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Having a terrible time trying to Temper Chocolate

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

We have been tempering chocolate using a microwave for a couple of years now. We temper carefully and use this choc in small amounts on a frozen slab to create ruffles that top our choc cakes. Never been an issue J

 

However....we wish to expand to have cakes with chocolate poured over them so the choc drips down the sides.

We also wish to use moulds of medium size like hearts etc.

 

We thought to make life easier we’d buy a Revolation V - 4kg Automatic Chocolate Tempering Machine.

Has this made life easier...no! No matter what we do, and with this machine you’re not supposed to do much, everything in Milk comes out wrong. White and flavoured Callebaut Choc is hit and miss.

 

The result with pouring the tempered choc over cakes is a white, streaky mess often with white marks. Moulds are very much the same.

 

The machine has been sent back to the supplier, they tested it and they replaced the baffle and said it was ok. We tried again...no improvement.

We tested the temp with a food thermometer at every stage of the temper and right enough the machine is showing the correct temperature.

 

After 3 weeks and a ton of wasted chocolate we are at our wits end.

 

Has anyone used these machines before?

We used to use a small Rev2 a few years ago and that worked a treat, it just didn’t do enough so we opted for microwaving choc.

 

Does anyone have a reliable method of tempering chocolate so it can be poured over a cake as mentioned above? We aren’t looking for a neat finish here, the whole point is it looks like drips running down the sides however it has to look good and be Belgium Chocolate.

 

All we are after is a reliable method of obtaining tempered Belgium choc that can be used to pour and use in moulds. Help please :)

 

Many thanks and regards, Pete

post #2 of 19
Have you ever tried working the chocolate on a marble slab? Before I got my Rev Delta, I used to do 30lbs of chocolate that way. It's messy, but it does work.
For dark chocolate, melt to 118-120F over a double boiler. Pour half onto the slab, working from the outside in and in a circle, use two scapers or offset spatulas, and work the chocolate until cool and starts to thicken slightly. I would test with the thermometer and make sure it was about 85F. Add this back to the other chocolate, and check the temp. Place back over the water bath and stir until 90F. Test at that point.
I have never used the machine you have, but my RevDelta is really good. I use block Callebaut, and it has a beautiful temper to it. I set my own temps for the cycle, I found it works better than their preset ones.
Hopefully some of this made sense smile.gif
post #3 of 19

O.K., lets just assume for a minute that it isn't the machine's fault.

 

-What temperature are the cakes you want to drizzle?

-What temperature is your area where you do this?  Any warm drafts?

 

White streaks almost always means that your couverture is too hot, at least by 2-3 degrees.  You can have perfectly tempered couverture and still get streaks, or chocs sticking in the mold because the couverture can't cool down in time.  Technical term for this is "latent heat build-up" particularily for chocs molded too thick and can't cool down in time.  Best room temp. to do this is around 19-20 C, but if r

 

Can't say as I've worked with the rev 4, but I do have the "baby" rev 1, same principles, and if I'm not mistaken, same computer chip doing the tempering.  Then again, maybe the factory is wrong.  Best thing to do is to temper according to instructions, then dip a slip of paper in the tempered couverture and bang that in the fridge as soon as possible.  If it sets up within 5 mins, the machine is good.  If not, the machine is suspect.

 

If you want to toss the machine, your next best option would be to get a simple melter like a Mol d'art, but you will have to temper yourself.  It's not hard, melt, throw in some chips, stir, wait, do a sample , if necessary repeat.  This method is called "seeding", it's the method I use every day, multiple times a day to temper up to 50 kg's a day of couverture

 

I'm curious as to why only Belgium couverture?  Do the Belgians have a better "terroir", in which to grow their cocoa?  Do they grow a superior cocoa bean in Belgium compared to say, the French or the Swiss?

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post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi Rlyv,

Thank you for your advice. You know my biz partner was only saying yesterday I should give the marble method a go however it looks just too messy. We don't need huge quantities however enough to do a number of cakes, moulds and dipping everyday and in 4 flavors. I worry the marble method may be to messy however I may give it a go out of curiously.

 

We are used to tempering using a microwave however this is proving a pain and we did have a smaller Rev2 machine a couple of years ago, that worked a treat at the time but was to small. I can't for the life of me work out why this much larger machine is causing issues with everything we do with it.

