DIY Chocolate Molds - Revisited Topic I think
Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools
What kind of printers
Nice. My son and I are creating a Makers room in the home and we'll be tinkering with a bunch of things we haven't before. Looking at building a printer kit or maybe picking one up used. Keep us posted on your trials or experimentations. We'll certainly do the same but its a bit farther out at the moment.
What I'm curious
I think we got it. I had to get involved more. Hard to gauge how things are going on through people explaining. Just gotta do it yourself and see to build a good troubleshooting matrix.
What I found through observation and tale--
First I had the molds cleaned with white vinegar and polished all nice. Gotta start off with a clean slate right?
Then the chocolate, it was always being used soon after temper bells--we let it rest/integrate more. I've seen issues before when the temper is rushed into use. That got rid of the blooming.
Then the molds themselves were not being heated and being that they are rather deep...so we preheated them some like we've done for other more sturdy polycarbs and viola they no longer stick.
I knew if we stopped and thought the actions through we'd nail it out. I just figured a lot of what I'd consider good mold handling would have been thought of. Another rule of thumb, not everyone thinks like you do. lol.
Here I thought we were in some weird new territory of mold bizzare natures and lo and behold, it's still the most basic elements stacking on top of each other.
Thank you for your time, considerations, and commentary. It is always appreciated.
I agree. I also feel it's thermal instability in the setting up, but when they are again set right next to other molds and the other ones come out fine. These are by far the most eggregious pictures. Others have a little peeling and some slight temper break on them, these were just frighteningly so.
We tried half filled molds and they set better but still not releasing well or bloom free.
I'm wondering if someone washed these funny but I've just never seen this to this extent before and while I'm no old hat we've been doing this around 8 years... Just.. Bizzare! If it weren't the season I'd undertake a full matrix experiment like I did toffee ages ago but I just have no time to slow up and be thoughtful, lol!
Sculpting and modeling are very different. Sculpting you make blocks and carve, modeling is more like clay where you can shape it, ply it, mold it, and then have it set. Like a salt-dough.
We use a lot of modeling chocolate throughout the year. It's just chocolate + a ratio of corn syrup. As it cools it hardens and is pliable, over a few days it gets harder and harder almost like curing the more water that is freed the more rigid it becomes. If you have mass left over you can always reheat it later and knead it back into use.
We do a lot of molds for different occaassions and have used these santa ones for a year. We pulled them out of our seasonal storage and went to work like we do on others. However what we're getting is stuck chocolate. Doesn't matter the grade, the temper style, a layer is sticking to the mold and then the bloom that happens is just incredible.
We've used the same batch of chocolate in other molds to perfect release. BIZZARE.
We've tried a thin layer of added cocoa butter, no real help. A really thick one helps but its so thick you have to do a lot of post-cleanup which doesn't help.
We don't use dishwashers so I can't think it was a washing situation. While these aren't our premium polycarbonate they aren't the cheapest ones you can pick up either.
Anyone got some clues or ideas we can throw into the matrix of problemsolving?
I've checked my spam logs and don't see any chatter but I'm not getting any updates when people post to groups I'm a member of. I'd like to be more active but its usually as others are active or seeking help. Hard for me to pay attention otherwise. I checked the settings and its supposed to email out updates--but I'm just not sure. I'll add each group to my old rss reader but I don't pay attention as much to that any more as well.
I'm boggled by this. I spent a good 4 months working on toffee--much of that trial and tribulation can be found here. In the past year I've probably made a few tons of toffee and most of that was by hand. Now we have a firekettle (which is a new learning curve & beast but that's another tale..)
I like to think of toffee like making a roux. You can't have excess butter or it won't bind to the sugar. So I'm really curious what kind of product they are making to have greater butter than average. I mean it's a butter + sugar product, plain and simple. Your ratio will dictate a few things but toffee is toffee is toffee until you start adding alternate sugars (like honey) or end of product additions.
