Chocolate Siopao

My son said. This siopao is delicious specially the center filling. Strange! I never heard him praising siopao before. The variant my wife bought must be really well made. Hm! What the filling could be? Hotdog, sausage, tocino, or other sweet meat stuff. Kids these days can’t resist sweets. Continue reading “Chocolate Siopao”

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Infrared Non Contact Thermometer

Finally, after several previous failed attempts. I placed my order and it arrived in good working condition. It was not because I don’t had budget, I was doubtful that it wouldn’t be useful enough.

infrared thermometer reading

It is a non contact IR (infrared) Thermometer. The device resembles a gun with a shortened barrel. Of course, they should not design it close to the real thing. To use, simply point it to material of interest. Press the trigger and keep it pressed to scan and release and get the final reading. It is the last reading that is registered, not the average of scanned readings. Expensive brands might have that function. It is wise to read the description carefully before placing order.

Before, I was using a dial-probe type. I need to deep it to mixture every time and wait a minute or so for the dial to travel and stabilize. It was taking a while and the probe should be wiped off clean after. It has contamination risk if the paper towel is not sterile. Oh! It is by nature a contaminant. Accidental shreds might go into food of concern.

I know it reads temperature by infrared. However, I never fully understand the mechanism.

It has red laser beam so the user can ensure he is pointing to the right surface. The sensor is underneath, deep down a wider hole.

It measures surface temperature value. It is not ideal to use on non homogeneous mixture. It cannot be used in lieu of of oven thermometers. It will give the temp value of metal and not the inside air.

In terms of GMP, non contact is one of the best measure. Measuring parameters with very minimal intervention, to point of operating a machine using a remote control.

I am using it for chocolate tempering and molding. I found it very convenient, quick and reliable. I should have bought it earlier. The time when I started practicing chocolate tempering. The number of mistakes I made and the long and steep learning curve could have been reduced significantly.


update as of November 2018

After over a year, the thermometer is still in good working condition. It has suffered several drops without any visible damage and drop in performance.  The batteries has been replaced only once. It used up the batteries included in purchase package. Then I bought two AAA as replacement.

I bought another one. Same brand and model. It was pure coincidence. Electronic devices tend to break when you least expected. Getting ready is the best solution.  I know how to temper chocolates without using one. No worries if it breaks while I am in-charge. But what if the incident happen when I delegate the task. Anyone can temper chocolate easily with its aid, else it will be a guessing game. A disaster.

The new thermometer is working. I hold it side by side with the old one. Pointed them at the same surface and gave slightly different readings.  No, huge difference. When it comes to chocolate tempering, the margin of error is small. I consider the one degree C difference already big. I should find way to calibrate both.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Raw Chocolate… IMO

The is no such thing as raw chocolate. On the contrary, there is. The wet cacao beans fresh from pod are are the purest and raw chocolate. However, it couldn’t be eaten as is. It need to undergo several lengthy processes to improved palatability.

The process starts as soon as the cocoa pod is cut open.

First is fermentation. With the help of microorganisms and wet condition. The beans ferment, bean flavor develops and temperature reaches to about 50 C. It is 10 degrees above to what raw chocolate makers process claim. It is possible to control the temperature down to this point, but I bet most chocolate makers can’t do it.

A rare cacao variety called criollo never needs fermentation. Other variety must.

Drying. Bean moisture should be dropped down to acceptable level as soon as possible. About seven percent. Else, unwanted incidents might happen. Over fermentation and mold growth. According to my friend, drying period is about five to seven days. The first two days are critical. If the sun never shines, they dry it in oven at about 70C. Sunshine temp rarely goes 40 but oven drying temp is 30 degrees higher.

Roasting. Temperature from 100 to 150 C, time of 5 to 45 minutes, depending on resource and processor. Raw chocolate makers skip this step. The step essential to kill harmful microorganisms. If we trace back where the beans came from. Then we don’t need to ask if it contains bacteria. We really need to do something to get rid of it.

Refining/Conching. Another process that can be temperature controlled. In my own experience, my own melanger only reaches a max temperature of 50C. Measures such as lower rotation speed and cooling system can be implemented to lower the heat down to 40C. Indeed, but the stone melanger runs for 24 hours to 3 days. How can we still claim it is raw when it runs in between stones for that length.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Melanger Arrives

This new grinder, specifically melanger, opens new possibility.

melanger-grinding-chocolate

My current grinder output is good enough, and this one would make it even better. A silky smooth texture. When we talk about chocolate, texture affects flavor greatly, the finer the better.

A lesser heat grinding scheme. Granite rollers are popular for chocolate makers because of one thing. It produces significantly lesser heat as compared to steel burr mill and ball mills. Lesser heat tend to preserve flavor. There are also claims of preserved nutrient value, which the “raw chocolate revolution” take advantage of.

A new equipment to learn and tinker with. I knew melanger for so long, but I had only seen it in videos and images. I have already read many guidelines on its usage. Now, it is the real thing. My actual experience might be very different from what I previously learned. It is time to find out.

More electricity bill to pay. It is a slow grinder and so will run for longer hours. It means a sudden rise in electricity bill in coming months. I hope I have a solar panel system to run it.

A possibility for new products. What other products I could make here? A stone ground peanut butter maybe. In India, it is popular for grinding water soaked rice. Whatever it is, it must be something elegant, could be sold for a higher price to cover for electricity cost.

For starters, this machine is too heavy for its size. The granite rollers and slab look solid and very durable. Not water absorbent. I half filled it with water and ran for few hours. It started drying few minutes after emptying.

I am hoping it never absorbs food flavors.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Silicone Chocolate Mold

Several weeks ago, I got ten pieces silicone mold for chocolates. At first, I couldn’t believed how cheap they were. The same amount could only buy three pieces polycarbonates.

silicone mold

These set has different shape from before. Each mold consist of 15 round tablet like cavities. I have been using them to make local unflavored chocolate called “tablea”.

What could I say about silicone molds? Keep reading!

More efficient cooling. Its make is relatively thinner than of polycarbonate. Cold air penetrates faster from the underneath.

Easy demolding. Silicone is soft and smooth. Hardened chocolate separates easily from surface. Even if it stuck through unwanted phenomenon (seizing). Back of individual cavity can be pushed with ease to expel the chocolate out. Polycarbonate never offer this feature. Your head will surely ache when batches gone out of control. Taking them out is very difficult. Bars will break and leave  undesirable marks. Molds should be re-clean thoroughly before proceeding. Plus the bad looking batches that should be remelted and re-tempered.

Hard to handle. I can hold the poly with one hand. I can hold the silicone with one hand too but the freshly poured chocolate will drip off. It is a mess. Using two hands never did the trick. The center is sagging down allowing some liquid to fall. Pulling both ends straighten if up but causes the cavities to deform.

I provided a sturdy wire mesh to solve this handling problem.

Another problem attributed to its soft nature. When pouring chocolate to molds, wiping off excess should be done carefully to prevent denting and spillage. Maybe it is not a problem for hobby purposes but surely is for businessman. It kinda slow down the process. This also makes it unfit for semi-automated production line.

Post production clean-up. With polycarbonate, debris could be wiped easily with soft cloth, quick dip in a warm soapy water and final rinsing. Silicone got a low grade in first cleaning step. I have to scrub each mold with bare hands while simultaneously dipping it in warm soapy water.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.