I recognize this may be a very basic question, I hope someone here might be able to help me out with this.
Located in Nicaragua, the room is air conditioned, so relatively climate controlled for the humid tropics
Cocoa butter was added to lubricate the melanger, not a significant amount
Making 77% dark chocolate, heated to 120F, seed at 90F, cool down to 83F, then tempered at 87.1F
Use a chocovision 3z tempering machine and like using the skimmer attachment to mold
I want to use some inclusions for different bars like ground coffee, crystalized ginger, powder maca, powder cinnamon, powder turmeric, etc. I was thinking about adding inclusions right into the tempering machine 1-3 degrees before the temper point and molding bars with the inclusions integrated (as opposed to sprinkled on the back). Would doing this damage the tempering machine? Are there other considerations? Might the temperature settings need to be adjusted to achieve a good temper?
The other thing I’m noticing is that the chocolate is thickening very fast (no inclusions), and even with being in ‘extended temper mode’ the timer lasts only about 1 hour. I know adding cocoa butter is one of the solutions to the thickening challenge, I’d like to explore a different route first. I am wondering if anyone has experience with adjustments of the temperatures that might work as an alternative to adding cocoa butter? Should I increase the temper point? Decrease the delta?
Thanks for your input!
And yes, its helpful to understand there are just some times where a factor we’re unable to measure/manage precisely like humidity in the room that could throw things off. Accepting that’s part of the process and its ok to adjust some temps and try again.
There are two reasons to increase the temperature of the chocolate after reaching the lowest temperature:
- melt out unstable lower-form crystals; and
- reach an equilibrium point where you’re neither melting out too many wanted crystals nor forming too many unwanted crystals.
It’s important to recognize that it is the fat that crystallizes. The less fat there is in a chocolate, the harder it is going to be to generate the right kind and amount of the desired crystal form. Also, not all of the crystals in the chocolate will be form V, there must be enough to coerce the rest of the fat to crystallize in the wanted form.
That said, each batch of chocolate you make will be slightly different because that’s the nature of small batch chocolate making. When you arrive at a set of times and temperatures that do work, these will form the basis for subsequent batches but they may be slightly off because of process variations in the chocolate that can arise from the chocolate being in the melangeur for different lengths of time, adding ingredients in different amounts at different times, different tension on the springs in the melangeur, and more.
As Ben points out, if your chocolate is thickening up too quickly then you can raise the temperature. How much? There is no way to know as we don’t know the exact characteristics of your chocolate. It may also be the case that you’re cooling the chocolate to too low a temperature. It might be a combination of both going too low and not high enough. Ben is also right in pointing out the need to wait after the machine reaches the set temperature for crystals to mix throughout the chocolate. Remember, the thermocouple is only measuring the temperature at one location in the bowl – and that is close to the bottom, not the surface.
One thing I recommend is having both a thermometer and a hygrometer right by the tempering machine. It may be that changes in temperature and humidity are affecting results. If you don’t know the precise environmental conditions you may not have enough information to really discover the root of your problems.
It may be that you need to warm the chocolate slightly to get a better shine. You may also find it helpful to warm the molds slightly before filing them with chocolate. Or both.
Even if the coffee inclusion is a very dark roast with a lot of visible oil on the surface it’s not likely that the oil will radically affect temper unless there is a huge percentage in the recipe. Even a bar of properly tempered and cooled chocolate contains some percentage of lower-form crystals that do, over time, change into higher form crystals. The oils from the coffee may slow this process to a degree but I know it is possible to get a nice shiny bar with ground coffee (and ginger) as an inclusion. If your bars are not shiny enough for you the temper is not quite right and/or the molds are at the wrong temperature. Adding more cocoa butter will also help. A lot.
I’m glad to hear it helped!
Once the chocolate is in temper, you can definitely go higher than 88.8. I regularly mold with chocolate over 92F. This makes it a lot easier to work with.
Also, with seeding, you don’t really need to go as low as 86.4. It would probably work fine to just cool to your temper point and hold it there for 10-15 minutes before molding.
Good tempering will help with shine. With coffee as an inclusion, though, I wonder if some of the oils from the coffee would affect the shine. I’ve never worked with coffee so don’t know if that’s the case.
Based on your process, I tried this-
I melted to 120, seeded with 10% of total lot, and added in ground coffee at the same time
Cooled to 86.4
Temper point at 88.8
It worked well today, very workable consistency through the molding time, coffee taste got spread out and blended more into the chocolate, got some crunchiness inside and didn’t damage the machine.
The snap felt very good, I feel like there could be more shine. I’m thinking about possibly increasing the temper point a bit more and reducing the delta with the cooling point a bit more. Do you think this would be helpful for more shine?
Tomorrow I will try with crystalized ginger inclusion.
If you’re adding seed, you don’t need to cool down to 83F. By doing both, you’re probably over-tempering, causing the thickness. I use one of the smaller chocovision machines, and my process is more or less as follows:
- Melt to 108F
- Start the tempering process
- Add seed around 97F. Chocovision recommends adding seed when you start the tempering process to help with cooling, but that uses a lot more seed and I rarely have that much seed on hand.
- Remove seed at 90F
- Let machine cool chocolate to 88.5F.
- Test temper. Usually requires 5-10 minutes at 88.5F for good temper.
- Rewarm to 91F+.
I add inclusions straight into the machine all the time. It’s not a problem. I usually add them right at the beginning of the tempering phase as they help to cool the chocolate faster.
Hope this helps!