Anyhow my toffee has about a 6 month shelf life before the elements start to seep in and the quality is not what I like. Luckily no where we stock lasts that long due to consumer habits but that's the longevity we give it before we would pull it.
Like it was mentioned toffee is hydroscopic by nature. It wants to absorb water, it LOVES to absorb moisture. In the summers here in the Carolinas where the average humidity is 90% we have to change the entire method of making it, and then speedily get it enrobed so that we can prevent the air from getting to it. If we left a sheetpan of toffee out over night it would have a liquid layer by the morning. Crazy. Even then packaging has some microlevel of porosity and that will eventually be the downfall of the product.
I like to think that at the heat level its cooked the proteins are broken down and the fats are converted to something more like ghee so you've got really no chance of rancidity then there's enough sugar that it's a shelf stable product since your available water is nill unless the environment adds it back. So I'd love to know how Enstrom's has done something so unique that it has this required refrigeration. It just doesn't make sense to me.
For us it's a fire and forget process. I wouldn't worry much about it. Run your own shelf tests and you should find it's something you can reliably not worry about.
A few years ago I ran across a bulk truffle shipping method/container that reminded me of egg crates but I cannot find my link or reference and searches are getting me nowhere. I've got a rather large order that we're shipping out of the country and I'd rather ship it in this system if I can find it.
Does anyone know of a bulk chocolate shipping container that can effectively hold hundreds of truffles?
The container I'm remembering can hold 500 units per box. I have 800 to ship.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Be very careful comparing yourself to sub-par concepts. Trader Joes, industrial. General chocolate shops mostly use old industrial makers,callebaut--small costs, cheap products. TCHO is one of the first larger scale chocolate makers in the US and have the current lowest price for higher quality in that field. Otherwise look at TAZA, Dandelion, Askinosie, Amano, Potomac, Olive & Sinclair, Videri, Mast Bros, etc etc. I think there are something like 60+ established American chocolate makers now. When we started there were <10. Love how fast the industry is growing. TCHO afaik has the cheapest bar at $5. Everyone else goes above that--sometimes far above that. Madre's Triple Cacao is retailing at $11+. It's all about value, and perceived value.
We use TCHO in 90% of our products and our base bark price is $6.50 for 4oz for something rather simple, classic. Growing to $8.50 with more inclusions and labor.
Find and hold the margin you want then find the demographic that will accept it. If you chase a dollar for a demographic early on you'll be on a treadmill that will never end and burnout will get you long before the bottom line does. There are a lot of good forefathers of chocolate out there, do your research beyond your borders and even sample some product to see how you fair against them. Then come up with a pricing strategy that is well understood and you can hold the line on.
We deal with a lot of families with a lot of sensitivities. Peanut, soy, gluten, dairy, egg, etc, etc.
A child who has a real allergy, who can buy something, is usually at a verbal age where they can tell you they have allergies. More than likely they have gone through a few painful moments that have brought this home.
I wouldn't worry too much about it. You can't protect the world. If you are concerned you can ask them but this will over time become laborious. You've done the best you can now continue on with your business and find ways of getting more of it.
How many chocolate (bean) vendors do we have in NC? Glad to know you're a regional player, someday we'd like to get into our own line but not for the foreseeable future.
Though we buy artisan bars from american producers solely and I've not seen a retraction in prices yet. It'd be nice if there was a way for artisans to handle a better pricing since it's really hard to sell a $8-11 bar to someone who hasn't been hooked or palate trained.
We do not sell this in a take-home form. I don't think it'd be hard to make a take home form. Making it a pretty take home form would be a challenge and keep the cost down. It would also be a very temporary product since we don't add stabilizers or preservatives to our products.
Like I mentioned it's our truffles just without an enrobing. So you're dealing with a butter/cream ganache. I mix something like 31g of ganache in a demitasse with hot frothed milk to it and stir until you get something like pudding and then add more to dilute--or not depending on the customer.
