Forum Activity for @Mack Ransom

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
11/22/15 11:33:42AM
34 posts

Are clumps in cacao powder ok ?




Hi, I recently switched to a new wholesale supplier. When I opened the 28# bag of cacao powder I noticed there are a lot of clumps or balls of powder. Is this a sign of too much mositure or some problem? Would you accept such a powder or send it back?

I have been having some problems with foaming while the chocolate is in the temperer, and this is a new problem. I am attaching photos to some the foam and the clumps in case they are related.

Thank you for any advice you share with me!

 


clumps2_edited-2.jpg clumps2_edited-2.jpg - 43KB
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
11/19/15 12:19:29AM
34 posts

There is a "foam" floating on surface while tempering


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

Hi again, this time it looks like it accepted my photo, yay!


Foam Cacao4.pdf - 1.4MB
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
11/19/15 12:17:39AM
34 posts

There is a "foam" floating on surface while tempering


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

Hi, with my latest batch of cacao powder and butter, I have noticed a "foam" that floats on the surface of the chocolate while it is being tempered. It is bubbly, but very small bubbles in texture, can be skimmed off the top till eventually it is gone, but if left ruins the bars. I skim it off the top, and the bars are ok, but it is a lot of work, as it requires skimming for perhaps ten minutes, and wastes a lot of product.  If I leave the foam, the bars have spots on the tops of the bars when removed from the molds. Any ideas as to if it is the powder or the cacao butter that is the issue? The powder has clumps in it when I open the bag fresh, and newly delivered. These are 14 kilos bulk bags from a respectable wholesaler. Should cacao powder be considered acceptable if it has clumps and lumps? I have tried to upload a photo, but I can't figure out the extension acceptable on this site. tiff, jpg, jpeg and pdf don't work.


updated by @Mack Ransom: 11/19/15 12:17:41AM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
10/06/14 01:05:04PM
34 posts

Need to buy injection PC molds for bars, where to buy?


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

Hi Corinne, thank you for your suggestions, I will try them out.

I also want to put in a kudos for Renee at Chocolat Chocolat, she read my query here on TCL and contacted me with their 4 closest matches, and two of them might work for me.

I was very impressed, she went to a lot of work.

In gratitude,

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
10/03/14 04:30:25PM
34 posts

Need to buy injection PC molds for bars, where to buy?


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

Hi TCL friends,

I have Tomric bar molds, and get release marks. From research on this forum I get the impression this is due to the molds not being made by injection mold process. I emailed Tomric who said "Our molds are made out of sheets of polycarbonate, the sheets of polycarbonate are heated up and vacuum formed over the tooling". My guess is the injection molds are thicker and thus hold temperature more evenly?

So, I now am on a quest to buy injection PC molds. Chocolat-Chocolat does not have the size I want. I am looking for suggestions of which companies to contact. I looked at Pavoni, their website is not very user friendly, and I could not locate bar their molds. Micelli if I understand is set up to make custom molds. I just want to buy stock molds.

Specifically I am looking for bar molds, 4 cavities, each bar being approx 5.5" x 2.25" x .375, and the molds would have break apart lines. The Tomric molds I have feature all the above, but sadly leave the release marks.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

In thanking you in advance,

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/10/15 12:44:14PM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/28/14 08:43:45PM
34 posts

Spectra 11 wheels barely turning at the 8 hour mark...


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

Hi Rom,

Well, I raised the temperature up to 108F and the problem went away! So I guess my chocolate was just too thick and created too much resistance. It's spinning away now perfectly, running at 109F.

I am so relieved, as the Spectra is doing a superb job of refining my sugar crystals and I hope to have a silky chocolate for the first time.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/28/14 12:45:01PM
34 posts

Spectra 11 wheels barely turning at the 8 hour mark...


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

Hi TCL friends,

I recently bought my first melanger and ran a small test batch and it worked perfectly! So I put a second, 7.8 pound batch of chocolate in my Spectra 11 and it ran well for something like 8 hours when I noticed the wheels only had intermittent contact with the floor of the tub. In other words, the wheels were turning, but had sort of a pause in them, and I could hear it too. I could hear the wheel making contact with the stone floor and thus turning, but then perhaps have chocolate under it and sort of lift off and slow down, and then reconnect. I put my finger on the wheel and could stop it.

I had 7.8 pounds (3500 g) of chocolate in it. The temp was 105F. The chocolate was flowing around the wheels and scrapers robustly. It felt like I needed to turn the screw down more to make contact with the bottom, but the screw was turned all the way tight.

I am not sure what to do. I could run a smaller batch, but that is not very efficient. I could put more cacao butter in it, but that is not what I want either. I could modify the assembly so I can make the stone capable of dropping more, but that might damage the stones?

Does anyone have a solution? Oh, and I report that the Spectra came with one wheel with two grooves, and one wheel with 3 grooves.

