Forum Activity for @Mark Allan

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
10/22/15 11:34:17AM
47 posts

quality shell molds-shell mold problems


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

Fat Daddio polycarbonate molds are what I use. I have bought other non polycarbonate molds and never use them. I'm sure other brands of polycarbonate are just as good. Polycarbonate is rigid, but you can whack them on the counter without breaking them. If the chocolate is tempered right, the bars/candies will fall right out after a chill. The more you use them, without washing them with soap, the easier the chocolates will be to remove. A trace of cocoa butter coats the mold after its first use, so the chocolates fall out even easier after subsequent uses.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/17/15 02:58:33PM
47 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


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

I do have a little update on my first experiment. After checking on the grinder for the fourth time last night, I started messing with the fastening nut and ended up seizing up the grinder. I removed some of the mixture, tried again, did this a few times until it started spinning again. While watching and waiting for more stops, I decided to use my old, modified grinder, with the lid that has some air ports in it. I put some of the mixture in that one.

This morning the grinder without air circulation had ganache and cocoa butter, separated. The other grinder with air ports had an integrated mixture. I think it was able to evaporate the excess moisture. I was able to temper the mixture and just shared some of the results with family. The chocolate was better than powdered milk, milk chocolate, but still a little darker than people are used to. Right now I am using the air flow grinder to pound out another batch, but with more milk.

I read about crumb, also read some patents on how it is made. As you stated, it is usually made with a vacuum type evaporator. On my second experiment, I made some condensed milk, got the temp up to 115C, added some cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and it's in the grinder now.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/17/15 10:28:00AM
47 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


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

Thanks!

Milk crumb, that's a term you don't hear too often, never, in my case. That's a whole new variable. Will look into it.

And yes, despite my best efforts, it looks like my wet grinder has 8 lbs of ganache in it. :-(

Many thanks for the new insight!

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/16/15 01:02:28PM
47 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


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

OK, self answer after having tried an experiment this morning that I do not think will turn out well, super-saturate sugar into evaporated milk before adding it to the chocolate, maybe after heating milk and sugar to 230'ish. I read that Cadbury at least partially caramelizes their sugar before making chocolate, so I think this is one of the factors. I do make caramel fillings for our chocolate using evaporated milk and sugar.

I was thinking maybe my wet grinder would drive off the excess moisture from the milk, which I've seen happen with humid cocoa nibs. It might be too much to hope for from a whole can of evaporated milk. When I first poured it into the chocolate liqueur, it seized up and I had to stop the machine. I've made that mistake before making chocolate syrup, the solid cocoa absorbs the moisture and turns into a thick paste.

Going to try super saturation next, but will try to salvage the current mess first...or fatten up our pig. :)

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/16/15 10:04:40AM
47 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


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

Hi Rahman,

If you have some way to send it to us, I'd be glad to try it. How much can you send? With a 5 lbs, I can make a very small batch of dark.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/15/15 10:39:45PM
47 posts

Real Milk, Milk Chocolate


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

Does anybody have any idea how you might make a milk chocolate using real milk, maybe even just evaporated milk? We've never been overly impressed with the recipes we've found online using powdered milk. Cadbury, in the UK, makes a superior milk chocolate that it is hard to stop eating. As a matter of fact, many places in the UK make superior milk chocolate. In the US, Cadbury chocolate is made by Hershey's, and it is not UK quality. You can by tasting, or by reading the ingredient label.

Cadbury UK Milk Chocolate

Ingredients: Full Cream Milk, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Milk Solids, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 476), Flavours.

"A glass and a half of milk in every half pound bar of chocolate"

Cadbury/Hershey's US Milk Chocolate


Ingredients: MILK CHOCOLATE ( SUGAR; MILK; CHOCOLATE; COCOA BUTTER; LACTOSE; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER; NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR)

I do understand, and have heard, that getting liquid into chocolate means you cannot make it set/mold in solid form. I don't know if that's just water if it applies to any liquid.

