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Kitchen Notes: Tempering Chocolate
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DM
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I'm a beginner to this. Yes, I lack experience. Yes, I don't have the proper resources. Thank you to everyone for stating what I had stated before. I apologize for the attitude, but I felt a little insulted by the response I got. I just wanted to know if anyone had any experience with the particular factors I had asked about, so I have a better guess as to what to repeat and what to modify when I attempt this again. To summarize:

The processed packaged white chocolate available to me is somewhat soft and malleable to begin with, is it possible for me to temper it to a more firm state? And by mixing it with a firmer white chocolate (and/or using that as a seed), which I have a small quantity of, does that help?

What effect does the introduction of crushed/powdered peppermint candycanes into the white chocolate have on the way it sets up? Do the sugars interact? If so, in what way? Would it be more beneficial to add it before melting? While at its heated phase? just before it begins to solidify?

I mean, in my previous sarcastic response, I did indicate that I could test these variables and figure it out on my own, which is true, in fact I would love to spend a weekend on it, had I the resources. However, amid finals and the fact that I'm not presently pulling in an income, that could get expensive monetarily and time-wise, so deferring to those who have more experience and expertise seems the more prudent course so I can have a more focused baseline.

I don't take organic chem until next term, but it is what I'm studying so I'm at least familiar with a modest level of chemical principles, so feel free to get technical with the explanation.

Again, thank you,

DM
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not an engineer
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:02 pm    Post subject: really? Reply with quote

So, in December of 2011 we're talking about tempering white chocolate and candy canes? Cool. Well, my mom made a ton of chocolate molded candies when I was a kid. She must have been gifted and passed this gift on because the process she used was really quite simple. First, we had a large electric skillet set on the lowest setting. Then, she would line the bottom of the skillet with a common kitchen towel or two. Finally, she would take her white Corning ware dish and place a big hunk of chocolate in it. Alas, it would slowly melt. Stir, melt, stir, melt. We never had any problems!

Since candy canes are hard candy, to return them to a liquid state for the sugars to interact to possibly mess up your chocolate would probably have to happen at a very high temperature. A temperature unlike the nice and cozy 80ish degrees required for tempering. I'd say, throw those candies in there and give it a whirl. It's bound to be great. But what do I know, I'm not an engineer, but my chocolate sure does taste damn good Smile
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
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Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

since I jumped in on this with the first bash, let's discuss some basics.

melting point: primarily affected by the amount of coca butter in the source chocolate. it's not practical to "remove" coca butter; not sure it can even be done.

tempering: the process of heating then cooling chocolate to certain temperatures affects the granular structure of the sugars. that in turn affects how 'shiny' the cooled product is and to a degree the 'crispness' of the chocolate. chocolatiers / confectionery experts expend entire careers getting it right and becoming expert.

the tempering process varies by the chocolate you start with - more on that later. it revolves around rather precise temperatures +/-5 F degrees, or less - to the experts. I'd hazard a guess the human eyeball can't manage the degree of temperature control needed, and for the most part, it's too hot to stick your finger in, even if you've got a calibrated digit. bottom line: you need a thermometer and you need to know the target temps and yes it's going to be trial and error for the source chocolate you use.

You don’t need a $100 instant read thermometer doohickie – the temperature of a chocolate mix just isn’t going to change all that rapidly.

Start here: http://chocolatetempering.net/abouttempering.htm

source chocolate: off the shelf white chocolate in a candy bar type product is not apt to work - you've proven that. same for milk chocolates. some "dark chocolate" might work, or not. there's more to in the difference of milk chocolate vs dark chocolate than color.

The wax: paraffin wax doesn’t change the melting point of the chocolate itself. It simply “masks” the melt point with a harder substance. Add “too” much and you’ll taste / mouth feel the difference – it’s a small crutch that works in limited situations to a limited degree.

It’s clear you have limited resources – financial, practical (shopping for food at CVS) and equipment wise. All that aside, you need to research a bit about what you’re doing, and you’ll need to start with the “right stuff” – which is not likely to be found in CVS.

