Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chocolate Trouble

I don't think I'll have chocolates made for the anniversary. I had some concerns about the viscosity of the chocolate when I bought it, but was hopeful. I had my eye on a high cocoa butter content chocolate that is perfectly adapted to molding chocolates, but I also had concerns about buying chocolate that doesn't use slave labor. I was able to ascertain that the supplier I purchased my chocolate from doesn't buy chocolate from slave farms, so that's a good thing.

But here's the kicker: cocoa butter is what makes chocolate viscous. This chocolate is as viscous as mud. When you're doing molds, you need it to run very thin so that it will pour out of the shell. If your chocolate doesn't have the appropriate viscosity, you have to add cocoa butter. It's expensive. I bought a 16 oz. tub that cost $18 a year or so ago, though the nice thing is that you only need to use a little bit of it at a time. Somehow it's vanished, so I need to track some down.

Here's the other reality that I discovered today: my little chocolate machine will only temper enough chocolate at one time to fill one mold. That means for each mold, I need to go through the tempering process from scratch to fill each one. That will take an insane amount of time, more time than I have before my parents' anniversary. It just isn't possible for it to happen.

What will happen is that I will buy some cocoa butter, and from time to time whip up a batch of chocolates, and then freeze them for Christmas. I think that's what I'll be giving out. But how do you find enough people to give 600 chocolates to?

I'm thinking out loud right now. Ironically, my chocolate tempering machine is actually a hindrance to the process of making molds. In order to make hollow chocolate shells, I would need three pounds of chocolate, tempered and at the ready. The only way to do that without a $1500 machine is to do it the old fashioned way. What was so frustrating to me about the "old fashioned" way was that I was using the chocolate for dipping, and so I needed it to remain in temper for a long time. The machine allows me to do just that. But in the case of molds, you need a massive amount of chocolate in temper, all at the same time. That I can do. The tempering machine can be used when I need to dip chocolates.

There may be hope yet. If I can find some cocoa butter locally, I'll try my hand again at filling some molds on Friday. But I'm going to really have to thin it out quite a bit in order to do that.

I've learned my lesson: I'm not buying chocolate from any supplier unless it has a high enough cocoa butter content. Adjusting it on the fly is a royal PITA.

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