Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tip #290: How Not To Ruin Chocolate

With a pinch of moisture and a dash of heat, you’ve got the recipe to ruin perfectly good chocolate. But we’re not looking to ruin chocolate here! It may not be easy, but as a chocolatier, you are expected to craft delicious chocolate with a glossy sheen and perfect snap every time, without fail. However, thanks to a myriad of factors that can negatively affect  your chocolate at any given point, even the most skilled chocolatiers can have off days in the kitchen. To help, we’ve created this quick-reference guide to pinpoint common mishaps that can occur when working with chocolate so they can be easily corrected.

Chocolate is dry and powdery
When you rub chocolate and it feels dry and powdery, say “hello” to sugar bloom. Sugar bloom is caused by moisture. Dew forms on chocolate and gets absorbed by the sugar, leaving a dusty layer of crystals.
  • High humidity (50% humidity or less is best)
  • Cooling temperature was too low (below 50° F)
  • Chocolates with a moist center were stored in a high-temperature room.

Chocolate feels greasy
If your chocolate feels greasy, you've got fat bloom. Fat bloom is caused when cocoa butter separates and moves to the surface of chocolate.
  • Centers made with soft fats. Many nut centers can also cause fat bloom when in contact with incompatible fats.
  • Proper storage temperature was not maintained.

Chocolate doesn't release properly from mould
Are your chocolate moulds putting up a good fight? Learn how to fight back with common causes for sticky moulds.
  • Mould was too cold or too warm, causing chocolate in contact with the mould to lose temper.
  • Mould was not clean.
  • Too much or too little seed when tempering.
  • Sugar bloom (see above)
  • Center was too cool. Center must be close to the temperature of the chocolate.

Cracks in finished product
Sure, that chocolate bunny with a crack down the middle can still taste good, but it doesn't exactly send the right message to customers. Learn what's causing the problem below, so you can avoid it in the future.
  • Cooling temperature was too low (below 50° F)
  • Chocolate was in the cooler too long.
  • Low viscosity of the chocolate
Other considerations
If you've covered all the bases above and are still unsure what's wreaking havoc in your candy kitchen, here's a few other common culprits you may have overlooked.
  • Local climate conditions can greatly affect the environment of your candy kitchen and, in turn the results of your finished products. Take care to create an ideal environment for working with chocolate.
  • Chocolate picks up and holds odor. Be careful when using products with a strong odor near chocolate, such as mint and even cleaning products.
  • Be mindful of where air vents are blowing. Avoid air vents blowing directly on product.
  • Keep moisture far from your chocolate making areas. A dishwasher giving off a bit of steam can have a negative effect on any product that is near it.
  • Do not cook near chocolate. If you make caramel, for example, it should be made in a separate area.
Mistakes happen. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others through education and talking with fellow candy makers. By understanding what could go wrong and how to avoid or correct mistakes, you can avoid a great deal of unnecessary costs and frustration.If you have questions that are not addressed in this post, RCI members can login to pose questions to fellow members on RCI’s online forum, List Serve.

RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices. Review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. Look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox.

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