Has anyone here ever used real milk, or canned milk, to make milk chocolate? Any tips on this?


updated by @Mark Allan: 05/17/15 05:04:27PM
Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/14/15 10:05:08AM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

I've come to realize that's why a lot of people caution me, even vendors of hammer mills, on grinding cocoa. What our screw press churns out is pretty dry and I have run it in our grinder several times. The grinder does get too hot to touch, but the powder always comes out as powder, grainy, but powdery nonetheless, not pasty.

Otherwise, thanks for the vote of confidence. I think it will probably be slow as well, but we are really small scale right now anyway. For the brownie mixes we make, we do not need a 400 mesh powder. For mixing into ice cream, I think a 400 mesh powder will suffice based on what I've seen with earlier experiments. The ice cream is brown, but it has grains. We just have to keep the larger grains out.

Maybe someday we'll get a hammer mill, but I am hoping the investment will make obvious sense by then.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/13/15 11:00:02PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

OK, I have small, 200g spice grinder that turns at 28000 RPM. I was hoping it would work well enough for cocoa powder, but the problem is that some grains are larger, others are small. There is no mesh/screen on it. You just set the timer, it starts spinning and you take what you get, not good enough. The result is still too grainy for ice cream.

I am going to try a low tech solution, which is common in this country. Will rubber band strap a piece of 400 mesh screen where the lid of this machine would go, with a good rubber band, and put a plastic bag over that. Turn it on, tilt it back and forth and see what comes out. The screen comes next week. Hoping for a breakthrough, a cheap one.

400 mesh screen is sold on eBay in 12"x12" pieces, for $9, free shipping. If this works I might consider writing a book on single source chocolate, for under $1000.  (not really)

We can already make good chocolate, single source, but we have leftover cocoa powder that is not fine enough.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
04/09/15 08:31:07PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

It's been awhile since this was updated. I was able to find a quality supplier of cocoa, one with properly fermented beans. I have been selling 70% dark bars, amont many other chocolate covered things, for about eight months now. I also bought a cocoa pulverizer that hits about 24000 RPM's. Machine costs about $200. It does a good job of making the powder fine, but it lacks a screen so some of the particles don't get as fine as I would like them. The local dairy is going to try the powder tomorrow.

I've also cracked the recipe/code of a very popular, fairly expensive, brownie mix maker. That is how I've been getting rid of the coarser cocoa powder so far and the brownie mix is selling well.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
08/11/14 12:16:23PM
47 posts

Roasting Issue?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I bought some quality beans from a local farmer, in Honduras. These same beans are used to make a 70% dark chocolate in the USA, which sells for $45/lb from a company I probably should not mention for fear of copyright issues.

Anyway, this is how the chocolate is described on the web site I am referring to:

"Intriguing bursts of citrus, molasses, sharp stonefruit, and woodiness. Slightly tannic with vibrant pops of flavor and a drying finish."

What we are tasting is both fruity and sour. This is for a batch of beans roasted to 130 Celsius (266F). If we roast higher than that, we get more bitter. I do not have the benefit of tasting the chocolate sold by the other shop. I am wondering if 130C is too high? What might the sour taste come from, unless it is supposed to be that way?

We ran a taste test with 12 people last week. One of them preferred the 130C over the higher roasts, while the others preferred the higher roasts. However, as a control group, we also put some milk chocolate into the sample. Everyone preferred the milk chocolate except for the one who preferred the 130C dark. Makes me think that those who prefer dark, would like a lighter roast.


updated by @Mark Allan: 04/11/15 01:40:59PM
Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/20/14 10:42:32AM
47 posts

Wrapping Solutions


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

Thanks for the link. I am checking that site out now.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/17/14 11:55:58AM
47 posts

Wrapping Solutions


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

We have access to some very fine cacao now, some that a certain US artisan company is able to sell for $45/lb., after they convert it to bar.

Our process is complete, but improving.

I would like to find an economical, yet elegant solution for wrapping bars that we can sell to tourists and the locals. There is the traditional, label over foil wrapping that commercial bars used to use. Then there are the artisanal, wax lined bags such as:

Does anyone know if these types of bags are available "off the shelf"? Do they require custom printing and hand sealing?