You mentioned you use your own settings and at the end of a long day yesterday I did just that. I set the machine take the first temp up to 45C rather than 42.5C as this is what the guidelines on our chocolate said. However I think I took my eye off it for a while and...well lets put it this way it wasn't right but much better than just letting the machine do it at it's own settings.

On Monday I'll try further with this and see what happens.

 

I gotta crack this as a new side of our biz depends on it *yikes* :)

 

Regards, Pete

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi foodpump,

 

Thanks very much for your reply and thoughts.

 

Yes I am assuming that the machine is ok as it has been tested and we have monitored the temps using a probe at every stage.

 

What temperature are the cakes you want to drizzle?

Our cakes are covered in firm Ganache and using smothers we create a smooth surfaced, round cake. The cakes are at room temp, it is winter here so it's certainly not over warm. We are trying to pour tempered choc on the top of the cake so this drips down the sides in places.

 

What temperature is your area where you do this?  Any warm drafts?

Cool, about 16-20C. We are in a small very modern building so there are no drafts at all.

 

We use Callebaut Belgium Chocolate only because this is easily available here from our main suppliers and we can buy it off the shelf at a trade supplier. No other reason and we have used it for years.

 

You mention try 'tempering to the instructions' which I gave a quick try late yesterday. I tried setting the machine to the temps we use when microwaving choc:

Melt to 45C > Seed and cool to 28C > bring back to final temp of 30C

This is what it says on the specs for Callebaut however the machine isn't set to do this. It takes the choc to 42.5C then you seed and it takes it down to 31.5C

 

After I did this the result was better than all the rest where we poured on a test cake however there was streaks but no white this time.

I think tomorrow I'll set the machine to go to 45C and then just seed and let it take the choc to 31.5 and see what happens then.

 

Moulds tend to be better, we pour the tempered choc into a mould and place in a fridge set to 5C for about 10 mins then take out. Snap is great and it's shiny however more often than not there are white specks and faint streaks just below the surface.

 

I have some Mycryo and was wondering if to add some of this to the choc at the final stage. I have read it is frowned upon however I just want reliable results :) What's your thoughts?

 

I have seen melters or small melting tanks and these seem to be far more in use than tempering machines, even you use one. I guess these are a thought and cheaper in cost than a tempering machine however I wonder if I can't get the result with a machine then melting tanks or back to the microwave may be a thought and even using Mycryo.

 

As you said I am presuming something is wrong and probably not the machine however if we can't temper choc and pour it over a cake without it going wrong time after time then I am beginning to lose hope.

 

I may explore testing further with the choc temp guidelines and not using the machines presets.

 

Any further thoughts would be greatly received. Already not looking forward to Monday and yet another day being tormented by chocolate :)

 

Regards, Pete

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi foodpump,

 

Thanks very much for your reply and thoughts.

 

Yes I am assuming that the machine is ok as it has been tested and we have monitored the temps using a probe at every stage.

 

What temperature are the cakes you want to drizzle?

Our cakes are covered in firm Ganache and using smothers we create a smooth surfaced, round cake. The cakes are at room temp, it is winter here so it's certainly not over warm. We are trying to pour tempered choc on the top of the cake so this drips down the sides in places.

 

What temperature is your area where you do this?  Any warm drafts?

Cool, about 16-20C. We are in a small very modern building so there are no drafts at all.

 

We use Callebaut Belgium Chocolate only because this is easily available here from our main suppliers and we can buy it off the shelf at a trade supplier. No other reason and we have used it for years.

 

You mention try 'tempering to the instructions' which I gave a quick try late yesterday. I tried setting the machine to the temps we use when microwaving choc:

Melt to 45C > Seed and cool to 28C > bring back to final temp of 30C

This is what it says on the specs for Callebaut however the machine isn't set to do this. It takes the choc to 42.5C then you seed and it takes it down to 31.5C

 

After I did this the result was better than all the rest where we poured on a test cake however there was streaks but no white this time.

I think tomorrow I'll set the machine to go to 45C and then just seed and let it take the choc to 31.5 and see what happens then.

 

Moulds tend to be better, we pour the tempered choc into a mould and place in a fridge set to 5C for about 10 mins then take out. Snap is great and it's shiny however more often than not there are white specks and faint streaks just below the surface.

 

I have some Mycryo and was wondering if to add some of this to the choc at the final stage. I have read it is frowned upon however I just want reliable results :) What's your thoughts?

