As a small batch chocolate maker there will be slight variations from batch to batch. Some variables can be reined in while some are harder to control. There are conditions out of my hands like outside temperature, wind, and humidity. I make adjustments as best I can to compensate for these variables. Then there are conditions I can control, but sometimes don’t realize how a subtle change can influence the finished product.
For example, we do not use any additives to help with the viscosity of chocolate. Additives like soy Lecithin and certain other vegetable oil byproducts are often used to make chocolate flow easier when melted. I’m not the decider of whether or not using a viscosity agent is a good or bad thing. I’m just saying we don’t use them even though at times it would be tempting. Chocolate that flows easier surely must be easier to work with. I’m sticking with the hard way on this one.
During the hand molding process we are typically able to get chocolate to fill the mold and remove a fair amount of air bubbles. Perhaps one day we will buy a vibration table to aid in this step, but for now we will continue with hand tapping molds. The results thus far have been just fine. Now in the last two batches we got some stubborn air bubbles.
I had noticed that the chocolate was thickening a little quicker than normal. I thought at first it was a humidity thing snce we are in Houston after all. I’ve molded chocolate at just about every percent humidity you can imagine…except for the ones below 50%. Anyways, during the night, when I do my best thinking, I may have identified molding problem number 117 . I’ve been filling molds while they rested on a wood counter top. The last two batches I had changed to molding on our new stainless steel table. The temperature difference of the surface underneath the molds is impacting our process. Well that’s what I am thinking today anyways.
On the other hand the air bubbles could have been the fault of the tunes playing in the shop. I’ve found that some cacao origins agree better with Hank Williams Sr., while others like Dave Matthews and John Coltrane. A variable I mistakenly thought to be in my control was the music. Sometimes Pandora will toss you a curve ball on the channel of your choosing. Like the other night when smack dab in the middle of my Jerry Jeff Walker channel Jim Carrey’s version of Bojangles from Copper Mountain blasted over Jambox. I would have embraced Sammy Davis Jr’s rendition, but I couldn’t get the gloves off fast enough to dispatch Mr. Carrey’s attempt. Some of our chocolate is just sensitive that way, but I digress.
So, if you find a chocolate bar from us with a little void from an air bubble that refused to let go just know that you have received something very special. A chocolate bar with a variance making it the only one of its kind in the world. Also know that you are participating in the evolution of an aspiring chocolate maker. Your special little place in history.