, very shallow bowl, but very wide) AND your RH is high (70% +), you likely will see viscosity increases over relatively short periods of time. Of course, if you're getting fluid moisture in there (water leak, spill, etc) you're going to see the chocolate thicken very, very quickly.

if you've ruled out temp and moisture, and you're seeing the chocolate thicken over time, simply heat it up a bit. it's a bit of an art to know how much to heat it - you don't want to break your temper compltely, but if you're in what's called an 'overseeded' state (ie too many see crystals present), you do have the ability to heat it higher than what you normally would think appropriate, and still have tempered chocolate. The trick is to know just how far you can push it..

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I use this chocolate melter

M1003.jpg

which is available for Euro 582.54 from Chocolate World.

It is basically a hot air bain marie with a standard 150mm deep gastronorm dish that holds 21kg (actually more like 15kg). Provided that you keep at least 6kg in the bottom it holds chocolate at a constant temperature for many hours.

Chocolate will thicken if it is not worked (or stirred). It will also thicken if it is stirred! Agitation encourages crystal formation.

Additionally, chocolate absorbs moisture from the air and thus thickens over time. The lower the humidity in your chocolate room the better.

I used to find that to be able to work with the same chocolate for six hours plus I need to either add untempered chocolate (preferably at 31 degrees celsius) from time to time, and/or also to increase the working temperature over time from an initial 31 degrees up to a maximum of 34.5 degrees. Incemements of half a degree are usually enough.

I have now found a useful trick that has almost negated these adjustments. I sandwich a heat pad between two thin stainless steel sheets and clamp these beside the chocolate melting/holding tank at a slight decline so that their lowest edge is just over the side of the chocolate tank. I use the heated sheet to wipe excess chocolate off my dipping fork (instead of using the side of the tank/bowl). The advantage of these heated sheets is that they collect and warm up (to about 36 degrees celsius) just enough chocolate to roll back into your tank to compensate for the increased crystalisation caused by the working of the chocolate.

The very latest refinement has been to use a VIBRATING heat pad. Now I no longer add additional cocoa butter to my couverture to achieve a really thin coating. Saving some money.

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escry, if it isn't too much of an imposition, can you post a picture of your set-up? i'm certainly not in the market for a melter/holder at the moment as the cost is prohibitive, but i'd love to see what your creativity has come up with.

for dipping, i set up my bowl with a wire wrapped around the outer rim. i made two loops in the wire on opposite sides of the bowl. then i take another piece of wire and thread it through the loops. that way, i tap and scrape the bottom of my chocolate on the wire as opposed to the edge of the bowl. there's a lot less buildup on the wire and 99% of the chocolate just falls back down into the bowl.

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Alanamoana, great idea. I have neither the space nor the money to invest in an enrober at the moment, so necessity is being the mother of invention.

My set up is similar to a Heath Robinson invention

torto2.gif

Allow me a couple of weeks and I'll share my latest version. It's going to a local stainless steel fabricator next week.

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escry,  if it isn't too much of an imposition, can you post a picture of your set-up?  i'm certainly not in the market for a melter/holder at the moment as the cost is prohibitive, but i'd love to see what your creativity has come up with.

for dipping, i set up my bowl with a wire wrapped around the outer rim.  i made two loops in the wire on opposite sides of the bowl.  then i take another piece of wire and thread it through the loops.  that way, i tap and scrape the bottom of my chocolate on the wire as opposed to the edge of the bowl.  there's a lot less buildup on the wire and 99% of the chocolate just falls back down into the bowl.

I second the request for a picture. I would also like to see a picture of your wire set up. When I used to use metal bowls I was able to use the wire pieces that are used to hold IV bags to the poles as a scraper. With my current setup I can't and would like to see how you have rigged it.

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I use a mol d'art and do not have problems keeping my chocolate in temper for long periods as long as I keep an eye on it. This means agitating it frequently as well as hitting it with a heat gun every now and then. I've only had it over-crystallize on me if I do not agitate it often enough.

Like alanamoana I do not use the edge of the bowl to scrape when dipping. I simply use a bent wire hanger that "clips" on the middle of the bowl. Works great.

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  • 3 years later...

Hello everyone :)

Has anyone heard of or had experience with KeyChoc Melting/Holding Tanks? It would be easier for me to get that a Mol d'art but if it is no good then Ill wait

Thanks

They look good - the small one looks like the opening might be a bit small for pouring molds. They are certainly more reasonably priced than the Mol d'art.

