I am looking for some advice on how to infuse cocoa butter with lavender. I currently have tried a Bain-Marie, with cocoa butter and lavender flowers. It reached and stayed at 180degrees for 20 mins. I strained the lavender out and let it cool and it still has a very cocoa butter taste and A very very slight lavender taste. Is there a better way to do this? Also will the taste be blown away if I place it into the melanger at the beginning with the nibs and sugar? Should I wait til the last hour or so of grinding to add the cocoa butter to preserve the lavender taste? Thanks for the advice.
Cocoa butter infusion
It sounds like what you are trying to do is to make a lavender-scented chocolate using flowers. By adding scented cocoa butter to nibs and sugar you need to make the lavender flavor in the butter very strong to be evident in the chocolate. You are using fresh lavendar, right?
The way the Italians did this traditionally (albeit with fresh jasmine) was to aromatize the beans. They put layers of beans in boxes alternated with layers of jasmine and the fat in the beans absorbed the aroma of the flowers, which were discarded before the beans were processed further.
Try an alcohol extraction of the lavendar using everclear. This will pull out different aromatic compounds than the fat extraction. Evaporate off the alcohol by pouring it over some nibs and put in a very low oven. You can still use the fat extraction to deliver a fuller flavor.
You could pre-process some of the sugar in a food processor with some of the lavendar flowers. This would extract the aromas in the sugar and the particles would be further refined in the grinder/melangeur. Might not be perfect, but the little hits of lavendar from the larger particles could be an asset, not a defect.
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
On wikihow they suggest 2-5 hours at 100-120F, so it may simply be that you need to infuse it longer. I recently infused some annatto and chile using my Anova circulator, which makes that type of task much easier.
Have you tried powdering the flowers and adding them into the conche? I was only infusing the annatto because it's a pain to grind down, and chili... well, it can stay in flakes but more importantly pre-grinding means running the risk of inhaling it. You shouldn't need the same hazmat precautions when handling lavender
Thanks Clay and Daniel. I really like the suggestion of pre grinding the sugar and flowers together! I may end of doing a combination of all three processes (cocoa butter, everclear, and sugar) to see what the result will be. Thanks for all the suggestions, I always know I can come here for the answers!
Just to report back for anyone interested. I did a small batch 1.5Kg of 70% Dark. I tried the sugar method and blended the sugar and lavender flowers in a food processor prior to putting them in the melanger and it came out fantastic for a first time trial. The lavender was a little light for my tastes so I will be upping it slightly, but overall it is a good start. Thanks Clay for the suggestion.