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Ask the Alchemist

Ask the Alchemist #277

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Ask the Alchemist #277

My question is whether you have experienced more intense flavors by starting with a high temperature and then coming down.  As well, why did you choose 232F as the end of the development phase.

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Ask the Alchemist #276

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Ask the Alchemist #276

I am a long time coffee roaster and know it is important to cool coffee as fast as possible.  How quickly do I have to cool my cocoa beans?  I’m worried they going to over roast if I don’t get them cool in a couple minutes, especially in the Behmor roaster.

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Ask the Alchemist #274

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Ask the Alchemist #274

For almost 6 months or so, I've been using coconut sugar (we are trying to be organic, low sugar, etc.), and the last batch of sugar I bought from my usual supplier was moist.

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Ask the Alchemist #273

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Ask the Alchemist #273

Hi John! I apologize if I am inquiring at the wrong time; I'm not sure who is managing emails right now. I hope all is well and you are having a nice recovery! If you are able to reply, I had a few questions.

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Ask the Alchemist #272

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Ask the Alchemist #272

Instead of whole cacao nibs, can I buy cracked cacao nibs from health store and put it in Melanger
Instead of cracked cocao nibs can I buy raw cacao powder from health store and put it in Melanger

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Ask the Alchemist #270

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Ask the Alchemist #270

Before I get this week’s questions (which are a little non-standard and are actually just me answering an email in more detail - yes, I still try to answer any and everything that comes in) I want to announce a new Brewing cocoa.

It is a new Organic blend roasted a bit deeper than The Big O.

Tequila Moonrise - Organic Chocolate, rich and deep, to warm you up while watching that beautiful moonrise in the chilly night while sipping a neat pour of Elixir of Agave. 

 
Tequila moonrise.jpg
 

Level: Novice

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I have a question about roasting brewing chocolate.  I found your article where you talk about roasting to different temperatures, for example Shadow's Silhouette to 333 F.  I don't currently have a Behmor (I will eventually), so I'm roasting in the oven.  If I want a dark roast, do I set my oven on 410 F for example and roast until the bean temperature reads 410 F or do I start at a lower temperature and gradually increase it.  I'm just looking for some roasting guidance here for brewing chocolate.

 

On a minor pedantic note it is Brewing Cocoa.  Chocolate is cocoa that has been refined with sugar. Brewing cocoa is ground roasted whole cocoa beans (i.e. not just nibs)

 Just like I do for roasting for chocolate, I really don’t recommend roasting in the oven if you can avoid it all costs.  Probably the number one reason I don’t like it is that it is nearly impossible to teach it and teaching is what I’m all about.

 The reasons it is so hard to teach (to the point of impossible) is three fold.

  1.  Ovens have different power (and come in both electric and gas)

  2. Ovens heat unevenly (no matter how much you stir)

  3. Everything changes depending on how much you roast.

I want you to think about any roasting and how you were approaching it.

 If you roast a chicken and want it roasted to 165 F would you put it into a cold oven and heat to 165 F?   Would you pre-heat to 165 F and cook it (it really isn’t roasting now, but slow cooking) to 165 F?  No, you are most likely going to pre-heat to 350-450 F and roast it until it hits the temperature you want.

You are going to do the same exact thing with cocoa.  Pre-heat to a temperature a good bit over your goal end temperature and roast it until you hit that temperature.

Roasting cocoa isn’t magical. It isn’t a special snowflake. It is food and you should think about it like any other food you roast or cook. 

I can’t give you much more than that except to say stir them every 5-10 minutes to try and keep them as even as possible and the higher you set the temperature the faster the roast will progress and overall you want it to progress as fast as possible.

 Oh, and there is one more thing.  And it is a big something.  You might be able to do a roast into the mid 300s but I would absolutely not recommend roasting to 410 F inside a house.  There is a LOT OF SMOKE  at that level.  When I roast to that level in my professional roaster, with a commercial hood, it over loads the capacity of the draw fans and we have smoke spill over into the warehouse.  I don’t even want to think about what that would be like in your oven.

 What is your opinion about the Spectra Mini?

 I don’t care for it.  The higher rpm coupled with the smaller drum can fling chocolate and sets up a situation where you can actually over refine in short order. There is a reason I don’t offer it and I just gave it.

 I know the Gourmia will not roast as many lbs as the Behmor, but that aside how do you feel about the end product and the quality of the roaster itself?

It roasts the same amount as the Behmor.  I like the roast quality quite a bit and like that I can monitor the temperature as is with my IR thermometer.

 Just an observation here.  If I type in "brewing" in the search box on the website, it brings up many articles.  If I go to read one and then go back, the article list is not there.  I have to erase "brewing" and retype it to get the articles to reappear.  I tried this in Internet Explorer and Chrome.  Do you have any suggestions?


I just tried that in IE, Chrome and Firefox and I didn’t get that behavior at all.  My only thought is to ask if you have any script or ad blockers in place. Yeah, I know that isn’t super helpful.

Until next wee, let’s go make some chocolate.

 

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Ask the Alchemist #269

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Ask the Alchemist #269

I have a question about tempering which answer I can’t find anywhere and I’m hoping you can help.  Simply, why are the tempering temperatures have to be different for dark, milk and white chocolate?  Is it because of the greater amount of cocoa butter in the milk and white chocolates?

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Ask the Alchemist #268

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Ask the Alchemist #268

One thing I can’t find an answer about is how I should go about sorting my beans.  I have tried a bunch of different ways and nothing really seems to improve my chocolate every time.  I see so many chocolate makers sorting but just can’t figure it out.  Please help!!

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Ask the Alchemist #267

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Ask the Alchemist #267

 1. If I am using the melanger to make Dark Chocolate, I do not make chocolate liquor correct? I just use the roasted/cracked/winnowed cacao nibs and put them directly into the melanger? When would I need to make chocolate liquor?

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Ask the Alchemist #265

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Ask the Alchemist #265

How do we store chocolate that is coming out of the Melanger? Does it have to be tempered first? Or can we just pour it into a container?  I can’t seem to find the answer.

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Ask the Alchemist #263

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Ask the Alchemist #263

I make ganache and if you let it set and if you don't make it with a lot of cream it can set up nicely. So my question is this. Why no wet ingredients if you know how to incorporate them like in making ganache?

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Ask the Alchemist #260

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Ask the Alchemist #260

Love this channel. I've yet to see anyone skilled enough to produce a quality video making dark milk chocolate without using caster sugar. Using Honey, maple or coconut sugar. Do you reckon you could think about doing such a video in the future?

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Ask the Alchemist #259

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Ask the Alchemist #259

Do I have to proof my nibs and sugar before starting my chocolate? I’m worried about caramelizing the sugars and getting off flavors that are not true to the bean.

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