Sunday, February 26, 2017

Batch #5 - 65% Dark Chocolate – Peru Piura Blanco 2016/17

Batch #5 is the third Peruvian bean from the special Chocolate Alchemy had a few weeks ago. The special included four Peruvian bean from 4 different parts of the country. The first source I tried was the Peru Chuncho (Batch #3) which made a great chocolate with a distinct apple tone. The second source bean was the Peru Oro Verde Criollo (Batch#4) which had an amazing fruity taste. To me the words Fruit Bomb came to mind when I tasted my finished Oro Verde chocolate.

This third source bean is named Peru Piura Blanco Organic 2016/17 and comes from the Chulucanas region of Peru. The Chocolate Alchemist describes the beans as having “well developed chocolate notes with tons of elegant fruits.” Other descriptions include, “lovely rose aroma and sweet full bodied florals.” Sounds divine.

On this batch I did a little more experimenting with putting the nibs directly into the melanger without any added cocoa butter to help things along. With Batch #4 I added the nibs too quickly and the machine bogged down, so this time I started out with about 1/2 cup of nibs and I pre-heated the bowl of the melanger with a hair dryer. I read somewhere that this will help the cocoa nib heat up quickly and release their internal cocoa butter faster.

Friday, February 10, 2017 @ 1:38 pm - I added the first 1/2 cup of nibs to the melanger and pushed the power button. I added more nibs at 1:46, 1:59, 2:18, 2:35, and 2:45. In total 903 grams of nibs were added, and surprise, surprise I didn’t have to add any additional cocoa butter to keep everything moving. My reason for not adding any additional cocoa butter at the beginning is I read somewhere that the refining step (reducing the particle size) is more efficient and faster if you don't add extra cocoa butter.  The cocoa butter coats the sugar and solid cocoa particles and makes them slide past granite wheels rather than crashing into the wheels and getting pulverized.  Sounds reasonable to me so now I don't add the cocoa butter till the very end.

Friday, February 10, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - I did a taste test and found a earthy taste to the chocolate, and a mild bitter bite.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 5:00 am - I added 632 grams of sugar.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 2:00 pm - The mixture is very, very thick, and it hardly flows.  The mixture is much thicker than any of the other batches I have made.  But this one didn't have any added cocoa butter so that may be the reason.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 2:30 pm - At approximately 24 hours of run time, I added 271 grams of melted cocoa butter and the mixture gets very thin.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 10:30 pm -Turned the melanger off.  Processing time with cocoa butter - 8 hours.  Total processing time was approximately 32 hours.

Sunday, February 12, 2017 - Tempering and Molding

I'm still having problems with tempering and molding - my finished chocolate just don't look perfect.  I've read some articles and how-tos so I tried some new things.  First off I polished the molds with melted cocoa butter, and warmed the molds to around 85 degrees before adding the melted chocolate.

I also skipped the water bath during the tempering.  I just started added small amounts of the grated Cocoa Butter Seed Silk at 95 degrees.  The last bit of the Silk went into the chocolate when it was about 93 degrees.  I let the chocolate sit for 2 minutes till it reached 92 degrees, and then pour into the waiting molds.

After my six bars and 12 tasting squares were molded and vibrated to remove the bubbles I put them in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.  I let them sit for 24 hours and then unmolded.

I was happy to find no bloom on my bar, but sadly, my finished chocolates still didn't look great. There was no swirls of bloom, but the bars just didn't look shiny.  And those stupid release marks!!!  Every piece of chocolate had a release mark!!

Polishing with melted cocoa butter was also a bust.  The molds I'm using have a lot of grooves and creases and the melted cocoa butter pooled in the corners.  The melted cocoa butter also didn't give the bars a shiny look so I just don't see any added value in the step.  Not doing that again.  

So my chocolate bars are still a work in progress, but hopefully one day I will get it right.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tempering Batch #3

My lastest attempt at tempering (Batch #3 - Peru Chuncho) was the best so far; not perfect, but getting close. In the past my most nagging issue was a sharp drop in temperature after I added the 0.75% of Cocoa Butter Silk to the melted chocolate. I would stabilize the melted chocolate at 94 F, but after adding the Silk, the temperature would drop rapidly to 89 or 90F rather than the suggested 92F.

