Forum Activity for @Michael Arnovitz

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/27/15 03:24:54AM
59 posts

How to make white chocolate? Help!


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I've never made vegan white chocolate, but obviously the key issue would be the need to swap out the milk powder with a vegan ingredient. From what I understand soy powder is the usual choice. The taste would not be equivalent, but this is often the case with vegan foods. You'll have to experiment to get something you like.

As for the sweetner, I'm not sure why you are planning on using coconut sugar. If you are doing it to avoid the bone char issue you can accomplish that by simply going with organic sugar, since certified organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char. Also, I'm guessing that organic sugar is less expensive than coconut sugar as well as easier to find.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/27/15 03:02:49AM
59 posts

FDA Packaging Guidelines for Chocolate???


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Most likely your state Department of Agriculture handles the licensing for food processing. At least that's the way it works here in Oregon. In any case the relevant agency where you live will send you that info once you tell them you want to get licensed. I know that here in Oregon they actually want to see your packaging before they license you in order to make sure you've done it correctly. Again, in your state things may work differently so check. If they don't offer the info make sure you ask for it. There are specific requirements, but it's really not that complicated. Also, if you are a small business you are exempt from some of the requirements. 

In the meantime you might try this link. It has way more info than you actually need for your chocolate, but it's a good place to start: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM265446.pdf

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/18/15 03:31:18PM
59 posts

EZtemper


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Kerry - what do you think would happen if you took the remaining nib mass (after you removed that first 25g or so of butter), put it into a fine-mesh nut bag (or something equivalent), placed it in a strainer over a bowl, and dropped a weight on it? Do you think you might squeeze out another 10%-20%? Or would you just end up with a chocolate-stained nut bag?

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/15/15 05:08:40PM
59 posts

Tempering with holely baffle


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Jim - this may be the case with wholesale chocolate such as Valrhona, but it does not seem to be for bean-to-bar chocolate. At least that's been my experience. With bean-to-bar a number of issues come into play such as potential lack of seed (you don't have the tempered chocolate to use as seed until you make the chocolate and temper it, leading to a bit of a catch-22 situation), non-trivial differences in varietals, little or no added cocoa butter in the chocolate making process, etc. In general, I think those of us who make our own chocolate tend to struggle more with the tempering process.

As for myself, for example, I've almost never experienced over-crystallization. Maybe once or twice. My biggest problem was getting my single origins to temper well at all. With a lot of trial and error, I finally found that I had significantly more success with the lower temp and larger delta. Maybe other chocolate makers here will disagree, but it's the only thing that ever consistently worked for me.

The EZTemper, at least so far, has changed my process in a very positive way. Here's how:

PREVIOUS TEMPERING METHOD
1) Melt untempered single origin chocolate in Rev Delta (or pour straight from the melangeur)
2) Go through custom-programmed tempering cycle (which depending on the amt of chocolate would take 2 hours or more)
3) Pour "tempered" choc into large molds (This first tempered chocolate was almost never tempered very well)
4) Take most of that first "tempered" chocolate and run it through the entire process AGAIN, setting aside some to use as seed
5) Pour the second tempered choc into final molds (This second tempering usually did the trick, but not always)

EZTemper METHOD
1) Melt untempered single origin chocolate in Rev Delta (or pour straight from the melangeur)
2) After melting, lower temp to 92º
3) Add 1% precrystallized butter by weight and stir. Wait a few minutes. You're done.

My previous method took 4-5 hours per batch, and gave me an 80%-90% success rate.
The EZTemper method takes less than an hour, and so far gives me a 100% success rate.

Significantly easier, faster and more reliable tempering sessions with less wasted time and less wasted product.
And while I am currently only using it with 5 and 10 pound batches, I see no reason why it wouldn't scale up.
So far I am very happy and very impressed.


updated by @mda@umgdirectresponse.com: 09/15/15 05:10:18PM
mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/10/15 03:30:10PM
59 posts

melter ideas


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Go to a local commercial kitchen supply store and tell them you are in the market for a used heating cabinet/proof box. They can probably dig one up for you for $600-$800, and it will probably take care of your needs.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/10/15 12:37:02PM
59 posts

Tempering with holely baffle


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

If you make chocolate the entire tempering process definitely seems a lot less reliable. And each varietal you make is likely to have slightly different characteristics in regard to what they need to temper up nicely. Some varietals definitely fought me more than others.

