Level: Novice

Read time: 8 minutes

Today we are doing a little speed round.  Most of the questions have been covered at one time or another or seem pretty obvious to me, but I'm too close to the subject to really know what is obvious and what isn't, so without further ado, here we go.

Can you use vanilla bean powder instead of using the vanilla bean scrapings like you show in your videos?

It really depends upon the powder in question.  Some are whole ground beans.  Some are mixed with some carrier.  I have not found any that are from the seeds and scrapings.  What this generally means is you have to add a bit more since you are adding in not so flavorful fiber from the whole bean or carrier.

Is powdered milk necessary in white chocolate? What function does it serve?

If you don’t add something be it milk powder, coconut powder, oat or cashew or something then you have only sweetened cocoa butter.  I guess it is safe to say the purpose is to give flavor to what you are making and add bulk. 

Have you tried to make chocolate using coffee, milk, sugar and cocoa butter?  It is a bar style that I have seen a few times now. Any tips?

I’ve done this off and on throughout the years.  It is just another addition you add to the refiner.  Pro-tip – search feature.  After that, for coffee in particular I find somewhere in the 3-8% range by weight is good to my tastes. And make sure it is a freshly ground, quality coffee.

These days im using Hershey´s cocoa.  What I want to know is what would happen with the cocoa concentration if it is heated in water until it evaporates

Talk about things that never cross my mind.  Nothing would happen except the chocolate would get hot.  It sounds like you are assuming because the melted chocolate is a liquid that it contains water that can evaporate.  That isn’t the case.  It is cocoa butter and it (nor really anything) will evaporate at 212 F.

I would like to know about Champion Juicer. From the manufacturer's website there are two different types of juicers: Model 2000 and Model 4000.

I say and show the 2000 model.

Is it best practice to strain your chocolate when it comes out of the melanger?

I have only strained chocolate that had a rock in it that I could not find that was stopping the wheels.  If your melanger isn’t refining enough where you think you need to strain than either it isn’t working right or you possibly are not scraping down well enough while it is running.

i would like to know which refiner and which tempering machines you prefere to work with?

I offer Spectra so that is my base answer for refiners.  I don’t have a need for tempering machines since I only temper 1 kg evaluation batches.  I like the cost/lb ration of the Little Dipper.  For that same reason I’m not a fan of most of the Chocovision line.  They are just too expensive for what you get.  If you need to temper anything under 5 lb I see no reason not to just do it by hand (and that includes using Silk).

I’ve read the champion juicer gets too hot and will burn the chocolate.  How do I prevent that?

You prevent it by not believing everything you read on the internet.  Chocolate isn’t the delicate flower so many people think it is.  I could give all sorts of admonishments about not pushing the Champion hard, etc, but really chocolate just won’t burn at any of the temperatures that the Champion will get it to.  Burning happens at near 450 F.  The plastic housing would melt well before then.  I can hear already about driving off the delicate notes and damanging the chocolate.  To that I would say I’ve not experienced that and if that is something you find then eliminate the Champion from your method and add the warmed nibs direct to your melanger.

I was wondering if you knew anything about making vegan white chocolate using cacao butter and nuts like Cashews, or coconut, or nut butters, or nut flours or dried coconut milk powder. I would really appreciate it if you have a recipe for that!

These are ALL variations on a theme.  I’ve given milk and white chocolate recipes and even ones containing Better than Milk Soy powder.  Just substitute out the milk powder for what you want to try and move forward.  This isn’t rocket science and a large portion of making your own chocolate is experimenting, so experiment.

I  have an interest in starting a chocolate business that would have a social impact.  I am in the process of getting a melanger to start tests on recipes. I am guessing you do have some expertise helping new business start in the chocolate business. Any information or resources such as books and other sites we could read would be highly appreciated.

Google search “making a business plan”.

I will add one thing though.  Do NOT project how much you will sell.  Project what you will do when you DON”T sell how much you would like to sell.

I have some cocoa I would like you to try.  Can I send you some?

A sample would be great.  I need at least 1 kg.  They can go to:

Chocolate Alchemy

Evaluation Lab

3796 Stewart Road

Eugene, OR, 97402

Please make sure the samples are well labeled, have contact information and the package does not require a signature.