I’m finally getting the bulk of the last two batches, one milk and one dark tempered and ready to send to the crew of guinea pigs that have volunteered to sample some of my early work. I’m learning a great deal about tempering in this process. One lesson is that all thermometers are not made equal. I’ve been using a pistol-style laser thermometer for the last few tempers, which has worked out quite nicely. It only reads the surface temperature, but that seems to be perfectly adequate for tempering, and lets me shoot temperature readings without needing to clean a probe. My wife was kind enough to buy me a fancy probe thermometer, which I thought would be better. The chocolate didn’t feel right at the temps that the probe was supplying, and, indeed, it didn’t temper correctly. I’ll need to calibrate this one if I want to use it in the future.
Wilhelm Wanders of Chocolaterie Wanders in the DC area sent some useful tips about controlling the cooling process after the tempered chocolate is poured. The cooling process determines what the final gloss on the chocolate is going to look like. I’m at the stage where I’m worrying about the temper, so have occasionally thrown the poured chocolate into the freezer to get it to set up correctly. This yields some really funny surfaces and is not recommended. This last batch I let cool at room temperature (at least room temperature on an August night that started at about 76 degrees and fell to 55 or so overnight) and got a very nice result, at least in the batch of dark chocolate that I tempered. Here’s the result after setting up overnight:
(Yes, I need to splurge on some bar molds…)
The surface that the chocolate cools on makes a big difference to the final look of the chocolate also. This cooled on aluminum foil that was flattened to the extent I could by hand, and the foil side of this chocolate is mirror smooth. Pro shops will use acetates (this is also how they get printed designs on chocolate), which also yields a super shiny surface. Sort of cheating, but I’m willing to experiment at this point.
Now, the milk chocolate was a different story. I used nearly exactly the same hand tempering process, heating the chocolate to ~115F, cooling to 91F, mushing 20% of the chocolate on chilled marble, then remixing and bringing the mixture to 86F or so. This is milk chocolate, so the melt temperatures I was using are about 2-3 degrees lower than the dark. Here’s the chocolate after the pour, at about 83F:
It’s super shiny, and starting to set up. About an hour later, it’s close to room temperature, about 76F. Still got a good shine, and it’s getting reasonably solid.
Astute observers will note the sample taken from the upper left corner for scientific purposes. I went to bed feeling pretty good about this result, unaware of the nasty surprise awaiting me in the morning:
Yikes! This is nearly the same result that I got when cooling the chocolate in the freezer. It happened instantly in the freezer, and just took longer this time. I can’t tell if this is straightforward bloom on the chocolate or if some ingredient is reacting badly. The cream power I used had an anti-caking agent in it, so perhaps that accounts for this odd behavior. This was setting up on parchment paper, and the parchment paper side shows some quite pleasant marble patterns:
I could pretend that I did this on purpose, but this is pure accident. Any chocolate brains out there have any hints on why the milk chocolate might be reacting this way?