Every brand / purveyor of “chocolate” will be different – that’s the trial and error part. But you need to start with a suitable chocolate. Off the shelf store candy bars may succeed to a very limited degree in dark chocolates, the rest – well, you’re probably wasting time and money.

People have been trying to make gold out of lead for centuries – okay, it’s not an exact analogy – but it’s close. Do some basic research on the hows and whys before working on the perfect bark.

Oh, the crushed candy canes – unless you over heat everything to the point they start to melt, they don’t affect the outcome.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
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Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:45 am    Post subject: Re: wow you guys explained tempering old school Reply with quote

kungfu cook wrote:
I actully surprised that a site called cooking for engineers decided to use such old school technique.

Yeah, sorry. I wrote the article five years ago and that's how I learned to do it. I currently temper my chocolate in a ziploc bag in a temperature controlled water bath, but I really like your nested bowls trick.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert's general statements are all correct, but for a couple of details which I'll nitpick.

Dilbert wrote:
tempering: the process of heating then cooling chocolate to certain temperatures affects the granular structure of the sugars. that in turn affects how 'shiny' the cooled product is and to a degree the 'crispness' of the chocolate. chocolatiers / confectionery experts expend entire careers getting it right and becoming expert.

Technically, there's nothing really going on with the sugars. We're melting different crystals cocoa butter and letting the ones we want (the ones that produce snap and shininess and stability) form by holding the chocolate at the temperatures where the cocoa butter crystal formation we prefer to form.

Dilbert wrote:
the tempering process varies by the chocolate you start with - more on that later. it revolves around rather precise temperatures +/-5 F degrees, or less - to the experts. I'd hazard a guess the human eyeball can't manage the degree of temperature control needed, and for the most part, it's too hot to stick your finger in, even if you've got a calibrated digit.

The temperatures are actually quite comfortable to the touch. At most feeling warm/lukewarm and none feeling hot. If it's hot (like ouch hot) to the touch, it's too hot. Unfortunately, like Dilbert said, it's not going to be possible to tell with your finger if you've hit the right temperatures. You can see this (as an extreme example) by taking your finger and submerging it in a cup of water - note the apparent temperature. Now, dunk your finger in ice water for a few seconds, wipe dry, and submerge in the first cup - it's going to feel considerably warmer than before. This is extreme, but even with a few degrees of difference (hands were in pockets, it's a colder day, you haven't eaten in a few hours, just drank some soda) you're human finger thermometer is going to be off. Unfortunately, everything about chocolate is expensive compared to many of the other things that can be done in the kitchen. I think that's one of the reasons why people are so welcome to receiving chocolates as gifts. (That and the fact that it's really finicky if you've never worked with it before - prone to seizing [turning into a dark crumbly mess] and other nastiness.)

Dilbert wrote:
Oh, the crushed candy canes – unless you over heat everything to the point they start to melt, they don’t affect the outcome.

Yeah, those candy canes won't affect anything. The melting point of sugar is so high that your chocolate would have burnt before you even got close. (Burning chocolate results in a sudden darkening of the chocolate at the same time as it does something weird - like curdling - forming a mostly unrecoverable mess... so don't over heat it. Use gentle heating techniques (like in a bowl over a bowl of hot water or gentle steam or brief exposure to microwaves [a few seconds at a time]). Also, don't let water get into it... it seizes (looks like curdling).
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not an engineer
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all of the great ideas. I think I will try the ziploc bag and water bath for small amounts of chocolate, maybe for drizzling.

