Hi, I am continuing to have issues with tempering--well really it's keeping it in temper--even in a 'air conditioned' room (not that cool in Hawaii) and humidity about 65% or lower if I can help it. Even using a pan of warm water and pulling the bowl of chocolate on and off of it, the chocolate gets thick very quickly and pouring becomes a nightmare. Then the finished product it not really tempered right. What would cause the viscosity (right from the get go after getting the chocolate 'in temper' supposedly, based on the temperature recommendations) to be so thick? How do others keep chocolate at the 'right' temperature while pouring when you can't afford a tempering machine and are pouring only about 3 pounds at a time. I'm using the wonder grinder which I was told only can handle 3 pounds at a time. Thanks!
Here's an anology for you: If you take an ice cube out of your freezer and set it on your counter it will be melted in a few minutes. If you take a turkey out of your freezer and set it on your counter it will still be frozen at the end of the day. It takes a LOT longer to change the temperature of a large mass, than it does a small mass and when you're working with chocolate which has very tight temperature thresholds, the larger the mass, the less the fluctuations.
Working with small amounts of chocolate are difficult because the working temperature range is only a few degrees, and that can change within a few minutes. However if you're working with 10lbs + of chocolate, you can keep it at its working temperature much longer with little effort, AND reheating it when it thickens is more forgiving. For example: if you get 10-15lbs of chocolate in temper, and work with it, you may be able to work with it for as long as 30 min before you have to reheat it. All you will need to do during that 30 min is regularly stir it.
The one redeeming quality of working with chocolate is that for the most part you can use it over and over again without issue, so if there's chocolate left over when you are done working with it, that's ok. Simply put it in a container and store it until you need it again.
I temper by hand but pour it into a melter to keep it in temper while molding. I use this one but there are others available. www.moldart.be/en/shop/chocolate-machinery/dry-heat-chocolate-melter-6-kg/. It made my life so much easier. I no longer had to rush my molding process. My batch size is around 3Kg. I know you may not wan to buy a piece of equipment but you will be glad you did.
Thanks Brad and Thomas, I was told the Premier wonder grinder can only handle 3 lbs at a time (which I'm not sure i agree with but was told that by an expert Nate) so am kind of stuck with the small amount. Brad, your analogy makes sense. I also read a bit more on other forums and think I need to dry out my sweeteners more (I don't use sugar) since I used coconut sugar and erythritol, as well as roast or heat the raw nibs I use some more. Humidity in Hawaii is always an issue. The melter's been recommended before but it is out of my price range. I have already bought a slow cooker and a temperature control wand, which promptly broke so don't use that.
Make sure you have a minimum of 35% fat content in your formula. Also, a Premier, which I use, will easily handle 3 lbs. My typical batch size is 2.5Kg which is 5.5 lbs. But if your fat content is too low, that can be a problem.