Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tip #293: Test Your Chocolate Knowledge



So, it’s February! And how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along?

Whether you made a resolution to improve your business this year or not, now is a great time to evaluate the goals you do have and measure your progress since setting those goals. Experts agree measuring your progress on an ongoing basis is a vital part of successfully attaining goals.

If you aspire to learn more about chocolate and expand your candy making skills, we’ve pulled sample questions from RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp® “School of Knowledge” quiz, as a way to help you take a pulse of your chocolate knowledge.

1. Which of the following steps of cocoa bean processing must take place within the growing country?
   A. Conching
   B. Winnowing (shell removal)
   C. Fermentation
   D. All of the above

2. When tempering chocolate, what percentage of solid fat crystals is desired when process is complete?
   A. 0.1 - 1.0%
   B. 1.5 - 4.0%
   C. 5.0 - 8.0%

3. Which of the following will contribute to bloomed bottoms?
   A. Cold belt temperatures
   B. Using chocolate in bottomer
   C. High-viscosity chocolate
   D. All of the above

4. When removing confections from freezer storage, typical temperature profile is:
   A. 0°F - 30°F - 70°F
   B. 0°F - 40°F - 70°F
   C. 0°F - 50°F - 70°F              

Now that you've completed the sample quiz, ask yourself, how confident do you feel in your answers? Would you qualify for master chocolatier status or could you use a refresher on the subject? See next week’s post for the answers.

Warren Buffet once said, “The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself, the more you learn the more you’ll earn.” Whether you're a veteran chocolatier or a newcomer to the industry, if you aspire to learn more and expand your candy making skills, consider ways to invest in your education. Thankfully education is more accessible than ever before! Education is available in all different formats; print, webinars, podcasts, seminars and workshops, certifications and courses, even in-person meetings such as trade shows or local networking events. Experiment with different learning formats to find out what works best for you.

Want to learn more about RCI’s upcoming events and education? Click here to receive notifications about when registration opens for events and education courses, like RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp and Annual Convention & Industry Expo.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, 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. 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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Throwback Tip #233: How to Know Chocolate is in Good Temper


Checking your temper is an important step to ensure you aren’t surprised by unsightly bloom or dull or tacky chocolates.

Chocolates that have a dull appearance may be over tempered, while rapid bloom or a tacky, greasy surface are indicators that chocolate is under tempered. Quit guessing and rest assured your chocolate is always in good temper with these two methods for checking your temper.

The Blade Test: This method is quick, easy and budget friendly; however, the results could vary on the temperature of the room.

Simply dip a metal spatula or knife blade into the chocolate and leave a small film on the blade. At room temperature (65-68° F), well-tempered chocolate should be firm, not tacky, after just five minutes.
Tempermeter: Although more costly, this method will most accurately measure the degree of tempering, indicating the quality and quantity of stable crystals that have been formed.

Tempermeters produce a temperature-versus-time curve, resulting from uniform cooling of a chocolate sample over a specified period of time.
It may be easy to assume your chocolate is well tempered and ready to move into the assembly line, however, skipping this step could result in a costly mistake. 

Choose a testing method that works best for you and put a plan in place to ensure your chocolate is being checked on a regular basis. Many of our candy maker members have a system in place to verify their chocolate’s temper every hour.

Next week: Check your chocolate knowledge and stay tuned for details on RCI’s 2019 Chocolate Boot Camp®!

Crave more? If you like what you read here, 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. Plus, review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. 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.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tip #292: 5 Ways to Celebrate American Chocolate Week


Our favorite time of year is just around the corner -- American Chocolate Week! A whole week of chocolatey celebration, Sunday, March 17 through Saturday, March 23! Here’s a few of our favorite ways to celebrate with consumers!


Celebrate American Chocolate Week by creating an interactive experience for customers. This could take the form of a unique tour of your candy kitchen, a class on the origin of chocolate or a hands-on chocolate making class. Any of these options are sure to give your customers a greater understanding and respect for your products. RCI member, Wilmar Chocolates, invites chocolate lovers to work with expert “baristas” to create their own custom chocolate bars.

Secret Choco-Code
Create a new chocolate-themed secret password each day that customers can only find via social media; if they use the secret password while visiting your store, they could get a prize, plus a coupon towards a future purchase--which will encourage them to come back again.

Chocolate to Keep. Chocolate to Share.
If you find that your customers are more often buying chocolate for someone else, remind them to enjoy American Chocolate Week themselves too. Offer shoppers a “Buy One, Get One” deal and encourage them to buy chocolate to keep as well as to share.

Sweet Trivia
Think of the holiday as an opportunity to educate your customers with a fun chocolate trivia question each day in store or on your social media pages. Anyone who posts the correct answer could be put into a drawing for a free pound of chocolates.

Pitch Your Story
Utilize your relationships with local media and pitch an American Chocolate Week story, based on your store, of course. A well-drafted press release is a powerful tool to create exposure and enrich your customer base. If you haven’t had success with press releases you’ve submitted in the past, click here to see if you’re guilty of one of the 5 most common mistakes businesses make when writing a press release.

Have fun celebrating a holiday so sweet we need a week to celebrate! How will you be celebrating American Chocolate Week? Share in the comments below. 

Next week: Check your temper! Learn two fool-proof methods to ensure your chocolate is always in good temper.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, 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. Plus, review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. 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.