In general, you don't need to use the holey baffle, although in theory it shouldn't hurt anything. I would make several suggestions. First of all, I would add the seed a little sooner than you are. Yes, anything over 94F in theory doesn't matter, but you want the melted seed working into your batch as much as possible. As soon as your chocolate temperature lowers in the 90's I would go ahead and throw in the seed. There's no downside to this. Second, once your temp gets down to the low 90's and you remove your seed you should then continue to cool your chocolate. I would recommend taking it down to the low 80's; you want at least 5F swing from the point at which you remove the seed, but 10F is even better. Then raise it up again to 89F - 91F, depending on the origin. And yes, at this point stir it well and leave it to agitate for 10 minutes or so. Finally, and especially if your molds are on the thicker side, place the chocolate in the cooler for about 10 minutes right after molding them up. Then put them on the shelf and maybe even put a light fan on them. And yes, this process will take a while. Depending on the amount of chocolate you're tempering, it can easily take 1-3 hours per batch.

As for over-crystalization, I rarely encountered that problem. But when I did it was almost always due to over-agitation and temps that were too low. So if this is a thing you are seeing consistently, stir a little less and raise the temps by a degree at a time and see how that works out.

One last thing - if you've got the budget consider looking at the "EZTemper" unit. I got one as soon as they came out, and all I can say is WOW. It is making my life a lot easier. 

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/10/15 12:11:03PM
59 posts

melter ideas


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

The various Savage machines are high quality units that will last for many years. I've spoken to numerous chocolate and caramel makers who swear by them. But yes, they are expensive. If you're looking for an inexpensive alternative you might consider this: buy a heating cabinet or heater/proofer like bakers use. (If you get a heater/proofer make sure it can run just as a heating cabinet, because obviously you do not want to add water.)

Turn the temp up in the cabinet to a suitable temp to melt your chocolate, load in pans of different sizes with your chocolate, and come back in the morning to a cabinet full of melted chocolate. Takes longer than a good quality melter, and you're not going to be able to add despositors, etc. But on the plus side you can get brand new heating cabinets for about $1500-$2000, and used ones for half that much.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
07/08/15 02:52:57PM
59 posts

Mold Release / Ring Formation Issue in Mold


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

James - thermoformed molds are known for this, and the problem is exacerbated if your mold has long, flat surfaces. I have both types of molds (those and poly), and as far as I can tell it's just about impossible not to get release marks with the thermoformed molds. If you figure out a fix for this I would be fascinated to hear it, but I suspect the only realistic solution is the obvious one.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
07/08/15 02:46:26PM
59 posts

Brazil Roast


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I agree about the roasting times/temps. That seems like an unusually low temp and a really fast roast. 16 minutes is more like a coffee bean cycle, except of course the temps would be much, much higher.  In my experience you want most cacao bean temps, depending of course on the bean, to rise up into the 260º to 290º range. And you want them at that temp, again depending on the bean, for 20-40 minutes. Yes, that's a wide range of times and temps, but your own efforts fall outside of anything I've generally see work well. 

As for Brazilian beans I don't know if the ones I've worked with are the same as the ones you have, but I would consider starting at a much higher temp (300º with hi fan if you're using a convection oven), leaving it there for 5-8 minutes, and then dropping the temp to somewhere in the 270º-280º range for another 25 minutes or so. If you find that you are losing too much of the bean's "personality", then lower than second phase by 10º or so and try again. With really bright beans (Madagascar, etc) you have to tread more carefully with the heat, but I find that the beans with less bright and/or citrusy attributes can often handle a fuller roast without losing their unique notes. 

Also, I've found that while many beans conch out well within 24 hours, there are others that really benefit from a second day in the grinder. A small number even require a third, but in my opinion that's rare. (Tip: conching/grinding temps will often increase significantly in small grinders as you add more nibs. In my Premiers I've seen differences of as much as 25º with 6lbs vs. 3lbs. So if you're testing a bean keep those grind quanitities the same to decrease your conching variables.)

That having been said, a problem with astringency might also suggest a chalkiness, because the two are somewhat similar. That can sometimes occurs when the grind is not quite right. As those of us who use them know, stone grinders (especially the small ones) do have their limitations. Although there seems to be an increasing trend to forgo pre-grinding, I still think it helps, especially with smaller grinders. And of course you'll want to make sure that your stones are not sitting too loosely on their grinding plate. 

OK, that's what I've got. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/25/15 10:44:20PM
59 posts

HACCP example for bean to bar chocolate?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Thanks Sebastian - I'll definitely look into these!

