I had the opportunity to work with the EZtemper (hence forth known as EZt). It was invented by someone I have known for years. Kerry Beal. The Chocolate Doctor.
Review summary 9/10:
In short, it works.
It allows you to produce a few ounces of tempered cocoa butter that you can then use to quickly and easily temper your batch of chocolate.
The first thing to understand is that this is a different method of tempering chocolate than most people are used to. It’s actually much more in line with classical chemistry lab crystal growing. You use the EZt to create mixture of Type V and VI cocoa butter crystals, with some data* indicating that some type of hybrid V/VI could also be forming.
Regardless, you add this pure cocoa butter seed crystal at a rate of 1% w/w to your chocolate. The different thing here is that you add it at 92.5 F (33.6 C). In classic tempering this is way too hot for spontaneous crystal formation. Any Type V crystal would completely melt and untemper. But in this seeded mixture, only a portion of the seed is untempered and the remaining seed (because it is pure cocoa butter and not a mixture of ‘contaminated’ with sugar and cocoa particles) creates very aggressive nucleation sites. The result is that your chocolate tempers very quickly. And by pouring up at a higher temperature, the viscosity is lower so your chocolate is easier to work with, degases faster and can give a nicer looking chocolate.
In addition, the resulting chocolate is more stable as compared to classically tempered chocolate. It melts at a higher temperature and resists bloom better over time.
EZt is an incubator.
Not really anything more or less. Well, a little more as it is a very precise incubator. You can make one yourself for a fraction of the cost (it just takes thinking it through and lots of patiences), but that is true of almost anything. Having made my own though (of course I made one - and I fussed for nearly a week to get it working) makes me appreciate how well designed and made the EZt is.
At first glance it might look a little expensive, but accurate and precise incubators are not trivial to make and small runs plus custom electronics are not trivial nor inexpensive. In short, it is fairly priced to my mind.
You start off by installing the plug in your EZt. It’s actually harder than it looks but it does go in. After that, you unloop the rubber strap holding the lid in place and rotate the lid SIDEWAYS. The first inclination is to raise the lid, but it was not designed that way. I suspect there is a design reason for this non-traditional approach, but I find it better not to have design features in a product that you constantly have to warn the customer against (which the manual does well). Hopefully this does not become an Achilles’ heel. After a couple used though rotating the lid around becomes second nature.
You can then load the stainless steel tins with either melted or solid cocoa butter.
It does not seem to matter whether it is Natural or Deodorized. And you can actually load it with chocolate if you wish. It will make seeded chocolate also, but per the referenced paper above, you lose most if not all of the advantages of this method (faster setting chocolate that resists blooming) excepting that it is quicker and easier since you don’t have go through the traditional temperature profiling scheme.
Don’t forget to put in the bottom plate that suspends the tins. The quick start guide does not mention it, and some people may wonder why it is there and leave it out. To me it was kind of obvious as it is important for air flow and temperature stability of the cocoa butter. The Manual does mention it.
Once your closed tins are in, and on the bottom plate, rotate the lid closed, and latch it. You then turn on the power and fan. It comes pre-set at 33.6 C which is the theoretical average peak for Type V crystal formation. Then wait 12 hours. You can wait longer, or really indefinitely.
After 12 hours you should have what EZt maker calls cocoa butter silk. Not a bad name. It is soft cocoa butter that is opaque and is silky. At first you may think nothing happened if you put in solid cocoa butter. Formation of Type V seed occurs via solid state transition meaning it does it without melting. But you should find you can stir it and that it is not solid.
At this point you have a few options.
- Weight out 1% and temper some chocolate.
- Pour it up and let is solidify. You can grate it later and use it.
- Leave it in the EZt.
- Add it to melted cocoa butter at 93.5 F to make more seed for a larger batch
A few comments on each option.
- The literature indicates you might be able to use less. Down to 0.5%. 1% is certainly convenient to calculate. I did not try less. More does not hurt (up to a point, then the latent heat of crystal formation can cause a temperature spike and ruin your temper). I used 2% without an issue. I'm not sure what the limit might be.
- I particularly like this way of doing it. I used a fine grater and increased the chocolate’s working temperature 1 F to account for the cooler cocoa butter. I should note this isn't something Kerry recommends but it worked well for me once I boosted the temperature.
- This is the maker’s recommendation. It uses little enough power that I can’t argue with it.
- Actually, I have not tried this, but I can’t see that it would not work.
- Higher pour temperature. This allows for a lower viscosity so it pours up easier.
- Stainless steel construction.
- You can use it make more seed from the seed (in theory again)
- Less temperamental than traditional tempering methods.
- Very hands off and trouble free
- Adding cocoa butter changes the recipe (method 'con', not EZtemper 'con'). If you already add cocoa butter to a recipe there is no reason not to decrease it by 1% in preparation for this form of tempering.
- It does not come with a manual. You have to download it. (pet peeve of mine)
- Has room for 6 canisters but only comes with 2.
- To open the lid it swings around instead of up. Only a minor ‘con’ but seems to be begging to be broken.
- If by chance your temper does not work (due user error, not because the EZt didn't make seed or work), you have to add more cocoa butter again, thus changing your recipe, or resort to traditional tempering.
The final thing I will mention again is the price. At first it feels a little expensive. High hundreds. Especially since you can make your own for a quarter the price. But many (most?) people are not going to do that and it IS fussy to do. Re-inventing the wheel and all. And taking into account it is very well made, stainless steel, custom control board, USA made, the price is really a steal for something that works as effortlessly as it does.I highly recommend it.
You can buy one direct at http://www.eztemper.com/order.html.com
And download the manual at http://www.eztemper.com/user-guide1.html