Wednesday April 13, 2005

I have been waiting for this moment for almost two years now. For those of you who have been following the progress here, or have tried to make chocolate at home, you will know that so far, the granules in sugar have left a gritty texture to homemade chocolate. I have been working to find a solution. Well, I have found it. It is not all the way there yet, but it is by far the best yet. And I think it is not all the way there yet, simply because I have not run it long enough. On my first test I ran it a little over 3 hours and there was a marked improvement in the chocolate texture and particle size reduction. Based on the continuous changes it was making, I figure about 5 hours to refine.

Oh, you want to know what it is? Well, the good news is that it is not an R&D product and so it is available.

The bad news is that it is not an R&D product and it is a little expensive - about what a Champion runs - around $265.

It is a Santha tabletop Wet grinder. It has a heavy motor that rotates a granite slab and two large heavy granite rollers at about 150 rpm. The whole thing is just under 50lbs! Oh, and I just saw they say it is "light weight" - don't you believe them - this thing is a heavy duty monster - and that is great! Just have a look.








If you notice, it looks a whole lot like a commercial Melangeur.

I had something exactly like this on the drawing board and here it is - very cool. Right now, I am confident that it will run an hour at a time with no fear of overheating, but more than that and the motor needs a fan on it to keep it cool. Not too tough actually. On the other side, the chocolate benefits from some gentle heating. I just pointed a hair dryer at it for 2-3 minutes. After the first hour though, the chocolate becomes more liquid like and the whole thing generates enough heat by friction that additional heat is not really needed.

Here is a sampling of the chocolate over the refining time, roughly at half hour increments. The lighting was really not good enough for you to see the textural changes, but what is obvious is how much better the viscosity is. As the refining progresses (left to right, then down), it definitely becomes more "chocolate like".




Finally, I can tell you it will not grind the nibs into liqueur. It starts to and then effectively locks up from lack of heat. I even tried heating the nibs and it just did work. So to make chocolate at home, you will still need the Champion Juicer (with a fine juice screen, someone called my attention to the fact that I only mention this in passing). But this finally gives us the ability to start REALLY producing some chocolate!

Stay turned - I will update the Refining area in the next week or so. Actually, go check it out now - I did some major updates just the other day.

Now the real fun begins - discovering the techniques to make really great chocolate now that we have the tools we need!

11:48 am : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (8)


Posted Comments for this update:


[Thu 16:47] ruby email ~
how long does the chocolate-making procedure take?
[Fri 06:56] Alchemist John ~ site
That is oddly, a rather difficult question to answer. It is sort of like "how long does it take to make that roasted chicken?". Well, if you include all the marinading time and roasting time, days, but the actual hands on time is only an hour or so. Chocolate is the same way. The batch that I just molded up last night I started last weekend with about two hours invested. It then refined on and off over the week, one hour a night, with me putting in about 5 minutes a night on it. Last night the tempering, molding and cleanup (never forget clean up :-) took another hour. So, either just under a week, or 3-4 hours of actual time spent for 4-5 lbs of chocolate.
[Mon 20:19] Trent email ~
John- What are some thoughts about a continuous source of external heat for the chocolate mass, such as a warming blanket or a radiant heater lamp?
[Wed 16:59] Alchemist John ~ site
I think a continuous source of heat would work very nice. It does not even need to be that much. Just a couple minutes with a hair dryer kept it warm for over an hour. I am thinking a heat lamp would be nice. It could be aimed at the side and conduction would take care of the rest. I would steer away from a warming blanket since the container is rotating and you don't want to catch it. Either way, there is a little plastic (it looks like either a teflon or HDPE) that I would be cautious about melting, not to mention the polycarbonate top. Mind you, any temperature that ruined those would ruin the chocolate, but worth noting. The big thing I would add is a cooling fan on the motor side. It is a good strong motor, it just needs to be kept cool for extended (the manufacture says 1 hour) times. So, who is going to get one next so I am not the only one playing :-)?
[Thu 14:04] Trent email ~
It is really tempting to get one. Right now my kitchen is gutted (was old and falling apart), but it is tempting... Also, I wonder if a relatively liquid chocolate mass would be less likely to overheat the motor.
[Fri 14:18] Alchemist John ~ site
No, it is just a matter that the motor is not fan cooled. I used a warm, low viscosity chocolate for the test and after an hour, the motor was rather warm to the touch. Just a fan blowing at it kept it barely above room temperature. It's not really a big deal to keep it cool. What I did last week was simply run it an hour each night when I got home for the day. Makes it real convienent to refine a batch during a normal work week.
[Tue 15:57] brian email ~
I'm a chocolate maker and have a chocolate tempering/moulding machine for sale JKV 30 kg weelmachine interested? Contact: brivdb@hotmail.com
[Sun 16:07] atp email ~
My Santha finally showed up last night. Got my first batch going right now. It's definately an awesome tool. I started with half a pound of whole nibs, the grinder locked up (as advertized), but giving it a nudge or two by hand got it over the hump, and I added another 1.5 pounds gradually. After ~50min I could smell the motor getting warm and took an hour break. I'm definately going to have to take apart the motor housing and see if I can expand the vent holes and perhaps add a low RPM/high CFM fan to the top.




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