I just ran my Spectra 11 melanger for 30 hours and was noticing the stones not spinning as quickly as normal over the last few hours. The chocolate is hot 132 F in fact. It’s also very thick and stays in place somewhat like peanut butter. The texture has the slightest hint of grittiness. I stopped the melanger.
My only idea is moisture got in. Not sure how - I watch closely those first 3-4 hours for it.
What’s happened? Any way to save my batch? It’s got great flavor.
My guess is that your chocolate is fine and that the problem is that there's not enough cocoa butter in your formulation. At a bare minimum, you want to have over 32% cocoa butter. With only 62% cacao, depending on the fat content of the cacao you're using, you're probably right around the minimum--probably somewhere between 31% and 34%.
Other factors could affect this, as well. For example, if you did a light roast, there's going to be more moisture in the cacao, which will also thicken the chocolate.
132F is not particularly hot for dark chocolate, and I can't think of any reason the chocolate being in the sun for a few hours would cause a problem, but it's probably not great for the life of the machine.
Is this the first batch you ran in it? If so, did you break in the grinder with oil or sugar first to remove grit left by manufacturing?
This sounds like a need of cocoa butter. (I've made around 10 batches already, always 68% and higher cacao; I would say it was a medium roast) So I ordered cocoa butter.
My beans are the Brazil Farmgate from the Chocolate Alchemy store. Is there an ATA where I can learn more about adding cocoa butter, the process of doing it (in the melanger with the rest of my cacao and sugar?), etc.
When you say I want to have over 32% cocoa butter, do you mean of the entire recipe? Based on your percentages, it sounds like 50-55% of bean content is cocoa butter - is that right?
You can add the cocoa butter whenever you'd like. I'd generally recommend melting it and adding it near the end of the refining process. You could also add it at the beginning to make things easier on your grinder, or even after grinding during tempering.
The 32% is for the entire recipe. And yes, cacao generally has somewhere between 50-55% but there are some with more and less.
Ben, this is kind of related.... You mention a preference in adding the cocoa butter late in the refinjng process. I've been wondering about some of this.
I started adding my sweetener (allulose) later in the process; I think it improves the viscosity, keeping the batch more fluid. My feeling is that allulose has a greater tendency to retain moisture than sugar, so adding it later gives the batch more time for moisture to vent - especially with the cover off. But the melanger starts "throwing" chocolate all over the place! Even with the cover on.
So the question is this: Can I start with just the nibs and run them for a couple of hours, adding the cocoa butter and allulose later? What about when to add milk (or heavy cream) powder?
I'd recommend always starting with just nibs (or just nibs and cocoa butter if that's your preference), for exactly the reason you mention. Letting the nibs get a little (or a lot) liquid before adding other solid ingredients just makes things easier.
Of course, note that when you add the sugar has an effect on the final flavor of the chocolate, too.
One more follow up question. How do you label a bar when it's (for example) 60% cacao, 30% sugar, 10% cocoa butter? Would you call it a 60% or 70% bar? I'm just selling a very small amount of bars, so I only put the cacao % on the wrapper. Not an official list of ingredients.
I imagine it's relative to each person's perspective. I guess it comes down to "is cocoa butter cacao solids?"