I posted about my mom's method of melting chocolate above... I will be tempering chocolate on Friday using this same method for dipping cake pops. After reading 11 pages of posts, I'm going to take my chocolates temperature because now I'm very curious at how she always achieved great results without a lot of effort. (she passed away at 51 so I can't ask her)

For DM, look for a cake decorating store in your area. They normally carry good enough chocolate for around $4 a pound. I concur with the boys, don't use candy bars. It's common sense for me, but that's because I grew up with a cake decorating mom and amateur chocolatier in the house.
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OnlyJade
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:50 pm    Post subject: Works for me Reply with quote

I am one of the lucky people that have 2 ovens. I make a ton of bread during the winter and was looking for a better way to proof it, well turns out that if I turn the oven light on in my lower oven it gets nice and warm. So when I started making my Christmas goodies I put a thermometer in there to see what temp it got to, and guess what....it stays about 89 - 95 degrees. So I melt my chocoloate over a double boiler and then place it in my oven with the light on. Now I have to watch it a bit, but opening the door every once in a while to let some of the heat escape. I set an alarm at 91 so I know when it is getting close. I have left chocolate in there all day while I'm working on other stuff and all of it has come out nice and shinny and I'm getting probably the best "crack" I've ever gotten on any of my projects.
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Helen
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:23 pm    Post subject: Help with Truffles Reply with quote

Quote:
I had washed, rinsed and air-dried my molds the night before to make sure they were dry. Before filling the molds with chocolate in the morning, I noticed dried water spots on the inside of the molds. But didn't think that this would cause any problem. It did as described above. So for the second batch of truffles I tried washing the molds, rinsing, towel dry then air-dry. Same problem. What am I doing wrong? Also, If I towel dry the insides of the mold too long ( to make sure there's no water); lint from the towel sticks to the mold and I have to re-start the process all over..Please help


I live in Scotland and have done many courses with a Callebaut Chocolate master at Cocoa Black. She told us never to wash the polycarbonate chocolate moulds. (When making moulded chocolates for filling and closing). After each unmoulding of chocs, use a hair dryer to melt any remaining chocolate smudges on your mould. These will then wipe off easily with a sponge or jaycloth. Then you MUST polish the inside of the chocolate moulds with cotton wool to create the most fantastic shine on your next batch of chocolates. Any residual cocoa butter remaining in the moulds will help to unmould the chocs if you have polished them well and tempered your chocolate properly. Also use the hairdryer to take the chill off the moulds slightly before filling. Good luck. Hope this is in time for your Christmas chocs!!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:41 am    Post subject: chocolate tempering question Reply with quote

Ok so I tried tempering chocolate chips so i could cover my Almond Crunch properly. Previously I would make the candy/ sugar,butter and almonds , cooking till hard ball stage. Pour it on a cookie sheet and immediately pouring on chocolate chips which would melt immediately due to the heat of the candy. However after a day or two the chocolate would "bloom". So I am thinking of selling the candy and need a more professional look to the candy. So now I made the candy and allowed it to cool and tried to pour my "tempered" chocolate on top , but it did not look shiny nor have the "crack" you talked about. Still no "bloom" at least , yet ! So what did I do wrong? I heated it to the proper temp and cooled by adding more choc chips and poured it on the candy. Please help. Canadian novice!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
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Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Re: chocolate tempering question Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
So now I made the candy and allowed it to cool and tried to pour my "tempered" chocolate on top , but it did not look shiny nor have the "crack" you talked about. Still no "bloom" at least , yet ! So what did I do wrong? I heated it to the proper temp and cooled by adding more choc chips and poured it on the candy.

It sounds like using the seed method with your particular chocolate isn't working. You will either need to experiment with other brands of chocolate or use the temperature controlled method of tempering. If you are planning on selling your chocolate coated confections, then I highly recommend finding a way to temper by controlling the temperature of the chocolate for long periods of time. I find a sous vide water bath to be an easy and cheap (compared to a tempering machine) way to accomplish this.
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Casey
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Using chocolate with ice cream Reply with quote

I would like to pour a hardening chocolate over a ice cream log then, after it cools, slice it. Does anyone have any ideas about this or some helpful hints. Thank you very much.
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Rockinkitty
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Melting Chocolate for molds Reply with quote

Like many others, my first attempts at tempering have failed badly. I did have success with the Merckens wafers, but they taste awful! I'm trying to do some simple suckers in plastic molds for wedding favours, so I want them to taste and look good.