Thank you,

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/09/15 10:52:46PM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/23/14 05:02:27PM
34 posts

Washing Spectra melanger parts in dishwasher under 140F OK per Santha….


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

Hi, I may be re-inventing the wheel, but I wrote to Santha to ask what was the concern with washing the removable parts of the Spectra in a dishwasher. Here is the conversation email train (note it is in reverse order, last email at top of page)

Dear Mack,
Yes, if it is only washing and below 140, it should be safe.

Warm regards
Kumar

Subject:Re: Question about temperature and dishwashers...

Thank you Kumar for this very useful information which will make it easier to clean the melanger.
And also thank you for your quick answer.
Based on this information I do have one more question, which is if my dishwasher temperature is kept below 140 degrees, would I then be "probably" safe putting the removable parts in the dishwasher and just washing them there, not drying them there?
Thank you again Kumar!
Mack



On Jul 22, 2014, at 11:01 PM, Spectra SanthaUSA <santhausa@yahoo.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. Mack Rasnom,
Thank you for purchasing the Spectra 11.
Regarding your query, our primary concern is the epoxy adhesive in the Stainless steel drum portion. We do not recommend
it because some dishwashers driers go ahove 140. The roller stones assembly does not have this issue.
The detergents are not an issue either.
Warm regards
Kumar
SanthaUSA / Spectra

updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/09/15 11:43:02PM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/20/14 11:34:31AM
34 posts

Can powdered sugar be used in making chocolate bars


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hi Jim, the starch in the powdered sugar makes the chocolate swell up and thicken, which makes it hard to work with amongst other issues. I have used a Blendtec blender to pre grind sugar to some degree, but it does not get it very fine in the blender before the sugar starts to get sticky due to the heat build up from friction. So basically you can do a quick pre grind of the sugar but your chocolate will not have that silky smooth texture. A melanger seems to be the only solution I have found to get the smooth texture. FYI, the reason the powdered sugar has additives in it is to keep it from caking up. It is rumored that you can get powdered sugar from Europe or Canada without additives, but I have spent hours researching that and so far none has been found.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/18/14 12:07:55PM
34 posts

Using cacao butter as seed AND What temperature to add seed


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

Hi Jon, thank you for helping me understand how the tempering machine works. I get it that the machine uses the block in the back of the baffle until the temp drops to its target working zone, thus the amount of chocolate used will vary on conditions. So, I will have to use chocolate to seed with, rather than the cacao butter. If I can't control how much butter the temperer uses, I won't have the control I need to keep my recipe intact.

Thank you again!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/13/14 12:44:22PM
34 posts

Using cacao butter as seed AND What temperature to add seed


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

Hi Forum Friends,

I have two tempering questions:

1) Is cacao butter just as effective as chocolate for seed? I have used both and I can't see a difference. But one may be better than another? The cacao butter is at room temp which is approx 74F. I grind it into shavings with a cheese grinder and add about 2% of the total mass.

2) I was reading the instruction manual online for the Revolation V I just ordered (through Clay). I noted that it said to add seed at the high point of the melting cycle, 115 F in my case. This is quite different from how I have been tempering by hand where I add the seed at 95F and then cool to 90F. After reading the instructions, I now wonder if I should add the seed at 115F and then cool to 90F and check for temper?

The way I currently temper is I have a stainless mixing bowl that I cool by having a fan blow on it to cool it. I bring the mixture up to 115F, then place the bowl in front of the fan, and let cool to 95F at which point I add seed and let cool to 90F while stirring. I get a good snap, the bars hold temper. I would like more shine to my chocolate, and I hope to get that with the Rev V.

In thanking you in advance,

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/10/15 04:50:42AM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
06/14/14 02:53:44PM
34 posts

Bar packaging


Posted in: Uncategorized

I currently wrap my bars in paper backed gold foil, and then wrap them in a paper wrapper. The final product looks and feels wonderful, but it takes a lot of time to do this.My bars are 2 oz, 2.25" x 5.25" by .375".

I have wondered about other wrapping solutions. I see some bars out there are wrapped in a gold plastic tube, it looks like they are mylar? and are heat closed at one end. I wonder if any of you do this, and you have any pro and cons to tell me? Also, I have not found a source for these sleeves or tubes. Do you know where I might buy such tubes from?

I am also open to other packaging ideas if you have any to suggest.

Thank you!

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/10/15 04:35:50PM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/11/14 10:48:45AM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi Mark and Daniela,

I bought a Spectra 11 based on the improvements made to the newest model.

I will try the sugar and cacao butter and add the powder last as the way to keep the temperature down, and I can also point a fan at it too if needed.

I am excited to produce chocolate with the silky mouthfeel and the low glycemic of coconut sugar! And in doing all the research I found myself getting interested in nibs or beans in the future so I can be beans to bar. All in due time of course.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/10/14 06:25:16PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Excellent news then.