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/25/15 07:33:45PM
59 posts

HACCP example for bean to bar chocolate?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Sebastian - Do you mean the tube-shaped magnets that are used in grates and in liquid traps? The ones I've seen for grates don't appear to be any less expensive than the plates, although I could be wrong. Also, I was under the impression that the grates were better for larger ferous objects, whereas the plates were better for smaller objects. I may be misunderstanding what you mean however.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/25/15 05:07:33PM
59 posts

HACCP example for bean to bar chocolate?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Clay - Have you seen a good magnet solution for small producers? Most of the solutions I've seen are clearly for larger facilities. I've been thinking about getting a plate magnet and somehow attaching that to a small grain chute used by home brewers, but even that could cost up to $1,000. 

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/23/15 06:54:18PM
59 posts

HACCP example for bean to bar chocolate?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

You have to create a HACCP plan for a small chocolate business? Is that typical in the UK? Ouch.
Anyway…I was actually looking into this myself for another reason, and I found this info. It's from the Canadian government's food safety site. It might be overkill, but at least it's for chocolate: Generic Choc HACCP Model

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/23/15 01:33:43PM
59 posts

Small/Medium Sized Grinders


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

James - Do you have the 2ltr grinder that tilts? I've been wondering about this unit for a while now; for obvious reasons I really like the tilt feature, but I have been concerned that it might not hold up to long use like the 1.5ltr unit does. In the photos of it I've seen, I don't see any vent-holes for the motor like the 1.5ltr unit has. As I said above, I'm going to be gettin several more of these soon, so if you're using the 2ltr with tilt and they're working well for you I'd love to know. Thanks!

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/22/15 03:43:50AM
59 posts

Support an IndieGogo campaign - US$149 chocolate melter?


Posted in: Allow Me to Introduce Myself

I like the design and direction of what they are making. Considering the price, this could be a very cool little induction plate. That having been said, I see several significant problems in regard to using this to temper chocolate:

1) I just don't think that the necessary temperature accuracy and control is going to be there. And yes I know that they put up a video about this, but all they showed was that in a large pot of water the temperature was eventually fairly stable. There's a reason real sous vide units use circulators. And sous vide cooking is significantly more forgiving in this regard than tempering chocolate. 
2) Even if the temperature control problem is solved, I still think that direct heat (even using induction heating) is likely to scorch the chocolate. I saw a little back and forth on the comments page about setting up multi-temp programs, but what I didn't see was any discussion about the ability to carefully control the output power. And this is going to be key, because if you're using one of these to temper chocolate the heat is going to need to be applied in a very gentle fashion, or your chocolate is going to be ruined before you even get to the tempering stage.
3) Finally, all batch tempering units include some method of circulating/stirring the chocolate, which allows for even distribution of temperature as well as proper crystal formation. There's nothing like that happening here, which means a LOT of manual stirring once you finish the first melt cycle. In order to make this unit functional in a production setting, you're going to need to rig up some type of continuous stirring mechanism.

Bottom line: for standard cooking, and especially for sous vide cooking, this looks like a great little induction plate. But for tempering chocolate? Probably not…

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/21/15 05:49:30PM
59 posts

Small/Medium Sized Grinders


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Even though your Premier just died, I still second Clay's thought on the Premier. I got one a while ago for test batches, and I am very happy with it. It runs for days without the slightest hint of overheating, hits particle size with no problem, and is fairly easy to clean. Also, I think that the 1.5kg volume probably refers to idli and dosa batters. In regard to chocolate, I don't think I've ever put less than 4-5 pounds in it, and I'm guessing you would have to get over 6 lbs before you had a problem.

And at $200 each, you really can't beat the price. Compare that to the Spectra 11 at $800 or the Cocoatown 12SL at $500. The latter two grinders can hold a few pounds more, but I think that this is more than mitigated by the fact that you can buy 3-4 Premiers for the cost of one of the others. Quite frankly, even if I had to replace the Premier every year or two, at $200 I'm good with that.

As far as getting something bigger, that just depends on your budget and your production needs. Three Premiers can produce 30-45 lbs of chocolate a week. Yes you use more electricity with three Premiers, and you probably also have a bit more waste. Then again, if you have one bigger grinder and it goes down (which is not uncommon believe me) your production comes to a halt. If you have 3 or 4 Premiers and one goes down, you only lose part of your production capacity. And you can get a new Premier from Amazon in a couple of days.