My chocolate has no (listed) fat other than cocoa butter, but it does contain soy lecithin(which I think is an emulsifier) and polyglycerol polyricinoleate(no clue what this is). Would either of those hinder the tempering process?

The only couverture chocolate I can find in my area is sold in a huge bag (far more than we need) for an insane price. And I can't taste it before I buy to see if it's something I'd like to give my family. I don't buy anything online.

Also, the other problems I'm having are with thermometers and temperatures in general. I've calibrated the thermometers and they're set correctly(I have a few around here...used them in different tests all with failed results). What always happens is, when my milk chocolate gets to 105F, I take it off the heat, add in some seeds, and all of a sudden it's magically at 115F. Is this because I'm using a pyrex bowl(keeps heat better then steel)? Should I be talking it off the heat at 95F then adding the seeds when the thermometer says 105F?

I have standard meat thermometers and a candy thermometer. I'm not excited about dropping a bunch of $ on a digital t that I'll never use again.

Also, your instructions here say to heat to 105 then drop to 87F and it's tempered. Whereas this article says to heat to 105, drop to 82, then reheat to 87: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/How-To-Temper-Chocolate-356869 What's the benefit of dropping the temp then raising it?

Thanks for your help! I'm pretty good in a kitchen but it's so frustrating trying to figure this out!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:58 am    Post subject: Re: Melting Chocolate for molds Reply with quote

Rockinkitty wrote:
Like many others, my first attempts at tempering have failed badly.

What type of failure are you experiencing? Is the chocolate burning when it goes up to 115F or is it just not tempered after you bring the temperature to 87F?

Rockinkitty wrote:
Also, the other problems I'm having are with thermometers and temperatures in general. I've calibrated the thermometers and they're set correctly(I have a few around here...used them in different tests all with failed results). What always happens is, when my milk chocolate gets to 105F, I take it off the heat, add in some seeds, and all of a sudden it's magically at 115F. Is this because I'm using a pyrex bowl(keeps heat better then steel)? Should I be talking it off the heat at 95F then adding the seeds when the thermometer says 105F

What type of thermometer are you using? An alcohol based candy thermometer, dial thermometer, standard digital thermometer, or Thermapen? If you gradually heat the mixture, the speed of the thermometer won't matter much, but if you are rapidly heating (rolling boil steam in your double boiler instead of gentle steam from simmering water removed from burners), then the long delays in the thermometers (alcohol and dial thermometers can take 15-30 sec to get an accurate reading when temperature is constant, normal digital takes 10 sec, thermapens take 3-4 sec depending on model) can show a temperature up to 30 sec in the past and therefore not as hot as it really is. Also heat might not be evenly distributed and stirring the mixture when adding seed chocolate might provide a more accurate temperature than simply probing one area.[/quote]

Rockinkitty wrote:
Also, your instructions here say to heat to 105 then drop to 87F and it's tempered. Whereas this article says to heat to 105, drop to 82, then reheat to 87: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/How-To-Temper-Chocolate-356869 What's the benefit of dropping the temp then raising it?

I don't bother with the temperature drop to 82 because it's not necessary. It's traditional to do it that way because on a marble slab, an experienced chocolatier can visually and physically tell when the chocolate has cooled to that point and to no that reducing the temperature further is too much. Dropping the temperature to 82F will just begin the formation of Form IV crystals in the cocoa butter which is not the desired crystal form. However, at 82F, Form V crystals are rapidly forming, so you want to be in that range to form crystals rapidly, then bring the temp back up a little to dissolve Form IV crystals and leave only Form V. This is unnecessary if you are not in a rush (that is, using a temperature controlled water bath method) or if you are using the seed method since the seeds will jump start the Form V crystals. The key is to keep the temperature in the 86-88F range for milk chocolate. The longer you keep it there, the more form V crystals will form over time.