Now I go online and figure out what machine to buy.

If you have any pro or cons for which machines I would be interested to know.

Thank you Mark, you have helped me a lot!

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/10/14 05:15:28PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi again, well, a temperature of 140F presents a new problem. I am making "raw" chocolate bars ( I understand raw is questioned... ). I need to keep the temp at or below 115F. Do you think this is achievable if I add the cacao butter?

In thanking you again,

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/10/14 01:27:34PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Wow, this is great news Mark. A few hours of conching I can do. Depending on how noisy the process is, I might be able to let it run a day and get those conching effects too.

One more question: Does the machine have a heating system to keep the chocolate warm?

Thank you again!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/10/14 12:44:02PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi Mark, thank you for replying. I had never considered just putting the only sugar in grinder. I want to make sure I understand what you are writing. I think you are saying I can put sugar in the grinder, dry, and let it run? That would be fantastic. If on the other hand this is not the case, then my next question is how long would I have to run a batch of chocolate (in other words wet) before the sugar crystals would become undetectable?

What I am trying to avoid at this point is running the machine for 48 hours. I work out of my home, and that would be disruptive.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
07/01/14 12:34:29PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi Daniela, yeah, I bet the starch had a big impact on the conching machine! I tried using a confectioners powdered sugar with tapioca starch to see what would happen. It became very thick and I had to increase the cacao butter to make it useable. The product itself tempered and molded well though, and I am considering using it temporarily until I can resolve my next step. It tastes great, and has a velvety mouthfeel. I also tried the coconut nectar which did not seize up the chocolate but it had a strong flavor that I don't prefer.

I work out of a licensed home kitchen, so the conching is not practical yet, but is clearly the right solution. I read on the internet that there is confectioners sugar without starch in Europe, so maybe I will need to source that from there.

I read the conching article, very interesting, thank you. As I read the article it made me wonder if I can find a way to refine just the sugar, but by the end it seems like I would run into the same problems.

Thank you!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
06/29/14 01:04:09PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi Daniela,

I apologize for the long delay in answering. I would love to know the source of your "fine sugar"!

I am going to try making some bars with Coconut nectar and see how that works. I am worried about moisture issues, but will find out if this works. My research on sugar mills is that they are either very expensive in the $5K and up but available in the USA, or are $600 and available in China or India where I guess they still have cottage industry and thus supply this kind of equipment. I still hesitate, I know sugar is gummy, and will it gum up the machines? Conching seems a good answer, but I am not in a situation where I can do that due to noise and such.

Thank you!

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
06/14/14 02:40:20PM
34 posts

Conche or sugar mill?


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

Hi all, first I want to really thank you for all the wonderful cacao wisdom you share here. I read your blogs, and have slowly figured out how to make my chocolate bars thanks to you. It is time to get some more advice as to next steps in my chocolate bar creation.

I am currently selling my bars in one local natural food grocery. I sell about 10 dozen bars a month there. I wish to add more retail outlets, and need to send samples. Before I do this I wonder what "the next step" in making them more delicious and more marketable might be?

So, first off, what I am doing is making them out of "raw" powder (debatable I know), cacao butter and coconut sugar. My first concern is the texture is somewhat coarse because the coconut sugar is so granular. I do grind it in a magic bullet first, but it is still too coarse, especially in the 75% where the sugar makes up so much of the volume. Is a conche the best next item to buy? If I understand the blogs here, the conch will grind down the sugar and other particles, and in that process also volatize off some undesirable flavors?

My system of melting and tempering is ok, though it is manual. Still I can make and temper a 4 pound batch easily. Is the conche the machine I need??? And if so, I need one that can deal with at 4 pounds at a time. That volume will grow. So suggestions as to what brand and model would be appreciated? On the other hand, perhaps that is not the machine I need? Also, I wonder since the powder is so fine, it is almost dust, am I conching basically just the sugar? If that is the case, would I do better finding a mill for the sugar? What else will the conching do for my chocolate? Also, I am still a small business, run in my home kitchen, with a state license, etc. Still, if it is noisy and running for days, that is a big impact. What would be the quieter brand of conche, assuming conching is the solution.

So, the coarseness is an issue. Is it pointless to conche chocolate that is made from fine powder, or will it improve the taste as well as the sugar texture?

Thank you!

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/09/15 07:00:21AM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
06/14/14 01:13:31PM
34 posts

Thermoblend?


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

Hi Deborah,

You probably have a solution that works for you, but here is what I ended up doing.I have an inexpensive system for melting that works well. I bought a 4 qt. round crock pot (slow cooker) and instead of using the ceramic bowl I use a tall stainless steel *bowl that fits into the crock pot (it does not fit all the way in, about half way). I then plug the crock pot into a the sous vide electric temperature control Clay mentioned, which I bought from Amazon for $99US, and I melt 3 to 4 pound batches of chocolate in it. Works great. In order to temper I take the bowl out of the crock pot and put it on the table, and then I use a table fan to cool it. It works quite well.

