My understanding is that if you put in too much lecithin, your chocolate will become very thick. I've been advised to not go higher than 0.5% by weight, and have noticed at amounts less than that, our milk chocolate thins out quite nicely. I have yet to see what happens with more as I haven't gone higher than 0.5% by weight.
If I understand correctly, lecithin acts like an emulsifier to bond the cocoa particle and sugar more closely and reduce sugar bloom. So if I decide not to put lecithin in my chocolate, would I find a harder time to temper the chocolate properly?
Gameson, you're wrong. Chocolate is NOT an emulsion, and lecithin, while in many cases acts like an emulsifier, does NOT behave that way with chocolate.
An emulsion is two compounds of similar properties being suspended together in a mixed state (oil and vinegar for example in a salad dressing).
Chocolate is a suspension where tiny solid particles of sugar, cocoa bean, and vanilla bean are suspended in a fat (cocoa butter). When the fat is solid, the particles can't move. When the fat melts, everything mixes and moves around.
Lecithin acts both as a lubricant, and a glue. In small amounts, it coats the particles of cocoa bean, sugar, and vanilla, and allows them to slide very easily through the fat (aka lubricant). In higher quantities, it coats those particles with a layer thick enough that some of those particles start to stick together (aka glue). This causes the chocolate to thicken.
If you have ever worked with liquid lecithin, you will know that it sticks to EVERYTHING solid, but if you coat your tools with fat, it comes right off.
Does lecithin reduce sugar bloom? I don't know. What I DO know is that condensation on the chocolate causes sugar bloom regardless of how much lecithin you use, and condensation is the single largest cause of sugar bloom.
I also don't believe that lecithin makes it harder to temper your chocolate. At the same time, I know that very thick chocolate is very hard to temper, and with a little lecithin it thins out and is much easier to work with.
I hope that clarifies in layman's terms lecithin in the use of chocolate.
To give a practical example to Brad's comments and your concerns: I have been making chocolate confections for 7+ years now and hand temper a lot of my chocolate. I started making my own chocolate (bean to bar) several months ago. I have made 10 batches now and 2 of those I made without lecithin.
Without a doubt, the chocolate is a lot thicker to work with (ie., at working temperature). I wouldn't say it was harder to hand temper the chocolate, but it was a lot harder to work with after it was in temper and I felt that there was a lot more wastage because of this. Also, if you are used to tempering chocolate with lecithin in it, the whole tempering process looks/feels a lot different using chocolate without lecithin eg., when you're tabling the chocolate, it looks and feels thick enough to be at the right temperature but will still be several degrees too warm to stop tabling.
So you can definately make and temper chocolate without lecithin. If you're just moulding into a bar, it will be fine. If you plan on doing other types of moulding or work with it, it will (in my opinion) be harder to work with if it has no lecithin.
Thank you for the clarification, Brad and gap. My understanding was wrong as I thought lecithin acted as an emulsifier in chocolate like in any other food, but I am glad it was cleared up, sorry for the confusion as I am still a student of chocolate.
gameson - something else I noticed in chocolate with no lecithin was the mouthfeel was different. The chocolate seemed to stay near the front of my mouth . . . near my teeth . . . rather than flowing towards my throat. I wasn't adding any additional cocoa butter to my chocolate in this instance as a test, so I'm sure you could work around this issue by adding some additional cocoa butter.
Dear Brad, I read on more forums and you write also, that "Chocolate is NOT an emulsion". I'm not an expert of chocolate, but I know that sugar dissolves in water and not in oils. So if you put sugar in your chocolate (in form of any kind of syrup) you also add water to your chocolate. Maybe it is not much water, but it is present in the chocolate. So I suppose that lechitin also helps the mixture of the cocoa butter (or other type of fat) with the water dissolved sugar. What do you think? Cheers, Balázs
Lecithin is what's called an ampiphillic emulsifier - that means that one end of it likes to 'stick' to fats, and one end of it likes to 'stick' to water.
Chocolate is indeed more of a suspension of solids in a fat phase, and less of a classical emulsion (where oils and waters are stabilized together) - that said, there's more water in your chocolate than you might think - your liquor has water in it, as does your milk solids and sugars. your chocolate absorbs moisture from the air. that moisture can begin to dissolve the sugars and milk to a very slight degree, making it sticky (think what happens when you add a little water to sugar at home)- and that sticky phase, when it comes into contact with your fat phase doesn't mix very well.
Because lecithin likes to stick to both phases, it - more or less - can be thought of as getting in between the two to act like oil in your engine and keep things moving freely. Lecithin can be effective up to about 0.7% (ish - depending on many factors, that number fluctuates), but, generally speaking, a little goes a long way - but the more you use, the less effective it is, and once you start to exceed about 1.0%, it can actually have the reverse effect and begin to thicken your chocolate as the lecithin begins to stick to itself and begins to bridge.
Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.
I have been using lecithin for making hazel nut spread, but when im adding .4% to it, I can see seperation of the oil the cocopowder that i am using is having 22-24% fat. can anyone help me out with this