I'm open to any wrapping solutions, but we really want to brand our chocolate and give it an earthy look, such as the wrapper above.


updated by @Mark Allan: 04/12/15 10:27:23PM
Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/27/14 12:55:43PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Thanks. After I made that last reply I was weighing the pros and cons of putting the 400 screen in front of the 250, and vice versa. Still, even as low as $500 sounds for this craft, I am going to wait until I can produce a chocolate bar worth continuing on with. I am still hoping it's the under fermented bean. I tried being really careful about getting no shell/husk in the chocolate, and grinding for a couple days, but I still did not notice a drop in bitterness. Our neighbor is on the lookout for properly fermented beans among the other cacao farmers he knows.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/27/14 11:06:15AM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Making a mesh, I wonder too if that's a possibility. We have machinists here, but not sure if they could do something to that level of detail. Larry showed a link above to a company that makes mesh.

As far as doing the sampling, there's a logistic problem. We live in Honduras and the vendor is in China. Getting things in and out of Honduras to/from the USA is difficult enough. I'd have no clue how to do that with China.

If we can get our microscope back from a friend, I will try and measure Hershey's, and then see if Hershey's works for the dairy.

The cocoa we crush with the grinder works well for baking recipes, we just don't know a lot of people in our area who bake very often. The dairy, on the other hand, buys 50 lbs of cocoa, imported from Spain, to make their ice cream.

I watched the video included on those eBay machines, showing how they operate. I am wondering if it would work to add some mesh behind or in front of the screens they provide. Such as, buy some 400 mesh and place it in front of the 250 mesh screen.

http://www.twpinc.com/wire-mesh/TWPCAT_12/p_400X400T0012W48T

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/27/14 09:23:03AM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Hi Sebastian,

I did some follow up on the hammer mills you found on eBay for under $500. The finest mesh they have is 250, 57um. That is probably finer than I am making it with my stone grinder, but from what you said below, probably not fine enough to mix into ice cream?

We're going to try and figure out what size Hershey's Cocoa is with a microscope.

Thanks,

Mark C.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/26/14 07:54:47AM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Hi Sebastian,

OK, what mesh size should be required? 500, as Larry was requesting? Or is the 400 small enough?

Thanks

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/25/14 07:23:47PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Man there's got to be a way short of $10K to pulverise cocoa powder. I thought I read that cocoa powder can be as large as 200 mesh.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/23/14 10:01:50PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

My budget is painfully low as I've yet to make a decent chocolate and don't want to get in deep until I prove that I can turn out something edible. I can make confections that are good, but a plain bar, either dark or milk, is too bitter.

This weekend I reset my process to Chocolate Alchemy's method of using a Champion juicer to help filter out more of the shell. Will see how that goes. I'm not sure how this process could be made faster, as it's way too inefficient to ever think of going commercial with it. I am thinking I will try cracking the beans before putting them in the forced air roaster. That way more of the shell should blow off in the 15 minute roast plus 10 minute cool down. The fan removes loose shells.

I'm still hoping to make a breakthrough and experimenting with different aspects, but the beans I buy from the local market, as described in a different thread, are not fermented sufficiently. I'm still waiting for a neighbor to come up with properly fermented beans but trying to improve on the market beans in the meantime.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/23/14 02:43:29PM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Thanks again, Sebastian

Yes, though I could never get a tech spec on the grind mesh range of a Kitchenaid grain mill, I realized it probably was not sufficient to grinding 200 mesh as looks like the max size for cocoa powder. Now I am wondering if the espresso setting on a higher end coffee grinder would work well enough, though I have my doubts.

I have an inquiry for this machineas to the mesh range, but don't have high hopes. I did a search for 'sugar hammer mill for sale' but have not found much yet.

Thanks,

Mark C

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/21/14 11:32:14AM
47 posts

Grinding Cocoa Solids Into Powder


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

I might have a rare problem in that I extract my own cocoa butter using a screw press. The machine serves the purpose of making chocolate. The problem I am left with is doing something with the cocoa solids it removes.

