Ask the Alchemist #162


Level: Alchemist

Read time: 6 minutes

I really want to make chocolate with honey. I’ve seen it out there so it must be possible.  How can I do it?

Not really.  Every chocolate with honey out there I have found has turned out to only seem like chocolate.  What I mean by that is that upon talking to the makers, I’ve learned that none are really tempered and have a tendency to separate after a short amount of time.  In addition, they stir the honey in at the very end, very, very gently.  Too vigorous and it would seize.

That all said, it got me thinking.  I went down the rabbit hole of research and came up with a  couple ideas I thought might stand a chance.   My goal here was a real tempered chocolate, using honey refined in the melanger.

The issue here is of course the water.  My thought of course was to remove the water.

I came up with the brilliant idea of making a caramelized honey not unlike the caramelized sugar used to make praline.   Boosted by someone else's success, I tried it myself.

Sadly, it didn’t work.  You do end up with a hard honey candy, but it is so hygroscopic it was impossible to work with. By the time it was cool enough to work with, it was so tacky that it was unusable.  Within  a couple hours it was flexing and the next day it was trying to flow.

The next  thing I tried was dehydrating the honey.  Past experience told me I could not just dry it in the oven.  It becomes a solid, sticky mass that holds too much moisture.  Did I mention it was hygroscopic?  So instead I coated my roasted nibs with the honey and put that into the oven for 12 hours.   I weighted the entire mass before it went into the oven, noted the approximate percentage of water in honey  (18%) and kept weighing the nib/honey mixture until I was below that amount and stable for a couple hours.

By the end the nibs were dry….but just slightly tacky.  That didn’t bode well.

To try and help the process along I pre-ground the mixture.  Something I never do, but every little bit of help seemed prudent here.  My thought was if I could spread out the honey enough, then powder it, I could keep the moisture away from the honey.

I proceeded to put the mix, little by little into the melanger.  It all went in, and started to fluidize and flow.  I really thought I had it.  Did you catch the past tense there?  Yeah.  It failed.  I came back about 12 hours later to a complete mess.  It was still running, but it looked really strange.  I can’t even begin to describe it.  It was kind of coarse, but still flowing.  And chunky.  But not really sweet either.

Upon turning it off and inspecting it I found this thick, gooey, kind of nasty ring of what I guess was wax around the center shaft.  Apparently there is quite a bit more to honey than just sugar.  Wax.  Propolis.  Higher sugars.  Basically a whole bunch of stuff that didn’t play well at all with the cocoa butter.

At that point I stopped.  This was not the way to go.

So, I don’t have any good answers for you.  You can try stirring it in at the end, and attempt to temper, but frankly I would not hold my breath on this.

Regardless, learn from my failures.  You can't win them all and failure is always an option.

If anyone has any other ideas, I am more than happy to try.

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