What is Silk?
Silk is just tempered cocoa butter. What makes it special is that the way it is formed and that the Type V crystals that are formed are very pure and consequently very aggressive. The result is that you can take virtually all the guess work tempering and the resulting chocolate is extra stable. Due to its pure nature it allows you to work at a much higher (92-94 F) temperature.
If you have trouble with tempering, you should try using Silk. We offer it for sale over the winter months but what do you do over the summer? Well, you can make your own or propagate the Silk you already have. I'll explain how to do that shortly. First let's talk about how to use it and troubleshoot it, then I'll go over the simple method to make more.
Using Silk to Temper
Do not melt Silk. It will destroy the temper and its usefulness as a seed.
To use, finely grate approximately 1% per weight of the chocolate you are using.
Feel free to round up or down. The amount is not highly critical.
- 1 oz will temper 100 oz or 6.25 lbs of chocolate.
- Melt your chocolate and stabilize it at 94 F. Yes, this is much hotter than traditional tempering methods.
- Stir in the Silk. As you can see I often just let my chocolate cool in the Melanger and mold straight from there. Of course you can just melt your chocolate, making sure it is over 95 F, then let it cool 94 F.
- Wait 2-3 minutes and stir again ensuring Silk has melted. The temperature should have dropped to about 92 F. Try and let it not drop below 91 F. It will not mess it up but may make it too thick. Part of the beauty of Silk is that you can work with it at a higher temperature so your chocolate is less viscous or thinner.
- Pour your Silk seeded chocolate into waiting molds, rap them well, taking care not to over work your chocolate.
- Let it set up and unmold as usual.
If your chocolate isn't quite 94 F or your Silk is particularly cold, you may find the Silk does not fully melt or your chocolate drops below 91 F. In either case very gently heat your chocolate, stirring constantly, until the Silk melts, taking care not to go over 93 F.
All other issues tend to be around over handling your chocolate and causing streaks or other minor bloom. None of this is related to the Silk. You just need to review your technique. Luckily the aggresive nature of Silk even improves these issues.
Making your own Silk
You need an accurate and precise incubator to make Silk. It needs to hold the cocoa butter at 92.5 F for approximately 24 hours and not vary by more than +/- 1 F. You have really 3 good options:
- The purpose make EZTemper $1000 - Few ounce capacity
- Circulating Sous Vide of your choice. $150-$250 (I like Sansaire) Few pound capacity.
- Build your own ($50-$150). I built one with a cooler, a beer brewing temperature controller and a heating pad. Capacity up to you.
My choice is a Sous Vide hands down for price, capacity and ease of use. A Sous Vide is nothing more than a water incubator. The thermal mass of the water bath makes it super stable. Let's go over how to use it.
- Chop up your everyday, untempered cocoa butter and put it into a glass container. I like mason jars. The glass is to add weight so it sinks.
- Alternatively you can melt your cocoa butter but I found more consistent results from chopping it up.
- Set the controller to 92.5 F (or 122 F and make great steaks!!) If you decide to melt your cocoa butter, set your controller to 92 F.
- Put your chopped up cocoa butter in the water bath and come back 12-24 hours later to Silk.
- Note how it is opaque and thick. Melted cocoa butter is clear. That opaqueness and mayonnaise like texture at the right temperature (92.5 F) is the sign of successful Silk.
- The cocoa butter didn't melt. Turn the controller up 0.5 F or you didn't wait long enough.
- The cocoa butter melted and is clear. Turn the controller down 0.5 F.
- Their are hard chunks in your Silk. You didn't wait long enough or it is just a little too cool. Wait another 12 hours and/or turn the controller up 0.5 F.
Using Silk to Make Silk
This is how I make the Silk that I sell. It is really nothing more than using the Silk you have on hand to temper cocoa butter. The two differences are that you use more Silk then when you temper and you melt the cocoa butter (just like you would chocolate).
- Use 5% Silk. You can either grate it or use it in its soft stage (resoftened in or fresh from the Sous Vide)
- Melt your cocoa butter and stabilize it at 95-96 F. Yes, this is much hotter because you are using more seed.
- Stir in the Silk. Note the two different colors.
- Hold the cocoa butter at 92-93 F for at least 15 minutes ensuring Silk has melted and the cocoa butter should have turned opaque (see the photo).
- For large amounts (over 2 lbs) I find it convenient to use my Sous Vide and pot.
- Pour your new Silk into a plastic bag and allow to cool
- Note the ripples on the bag. This is a good sign of your success. Chocolate contracts when it tempers properly. Silk does it too.