 

I have seen melters or small melting tanks and these seem to be far more in use than tempering machines, even you use one. I guess these are a thought and cheaper in cost than a tempering machine however I wonder if I can't get the result with a machine then melting tanks or back to the microwave may be a thought and even using Mycryo.

 

As you said I am presuming something is wrong and probably not the machine however if we can't temper choc and pour it over a cake without it going wrong time after time then I am beginning to lose hope.

 

I may explore testing further with the choc temp guidelines and not using the machines presets.

 

Any further thoughts would be greatly received. Already not looking forward to Monday and yet another day being tormented by chocolate :)

 

Regards, Pete

post #7 of 19
Hi Pete:

Every tempering method has its caveats. The thing with mycro is you have to get your couverture to a very precise temperature in order for the mycro to work. For me, thats pretty rediculous.

Remember, you need three things to temper properly: Temp. is only the first, you also need motion and time.

I dunno, maybe some of the melted couverture is creeping back into the "seed" side of the baffle, and knocking the whole thing out of temper

Ok, some more trouble shooting: Whats the cocoa butter % of your couveture? All Calle products have "raindrops" on the packaging, the more raindrops, the more fluid the choc., as well as a major complicated code ( d8-11, etc) . Can you get another brand to try out in your machine, or another Calle type with more cocoa butter Say Lindt or somethig like that? Just to try out.

If you do decide to get rid of the machine, an open melter would probably be a good choice. A cheap "jerry rigged" set up is to get an electric heating blanket, set a half hotel pan on this, and temper via the seeding method on this, but many heataing blankets dont have a very accurate thermostat.
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post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi foodpump,

 

Hmmm someone else with little good to say about mycro, I do see your point that if something isn't right why bother trying to get choc to an exact temp just to add cocoa butter to make everything work. I have read bad and plenty good, the good saying its a chocolatiers secret weapon to success. Yes I am skeptical of that :)

 

I see your point ref 'temp. is only the first, you also need motion and time', this is why we bought an expensive machine to do all of this. Didn't think that I can still produce better in a microwave than a machine :)

 

We use Callebaut 823NV, it has 3 drops liquidity 33.6 Cocoa - 21.8% Milk Solids.

 

You said:

'I dunno, maybe some of the melted couverture is creeping back into the "seed" side of the baffle, and knocking the whole thing out of temper'

 

We start the machine and add the callets behind the baffle, this melts nice and slow. When melted and the machine indicates we add more callets to seed. Now ref your above point, some of the whole callets do get under the baffle and go straight into the side with the melted chocolate. Didn't think this was an issue!

When indicated by the machine we take any seed that is left out, there is never any seed to take out it has to be said.

The machine does its thing and indicates when its done.

 

If I can't get this machine to sort this soon it is going back. It cost a small fortune and ain't worth it so far however I still live in hope it will work and something else isn't right.

 

Thanks again, Pete

 

 

Callebaut is widly used over here, sure we can order another brand however this we will have to investigate what we can get.

post #9 of 19

Yeah... well if you can't get the machine to work, send it back, and yes they are expensive.  I'm guessing the machine has separate "programs" for dark, milk, and white. Ideal temp for dark is a few degrees higher than milk--which you use. Just enough to cause streaking and light blooming  Maybe it IS the electronics/chip.

 

The reason why open melters that take a 1/2 or 2/3 hotel pans are so popular is surface area.  Say you want to make filled bon-bons, you have to fill the mold with couverture, then dump it out in order to get hollow shells.  The open melters are large enough that you can dump out excess couverture back into the melter--gently tapping with the back of the scraper handle-- without dribbling all over the place.  The rotating type machines have far less surface area, and you have to do some strange contortions to dump out the excess couverture without making a mess.

 

The second reason is habit...

 

I've got three melters--two that take 20 kgs (full size deep hotel pan) and one 10 kg melter (2/3 hotel pan).  Every evening I top them up with fresh choc, set the thermostat to 40-ish, and go home.  Next morning I come in, turn down the thermostat to 35-ish, add in a couple handfulls of fresh chips, stir a minute or two, and then go about other business for 15 minutes.  Come back, stir a bit, do a sample, and then check after 5 mins.  Almost always it's in good temper.  Very little time or effort invested.  You do need to stir every now and then though. 

