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Ask the Alchemist #90

I notice that you have always advocated a minimum 35% of cocoa butter... yeah, I know about the basic 50% pre-existent in the cacao! However, my 62% is an easy pour, - enjoy this - easier than the 60% that I've tried.

Would I be right in thinking that the bean I'm using, a 3-day dry, Trinitario hybrid in Fiji, has enabled me to get that wee bit of 'extra' cocoa butter that makes the 62% a nice pour, but the 60% that little bit too much of a bother without added cocoa butter.

Your musings, please...

As nice as it might be, I would not say you are getting any ‘extra’ cocoa butter. I believe your thinking is flawed based on the assumption my advocation of 35% is the absolute, bare minimum you need and it is a scientifically rigorous number. Thank you for the potential pedestal placing, but in reality it is actually a rather carefully crafted number, padded enough to reduce the number of problems people have during formulation.

What that means is that given that the percentage of cocoa butter can range from 45-55%, and we ball park 50%, we don’t actually know how much we are using. We also don’t know how well you roast, what other ingredients you use, how much they absorb moisture (which requires more cocoa butter) or if you use lecithin (which requires less cocoa butter).

When using cocoa beans roasted well and protected from moisture, sugar that has been dried right before I use it and a little lecithin, and a cocoa bean of know ‘high’ cocoa butter percentage, I have been able to make a chocolate with a calculated cocoa butter percentage of 26%. On the other hand, using another bean, and a milk chocolate recipe without lecithin, just tossing cool ingredients in here and there (but recording of course), my percentage of cocoa butter showed a whopping 42%. The average? 34%. But look at that spread. 14%!! So for the easy of a neat and tidy number, and hedging my bets a little, I bumped my recommendation 1% to 35%. My goal for a ‘minimum’ being that 99% of the people that try it will succeed. That’s all.

So, your 62%? That’s somewhere in the 31% cocoa butter level. Yep, that’s between 26% and 42%. Totally in the realm of ‘normal’.

Most of my suggestions and advocations (I like my new word) are just that. They are starting points to ease you into success. After that, you SHOULD move to your tastes and circumstances. That’s the real Alchemy part.

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Ask the Alchemist #87

I am an avid home brewer. I am about to brew a chocolate porter and want to you cocoa nibs. Can you give me advice on what techniques to use?

Disclaimer: This is going to be aimed at home brewers and not really chocolate makers at all. With that, there may be a bit of home brew speak going on that I’m not going to explain for the non-brewer. Google is your friend and you are never too old to learn something new.

I am an avid home brewer also. I have a smoked chocolate pumpkin Imperial stout in the works. What I did is add 1 lb of dark roasted (a new blend I’m working on) Brewing cocoa into the mash. I treated it as I would any other moderately flavored specialty malt. But I came by that number by taste testing different levels of infusions of nibs and brewing cocoa. My thought process was that if the resulting infusion did not have substantial enough character in just plain water, how could I expect it to contribute in any meaningful way to an complex grain bill.

While I was in the homebrew shop getting my grains, I noticed little 2 oz bags of ‘cacao nibs’. These were in the same section as the spices. Unfortunately cocoa nibs are not spices and don’t extract the same way. Take a tablespoon of cinnamon or coriander and put it into a quart of boiling water. The result will be a nicely perfumed quart of spice. It’s there. You can smell it and taste it. Do the same thing with cocoa nibs….and you get nothing. Do it with 10 tablespoons of cocoa nibs and you get tinted water. Trying to treat nibs as spices just does not work. They are water insoluble. They are 50% oil and that ‘oil and water don’t mix’ thing is fighting you the entire way. And even if you grind them up, it’s basically the same.

That said, LOTS of brewers that I sell to put nibs into the secondary. Generally I roast pretty heavy for them. And they add a bit. On average, between 50-100 lbs per 5 barrel batch. At 150 gallons per batch, that is between 5 and 10 ounces per gallon, or 1.5-3.0 lbs per 5 gallon batch (the home brewer average). That is WAY higher than those 2 oz ‘spice’ packs. And they usually set for 4-8 weeks in the brew. And I’ll be honest. It does not contribute a huge amount. Some, sure, but certainly not ‘wow, that’s chocolate milk’ flavor. It’s more subtle.

But there are other options. And it’s basically a variation of a problem that has already been sussed out. That answer is Brewing cocoa. And the question is ‘how do you water extract cocoa?’. You roast cocoa beans a bit heavier, grind them husk and all pretty fine (1000 fold increase in surface area after all), and use proportionally, a LOT!. 4 T per 8 oz of water is my recommended dose, based purely on taste tests. Scaling that up to gallons, you are talking about one pound of brewing cocoa per 5 gallon batch. Interestingly very close to what you would use for a crystal or brown malt.