Now for a hot chocolate (not sipping chocolate) which will take a vast amount more milk I make a cacao based syrup out of a dark and a mild cocoas, a little sugar, vanilla and water. Thicken, reduce, squeeze bottle it, and that just lasts.
We have a new shop with a cafe element, we've done away with pre-prepped notions. We have blocks of our ganache ready and weighed. We heat them lightly then blend them with frothed milk to a proportion the customer wants. Thick to stand a spoon up, or diluted to a more hot chocolate. It's simple, we always have ganache on hand for enrobing and it's as close to a liquid truffle as you'll get. So one further option if you don't have a cafe is to just pick up a steamer and prep on demand takes <45s per serving and you're always fresh.
I'd like to play along but I don't source anything but american bars so I can't play. If you want thoughts I'm happy to give them but we could use a source to purchase from or if you wanted to build a shipment of 3/6/12 months worth of review materials + a spif for yourself I think many of us would be happy to order from you. :D
The real question is whats your split? We see only 10% cash here the rest is all CC, so is your demographic a huge cash basis or real even split? CA may be different than the US I dunno.
Making up lots of rules confuses customers. I educate card goers on fees from time to time but otherwise they just want their product and no one cares.
If you are also paying 5% for your fees you really need to find another provider. You have more power than you realize if you stick with traditional merchant services. You're a hard core arguer so you should really battle them. Or go with a one size fits all like Square, Paypal, Fee Fighters, etc.
Lastly I wouldn't raise your rates unless you felt that you weren't doing 5% more business by accepting the cards. I educate a lot of people at farmers markets. If you don't accept cards you have nothing to lose. If you accept cards and you do 20% more business, is it worth paying them 5% for that? They don't call it Cost Of Doing Business for nothing. Again though you should be able to get a much much lower rate.
Interesting thoughts... Yep, these are thermoform. Picked up 10 for a project. We've got other thermoform moulds though that are large--not this square--one is a 4"x1.25" and we don't see it happen there.
You can definitely see it begin as the chocolate cools and naturally pulls back the last held contact point is that circle/sphere.
Now that the project is past I'll try your suggestion clay about temperature as they were definitely not warm but at room temp (69-70'). In a production run if we were airbrushing I don't think we could keep them warm since the cocoa butter would not be setting-- but for a test its definitely viable.
We have a new square mold we've been working with and it's causing me some grief. Upon release there is a round mark within the chocolate. See the pictures.
This round/spherical look doesn't start showing until near the release stage of the mold. We checked it at 5m intervals and it's as if the chocolate's retraction from the mold is creating this look.
When colored and detailed you can't see it unless you're looking for it. But on a plain piece of chocolate it shines through pretty well.
You can see it even leaves the ring within the mold. We polish it out and it comes back the next time. Nothing we did seemed to help obviate it.
We did 500 units of these and about 85% of them showed this type of mal-detailing.
Anyone seen this before?
Thanks Ruth for your thoughts. Yes I've been making sure that all holes are clear and clean. I'm trying to book some troubleshooting time but as you know breaking away from the myriad of things we do to just focus on making something work right is so..meh.
I'll check the breathing holes more and worst case maybe I'll drill them a bit bigger, then start a better comparison of those that work vs those that aren't. Such small differences.
I feel like I'm diagnosing the toffee slab issues again, lol.
When we began we had a lot of luck looking through this site and egullet's forums, and a few blog articles found along the way for the beginner steps to airbrushing cocoa butter & cocoa / chocolate mixes. Since we're always in operation its hard to dedicate a week to learning and troubleshooting so this has been a multi-month set of experiments and learning.
Currently all we need is broad stroke work so we ended up with a nice cheap, quiet air compressor and the quick change kit:
We also picked up this one but since we haven't needed anything further than bulk spray at the moment its staying in the box--
The issue I'm running into is some of the time the cocoa butter sprays, other times it does not. Fluidity and temperatures are equal, if I change the lid from one to the other that often fixes it, sometimes the working lid works, but only if its partially unscrewed-- but that's not at all efficient. After I clean and change parts a new one rises to being a working one..