This time I decided to add the Silk a little bit at a time instead of dumping it in all at once, and it seemed to work better. By the time I stirred in the Silk and waited 2 minutes, the chocolate was sitting at the perfect 92 degree F temperature. (Note: I tested all three of my thermometers against boiling water (two infrared and one contact), and found that the contact candy thermometer was the most accurate.  The infrared was easier to use, but the readings fluctuated too much to be counted on for chocolate tempering.)

I poured the chocolate into my new molds with the cocoa pod design, and shook to smooth out the top and release the air bubbles. One of the cavities was a little overfilled, but I didn’t scrape it smooth. I hate scraping the molds. Chocolate goes everywhere, and it is such a mess. You lose a lot of your precious and expensive chocolate too.

So once rattled, I popped the molds into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. After removing the molds I noticed that the top of the chocolate in the overfilled cavity had cracked. I guess the rapid cooling and the domed shape of the chocolate caused it to split. Lesson learned. When a cavity is overfilled – Scrape it off not matter how messy.

I let the chocolate sit in the molds overnight, and the next day every bar popped out as soon as I flipped the mold over. The tops of the bars looked pretty good, but not perfect.

They weren't as shiny as I would have liked and there were some contraction marks/release marks/condensation marks (?? don't know exactly what they were) in the center of each bar, but overall they looked pretty good. And best of all no veins or stringers of bloom. The bars also made a loud clinking noise when they were stacked, and they had a nice snap when broken.

But I wasn’t too happy with the bottom of the bars. I’m still seeing these patterns on the bar that looked like oil or grease slicks. I’ve noticed these slicks on the chocolate when it is still in the melanger. I’m not sure what is causing the slicks. Will need to do some investigating.

I brought all the chocolate to work, and the people devoured it.  They said is was very, very good and they liked the unique "apple" taste of the Peru Chuncho bean.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Molds, molds, and more (Chocolate) molds

One big decision on my chocolate making journey is which molds to use. There are all kinds of molds out there, everything from the super cheap, super flimsy plastic molds, to super expensive, super sturdy polycarbonate molds. Silicone too. After trying the cheap molds and the silicone I decided on the polycarbonate. The really cheap plastic molds just flexed too much when trying to pour the chocolate and tap to release the bubbles, and the silicone molds just didn't give the chocolates that nice shine. I did find a slightly more rigid plastic mold at Hobby Lobby. I think it was the Sunny Side Up brand. It worked great for three or four times, but then the plastic just cracked. I guess it couldn't take all the tapping and pounding that takes place to get the air bubbles out.

So the polycarbonate molds were the only real choice. They run about $20-25 each, but you can’t beat them for ease of use and quality of finished product. The first two I bought were from Amazon, but while they worked great, I wasn’t happy with the “look”. They just seemed too generic. More like a Hershey bar than a craft Bean to Bar chocolate.

I also tried this cute, cute little owl mold. There is a whole barn yard of different animal shapes available, each one cuter than the next. I had hopes of using these as tasting squares or offering them in little mini Easter baskets, but they turned out to be very small and very thick. (There were no size descriptions on the web page, and I didn’t think to ask.) I could live with the small, but they were too thick to offer as solid dark chocolate (too hard to bite through). I guess they are meant to be used as filled chocolates. Maybe I’ll make filled chocolates one day, but not anytime soon.

So my search continued for the perfect mold. I wanted something unique and different, and also the correct weight. I needed to keep the size of my bars small (1-2 oz.) so I could offer them at a reasonable price. I figured someone might be willing to risk $3-4 dollars on chocolate from an unknown maker, but an $8-$12 price tag would be too steep. There are a bunch of websites selling the polycarbonate molds, and I finally settled on a cocoa pod design I found on the Canadian site Chocolat-Chocolat. I bought the 1.2 oz and 2.0 version of the same design. I also bought a tasting square size that had a similar design. The molds set me back about $150, but hopefully I can use the molds for many years to come.

And as you can see from below -- I'm still having tempering issues :-(

So no I’m one step closer to making my first “production” chocolate bar. Next decision will be on packaging.