Hi, I am looking for help with inclusions. I am trying to increase our bar production and looking at using automatic tempering machines that use dosing heads, but this changes how we will work with the inclusions. I currently mix inclusions in, which works for hand scraping the molds, but will not work with most dosing heads (at least not for nuts and some of my larger inclusions). I am looking at a machine that can handle inclusions up to 10mm, but I wonder if we will run into problems with this. I use things like coconut, nibs, almonds (that I would like to keep larger), toffee pieces, and raspberries. I am also aware that my shelf life will change if I sprinkle inclusions on top. I would love to know what different methods companies use to add inclusions in order to keep consistent weight per bar, a consistent amount per mold, and also not too time consuming? If I sprinkle the nuts on top, for instance, would I change my dosed amount of chocolate to make up for the added weight? And do companies actually weigh out a specific amount per bar/ mold or just eye it?
It is difficult to ensure that there is an even distribution of inclusions throughout a chocolate bar without spending a fair amount of money on equipment specifically for this purpose. Most equipment made for smaller makers is not designed to handle inclusions well or at all.
Auger-based continuous tempering machines from companies like Selmi, Gami, and FBM can only handle inclusions up to about 3mm in diameter at no more than about 10:90 ratio inclusions to chocolate. Their design makes it impossible to use a dosing plate because the plate openings are too small.
If you want to use larger pieces you need a custom machine — Egan Food Tech here in the US makes them. (Let me know if you need a referral.) The tempering machine is outboard and there is a mixing step for the chocolate and inclusions just prior to depositing.
The weight on the package needs to match the weight of the actual product within a couple of percent on the low side. You can always weigh heavy without penalty but that cuts into profits. If you are going to be sprinkling 10gr of inclusions onto a bar whose total weight is 70gr you need to dose the mold w/ 60gr of chocolate.
Big companies weigh everything because knowing exact cost is important. You can weigh ingredients before adding to the molds or you can eyeball. If you eyeball you are looking at hitting an average even though one bar might be slightly under and another slightly over. For example, you’d sprinkle 100gr of inclusion over 10 molds. On average you’d get 10gr per mold plus/minus.
As for performance with specific inclusions — send samples to the company you’re looking to purchase from and get their opinions and have those opinions designed into the machine. There are so many variables involved that it’s difficult for us to give you much more than general observations.
From experience I can tell you that the more uniform the sizes of the pieces, the easier it will be.