For the ones that currently don't "work" if I detach the top a bit and keep it in the fluid, I can see it get drawn up, but it never seems to make it to the top. Switch a few tops out and one ends up being happier than the rest--but they all look the same.
It's just confounding me. After use I diligently clean in scorching hot water and use the pipe cleaners to clean each and every part. So if all things seem equal, what variable am I missing?
I know these kits are in use in some rather high throughput environments so while I could discount that I'm using cheap pieces I know those here and elsewhere are using them for their broad stroke application.
Anyhow, any thoughts or gotchas that you may have found along the way would be really helpful. If this continues I might take a video of it to show off the finer points of weird behavior.
True enough! I only threw out a year as a distant thought. If I can get 6 months out of a product without tampering or additional science I'm an ecstatic camper. A lot of my other barks and toffees seem to easily coast into that frame as long as heat/humidity don't beat them up.
That's good news on a nitrogen flush sealer too. I'll have to keep that in mind. We're pondering what our next growths steps would be and if we go for an industrial space for production that + a walk-in would be a good combo. Industrial space or chocolate bourbon bar.. oh the decisions.
We're already pondering some finished/packed freezer tests but our freezer space is rather limited at this time with other items.
Just trying to get more longevity out of products so I can do a larger up front run and then work on the myriad of other projects and production needs.
Thanks for your input too!
Thanks Sebastian that puts a perfect perspective on it and a slight buzz kill to boot. I guess if we ever got into vacuum sealing or something close it might help but even then w/o an inert gas insertion I think it'd be limited usefulness.
Oh well. I guess I'll just keep that product at a low inventory item and also start storing my pecan inventory in the freezer or ordering less.
Many thoughts and many thanks for the lesson.
The only nut I have a problem with are pecans. After roasting them they seem to have a shelf life of about 3 months +/-. I use them in a bark and you can see the fat bloom slowly take over after its time period has elapsed and holding temps don't seem to matter much.
I started doing some digging and came across conflicting advice. One camp said to candy them and that would stop it, the other camp said candying them would not stop it but would increase the rancidity.
Is anyone here doing 6mo-1year stability of pecans or other nuts in their chocolate and know how to reduce if not eliminate the fat rancidity of the nut?
I'm going to assume this is a cold bakery case in which case..
Too cold, too much humidity.
Salt will absorb moisture and turn into little wet droplets.
Caramels exposed will absorb moisture and get very soft and wet.
We have a bakery case and a chocolate case, the bakery case runs at 42' the chocolate case runs at 64' that's a huge temperature variation.
Keeping them protected and sealed from the elements is your best bet from longevity. If you can keep them well protected the truffles should last 3 weeks or more. Keep an eye out for blooming that may occur.
Barks don't need to be in the case. If they are like ours they are by nature rather shelf stable. Package them up in 2/4/8/12oz (pick a few) and set them around the shop.
This varies way too much county to county. You need to talk to your state Health Dept and your Agriculture dept, first to figure out who you fall under and that will give you some of your state rules.
Then contact your city health dept, which are the people who will be approving your plans and issuing your permits. Find out what you needs and requirements come from them.
We had to get a grease trap and in 2 years it has never needed changing out. Our municipality is silly, many are.
Every chocolate is a little different so do a little research into what your chocolate really wants in temperature. Off the top of my head I know our 55% we hit 112 for melt, then down to 87 with seed, then working temps are about 90 and we notch up to about 92 as the day moves on (to prevent or keep at bay over temper.)
Know what temps you need to be at, know how long you need to be there, run tests.
One of the best learning experiences we'll do with a new chocolate is to take a little swipe of chocolate on parchment paper every few minutes while the chocolate is on its way down from 90' monitoring the degree and time and you'll see how each sample is different. No temper, no temper, some temper, more temper, temper, temper, temper.. Then next time you work your chocolate you can fine tune.