All that having been said, I believe Santha makes a 10kg grinder called the Spectra 20. If you're ready to move up to that level of production it might be worth looking into.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/20/15 09:26:05PM
59 posts

NSF Approved 30-45 lb Chocolate Melter for under $1500?


Posted in: Classifieds

Yep, that's the guy. And in fact the one you linked to actually looks pretty good. It's NSF certified, so no inspection problems ever. It has separate proof & heat functions, and the heat mode goes up to 185, which is more than you would even need. It's on wheels so it can be moved around. And it looks like it would hold at least 6-8 large hotel pans full of chocolate, so you're good there. In fact by the time you come even close to needing to melt that much chocolate, you'll probably be ready for that Savage anyway!  

And of course as an added bonus it IS a proofer, so there's no reason not to whip up a batch of chocolate croissants every now and again…

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/19/15 05:02:13PM
59 posts

NSF Approved 30-45 lb Chocolate Melter for under $1500?


Posted in: Classifieds

I think Clay's idea will probably give you the most bang for the buck. And that's especially true for smaller amounts of chocolate. But if you are concerned about the issue of water, you might also want to think about a used proofing box. For $1500 (your upper limit) you can actually get a new one, but if you're willing to look around a bit I'm sure you can find a used one for half that price without a lot of effort. Just go to a local restaurant supply outlet and ask - they'll hook you up.

Just make sure you get one with separate temperature and humidity controls and then don't use any water. In a full-sized proof box you could load in a bunch of hotel pans full of chocolate at night and by the morning they should all be melted. So not only would this work for you now, but your needs would have to grow fairly substantially before you outgrew the box. And of course no inspector is ever going to give you grief over a proofing box since they're standard equipment in so many kitchens.

 

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
02/18/15 07:45:56PM
59 posts

Choosing a Couverture


Posted in: Tasting Notes

You might want to think about these guys; for what you're attempting it seems like as convenient a way to begin as any: https://www.chocosphere.com

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
12/07/14 04:38:48PM
59 posts

adding cocoa butter when tempering


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Brad - Callebaut has been pushing this idea. Not surprisingly, they suggest using their "Mycryo" brand of cocoa butter. It probably works, and for a home hobbyist it might very well be an easier method. I don't know; I haven't tried it myself.
I wouldn't imagine too many professionals would go this direction however. And chocolate makers would probably be dead set against it, since they have already made their chocolate with whatever cocoa butter content they think it should have.

Tempering with Mycryo

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/12/14 06:06:19PM
59 posts

hot chocolate dispenser


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I don't own one myself, but I've talked with numerous people who do and the only real negative feedback I get is that the bowl is made from plastic. As such, over time it can get scratched and even "cloudy" looking. I would recommend that when you clean the bowl you do it by hand, avoid harsh detergents, and use a soft scrubber.

The other issue is that they only hold about 5 liters, so if you are serving 6-8 oz portions you're only going to get 20-25 servings before the unit is empty. Depending on the foot traffic in your shop you might go through that pretty quick. And that, as you might imagine, can create operational difficulties on a busy day. As long as you keep issues like this in mind, the feedback I have gotten is that they work as advertised.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/24/14 01:04:13PM
59 posts

How can I sell chocolate online?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

You bring up a very good point. Unfortunately, New York's cottage laws specifically forbid internet sales. And oddly, they also specifically forbid chocolate!

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/23/14 05:12:30PM
59 posts

How can I sell chocolate online?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Tet - this is a fairly standard business practice. It's called contract or white label manufacturing. In some instances the company puts your name on their products. In others you contract with them to make your products on their equipment. There is no employee/employer relationship required for this. In fact you would not want that, and neither would they.

Of course the devil is in the details. The company you contract with might not have the equipment to make every different confection you wish to offer. Or the amount of products you wish produced might not meet their minimum production requirements.

And of course you can't patent a confection, so if you have a really great confection that you invented, and it catches on, they'll probably steal the idea from you. Your attorney may be able to put together a non-disclosure/non-compete agreement that holds water. The value of those varies from State to State.

But it's a fairly typical arrangement, and worth looking into if you don't want to personally make the confections and you are pushing adequate volume. If your projected volume is low however, this is probably not the way to go.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/23/14 03:58:23PM
59 posts

How can I sell chocolate online?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Tet - the licenses and permits you need will depend on exactly what you want to do, and where you want to do it. Each States has its own requirements. Here's my 2:

1) I'm happy to offer you my opinions, but these types of questions really need to be addressed to your lawyer. If you don't have one get one.You'll want one with experience in new business startups, preferably in the food sector.
2) In most states there are licensing/permit requirements for each stage and/or segment of what you're doing. For example you would need to create a corporate entity with your Sec of State. Then you would get a business license from your county and/or city. Additional permits would depend on whether you are a production facility only, or a retail facility, etc. It can be very difficult to navigate your city's bureaucracy. See #1.