 

Melters I have are made in Montreal and resemble--for all the world--a soup warmer, albeit with a very accurate thermostat.  Dirt simple and not much to go wrong.  I've replaced blown fuses, and frayed cords over the past 8 years, but other than that they are dirt simple and not much to go wrong with.

 

Anyhow, hope this helps

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post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi foodpump,

 

Thank for your advice and thoughts so far, it's appreciated.

 

Ok taking onboard how temperamental choc is I have done a few things differently today with regards testing.

 

I am setting the temper temps according to the chocolate we are using, not the machine defaults and the result has improved no end.

 

Blooming and white marks have all but vanished.

 

Can I ask, if I pour choc onto a cake how can I stop the faint marbling effect?

It isn't white, it's variations in where the pouring is different in some areas to others. Some parts are shinier than others and this give a slight marble effect.

To me this is bad tempering. There is more dull surface areas than shiny.

 

Moulds don't seem to be an issue now :) :)

 

Any thoughts?

 

Many thanks, Pete

post #11 of 19

Great to hear your machine is starting to "come around"!

 

The slight marbeling effect is caused by minute--and I mean minute temperature variations.  Part of this is how thick you pour the couverture--if it is thicker in some places, it will take longer to cool down, and it is these areas that are probably causing the marbeling.  Can you bang the finished cake in the fridge right away?  Just 4-5 minutes, enough for the couverture to get a good start on cooling down.

 

Hope to see you more often on these forums.

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post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hey foodpump,

 

Thanks for the advice. The machine is going back today, we'll be £1,500.00 better off without it.

 

After your reply ref open melting pans, I spent a good bit of time looking into these yesterday.

 

I'm sure I may pick your brain further about your method, what you do just seems toooooo simple :)

 

I have read that people, like you add choc at the end of the day then alter the temp in advance of needing the choc the following day.

You seem to have this down to a fine art and make it sound more reliable.

 

We're ordering a double open melting tank today which costs a couple of hundred pounds.

 

So had enough of choc :)

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi there, can I ask your thoughts again please?

 

The tempering machine was returned last week and we now have melters, they were delivered today so very keen to try and get used to a different way of working :)

 

You said

Quote:
I've got three melters--two that take 20 kgs (full size deep hotel pan) and one 10 kg melter (2/3 hotel pan).  Every evening I top them up with fresh choc, set the thermostat to 40-ish, and go home.  Next morning I come in, turn down the thermostat to 35-ish, add in a couple handfulls of fresh chips, stir a minute or two, and then go about other business for 15 minutes.  Come back, stir a bit, do a sample, and then check after 5 mins.  Almost always it's in good temper.  Very little time or effort invested.  You do need to stir every now and then though. 

 

Ok, I guess you leave yours on all the time?

 

To get started would you suggest I melt the choc in the melter set at 40'ish or carefully start by melting in microwave then adding to melter where I can bring the temp down to 35'ish?

 

Melting temp of Callebaut Belgium Chocolate is 45C, it should be seeded and taken down to 27C. Once at this temp taken back up to 30C working temp.

 

You say you have your melters set at 35'ish, this is 'your' working temp? I guess your thermostat can indicate one temp but the 'actual' temp may be slightly different?

At the end of the day you turn up to 45'ish, add choc and leave to slowly melt over night. You then turn down to 35'sh...seed with choc stir and once at your working temp test...yes?

 

You say you test. Can you let me know 'your' test please?

 

You make it sound real simple which I guess in theory the process is once you have mastered it...you seem to have hence I hope you don't mind me asking you the above.

I just need to get this right and get on with things :)

 

Many thanks in advance, Pete

post #14 of 19

You can melt whole slabs or coins in the melter over a 18 hr period, no need to microwave it.  It's actually easier and far less messier this way.  So yeah, you can set the thermostat to 40-ish and walk away.  For milk couverture I wouldn't go over 45, I would only go as far as 40, but for dark you can go to 45.  If you're not using choc. for a week or so, you just unplug the melter and leave the choc in there, with the lid on.  The day before you need it, plug the unit back in and melt it completely.