The solids crumble into flakes, which I can grind down a bit using the wet grinder. I just add about two cups at a time to the grinder and run it about 20 minutes. At that point it is fine enough to bake with or use in making chocolate syrup, but not fine enough to mix into liquids, or in this particular case, ice cream.

A local dairy would like to give me the business of producing cocoa powder, but it must be fine enough to dissolve in their ice cream mix. According to the manager, the cocoa I produce is too coarse and shows up grainy in the ice cream. I am not sure what particle size you would find in say, Hershey's, but apparently I am not there.

Does anyone know of any economical solution for this? We have a Kitchenaid stand mixer and I've been looking at the grain mill which makes flour from grains, but I don't know if that would grind it fine enough or not. If not that mill, would any other commercially available mill work?

Thanks,

Mark C


updated by @Mark Allan: 04/09/15 08:12:14PM
Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/10/14 06:15:30PM
47 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi Mack,

Likely it could be achieved. Add the cocoa butter and keep the fastening screw kind of loose. Monitor it for the first batch, testing every 5-10 minutes, to see if it rises above.

Failing that, try just the sugar and cocoa butter first, add the chocolate liqueur after the sugar is refined.

-Mark

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/10/14 01:36:27PM
47 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

No, there is no specific heating element, but... the grinding action will keep the temp pretty warm. Tighten down the wheels with the adjustable screw and the liquid will heat up depending on the viscosity. The thicker the mass is, the higher the temperature it will achieve. For this reason, I don't add the final dose of cocoa butter until I feel like it has had a sufficient time to conche. Once you add sufficient cocoa butter, the viscosity and heat will drop.

Before I had access to cocoa butter, my batches would get to 160F while grinding. Now I try to take it easy on the machine by adding some butter up front, which keeps the mass below 140F.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/10/14 01:07:37PM
47 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Sorry, no, what I meant was, you don't have to pre-grind the sugar. Add it to the chocolate, right out of the bag. Where I live, the sugar is even more coarse than the sugar in the USA, but I still just add it straight...to the chocolate.

Conching aside, you can refine the sugar to a smooth texture in a few hours, but I usually let mine run for a day or two, in the garage, to try and accomplish a "conche".

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/10/14 10:26:28AM
47 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

If you are looking to keep your investment low, try a wet grinder from Premier. They are sold on Amazon for just north of $200. I have used the "Wonder" table top grinder for about a year, with no problems, even after a lot of abuse. That version is 1.5L and I have made as much as 8 lbs at once with it. They also have a tilting, 2L grinder for about $25 more. My guesstimate is that the 2L could make 10lbs at once. I can run tell a difference in texture between six hours and 48 hours after I grind, but I also don't notice any coarseness. The only mod I would make is to make some kind of window screen enclosure so that you can keep the lid off and get some airflow going.

Final note, I just dump table sugar in the machine and let it do the milling. You will a little crunching for a few minutes while the wheels crush the sugar, but not for long.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/15/14 06:51:18PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

Hi Sebastian,

Well, a couple weeks ago I gave up on my neighbor and combed the web for two days straight, looking for a better source of cacao in Honduras. Honduras does not have much of an online representation. Finally, I found a couple good sources of cacao and immediately ordered a 100 lbs sack from one source. The name of the farm is Finca Patricia, which also sells cacao to the Askinoosie chocolate factory. I am buying the same beans as Askinoosie uses. Askinoosie sells 3 ounce Honduran bars for $8.50 (~$45/lb.). Now, if anyone reading this, try not to go ballistic. I can buy the beans here for $1.15/lb. I dissected a sampling of the beans and they were all perfectly fermented, at least compared to the online guides.

