The Right Tool for the Right Job

First off, we will be closed for a few days, until Monday, August 8 th. In the mean time, I wanted to talk a little about some things that have been on my mind as I follow this chocolate making path.

What comes most to mind is the importance of using the right tool for the right job. Each piece of equipment and step sets you up for the next tool and process. Some people are wanting ONE piece of equipment to make chocolate at home with (and want it for $50). Well, there might be a way, but I don’t know how.

Right now, it goes like this.

You need a way to roast your beans. A conventional oven works fine for that but a roasting drum is easier in the long run.

The Champion Juicer will remove husk, but that is hard on it. Cracking with a Cocoa mill helps the Champion do it’s job of grinding the cocoa beans to liqueur and removing trace husk.

The Santha is used to refine your chocolate after it comes from the Champion. It might be able to grind cocoa beans, but it can’t remove husk like the Champion can and you really don’t want husk in your chocolate.

I am going to try and go into each of these in a bit more detail over in sort of an ongoing series of things I have learned, discovered and believe about making chocolate at home.

Also, if you have any questions, please ask and I will address them.

7 Responses to “The Right Tool for the Right Job”

  1. And we now appear to be up and working again. Let me know if something does not work for you. Thank you.

  2. Hi, i’m new to your site! I’m interested in making chocolate at home, and am also wondering how inexpensivly can i do it? its tough to invest $600+ into a hobby that i have no idea if i will like.

    My thoughts? Well, how did they USED to do it? I’ll be doing some research on this, checking back to your site, and soon ordering a kit.

    thankyou for this wonderful resource.

    therabbidcat

  3. A question with regards to the juicer. Have you a comment on the suitablity of the Green Star juicer as opposed to the champion. I realise the Green Star is more expensive but it has better reviews than the champion for it’s overal performance.

    Thanks

  4. Rod, I have not tried that one. One of it’s primary selling points leads me to think it would not perform very well for cocoa. Cocoa grinding actually needs heat to let the liqueur flow. The Green star runs at a low (but powerful) rpm and supposedly does not generate heat. OTOH, it does claim to do nut butters, which effectively is what cocoa liqueur is. If you have one, I would say give it a try, but I wouldn’t go get one without testing it first. Does that help?

    Therabbidcat – check out the post above for your answer. I have been meaning to address this.

  5. After months of research, I am now ready to begin the chocolate path. I have purchased the mill, the champion juicer, and the samantha. I feel that if I take this path, then I want to make sure that I have the equipment needed to make good chocolate. I recently ordered the cocoa beans, however I am still a little confused on how to do the tempering. Is there a machine that I can buy to help with that process? I would hate to make it that far and then do the double boiler issue wrong. What do you suggest for this process?

  6. Cindy, the nice thing about tempering is that if you mess up, you can always do it again. A bad temper does not ruin, or even effect the chocolate. A good thermometer is important for tempering – you only have a couple degrees to play with. Unfortunately, I have not found a retail one that is accurate enough.

    Aside from that, I am working on a proceedure that will use the Santha as a tempering device. Chocolate running in the Santha equilibrates to around 110 F, which is the perfect starting temperature for tempering. I will keep you up to date as to what I find.

  7. Most scientific supply places (VWR, Thomas, Fischer, etc) offer inexpensive digital stem thermometers for around $15 dollars. They are NIST certified (meaning very accurate) and precise to 0.1 degrees F. I’d suggest finding one of those.

    Yes there are automatic tempering machines availalbe, but you really s hould know how to hand temper, as at some point, the machine will fail you and you’ll have to do it anyway. For the quantities you’re considering doing, hand tempering will only take a few minutes. Here’s what I’d do: 1) put your chocolate in a plastic bowl. microwave it until melted, and stir thoroughly to ensure equal heat distribution. heat to 120F. Do not overheat. let cool to 90-100F. 2) your room temperature shouldn’t be above ~ 73F or so. ideally you’ll have a flat, polished stone surface (granite coutertops are great – however most of us don’t have them.. look in the phone b ook for stone cutters and ask if you can have a sink cutout piece of scrap – tell them what you’re doing. i got mine for free. offering chocolate helps sweeten the pot…). pour 1/4 of the melted chocolate onto the stone surface, and using a scraper, continually spread the chocolate out in a thin layer, then scrape it up into a ball. continue doing this until the chocolate becomes very firm, but not hard. 3) add the firm chocolate back into the melted pot of chocolate. this is called ‘seeding’ it, and the temperature should drop down to ~88F. if the temperature is above 90F after you do this, take a very small amount out of the pot and do this again. 4) at this point, you should have tempered chocolate. there are a few variations on a theme on how to do this, but essentially this is it. if you ‘mess up’ don’t worry, as john said the beauty of it is that you can always just do it again. And you should expect to have a few do overs, it’s all part of the learning process! as you become familiar with it, you’ll likely be able to dispense with the thermometer and do it by feel and look. G

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