 

Once it's melted, you turn down the temp to 35-ish, add in some coins/chips, say 1/10th of the amount you melted, to cool it down, stir a while.  Come back in a 5 minutes, if the chips have all melted, add some more.  If the chips are almost/partially melted, do a test.  This is nothing more than dipping a slip of parchment paper in the choc, and pulling it out and letting cool down on the counter.  If it firms up within 3-4 minutes you are almost there.  Add a few coins, stir some more, wait a bit more. Another test is to take your stirring spoon ( I use a larger Rubbermaid "spoonula") and let a stream of choc drip back down into the melter.  Watch the surface of the melted choc:  If the drizzle holds it's shape on the surface you are very, very close to temper.  Just dip another slip of paper to test, and watch for streaking.

 

If you need more tempered choc, melt some more, get it to the 30-ish C temp range and add it to you tempered couverture in the melter.  As long as your newly melted choc doesn't exceed 1/3 of your tempered choc, you are good to go--just give a good stir, and wait a minute or two before using it.

 

I work with the thermostat at 35-ish for both milk and dark, because if I set it any cooler the choc is too cold and too stodgy to work with.  You might have to experiment a bit with your ideal holding temp.

 

 

 

You can nuke (microwave) couverture very easy, and many pros use this method, but there are a few caveats:

 

1) If the bowl is centered perfectly in the oven, the odds of chocolate "cooking", or overheating and clumping up in the very center of the bowl are quite high.  Milk and white will do this more often than dark.  So you have to make sure the bowl is a bit off-center as it rotates.

 

2) Never nuke longer than 120 seconds, always stop and stir, then blast it for another 60-80 seconds and so on.  I always keep a rubber spatula (Rubbermaid "spoonula" in the bowl at all times, helps with stirring, and transferring chocolate.

 

3) Not all plastic bowls are the same.  Some don't microwave very well, some will melt.  Glass is very heavy and gets hot.  I worked with a crusty old Frenchman who used s/s bowls in the nuker.  It actually works very well, but you can't let the bowl touch the sides of the oven..... 

The best plastic bowls I've found for melting choc in the nuker are from Ikea: Dirt cheap, microwave safe, and have a pouring lip AND handle on them.

 

Hope this helps, and don't be shy about asking for more information.

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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks very much for your advice ref the melters. Unpacked it today and will add choc and see how I get on over the next few days...following your guidance of course.

 

We have used a microwave successfully for a couple of years where we make ruffles for the top of cakes using the frozen marble slab method. We get this right time after time hence this lured us into a false sense of security.

When we nuke choc we very carefully take it to 45C or just under. Microwave on half power and we use plastic bowls.

When we reach 45C we add seed choc and stir until all melted. We add a little more until this has melted and leave to stand.

We stir every 5 mins or so until it cools to 27C then on med power carefully take to work temp of 30C.

 

This method works every time for ruffles however 'never' for pouring into moulds.

It go's white or blooms and looks a mess.

 

Any thoughts on why may be?

 

It's puzzled use for ages hence we never use moulds and choc.

 

Many thanks as always, Pete

post #16 of 19

Are the molded chocs solid or hollow?  How do you cool down the filled molds?

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post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

They are solid, hearts etc.

 

I have tried leaving to cool at room temp.

Also tried putting them in a fridge set at 5-8C for about 5 mins to get the heat out of the choc then take them out to finish at room temp.

 

Every way I've tried, the results aren't great.

post #18 of 19

You're on the right track.

 

When you cover a large cake, your coating is thin and the surface area greater, so the choc. cools down very quickly.  With small solid molds, try filling them halfway, refrigerate 5 mins or so, then top off and refrigerate again 5 mins.  

 

If you have the time, one of the best books I can suggest is called "Chocolates and confections" by Peter Grewling  isbn#978 0 7645 8844 0 .  It will give all the information on chocolate, on tempering, on caveats for the various methods of tempering, and on many other things.

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post #19 of 19

We have had a similar disaster recently with our ChocoVision Rev Delta and unfortunately wasted tons of chocolate before reverting to the melting/manual process and returning the machine.We tried every variable possible  It was frustrating beyond words as we had previously successfully tempered hundreds of pounds under identical conditions with the very machine and chocolate and temperature controlled room etc. It was absolutely the machine even when it appeared tempered as the digital thermometer read very differently.

Must add that we grow cacao and make chocolate from seed to bar and Hawaii is the only place you can grow cacao   in the USA because it only grows in a specific latitude just north and south of the equator. They do not grow in Belgium or anywhere in Europe , but they buy fermented dried beans from Africa and South america and they roast and process, through to  tempering [and  molding ]  from that point on.

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