3) If you rent space in a commercial kitchen, you'll save yourself most of the headaches involved in getting health dept approvals, etc because the commercial kitchen will have already done that. But there are other regulations regarding ingredients, preparation, storage, etc. that you'll need to familiarize yourself with.

4) A commercial kitchen will almost certainly insist that you carry $1MM-$2MM worth of insurance. And in my State it's also necessary to get a food handler's permit. Your State may have something like that too, in which case the commercial kitchen will also probably want to see proof of that.

5) If you are MAKING chocolate you may have a problem, because a commercial kitchen is highly unlikely to have the specialty equipment you'll need, and probably will not allow you to bring in your own. You'll want to run that down in advance.

6) If you are not making chocolate, then things will be easier. But if by "chocolates" you are referring to truffles, pralines, etc. then as you know these require specific storage environments. Most commercial kitchens have only walk-in refrigerators and freezers.

7) For off-site storage you will need a facility that is both temperature and humidity controlled. Storage facilities that cater to wine can sometimes be ideal. But again, you'll have to check the laws in your State, because moving the confections to a non-approved facility before sale might not be allowed.

8) There are issues that come into play when you sell food to the public that you may not have considered. For example, it's very typical to include liquors and other alcohol-based flavorings in confections. This is usually allowed, but many States strictly regulate the percentage of alcohol permitted in each confection. That amount may be by volume or by weight. For example in New York it's by volume, and if you have more than 0.5% alcohol you cannot legal sell the confection to anyone under 21 years old, and any packaging you produce must contain a alcoholic beverage warning label!

9) Also, you may very well run into labeling requirements. The FDA has strict rules about how this needs to be done. It's not overly difficult, but you have do to it properly.

Again, and above all, see #1.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/07/14 06:54:29PM
59 posts

Champion Cutter Problem


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I'm having a problem with the cutting blade on my Champion, and I am wondering if anyone else who uses a Champion has seen this. After my last batch of nibs, I noticed that the base of the cutter was dark and frayed (see attached image). I only put about 4-5 batches of nibs through before this happened. I was going to just cut the frayed ends off, but I'm concerned that new ones would form and maybe even get into the chocolate. So to be on the safe side I just ordered a new cutter. But at $35 a pop, I obviously don't want to do this very often.

Any ideas as to why this happened? Improper usage? Bad cutter?

I have tried to be very careful about not pushing the tamper too hard, because I've noticed that the feed tube (and in fact the entire unit) gets really hot after only a few pounds of nibs. But it's also been my experience that you have to push the tamper down at least a little or the nibs will sometimes just sit at the bottom of the tube and not feed through. Any feedback would be appreciated!


updated by @mda@umgdirectresponse.com: 04/10/15 08:04:16PM
mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
05/11/14 05:23:04PM
59 posts

Medical Marijuana / Chocolate please share your experiences


Posted in: Opinion

I haven't made any of these products myself (not since college anyway), but in regard to your second question I think that answer is a very big yes. There are already a number of companies doing this. A quick Google search will bring up a slew of them.

I think the biggest holdup at the moment is that the legal issues still aren't worked out. For example Colorado is working on legislation that would require marijuana-infused food products to limit themselves to specific amounts of THC per serving, and I think most States are going to want to see something like this. This makes sense, but controlling for specific amounts of THC per serving strikes me as something that's going to be beyond the ability of most small-batch producers. Somebody's going to have to figure that out however, at which point I think this will turn into a niche, but sizable, market.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
05/07/14 04:59:09PM
59 posts

allergy free chocolates


Posted in: Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Youre right; you have taken a pretty big bite! I dont know how much time you have to complete this, but I hope its at least another few weeks! Anyway, while reading your post a few questions and thoughts came to me. Maybe they will be helpful.

1) You said you wanted a vegan Easter egg because your son is allergic to milk. As Im sure you know however, dairy-free and vegan are not the same thing. If you go vegan, youll likely be dealing with other complications. For example, you wont be able to use numerous food additives and/or stabilizers that you might want to use, such as gelatins, lactic acid, lecithin, beeswax, shellac, etc. And yes, there are vegan replacements for many of these items, but they can be difficult to find and will usually increase your product cost. Why not just remove the dairy? Wouldnt that be simpler? Or do you specifically want your product to be vegan? If you do want a vegan product thats fine, but make sure you are clear on what the specific goal is, because the production of vegan products is more complicated than dairy-free products, and vegans are not exactly known for their sense of humor about these things.