Keep trying, you'll figure it out. Just remember to be watchful, research, record, and repeat.
Wine fridges can only help if the ambiant air is +/- 15' of your desired temp. I can tell you from experience you will freeze up the unit. Not to mention every time you open the door you flush the unit and those units do not have the return capacity to make it nice again. Condensation will also quickly happen and then you'll have water droplets on your product. Experiment, it's the only way to really learn, but I just finished toting out two of our coolers from those days.
These type of questions come up each season. Search around the forums for a lot of solutions:
My advice and you'll find it in one of those threads. Make fakes or sacrifices to the heat for your table, keep multiple coolers on ice (dry ice is too cold), use sealed containers containing product and multiple at that.
Your enemies are heat and moisture. Heat melts/warps, andcondensationfrom constant cooler access will eventually create condensation on your products. If you limit the exposure or access points you can have healthy market life. We've sold at farmers markets, multiple, for the last 5 years in the Carolinas. Now we have the luxury of taking off July and August due to having a shop but we know how it goes.
Much luck to ya!
50/50 is the start of a distributor relationship, beware as heading that route with broker fees can get to 70% in heartbeats. We offer up to 30% and if a retailer wants more we explain that they can upcharge to finish off their margin requirements. They aren't coming to your store so it should be a premium and this is accepted with large brands to small. In our city you can find our products at a serious wide range of prices (sometimes I am astonished that our product can be sold for as much as some places do.)
Every case is going to be different but respect your time and your product and don't be quick to grow those discounts unless you can get the volume and ROI to make it worth your while.
We don't do anything from a mix but we every few days create a new 'batch' up so that it's on hand and ready. If you're doing something cold you're going to need to make it from a heat source and then chill it. Shocking it though via quick icing has a number of poor ramifications.
Create your version and just chill it down through stirring and ultimately refridgeration. Unless your ratio of chocolate to cream or alternate milk source is so out of alignment that it create a sludge/fudge then it should stay pourable.
You can pipe any buttercream into a mold, have you never made buttercream icing for a cake? Tasty experiments!
Just google buttercream icing and have a go at it. Worst case is you have something which you can throw on some brownies or a quick cake hehe.
It's not shelf stable but they are good and creamy.
You can store your bag of buttercream in the fridge but will need to allocate some time for it to "thaw" before piping.
While this isn't our recipe I just grabbed this one off Foodnetwork as an example of the ingredient breakdown, not rocket science--
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla or other desired flavoring
2 pounds confectioners' sugar
Or don't use a package, just look up buttercream recipes. We sell the hell out of some straight up old fashion buttercream filled products during easter and use a slightly modified version for a bon bon year round. Fondant is just way too sweet and in the end a really neutral product.
This has some interesting points.. I'm torn on the concept of having to have a $100 bar to achieve it though when wine makers and their chain of professionals attached to them don't have to leverage the $100 bottles to achieve greatness. Also many winemakers are just like chocolate makers, stretched very thin and more passionate than economically feasible unless conglomerated (a few family wine makers here.)
A perfect night at a tasting meal with it's accompaniments don't have that kind of cost per wine unit, $25 here, $30 there, $50 maybe.. but really, $100 across the board doesn't make sense. You'd wedge yourself into such an exclusive category that would be untouchable and reeked with the wrong demographic that it would take decades to equalize in the community.
Your point though, which should have been all that there was--is that there is a potential, a possibility, for a much deeper relationship with chocolate. One that hasn't been given real time or study but might should. If it was, what would be needed to accomplish such a task and that is interesting.
Like all things though, these studies, experiments and all that come with it come with the task of either doing it on your own time, dime, and love then finding a market that can respect that. It will still take decades for that line of thought to enter the market too since it's too much of a commodity. Taking a commodity and raising the epitome is tricky. Coffee has done it on a few occasions with Cup of Excellence winners getting up to $70 a # but it's not a market normal and not normally market accessible.
You've definitely pushed some neat thoughts out though. Kudos on that.