So that is what I added and what I would recommend as a starting point. 16 oz of dark roasted brewing cocoa into the mash for 5 gallons. The result has some chocolate character. And personally, I think 1.5 lbs or even 2 lbs would not be too much. I’m thinking that a good test would be a nice chocolate ESB to really test the contribution of the cocoa.

One final note. Even fully roasted, when I tried adding brewing cocoa to some finished ale as you would do in a secondary I ended up with contamination. So cold side addition is not something I would recommend.

Relax. Don’t worry. Have a chocolate homebrew!

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Ask the Alchemist #58

Hi, I am using chocolate chips for tempering, since it is kind of thick for coating I wonder if I can add cocoa butter to help liquify it?

I’m not 100% sure what you mean, but I think I get the basic idea. It sounds like you are using chocolate chips to coat something with and the melted, in temper chocolate is a bit thick.

If that is the case, yes, you can add cocoa butter to reduce the viscosity some so the coating is not quite so thick. I would start with 5% of the weight and see what that gives you. And feel free to keep adding until you get to 15%. If you make it there, and it is still too thick, something else may be going on. At that point (or instead) you can try adding a some (0.5-1%) lecithin. And I personally like that even better. Sometimes thickness comes from a touch of water that has found its way into the chocolate and even adding cocoa butter does not seem to help that much. Instead adding something that binds the water helps much more.

Over the weekend I helped a local 8 the grade class make over 50 lbs of truffles for a fund raiser. About 1/3 of them were dipped in tempered chocolate and the dark chocolate was as you described. A bit thick and made the coating too heave without a bit of work. We have been having a stretch of rather cold weather (for here), with snow on the ground for a week (2 days is a lot here) and temperatures in the low teens. I suspect all that snow and humidity found it’s way into the chocolate and I need to do something about it. I melted up about 2 oz of cocoa butter, added 1T of lecithin, stirred until melted/dissolved and added it to the 10 lbs of chocolate. That took care of it. The water was bound up after a few minutes and the viscosity dropped nicely. But that would not have happened with just that small amount of extra cocoa butter.

The other thing I would suggest is checking the label on your chocolate chips. I did some research and although most of the chips were just cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter and lecithin, there were a few that had other oils in them. And a few that had tons of things in them ( Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Milk, Nonfat Milk, 1% of Artificial Flavors, and Natural Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, and Soybean Oil. ) which I would not be surprised would make it basically impossible for you to temper and dip in with a thin, even coating.

So, check you ingredients. If those are good to go (no oils, no dyes, no water based anything), add some cocoa butter and lecithin and see if that helps.

And for those that are curious, here is the truffle recipe. It’s still not too late for holiday gifts.

Truffles 4 dozen 1 oz truffles

3 lb Chocolate (2 lbs for filling, 1 lb for dipping) (27 oz Ecuador nibs roasted, 6 oz cocoa butter, 15 oz sugar, 1.5 t lecithin, 1 vanilla bean scraped into melted cocoa butter)

1 pint heavy cream

Cocoa powder (I like Dagoba personally)

Sugar

Heat 1 pint (1 lb) cream to 160 F. Melt 2 lbs chocolate to 150 F. Combine gentle. I prefer to stir the chocolate into the cream and fold it together until there are no streaks. Allow to cool and set up, usually overnight. You may find a small layer of cocoa butter on the top…or not. Just stir it in or scrap it off. It is usually a result of over mixing but does not hurt anything.

Scoop out 1 oz amount and roll into balls. This is a very soft filling and you WILL get melted chocolate all over your hands. Allow to harden.

Make a cocoa powder/sugar coating. Mix 1/4 cup cocoa powder to 4 cup sugar and powder in a blender.

Melt your remaining chocolate. Pour some onto a warm plate or parchment paper. Roll your truffles in the chocolate, coating thinly and immediately toss/roll in your cocoa powder mixture. Allow to set up.

And let your inspiration be your guide as far as coatings. Cinnamon, coconut, cocoa nibs slightly ground/crushed (I adore these, but some people find them too far outside their comfort level). And of course you can dip them in tempered chocolate with no extra coating.

Oh, and one of my all-time favorites is substituting eggnog for the cream, and using a nutmeg/cinnamon/sugar coating.

Happy holidays all!!!

