I'm still fairly new to making chocolate and extremely low volume, so please forgive any lack of proper terminology. And thank you to everyone that's already helped me tremendously as I read through older posts here.
I'm getting feedback that my 65% dark chocolate bars are too "hard", meaning they take too much effort to bite through, and even breaking the bars apart takes a significant amount of effort. I thought this was normal (many of the commercial bars in that 65% range seem similar) until I found a bar from my very first bean to bar batch from almost a year ago, and it is significantly easier to bite through.
My only recipe so far for bean to bar is for a 65% dark, using 35% sugar, 60% winnowed nibs, 5% cocoa butter (no lecithin since I haven't needed it for viscosity reasons). Assuming 50% cocoa butter in the nibs, that gives me a total cocoa butter content of 35%. My batch size is around 2.5 pounds, running in a home-sized Premier tilting melanger for about 36 hours (I haven't intentionally experimented with different grinding times yet - variation is purely a matter of convenience). The bars go into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes until they start pulling away from the molds. They are removed from the molds and sit at room temp 15-60 minutes before packaging. They are stored in a wine refrigerator at about 60 degrees F.
My first batch seems like it is grittier, so maybe I didn't grind it as long, and maybe that's why it is softer. It was also a different bean source, and probably a much lighter roast.
I've considered the possibility that I'm overtempering, but I'm not finding detailed advice on how to check for that other than "once the melted chocolate starts to thicken" (I can recognize and correct that) or using an expensive temper meter.
Any advice on how to create easier to eat chocolate?