In general, tempering is a really hard thing to do without either a lot of experience or the right equipment. For most home cooks, we don't temper often enough to do it by sight/feel, so equipment bridges that gap for us. The most vital piece of equipment is a good thermometer. A "calibrated" meat thermometer (assuming the one you mentioned is a dial type which has been set to 32F for ice water and 212F for boiling water) can be off in the mid range by as much as 5 degrees F. For beef, that's not a big problem. For chocolate making, it is. Especially, in combination with the lengthy reaction times (30+ sec). A candy thermometer, designed for measuring the gradual increase in temperature in sugar, are often just as inaccurate - the difference between hard ball, soft crack, and hard crack are over 15-20 degrees F each. In addition, neither thermometer is designed to be accurate in the range at which we temper chocolate (80-115F). In fact, a basal body temperature thermometer would be more accurate for chocolate tempering than either a meat or candy thermometer - but, unfortunately, I have not seen one that works in a reasonable amount of time between measurements. Spend $20-25 on a digital instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks RT600C and use it for all your thermometer needs in the kitchen. It's faster than other instant read thermometers of that price range (6 sec!). Only thing faster are the thermapens (3 sec with current model) which are currently $90.
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Rockinkitty
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:56 pm    Post subject: Thanks Michael Chu Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice, Micheal! (not so good with the quote feature so I'll try itallics...)

What type of failure are you experiencing? Is the chocolate burning when it goes up to 115F or is it just not tempered after you bring the temperature to 87F?

I don't think it's burned-it still tastes good and is not separated at all. It's just not tempered-super soft and dull.

What type of thermometer are you using? An alcohol based candy thermometer, dial thermometer, standard digital thermometer, or Thermapen?

Alcohol and dial. I leave the thermometer in the melting chocolate constantly while stirring it, hoping that I'd get a constant and accurate readout.

If you gradually heat the mixture, the speed of the thermometer won't matter much, but if you are rapidly heating (rolling boil steam in your double boiler instead of gentle steam from simmering water removed from burners),

I will try the steaming off the burner method next. It's very possible I had the water temp too high, thus the too rapid heating.


In fact, a basal body temperature thermometer would be more accurate for chocolate tempering than either a meat or candy thermometer - but, unfortunately, I have not seen one that works in a reasonable amount of time between measurements. Spend $20-25 on a digital instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks RT600C and use it for all your thermometer needs in the kitchen. It's faster than other instant read thermometers of that price range (6 sec!).

I'll look for a digital t like the one you linked after I try out a couple more methods-my basal t, slower heating, and sous vide. I explained the latter to my fiancee and his eyes lit up...could be fun!

Did you have any thoughts on the ingredients in the chocolate I should be looking for? Not sure where you are but in my city in Ontario, the choices of good chocolate are limited to a bulk food chain(the choc is low quality there from what I've seen) and so-called higher end chocolate bars. I'm avoiding all that contain any fat other than cocoa butter, though. [/quote]
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
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Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks Michael Chu Reply with quote

Rockinkitty wrote:
Did you have any thoughts on the ingredients in the chocolate I should be looking for? Not sure where you are but in my city in Ontario, the choices of good chocolate are limited to a bulk food chain(the choc is low quality there from what I've seen) and so-called higher end chocolate bars. I'm avoiding all that contain any fat other than cocoa butter, though.

The ingredients you listed seem fine to me. I don't know what chocolates are available in your city, but in the U.S., I've found that most supermarkets carry Guittard and Ghirardelli. Both brands are relatively inexpensive and work consistently well. Other brands that are commonly carried (but not necessarily as widely available here) are Lindt (also relatively low cost), Valrohna (expensive but most people like the flavor over the majority of other brands), Dagoba, Scharffen Berger, and Endangered Species. All of these brands work well and only have cocoa solids, cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla, and sugar as their ingredients (and milk if it's milk chocolate). Make sure if you buy bar chocolate to check if they've mixed in other stuff like fruits, berries, nuts, mint, etc.
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