Mack

*the bowl is the mixing bowl that went to an electric mixer.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
03/02/14 04:31:48PM
34 posts

Seeking answers….


Posted in: Make Mine Raw ...

Hi Miguel, to be honest I do not know anything about the DR source. What I think I am looking for is a National variety, Criollo, raw. It can be powder or paste. The more I read this blog, and follow links, the more I realize it is complicated!

I would be interested in the leads, thank you!

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
03/02/14 03:01:12AM
34 posts

Seeking answers….


Posted in: Make Mine Raw ...

Wow, this is such good information, thank you Clay. You took a lot of time and energy to write educate me, and I not only appreciate this, I also need it. I can see I have a steep learning curve ahead of me, which is fine, I look forwards to learning.

Its midnight, and I just found a few replies in my junk folder, and pulled them out. I will follow up on the links tomorrow.

Once again, thank you!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
02/28/14 12:21:50AM
34 posts

Seeking answers….


Posted in: Make Mine Raw ...

Thank you Sebastian. I am a bit confused now. I bought raw Criollo Arriba Cacao paste from Bright Earth Foods, says so on the package sitting on my shelf. I just went a double checked it. Am I not understanding something here? I will read more forums.

Cheers!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
02/27/14 11:30:04AM
34 posts

Seeking answers….


Posted in: Make Mine Raw ...

Hi all,

This is a great forum, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences! I am starting a raw, organic chocolate bar business here is Ashland, Oregon, and am slowly learning whats what.There are such gems of knowledge in this forum, like yesterday I learned that I can start in a domestic kitchen situation. I then called the State, and it looks like my situation qualifies. I was flooded with relief, thank you.

I am really stuck in locating a wholesale source for raw organic Criollo Arriba paste. If you can guide me towards a source I would be so grateful. I have my EIN, city license, etc.

Another question is I don't really have any idea of the going price for wholesale chocolate. I see lots of various forms of cacao for sale on line, but those are all re-sellers in bulk as far as I can see, I really have not seen pricing for wholesale. Can anyone share what kind of price I might anticipate? Am I being naive, and I should expect to buy from the farmer if I want wholesale? What is the norm, if such a think exists?

My last question is can anyone point me towards what is the next next level up from hand wrapping the bar and labels. I visualize that it involves a machine, and that sounds huge and expensive, but what is the most simple and cheap kind of machine?

In thanking you,

Mack


updated by @Mack Ransom: 04/09/15 10:24:19AM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/18/14 07:08:26PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Jim, I buy mine from Bags for Gifts online.

Low prices and fast service. Its paper back foil I buy, but they offer foil too.

Here is a link:

http://www.bagsforgifts.com/candy-foil-c-57.html

Look around their web site.

Best of luck!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/12/14 01:01:40PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi Gabriel,

I missed seeing your reply yesterday. Wax paper, wow! Do you mean it is not a pre-pared sleeve, but a sheet your wrap and seal? Looks good either way. Do you do your own printing on the recycled paper? What weight is the recycled paper?

Best,

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 11:20:42PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Thank you Meira. I just sent them an email to get a price quote.

What weight of paper did you use? I currently use 32# paper, hope to get a slightly lighter paper.

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 03:30:05PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

I use a double sided tape that is micro thin and comes in a roller applicator. It leaves a sticky film, not really tape at all. Works great.

I apply in 3 spots along the seam to save tape. The product is sold at Staples and is called "Permanent Glue Tape".

I'll be curious as to what other TCL forum members use.


updated by @Mack Ransom: 09/08/15 10:32:26PM
Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 03:24:17PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi Gabriel, I am curious how you make your wrapper, do you have printer or a commercial wrapper company who makes them, or do you print yourself too?

I am also curious about your sleeve around your bar, is it separate from the wrapper with the logo. I can't tell from the photo if it is all one piece or two.

Thanks!

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 03:22:02PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Yes, that is my next step, once I stop changing my wrapper designs that is!

Thanks!

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 03:15:08PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi again Shalini, you print these wrappers yourself? That is what I am asking, you print yourself? Or do you have it printed by a commercial source?

I make mine by using light weight photo paper, cut them, and glue them on. Is this what you do ?

Thanks again,

Mack

Mack Ransom
@Mack Ransom
08/11/14 02:54:43PM
34 posts

Display boxes for chocolate bars


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi Meira,

I too am curious about the paper sleeve (wrapper) on your bars.

Can you tell us who makes them and perhaps costs?

I currently make my own wrappers by hand, but am looking for a commercial source.

Thank you!

Mack