----- Submit your Questions to the Alchemist: question(youknowtoremovethisright?)@chocolatealchemy.com -----

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Make your own allergy free chocolate

I probably receive a request a week from people wanting to make milk free "milk" chocolate. After a bit of experimenting, some suggestions from various customers and numerous taste tests, I am really pleased to submit the following two recipes for those with milk allergies and/or sensitivities. My daughter can not consume anything with cow's milk, but does just fine with goat's milk, so this recipe is for her.

This formulation will make almost 7 pounds of "40 % cocoa" Goat's milk chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 1.0 lb Cocoa liqueur from a well flavored cocoa bean - I like Ghana (15 %)
  • 27 oz Cocoa butter (25 %)
  • 1 t lecithin
  • 22 oz Meyenburg full fat dry milk (20%)
  • 43 oz sugar (40%) (powdered yourself, the prepowdered has cornstarch that makes the chocolate gummy)

Proceedure:

  • Roast the cocoa beans until just cracking. I do this in a drum roaster, 320 F for 15-20 minutes. I like this bean a little lighter roasted, but roast to your tastes of course. Only you know what you like. You might try 325 for 20-30 minutes for a little roasty flavor.
  • Crack and winnow the beans - you should have about 30 oz of nibs remaining.
  • Grind in your Champion juicer. Go ahead and add your cocoa butter and lecithin at this time, mixed with some of the trace husk you have running back through.
  • Place your Cocoa liqueur and butter mixture in your Santha Wet Grinder. It is very helpful to have your solid ingredients warmed up to at least 120 F, including the Santha drum. Slowly add the sugar and Goat's milk powder into the melted cocoa liqueur while the Santha is running. Run the Santha until the chocolate is of the smoothness you desire. I find 12-16 hours is about right. Your tastes may vary. If you pre-grind your sugar in a small food processor or coffee grinder (about 2 minutes work), you can usually reduce refining time by 3-4 hours.
  • After it is out of the Santha temper and mold up your chocolate into the shape of your choice.
  • Place into a cool, dry place to solidify and then unmold, ususally about 24 hours later to be safe. This can be done in a refrigerator if you wish.
  • Let the chocolate rest for another 24 hours before eating (well, eat it earlier, but it does benefit from the rest).

For others that can't abide any dairy products at all, I submit the best soy "milk" chocolate you will ever taste.

This formulation will make almost 5 pounds of "40 % cocoa" "Better than Milk" Soy milk chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz lb Cocoa liqueur from a well flavored cocoa bean - I like Ghana (14 %)
  • 19 oz Cocoa butter (26.5 %)
  • 1 t lecithin
  • 8 oz "Better than Milk" Soy milk powder(11.2%)
  • 33 oz sugar (47.8%) (powdered yourself, the prepowdered has cornstarch that makes the chocolate gummy)

Proceedure:

  • Roast the cocoa beans until just cracking. I do this in a drum roaster, 320 F for 15-20 minutes. I like this bean a little lighter roasted, but roast to your tastes of course. Only you know what you like. You might try 325 for 20-30 minutes for a little roasty flavor.
  • Crack and winnow the beans - you should have about 30 oz of nibs remaining.
  • Grind in your Champion juicer. Go ahead and add your cocoa butter and lecithin at this time, mixed with some of the trace husk you have running back through.
  • Place your Cocoa liqueur and butter mixture in your Santha Wet Grinder. It is very helpful to have your solid ingredients warmed up to at least 120 F, including the Santha drum. Slowly add the sugar and soy milk powder into the melted cocoa liqueur while the Santha is running. Run the Santha until the chocolate is of the smoothness you desire. I find 12-16 hours is about right. Your tastes may vary. If you pre-grind your sugar in a small food processor or coffee grinder (about 2 minutes work), you can usually reduce refining time by 3-4 hours.
  • After it is out of the Santha temper and mold up your chocolate into the shape of your choice.
  • Place into a cool, dry place to solidify and then unmold, ususally about 24 hours later to be safe. This can be done in a refrigerator if you wish.
  • Let the chocolate rest for another 24 hours before eating (well, eat it earlier, but it does benefit from the rest).

I hope you really enjoy them. Please let me know.

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Chocolate Alchemy Creations - White Chocolate

It is not really chocolate, but I have received enough requests, that I finally had to put a batch of White Chocolate on. It was very simple. The only piece of equipment you need is the Santha Wet Grinder. Just combine the following: Homemade White Chocolate

26 oz Cocoa Butter 25 oz White Sugar 22 oz Dry milk powder 1 t vanilla extract

I put all the dry items into a 150 F oven for about a hour, then slowly combined them and the vanilla in the Santha Wet Grinder and let it refine for about 8 hours.