2) You say that you want to sell a 23-gram bar for 60 cents, but then state that you have no idea what it would cost to produce each bar. Which means that you are deciding on a price before you know your costs. And yet you want the largest profit margin possible. Ian, how do you expect to control your profit margins if you create a selling price before you even know your costs? This is not how it works. FIRST you figure out your costs. Product cost. Labor cost. Other overhead costs. Then you figure out how much each unit costs you. Then you determine your margin. THEN you price. And leave some buffer room, because youll be lucky if your numbers actually work out to be as accurate as you hoped.

3) You say that you want relatively affordable products for children. Why? Children dont care about price, because children dont have money. They either get money from their parents, or their parents just buy it for them. In my opinion you should not be focusing on making your products inexpensive. You should be focusing on making them high quality. Why? Well first of all, parents typically focus on saving money with the regular day-to-day things. Easter eggs and other chocolates are treats, and parents are far less price-sensitive when purchasing them.

Secondly, youre making a specialty product, which means your costs will be greater and your pool of customers smaller. Theres a reason that one vegan egg you found cost 7 euros. Just because the price was too much for you, that doesnt mean its too much.

And finally, you are making a product for children with allergies. Parents need to trust you. Which means you need to communicate high quality. Low prices typically communicate the opposite, which means your messaging and pricing will be working at cross-purposes. While it might not seem intuitive, I think its likely that in the market youre looking to enter, low prices would probably hurt you more than help you.

4) Speaking of your market, how big is it? And by that I dont mean how many people live in Berlin. How many people in Berlin suffer from nut allergies? In the US, its about 1%. Is it the same where you live? How many people in Berlin are vegans? In the US its about 2.5%, although that number is self-reported. Can you sustain a business when you start out by eliminating 98%-99% of your potential market? I dont know. Maybe. But you want to think about how youll make that work.

5) Also, you said that you could hardly find any vegan Easter eggs in Berlin, and you could not find a single vegan Easter egg in all of Berlin without nuts. If Berlin really is the vegan capital of Germany, and nobody is trying to sell a vegan Easter egg, what does that tell you? Do you think that this means that you are the first person to think of this? Or is it possible that the companies who already make Easter eggs have researched this and determined that the market is too small to be worth it? In other words, is this a market that is under served, or a market that doesnt really exist? This strikes me as something you would want to figure out before you build a factory.

6) You also stated that you could not find an Easter egg without nuts. Why? Setting aside the vegan issues, is this because there is a tradition in Germany (or Berlin) to make Easter eggs in a very specific way? If so, this could add another non-trivial complicating factor. You might be able to market to non-vegans and people without nut allergies if they think that your product is pure and of high quality. But if removing nuts from your Easter eggs makes them non-traditional in a society that places high value on the traditional aspects of such a product, youre going to have a significantly more difficult time selling these to anyone outside of your 1% or 2%.

Final thoughts You appear to be doing a few important things backwards. You are determining your final price before you even know your costs, and you are wondering how much it would cost to build a factory before you even know if anyone wants your product.

You live in a city that only sells blue widgets, and you want to sell red widgets. Do you really think that an investors first question will be, how much does the factory cost? If I were an investor, I would want you to tell me what your product idea is and why people are going to want it. I would want to know that, first and foremost, you spent your time researching the product and the market. Then we could talk about operational details.
How much does it cost to build a factory that makes square tires? I dont know. Does it matter?

All that having been said, I would not think in terms of a factory for this product until the demand is shown to exist. If I were doing this, I would a small to medium-sized workshop selling in your area alone. If that works out you could expand later. Clay and others here have a lot more experience, and will probably have a better idea of costs, but I would think you could buy the equipment for a small chocolate workshop (depending on what you want to make you were not entirely clear on that point) for 50,000 - 75,000. And if you dont want or need to actually make the chocolate, you could reduce that quite a bit.

The complicating factor for expansion of course is that the equipment you buy is based on the quantity you are looking to produce. How much product would you need to make to sell in major cities throughout German? Exactly what type of products are you going to be making? Without knowing that, its impossible to properly decide which equipment to buy. Other costs would depend on whether you wanted a brick and mortar retail presence as opposed to e-commerce, how much marketing you wanted to do, how much legal you need, startup taxes and fees imposed by your local and national governments, initial capital outlays for inventory, etc.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
05/07/14 03:03:59PM
59 posts

Continuous tempering machines: Bakon Choco-lution?