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Thanks for your reply Kerry :smile: , Im thinking of getting the 8k. It would work out cheaper than the Mol d'art as Id save on customs and postage but I dont want to get it if its unreliable etc, I googled it but there isn't much info on it.

Will the company give you some references of people who have bought them?

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Hadnt thought to ask. I sent them an email requesting information about the weight etc (hoping to con a friend into bringing it when she comes to visit )and am waiting for a reply. They sound like a solid/good company as they have been in business for nearly 40 years and have been appointed as the long term ‘Official Machinery Partner’ of the Barry Callebaut UK Chocolate Academy.

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Hadnt thought to ask. I sent them an email requesting information about the weight etc (hoping to con a friend into bringing it when she comes to visit )and am waiting for a reply. They sound like a solid/good company as they have been in business for nearly 40 years and have been appointed as the long term ‘Official Machinery Partner’ of the Barry Callebaut UK Chocolate Academy.

A phone call to the Academy would probably give you your answer then if you talked to the right person.

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I've got a few "quibbles" with the Mol d'art, most of which have to do with design, the actual performance is good.

1) The "on/off" button is AT THE BACK OF THE MACHINE. This is a rocker switch and can be accidently switched off. The thermostat dial is at the front as is the thermostat light, thus if the machine is up against a wall and is accidentaly turned off, you have no way of knowing other than to quickly raise the thermostat knob to see if the light comes on, or to move the machine bck and havbe a peek at the behind. Why they can't have the on/off switch at the front, or combined with the thermostat is beyond my comprehension.

2) The material of the machine is made of plastic, polystyrine, I think, and is screwed on to the base. No matter how gentle you are, you will develop stress cracks in the housing, especially around the screws and in the inside corners of the cavity. I guess this doesn't make a big difference in the performance of the machine, but when you fork out $800 and the thing deveops cracks after 6 mths, it kinda ticks you off a bit.

3) The machine is European, which is good, but the Europeans use "euro-norm" hotel pans, and the N.Americans use "gastro-norm". The differences are slight, with Euro-norm have more radiused corners, but Gastro-norm will not fitin these machines. Most people like to keep several hotel pans of couveture warm and untempered, and then have one pan of, say, white, work with it, then, and you drop in a new pan of hot, untempered milk, temper it off, work with it, then go on to dark. To order additonal pans from the Mnfctr is quite expensive, and the N.American ones won't fit, and you only get blank stares when you want to order Euro-norm pans from a local restaurant supplier.

As I stated above, the quibbles about "Mol d'art" melters only deal with design, the performance is quite good. Still, it's a lot of money for a melter and these issues should be dealt with by the Mnfctr.

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I have 3 Mol d'art melters, purchased several years ago, and have had none of the problems you specify.

1) No rocker switch on mine, just the thermostat dial; so, there's no chance of accidentally turning it off.

2) I appreciate the light weight easy to clean construction - even though it's plastic, there have been no stress fractures after several years of use

3) When I purchased the melters, I assumed I'd want extra pans to swap out so I got extra ones at the time of purchase. Definitely pays to plan ahead in this regard.

YMMV

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Has anyone tried induction cooking as a method for either tempering chocolate or keeping tempered chocolate warm?

I doubt you'd have enough fineness of control for tempering or keeping chocolate in temper.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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  • 4 months later...

I've got a few "quibbles" with the Mol d'art, most of which have to do with design, the actual performance is good.

1) The "on/off" button is AT THE BACK OF THE MACHINE. This is a rocker switch and can be accidently switched off. The thermostat dial is at the front as is the thermostat light, thus if the machine is up against a wall and is accidentaly turned off, you have no way of knowing other than to quickly raise the thermostat knob to see if the light comes on, or to move the machine bck and havbe a peek at the behind. Why they can't have the on/off switch at the front, or combined with the thermostat is beyond my comprehension.

2) The material of the machine is made of plastic, polystyrine, I think, and is screwed on to the base. No matter how gentle you are, you will develop stress cracks in the housing, especially around the screws and in the inside corners of the cavity. I guess this doesn't make a big difference in the performance of the machine, but when you fork out $800 and the thing deveops cracks after 6 mths, it kinda ticks you off a bit.