I then got a little creative with molding as you can see above.

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Artisan Brownies

When Heather visited a few weeks ago, we made a pound of cocoa liqueur from some Barinas cocoa beans that I had roasted up a couple of days earlier. As I did not have my CrankandStein mill yet, we just ran the whole cocoa bean through the Champion, letting it separate the husk. The resulting cocoa liqueur I poured into 1" x 1" ice cube trays. This gave me 16 very convenient cubes of "baker's chocolate". That is all cocoa liqueur really is. So, for those of you not ready to jump into full Artisan Chocolate, might I suggest just making up your own varietal baker's chocolate and using it where ever you would use that stale bitter stuff from the store. I and my daughter did just that last night for a nice batch of brownies. She even tasted the mix before the sugar was added. I warned her it was not sweet yet. (Remember how bad it was when you did that as a kid :-(  It was fine. She said "It's ok papa (patting my arm), it's good". There you have it, from the mouth of babes. Give it a try.

Artisan Brownies

3 oz Cocoa liqueur 1/2 c butter 1 c sugar 3 eggs 1/2 t vanilla 3/4 c flour 1/4 t salt 1/2 c walnuts

Melt the cocoa and butter in a saucepan. Mix in all the other ingredients.

Pour into a buttered 8" square pan. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Enjoy.

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Chocolate Syrup

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Chocolate Syrup

I have just verified that it is a breeze to make chocolate syrup for use in whatever you might use chocolate syrup for. Personally I am stirring a spoonful into my morning coffee for an instant REAL mocha. Just take the cocoa beans through the process of getting to cocoa liqueur (roast, crack and winnow (optional), and grind in the Champion). I pour this up into ice cube trays for convenient 1 oz portions.

Chocolate Syrup

4 oz Home made cocoa liqueur from fresh cocoa beans 1 cup sugar 2 cups water dash of vanilla extract if you wish

Bring the water and sugar to a boil to make a sugar syrup. Turn off the heat, add your cocoa liqueur (4 cubes) and let it melt. Whisk it all smooth once it is melted and refrigerate.

Like many fresh products, this is not going to be just like Hershey (gods, I hope not :-). It may separate a little (a little lecithin in the cocoa may help this, more testing later) from day to day and is definitely going to taste stronger. Just give it a quick stir before using.

Finally, please experiment with the proportions. One person has reported using no sugar at all for a great unsweetened chocolate milk. I think the next batch I make I will double the cocoa.

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Happy Valentine's Day - Chocolate Cherry Dessert

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Happy Valentine's Day - Chocolate Cherry Dessert

In honor of Valentine's Day, I was requested to make a chocolate dessert. Having just roasted up four pounds of beans the night before (starting work on a husk vs no husk experiment), I decided to pull out my Champion Juicer and make a quick chocolate sauce for some cherries we picked and preserved this year.

I measured out a small amount of roasted beans, about 10 oz. I sent them through the Juicer, collecting what flowed through the lower juice screen, and returning the husk and other cocoa from the spout back to be ground again. After two more quick passes, I had about ½ cup of cocoa liqueur, and a tablespoon or so of husk that I threw away.

I added an equal portion of "raw" sugar to the cocoa, mixed well and sent it through the Juicer. First lesson. Use powdered sugar, or pre powder it in a blender before you use it to make chocolate. It just did not work well. The particles stayed to large. For tonight it worked out just fine as I was already planning to add a liquid (milk of some type) so I knew this would dissolve the sugar. Indeed it did. After collecting the sweetened cocoa, I mixed this with about an equal portion of milk. Now, remember, I was making a dessert, not eating chocolate. Anyway, as I fully expected, the addition of a liquid to the warm chocolate made it want to seize up. I passed this through the Juicer, and wow, I almost stalled it. I took it very slow and added a little more liquid and passed it through one more time. This time, with the liquid out massing the chocolate, a smooth rich milk chocolate sauce poured forth.

I heated this gently on the stove top, and then poured it over the warmed spiced cherries. Even though the cocoa only made up 20% or so of the mixture, it was a strong deep, smooth chocolate flavor.

So those of you not quite ready for chocolate making, might I suggest just making your own baking and cooking chocolate. The whole endeavor took maybe 20 minutes and I could see it taking even less the next time. If you are one to cook from scratch, as I am, this extra step of grinding the cocoa you need on the spot is not difficult at all and well worth the effort.

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