Posted in: Opinion

My understanding is that the Bakon tempering machine has only been available for a little over a year, so it probably just hasn't worked its way into enough hands yet. That having been said, I've also found it a bit curious that no one ever seems to even mention it. Really, there are people in the witness protection program who get more attention that this unit.

When it comes to continuous tempering machines FBM and Selmi always seem to get the lion's share of attention. They're both solid companies. But I just find that odd. You would think people would talk about other tempering machines from other companies (Savy Goiseau, Sollich, LCM, Bravo, Pomati, GAMI, Frichoc, etc) at least a little. Perhaps Selmi and FBM have just been significantly more aggressive with their US marketing? I don't know.

If you didn't know better, you couldn't be blamed for thinking that this is a 2-horse race. Except it's not.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
05/05/14 10:26:59PM
59 posts

belgian endives filling


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

This bad boy (see link below) from PolyScience costs over $9k, but if you are going to make extractions on any regular basis, and you have the budget, you might want to take a look at it. I've been lusting after it for a while now. If things come together with a project I'm working on, I hope to be able to grab one this fall.

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
01/28/14 06:15:39PM
59 posts

Chocolate Bar wrappers - Copyright issues from commercial use?


Posted in: Opinion

Okay this is different. I didn't realize that you were talking about decorative and stationary paper. In that case I would simply call the manufacturer and ask them. They'll probably be fine with it. In fact they may really like the idea that you're using their paper for this purpose.

In addition there's a good chance you'll be able to buy wholesale quantities direct from them at a substantial discount. They may even be willing, as long as you buy sufficient quantities, to produce paper for you in a custom format. With the right manufacturer, you could develop a very beneficial relationship that you could even use with your new designs!

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
01/28/14 03:49:04PM
59 posts

Chocolate Bar wrappers - Copyright issues from commercial use?


Posted in: Opinion

If by "off the shelf" you mean stock photography and/or illustrations, then the answer to whether or not this is permitted depends on the company from which you license the art. When you pay for art on a stock art web site you are not buying the art in question. Rather, you are paying for a limited use license for that art. For example at iStock, which is now owned by Getty, a regular license will NOT allow you to use the art for items for resale (this would include chocolate bars). You would need to purchase an extended license for that.

Many stock sites have similar arrangements, and you'll want to be very careful to be aware of those before you move forward. BUT, once you insure that you're meeting their terms, then you should be fine. Most of these sites (at least the good ones) guarantee that their art will not put you in a position to infringe.

On the other hand, if by "off the shelf" you are referring to those cheapie web sites that create logos and such for $50, then I cannot advise strongly enough against using them for this type of situation. Really, just don't.

Also, no matter what advice you receive here, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you run this past your attorney. I don't know what infringement penalties are like in the UK, but here in the US they can be so draconian that even a small transgression can put you out of business. You'll probably be fine. But proceed with caution.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
01/27/14 01:17:49PM
59 posts

Should I be 1099'd for a customer's purchases?


Posted in: Opinion

A couple of thoughts:

1) This is a question for your accountant.
2) 1099's are usually (but not always) issued to people, not corporations. If your company is incorporated, and she paid your company, she probably doesn't need to give you a 1099. If your company is not incorporated, and she paid YOU, then she probably does.
3) If you're supposed to issue someone a 1099 and you don't, you can be fined by the IRS. I don't know how often this actually happens (not often I think), but your customer may be concerned about that.
4) If someone issues you a 1099 you don't need, it doesn't hurt you in any way. Just give it to your accountant.
5) See #1

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
01/27/14 01:45:11PM
59 posts

alternatives to champion juicer


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

This is probably outside of your budget, and I haven't seen anyone else do this, butScott Witherow at Olive & Sinclair uses (or at least used to use) a Mexican corn mill. Check out the attached video at about the 1:25 mark. Looks like it works fairly well too.

http://vimeo.com/7968657

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/14/13 08:40:30PM
59 posts

Choosing enrobing cabin (Coating cabins)


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Their customer service may not be great, but my understanding is their equipment is well-respected, and a lot of companies use it. I'm sure that Clay or others can add more about them.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/14/13 08:27:07PM
59 posts

Choosing enrobing cabin (Coating cabins)