3) The machine is European, which is good, but the Europeans use "euro-norm" hotel pans, and the N.Americans use "gastro-norm". The differences are slight, with Euro-norm have more radiused corners, but Gastro-norm will not fitin these machines. Most people like to keep several hotel pans of couveture warm and untempered, and then have one pan of, say, white, work with it, then, and you drop in a new pan of hot, untempered milk, temper it off, work with it, then go on to dark. To order additonal pans from the Mnfctr is quite expensive, and the N.American ones won't fit, and you only get blank stares when you want to order Euro-norm pans from a local restaurant supplier.

As I stated above, the quibbles about "Mol d'art" melters only deal with design, the performance is quite good. Still, it's a lot of money for a melter and these issues should be dealt with by the Mnfctr.

Hello.

I was very interested while reading your post because I manufacture chocolate machines. Thought I'd give you an insider's perspective on how the machines are actually made.

My only purpose to do this is to clarify what I see as small mis-conceptions or myths. It was why I registered in the first place :)

I do agree with the post above me that moldart machines that I have worked with also did not have any rocker switches at the back.

I'd also like to point out that, having manufactured machines myself I am aware of the intricate details and calculations that go into making a precise unit.

Your point of stress cracks developing after 6 months would be an extreme case, valid in the rare event when someone absolutely hammers the machine in the name of stirring.

I say this point blank, since atleast we offer a full 2 year warranty with the machine. Hence, unless one violates rules and opens the unit ... this isn't even a consideration.

However, I was very surprised to read that they charged close to $800 for their machines. Even after import that seems like a lot.

Anyways that's my 2 cents worth.

Good luck!

Ankur Bhargava

Development Engineer

Passionate Foodie

ankur@ipfco.com

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I've got a few "quibbles" with the Mol d'art, most of which have to do with design, the actual performance is good.

1) The "on/off" button is AT THE BACK OF THE MACHINE. This is a rocker switch and can be accidently switched off. The thermostat dial is at the front as is the thermostat light, thus if the machine is up against a wall and is accidentaly turned off, you have no way of knowing other than to quickly raise the thermostat knob to see if the light comes on, or to move the machine bck and havbe a peek at the behind. Why they can't have the on/off switch at the front, or combined with the thermostat is beyond my comprehension.

2) The material of the machine is made of plastic, polystyrine, I think, and is screwed on to the base. No matter how gentle you are, you will develop stress cracks in the housing, especially around the screws and in the inside corners of the cavity. I guess this doesn't make a big difference in the performance of the machine, but when you fork out $800 and the thing deveops cracks after 6 mths, it kinda ticks you off a bit.

3) The machine is European, which is good, but the Europeans use "euro-norm" hotel pans, and the N.Americans use "gastro-norm". The differences are slight, with Euro-norm have more radiused corners, but Gastro-norm will not fitin these machines. Most people like to keep several hotel pans of couveture warm and untempered, and then have one pan of, say, white, work with it, then, and you drop in a new pan of hot, untempered milk, temper it off, work with it, then go on to dark. To order additonal pans from the Mnfctr is quite expensive, and the N.American ones won't fit, and you only get blank stares when you want to order Euro-norm pans from a local restaurant supplier.

As I stated above, the quibbles about "Mol d'art" melters only deal with design, the performance is quite good. Still, it's a lot of money for a melter and these issues should be dealt with by the Mnfctr.

Hello.

I was very interested while reading your post because I manufacture chocolate machines. Thought I'd give you an insider's perspective on how the machines are actually made.

My only purpose to do this is to clarify what I see as small mis-conceptions or myths. It was why I registered in the first place :)

I do agree with the post above me that moldart machines that I have worked with also did not have any rocker switches at the back.

I'd also like to point out that, having manufactured machines myself I am aware of the intricate details and calculations that go into making a precise unit.

Your point of stress cracks developing after 6 months would be an extreme case, valid in the rare event when someone absolutely hammers the machine in the name of stirring.

I say this point blank, since atleast we offer a full 2 year warranty with the machine. Hence, unless one violates rules and opens the unit ... this isn't even a consideration.

However, I was very surprised to read that they charged close to $800 for their machines. Even after import that seems like a lot.

Anyways that's my 2 cents worth.

Good luck!

Ankur,

Your machines look very nice. Where does one find pricing on them?

Do you use the same european hotel pans in them that are used in the mold'arts?

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