I did get the beans properly roasted yesterday, but got impatient over the weekend and roasted some in the oven. Even oven roasted, what this cacao made was far superior to the beans I was buying before. Now I can sell a bar without any shame. :-)

So now I am happily buying new equipment and looking to hire some part time salesmen.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/11/14 08:58:03PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

If I ever churn out something I would eat in a bar, I would not be opposed to it. Until then, I'm too ashamed. I make confections with it right now, and it's good enough for that, but not a bar.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/11/14 08:46:01PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

If only I could. By the time they got to you, they would have melted and solidified several times...without a proper temper. I am in Honduras.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/08/14 08:08:31PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

OK, unroasted cacao was cut and inspected. I would say 70% of them are purely purple, another 15% have at least a purple hue. The rest are brown and seem OK. So, it seems the initial theory, that the beans are under-fermented, was spot on. I would send a photo, but I don't have a camera capable of taking a quality photo.

These beans seem to be the bulk, I would say "Folgers" quality, in a coffee comparison. What I mean by that is, here in Honduras, you have specialty growers who cultivate export quality coffee, but they are the exception. The rest grow as many beans as they can, dry them and sell them in bulk to buyers. The buyers lump them all together and sell them all together to the highest bidder. From the taste of it, I would say Folgers is one of those bidders.

That appears to be what I'm buying in the way of cacao. The beans might have had potential at one time or another, but the fermenting was cut short.

So now I am waiting for my neighbor to finish his harvest, ferment and dry. The harvest started this week. He said that he ferments four days, but I had told him that a friend recommended six days. We will see what he produces. I am going to take the purple beans to him and show him what I don't want to buy.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/07/14 01:18:09PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

Just a little update on this. I do not have any unroasted beans at the house, so I asked someone to buy a pound from the market. Meanwhile I cut open about 20 roasted beans. The colors vary. None are very dark, most are dark gray, some are brown, some are yellow and brown. I know I need pre-roasted beans, but I think I'm seeing a problem already.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/03/14 09:00:42PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

Thanks, I was reading the cocoa quality chart that Gap posted the link to. I will do the bean splitting. It looks very useful. I don't remember a lot of off colored beans after the chopping, but I will take the 100 bean challenge when I receive them. I assume this should be done before roasting, or does it matter?

Judging by the chart and my short memory, I would say if there is any problem, it's that the beans are over-fermented, or dried too slowly, possibly even moldy, but I can't wait to do the count.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/03/14 07:31:26PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

I live in Honduras, where the cocoa is grown and sold at local markets. Most of what I've batched with so far is from the local market, but I just ordered a 100 lbs. sack from a neighbor who has a cocoa farm down in the lower altitudes. I asked him how long he ferments and he said four days. Until your reply I'd been trying to figure out how to ask for six day fermentation, a special order, without offending him. He is very proud of the fact that his beans and those of his neighboring cocoa farmers, are exported to Europe. I don't know if that is any sign of quality, or if they are just used to press out butter.

As far as what I want, at this point I'd be elated to have something as bland as Hershey's. The selling point here is not some special dark chocolate that might sell for $40/lb in the USA. The selling point will be that it is "good enough", and made in Honduras, with Honduran products; the sugar and cacao are both produced here. There are no national nor regional brands of chocolate here. So for now I'm not looking to make "artisan" quality stuff, I just want something that I would not mind molding into a bar and selling like that, even if I never intend on getting into the bar market. Until then, we are gaining a name for ourselves by selling confections, which help mask the flavor of a chocolate I'm not real proud of. Although to be honest, a local vendor has tasted one of our bars and liked it.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/03/14 02:19:03PM
47 posts

Wang-less Chocolate


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

After a year and a half of gear up and a dozen experimental batches, I still consider myself an extreme novice at chocolate making.

Although we've made some huge improvements and the confections we make with our chocolate are highly sought after in the region, I don't consider the chocolate we're making as bar quality. I would not mold up chocolate into bars and sell it in that manner.

My wife calls it "wang". I agree there is an off taste. It is borderline bitter. I've read research papers suggesting that the roasting is not quite right. I've spoken with a friend who has a Phd in agriculture and is helping small African farmers make their own bars. He was telling me that bitterness is a result of under-fermented cacao, which would be difficult for me to do anything about.