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

300,000 Euros for a coating cabin? Wow. That must be a large, integrated system of some type. You didn't say anything about what level of output you require, so I have no idea if this will work for you. But I know that Savy Goiseau makes several models of belt coaters that look very much like the image you attached. The large one is rated at up to 50 kg/hour.I don't know what they cost, but I'm sure they're significantly less than 300,000 Euros.

http://www.savy-goiseau.com/en/range/coating-in-turbine

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/08/13 03:26:39PM
59 posts

Caffeinated Chocolate


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Salt is a known bitterness suppressor, and is often used for this purpose. Plus it goes well with chocolate. It's the only natural ingredient I can think of that will do this. There is of course a limit to its effectiveness, so I don't know if it would be enough to mitigate the issues you're dealing with. The only other natural ingredient I can think of is sugar. Sugar does not suppress bitterness per se, but it does fairly effectively mask it. Again, there are limits.

Of course you can always resort to chemical bitterness suppressors. I'm no food scientist, but I know that these are out there. I think I read somewhere that tannic acid can do this. And there are other products (such as Benecoat) that are made for this purpose. Before using these however you'll want to think about how important it is to you to have an all-natural product. Personally I think all-natural approaches are always preferable for high-end chocolate. But if you're getting the extra caffeine into the bar using chemicals then the ship has sailed on that anyway. And if your prospective customers are buying these bars mainly to get a jolt of caffeine then a case could be made that this approach would not be as much of a negative with that segment of the market.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/06/13 04:55:40PM
59 posts

cooling chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Yes.

There are two factors you want to look at when choosing a stone for this purpose: thermal conductivity and thermal capacitance. The first is the ability of the material to conduct heat (or cold), the second is the ability of the material to hold on to that heat (or cold).

When it comes to tempering you need a material that will conduct heat well enough to cool down fairly quickly, so that your slab will be cool in a cool room or easily cooled with refrigeration. That's the conductivity part. But at the same time you want that material to hold on to that cool temp for an extended period of time while you place warm chocolate on it. That's the capacitance part. That part is actually even more important.

This is why people don't use metal to temper chocolate. Its conductivity is terrific. Better than marble. But its capacitance is crap. In other words metal heats up or cools down easily. But it loses that heat or cool too fast for this purpose.Marble is used because it hits the sweet spot of cooling relatively quickly, but holding onto that cool for a longer period of time. In other words just the right mix of thermal conductivity and thermal capacitance for this job.

Can you get other stone or artificial materials to work for you? Probably, but you'll want to check their thermal properties compared to marble first. Tempering chocolate with this method is finicky to begin with, and there's no reason to make your job harder than it has to be.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
06/27/13 02:27:40PM
59 posts

Nuts & Rancidity


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Andy - I looked into this myself (for different reasons) last fall. The good news is that you can get vacuum sealing systems with a nitrogen flush for less than you might think. I saw some for as little as $3,000. The bad news is that these systems tend to be more geared toward things that can be easily poured into the bags. Many confections would have to be hand work, which would eliminate most of the automatic functions that are potentially available.

That having been said, it all depends on your volume. If your volume is not that large then filling the bags by hand may be no problem anyway. And if your volume is large you can get an automated solution designed for nearly anything. As usual, it's when you're somewhere in the middle that there is no easy solution.

As for your specific issue with pecans I'm no expert on nuts but my research has always indicated that the only (and probably best) way to extend the life of pecans is through temperature. In particular freezing them. Pecans apparently hold up to freezing (and even thawing and re-freezing) much better than most nuts. Of course how your confections might hold up to this is another story. But if you place your product in an vacuum-sealed bag with a nitrogen flush and then keep them in the freezer you might actually get that one year. Of course you'll have to set aside a year to test it out! And even if it works I would be surprised if there wasn't some degradation in the quality of the nuts. But maybe

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
06/06/13 08:04:43PM
59 posts

Dispensing Caramel


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I'm guessing that more than one person might point out that you didn't give nearly enough info about what you're doing to answer that question. But on a small scale, here's an idea:http://youtu.be/sD2zeQsgp2g

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
06/03/13 09:34:29PM
59 posts

Marking the Passing of an Inspiration: Mott Green


Posted in: News & New Product Press

I went to his presentation last year at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, where he talked about the formation and ongoing state of the Granada Chocolate Company. It was impressive, and I am very sorry to hear of his passing. He made important and lasting contributions that bettered the lives of many, and he will be remembered for this.

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