Your SpectraMelanger (11, 20, 40, 65 and 100) can refine anywhere from 1 lb to 100 lbs. of chocolate in 12-36 hours depending on your particular conditions and desires and model.
When you Melanger arrives it needs to be cleaned of manufacturing dust. You have a couple options.
1) Wipe out the bowl and granite stones with a clean cloth.
Add 1 lb of sugar to the bowl, assemble the unit (as described below) and run for about an hour.
Alternately, you can also run a couple cups of vegetable oil for about an hour.
2) If you feel more comfortable washing it, feel free. Hot soap and water are fine. Note: The Melanger parts are NOT dishwasher safe. Wash by hand. The warranty is void if dishwasher washed. In particular, the epoxy holding the bowl together and the plastic parts can not take the heat of a dishwasher.
Let COMPLETELY dry before using for chocolate. You can speed the drying by placing your bowl and rollers in a warm (no more than 140 F/60 C) oven for an hour or so.
Refining Chocolate with your Melanger
Make sure your Wet Grinder is ABSOLUTELY DRY when you start.
Just a touch of water can ruin the entire batch, seizing andleaving you with a thick fudge like mass that cannot be refined in the Melanger.
- Place your melted cocoa liqueur into the stainless steel, granite bottomed bowl. It is often convenient to add it directly from your Champion Juicer session.
- Attach the rollers (if the rollers spin free, the rollers are upside down), place the spring on the shaft and tighten down with the cap. Tension is not a particular issue. Screw it all the way down but don't over tighten it as it may break. Likewise, leaving it loose may slow your refining.
- Turn on the Melanger and slowly add the sugar (and milk solids) and melted cocoa butter your recipe calls for.
٠ Cocoa liqueur contains about 50% cocoa butter and the amount of cocoa butter helps the chocolate "flow" while refining. Too little cocoa butter and the chocolate may clump around the rollers and may even damage the Melanger.
٠ At a minimum, you want approximately 20% cocoa butter in your final recipe.
٠ For instance, this could be 40% cocoa liqueur/60% sugar or
٠ 20% cocoa liqueur/10% cocoa butter/35% sugar/35% powdered milk.
The sugar you add should be regular white cane sugar. Do not use "powdered" sugar, this contains cornstarch. If you wish to reduce your refining time a couple hours, a small "whirly blade" coffee grinder or blender works nicely to "powder" your own sugar. 2 minutes pre-grinding the sugar will save you 2 or more hours in the Melanger. If you don't wish to bother, that is fine to - the Melanger will handle crystals of sugar just fine.
1. You may need to add a little heat to the chocolate during the first 1/2 hour or so if you notice that it cools too much and starts to thicken. A standard blow drier (for hair drying) works very well for adding heat.
Alternately, you can pre-heat all of your ingredients in a warm over to about 140 F/60 C. This will allow the Melanger to work more easily.
Other sugars may or may not work due to their moisture content. Brown sugar for instance needs to be dried before it can be used. Malt powder is notorious for holding enough moisture to cause your batch of chocolate to seize.
We specifically DO NOT RECOMMEND the following sweeteners and ingredients for refining with the Melanger:
Liquid milk or cream
Alcohol or water based extracts (like vanilla extract)
Unroasted nuts or unroasted (raw) cocoa nibs
Fresh or not fully dried fruits
The use of any of these (or any other ingredient that contains water - we just can not name them all) will most likely cause the chocolate to seize and may damage the equipment. Melangers damaged by the use of any liquid based ingredient is NOT covered by warranty. Use at your own risk. If you have ANY concerns about the appropriateness of an ingredient, please feel free to contact Chocolate Alchemy via firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Your chocolate should be "flowing" smoothly over and under the rollers like a liquid. If not, something is not right. Check the Troubleshooting section at the end of this document. It may be as simple as warming your chocolate a little or adding your ingredients a little slower so they have time to incorporate.
6. The Alchemist's Stone Melanger is meant to be run continuously. This does not mean something can't go wrong, especially when you first get it. In general, we recommend keeping a close eye on it for the first few hours you use it make sure it is running properly. Although people do We never recommend leaving it running completely unattended.
7. There are two different lids that have been supplied with the Melanger. On sets on the nylon tensioning nut and rides above the rotating drum. The other sets on the rotating drum. There have been instances that moisture liberated from the chocolate condenses inside the lid within the first few hours of running. This moisture (water) can run into your chocolate and cause it to seize (yes, it came from the chocolate, why can't it return? - it left as a vapor but is returning as a drop). Either keep a close eye for moisture for 3-5 hours (and wipe it away) or initially run the Melanger (3-5 hours) without the lid to allow the moisture to escape. This does not appear to be a problem with the units with lids that ride above the drum.
8. Once your chocolate has attained the level of refining that you desire (taste it - it is your best tool), turn off the Melanger and pour your chocolate into chocolate molds for storage or proceed directly to tempering and finish molding.
9. Clean the Wet Grinder with hot water, soap and a scrub brush. The shafts that the wheels run on unscrew and should be cleaned (and inside the wheels) after each batch. Make sure you rinse away ALL the soap. Soap is not desirable in chocolate. Again, the Melanger parts are NOT dishwasher safe. And of course, do not forget, all parts must be completely dry before you use it again.
Troubleshooting and Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q: The cocoa nibs and sugar are just packing down and the rollers are just running on top.
A: You can not just dump roasted nibs and sugar together in the Melanger and expect it to make chocolate. See above for how to add ingredients.
Q: Can the Melanger make liquor out of nibs.
A: Yes it can, but we often find it is more work than it is worth. If you want to try, pre-heat your nibs and refiner bowl and grinding wheels to about 140 F/60 C in an oven. Assemble the Melanger and start it running (it will be LOUD). Slowly add a 4 ozs of nibs. Slow add another pound over the next hour as the nibs start to liquefy. If the nibs start packing down, you are probably adding them too fast. You will probably need to turn off the unit, remove some, and start it again.
Q: I added just a tiny amount of honey to my recipe (maybe a teaspoon), but now my chocolate is this thick fudge like mess.
A: Go read the directions again - you can not add ANY water based ingredient or your chocolate will seize.
Q: I mixed up one of your recipes for milk chocolate. It was dry and crumbly. I added it to the Melanger but it just stuck to everything and clumped up until the motor stopped.
A: Go read again how to add ingredients. The Melanger can do many things and is quite up to the task of refining chocolate, but you can not just throw everything in and walk away. In general, if your mixture is crumbly or too thick, you either need to add more cocoa butter (melted), less sugar or maybe just a little heat to melt the cocoa butter that is present (cocoa liquor is 50% cocoa butter).
Q: I am making white chocolate and there are grey streaks in starting to show up.
A: It sounds like you did not clean the shafts that the granite wheels ride on. Unscrew the rods, clean them and inside the granite wheels very well, dry them thoroughly, and re-assemble. That should solve the problem.
In general, if you refining mixture isn't "flowing" like melted chocolate then something is wrong and needs to be addressed.