I've even tried to add some baking soda in order to offset any remaining acid in the chocolate, but there's still a bit of a bite to it after that. For you purists out there, please don't cast any stones about the soda. :-)

Anyone else have suggestions? I typically conch/grind the chocolate for 48 hours. I have started using a forced air roaster that I rent from a neighbor, though we might have taken it to too high of a temp (150C) on our first attempt.

If it's a fermentation issue I will have to stop buying cacao at the open market and try to find a producer who will set some aside to ferment just for us. I spoke with one producer who says he ferments four days. I am told that six days is ideal.


updated by @Mark Allan: 04/19/15 03:54:53PM
Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
08/15/14 12:09:53PM
47 posts

Conching temperature control in wet grinder


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

The stainless steel bowl is not much of an insulator. Where I live, we try to think about energy efficiency as electricity costs about 80% more here than in the USA. I am going to try and wrap the bowl with some insulation and try to tape it up so that it does not absorb any chocolate when pouring out. You could then regulate the temperature by adding the cocoa butter earlier, if it gets too warm.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/27/14 03:23:12PM
47 posts

Bitterness


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I realize this is a very old thread, but I am just starting and coming across the same challenge. Until today I had no idea how much resting could help with the bitterness of the chocolate. I have battling the bitters for months. Today I reached into a box of chocolates and grabbed a piece of milk chocolate I had made over a week ago. Last week the bar had a bitter aftertaste. Today, I noticed none.

Normally after I mold any candy that I make, I put it into plastic bags.

My question on the resting, under what conditions should the chocolate "rest"? I typically keep my un-molded chocolate in plastic bags, but should it breathe? Have some airflow? Or should it at least be in a large container that is not airtight?

Thanks,

Mark C.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
07/10/14 10:36:29AM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Hey, a little update on this. The last time I extracted butter, I took a break to do something else, but left the heating element on. When I came back and resumed the extraction, the butter began coming out pretty much pure (the yellow, creamy color). Also, on this run, the butter did not splatter around the housing. It actually came out the way it should. So, long story short, be sure and run the heater a good 8-10 minutes before starting.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/09/14 04:49:55PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Clay,

Sorry, the main nuance that the research team is shooting for, is that the whole system be 40 lbs. or less, minus the jack, so that they can put it into a suitcase and take it with them on flights to Africa, in order to help the farmers directly.

I tried to get one of these jack systems built here in Honduras, but the simplest design would cost $450, and that was cast iron, not steel. When I did a little math, cast iron was woefully inadequate to reach pressures needed to get a good yield. So, I went with this $200 screw press solution, for now. It's not great, but it makes chocolate possible.

Thanks,

Mark C.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/09/14 04:19:36PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Michael,

I'm not sure. When I said 50/50, I might have been a little sloppy on the numbers. It's probably more like 60/40. One thing that does happen, is that the solids that come out the front end will fall into your butter pan at times. I don't have a permanent solution for that yet. For now I just shape some aluminum foil in various places to try and keep the solids going out. I also use foil to line the sides of the container so that the butter that shoots the wrong way will drop down into the pan. However, I still use a spatula to scrape off around 1/2 cup of butter from the housing.

I just keep telling myself that, while the Cacao Cucina solution is better, I have not had to commit $27K to this machine.

There is a research team at California Poly, led by Dr. Thomas Neuhaus, that is designing a low cost, lightweight butter press, which is powered with a 20 ton hand jack. It's still in progress, but their goal is to bring a low cost solution for expressing butter, so that they can help African cacao farmers earn more than commodity prices for cacao. The farmers will also be able to make their own chocolate and sell it to tourists.

Thanks,

Mark C.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
06/02/14 08:09:20PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Use of the 110V to 220V transformer is important. :-)

I did have the machine shut down on me once also. I'm not sure what happened, but I also removed and cleaned the drill bit and it started working again.

