Given that my first attempt a few months ago to make milk chocolate ended with something like grainy chocolate-colored Play-Doh, I was a little nervous about starting this batch. To successfully make milk chocolate, you need to get a lot of solid ingredients, including a lot more sugar, to flow in a nice liquid, or the melangeur simply won’t work. This means more heat, and adding some cocao butter (and perhaps, gulp, lecithin) to make the mixture flow enough to refine. For some reason, I also decided to make this my biggest batch ever, at over five pounds of chocolate. I followed the method of crushing the nibs to chocolate liquor in the melangeur, since I need to spend time melting cocoa butter and combining the dairy ingredients. The trick to making everything flow was to add cocoa butter, then sugar, then dairy, heat the mixture with a hair dryer, then repeat. The cocoa butter, melted to a liquid at 140F, does an amazingly good job of making the whole mass flow. It took almost an hour to get 1.1kg of sugar, over .5kg of cream powder and dried milk, and the cocoa butter worked into the crushed nibs. Here’s what the mass looked like with everything incorporated:
It’s grainy, and the mixture breaks at the top of the melangeur wheel. Tasting, it has a bunch of sequential, unblended tastes. Looking carefully, you can also see individual cocoa solids as black specks in the lighter overall mass. This mass, more viscous than the dark chocolate I’ve built before, also stablizes at a higher temperature. Dark chocolate runs in the melangeur at around 105-110F, this mass is running at 120-125F with no external heat added. Ideally, I’d like to it to be at 130F, but I don’t have an easy way to continually dump heat into the melangeur yet.
After 18 hours of refining, here’s what’s in the melangeur right now:
This is now a very smooth, flowing milk chocolate. It’s about two degrees cooler than it was running yesterday, indicating that it’s thinner with some refining. Preliminary taste testing shows a very clean milk taste with a nice cocoa note. The usual fruitiness of the Ocumare cacao is not easy to pick out underneath all that sugar and milk, but it’s definitely present in a sort of freshness to the taste. I’m going to let this run for another few hours, then it’s tempering time. I won’t age this, as I want to keep the dairy notes clean and distinct.