You are going to notice that if you run enough nibs through the machine that butter will spurt out in every direction, within the housing. I just make sure the housing is clean before using and scrape it down with a spatula, saving the butter that did not make into the pan. Other thing I do is try to line the pan with foil that runs up the sides of the housing so it will be more apt to drip into the pan. Still, some will drip out.

One other thing I do to speed things along...Don't use that little reducer tray for the nibs. Keep the opening large. To do that you will need to raise up the mechanical housing. I do that with some small pieces of 2x4" lumber. This will let the housing for the butter pan drop all the way onto the drill bit feed so that no nibs will fall around the opening. Without that reducer tray, I have to refill the the hopper every minute or so. With the reducer, it takes much longer and I have to manually shove nibs around.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/14/14 10:48:24AM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Yes, Tom's video shows the same type extractor I have. It does have a separate switch for the heating element, which you need to turn on 3-6 minutes before you start the press.

The cocoa I used was already roasted, cracked and winnowed, because I want to grind the solid into powder, which worked well. To be honest, the cocoa powder is something I can market right away, whereas I need to improve my chocolate making skills and process before selling any of that.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/13/14 08:09:41PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

The final note on my first use of the machine. The machine did in fact yield 50% cocoa butter, by weight. Also, the cocoa solid easily ground up, in my coffee grinder, into powder. My son took some of the powder to make hot cocoa and gave it a thumbs up. I took some, made an 80/20 sugar/cocoa mix with a little lecithin and stirred it into some milk. That also worked.

I know I'm not on the same level, quality wise, with you artisans, but I am excited about the bean to bar possibilities on a budget. :-)

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
05/13/14 06:20:41PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Clay,

Well, I finally got the machine today, and I felt like a kid opening a candy store, before I even opened it. The company actually delivered it within a week, but it had to go to another shipping company that ships to Honduras and handles customs. That second step took four weeks.

My initial observations:

The machine does in fact press out cocoa butter.

The cocoa butter is not free of solids as it is brown, although completely liquid. Unless you plan on selling the cocoa butter rather than using it to make chocolate, this should not be an issue.

I am going to enhance the feed hopper by putting small rectangular walls on top of it, perhaps made of wood. Otherwise it's a full time job keeping it fed.

The solid is expressed out the front in hollow tubes that break off due to stress when it reaches 6+ inches. The tubes can easily be crushed into cocoa powder. I am eager to try this but there's a meeting going on in my house that I would disrupt. Reselling the cocoa powder is a crucial factor in reducing my costs. There is a good market for this in Honduras as Hershey's powder is about $11/pound locally and people have few phobias about buying outside of the big name brands.

The machine looks pretty solid. When I turn off the motor, the shaft takes 10-15 seconds to spin down to a stop, which is usually a good sign that you have some solid gears in the box. My 30 year old Hobart meat grinder and KitchenAid mixer do the same. Many of my lesser machines do not. Based on this, I am hoping that it will give me years of service.

I was able to express over a pound of cocoa butter in less than an hour, maybe 30 minutes. I am eager to go weigh the butter versus the solid to see my yield, also crucial to costs.

I need to build some kind of container to catch the cocoa solids, which are bulky because of the hollow, spiral shaped tubes that are produced. With this and a feed hopper enhancement, this machine could batch 5-10 pounds of cocoa nibs, hands free. It would probably handle about that much per hour.

Initial impression is that if you are looking for an economical machine to press out cocoa butter, this $200 machine is hard to beat. It's definitely less of a commitment than the $26K Cacao Cucina butter press.

Will update later on the yield etc.

Mark Allan
@Mark Allan
04/29/14 05:55:10PM
47 posts

cacao cucina


Posted in: Opinion

Where we live, it definitely makes sense to invest in a butter press, even if it's just the econo-solution that I am trying. Cocoa beans are cheaper in Honduras and cocoa butter isn't readily available here.

In the "1st world", it might make sense to just let someone else press the butter because importing the beans and pressing them yourself might be more costly.

I will be sure and tell everyone here. If I haven't posted in month, somebody reply to this and I'll get an email reminder.

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