ACMC

ACMC Table Top Tempering Machine

 
In Amboise, France
ACMC Table Top Tempering Machine
by Robyn Iqbal - Tuesday, 6 September 2011, 5:49 PM
 

I bought the ACMC Table Top Tempering machine about a year ago, and would review it overall as a “C”. There are some nice features and some things I would definitely improve. I have never used another machine so do not have anything to compare it too, but I’m on the search for something better.

This unit, as the name implies, is a table top unit and is about 2.5 feet in diameter and about 1.5 feet high. It’s essentially a large plastic base with a metal bowl, and plastic baffle that is fixed in place. It holds 1.5 – 6 lbs of chocolate.  The metal bowl rotates and chocolate flows past the baffle and is continuously mixed. The unit takes up a good part of your counter, but despite its fairly large size it is surprisingly light. This is nice if you need to move it around or put it away, which is the case for me since I have this at home and don’t want it out all of the time. 

The temperature control is unique: its is actually controlled by light bulbs (just normal lamp sized bulbs!) and cooled by fans. There is a temperature probe that sticks in the flowing chocolate and the lights kick on to warm, and turn off when the temp needs to cool. To use the machine, you are supposed to warm the chocolate until about half is softened and only then turn on the motor to rotate the bowl. (If you do this too early, you may run the risk of burning out the motor.) You set the target temperature and then lights go on until the probe senses it has been met. The unit holds this temp until you change the set temp again. 

I’ve had some success with this machine, but I often get a lot of bloom which is extremely disappointing and frustrating. I do everything exactly right according to the instructions and end up with swirls of bloom on my bars. I have tried testing many variables to figure out what the problem is and think I have narrowed it down. I believe the unit may be very sensitive to “hot spots” and when you initially warm the temp before turning on the motor I think the edge parts get really hot while other parts do not. When you eventually start stirring all this gets mixed. Also, if any part of the chocolate gets pushed high on the edge of the bowl while going through your temps and is not continuously mixed in, I think this can exceed the temp of the rest of the chocolate mass where the probe is, and get way too hot. Maybe I have to practice more, or maybe I have not been using the minimum amount in my test batches (1.5 lbs), but I still would not expect this result from a ~$750 machine!

So in summary, I’ve found the following:

Pros:

Light weight, so may be moved easily

Gentle, gradual temperature control (no fast fluctuations)

Good size - may be used with anywhere from 0.5 to 6 lbs of chocolate

110 voltage – good for home use

Simple controls

Easy to clean – the bowl and baffle come right out and can be hand washed (baffle is apparently dishwasher safe as well)

Cons:

Fairly loud with motor and fan running

Temperature control is not extremely accurate (measured against a Thermopen and heat gun) – it is better at lower temps in the 80s, but over 100F it is off by 3-4 degrees which can make a big difference with chocolate. 

Max temperature setting is 125F, but since this is not calibrated the true temp is only about 120 – not high enough for some chocolate such as Valrhona dark.

Motor does not seem very strong – I have not had a problem with it yet, but it “groans” if I use chocolate before it is well softened, and I feel I need to be very delicate with it.

Sensitive to hot spots, resulting in bloom!

No program modes or timers, so you have to monitor everything very closely.

Picture of Roseli D'Agostino
Re: ACMC Table Top Tempering Machine
by Roseli D'Agostino - Monday, 12 September 2011, 9:38 AM
 

Dear Robyn:

Please do read my report on the ACMC machine before dumping it into a trash pile! As with anything you work initially the learning curve is, unfortunately, steep (I cannot even master my TV remote!).

I also had problems in the beginning and believe me, the makers COULD be more forthright about the use and procedures. For instance: the manual - lately I cannot find it because in my NEVER humble opinion the instructions there have as much value as the paper it is printed on - say that after the chocolate reaches the low temperature to temper, the machine should run for fifteen minutes. When I followed those instructions I ended up with a very big lump of hardened chocolate against the baffle and probe! I did not feel defeated, I just kept on trying until I found the ideal WEIGHT of chocolate to work with... maximum a pound and a half (about 750kg). If I went over that I ended up with streaks or a dull spot in the center of the product.

I did blame myself for any shortcomings until I found out that the indicator gives you the bowl temperature. How come I did not think of that? It makes sense because heat (or cold) is TRANSFERRED to the product, but in the case of chocolate, a very dense matter, you have to manipulate your optimum temperature. Thanks to all the science I learned in college - and the help of an infra red thermometer I was able to piece that together.

The company flatly says there is no way to measure the temperature of the chocolate mass. If so, why have that stupid probe? I also asked them if the thermometer CAN be calibrated; answer: NO!). Any way, it is a very simple machine and perhaps our expectations a bit too high, so we must move on and do the best we can.

 I remember clearly at the Callebaut kitchens, that we all had fancy melters and yet the chocolate would fall out of temper if the temperature was not manipulated. The exception was the round bowl one (they use it for white chocolate) which is heated by water and is constantly in temper - even if the fat separates, once the chocolate is stirred it is perfect to be used again. For about $1,500 more in price and the fact that I cannot maintain the equipment in one place (I need portability), I decided on the ACMC.

Once I learned a few tricks - and with the great help in the Forum - I was able to have this darn machine work for me instead of the other way around. Now I can work with a larger quantity and have my molded pieces release as soon I turn the mold over, also the luster is beautiful!

Yes, you can pay a lot more for a temperer (you generally do get more when you pay more!),however, this one can serve you well and eventually you will "graduate" to a grander one and still use the ACMC for a chocolate you use less frequently - in my case white chocolate (yuck!).

My advice to you is to buy a small Professional thermometer and place it on the small hole beside the probe (you do need the probe to indicate the temperature that YOU set - no more trusting!). These thermometers are not expensive (about USD$12) and will help you immensely!

Once you do that I am positive you will not have problems. Please let us know how it works for you.

This forum is an invaluable problem solving tool, use it with confidence!

Picture of trish santos
Re: ACMC Table Top Tempering Machine
by trish santos - Thursday, 8 December 2011, 11:27 AM
 
Ok, I am getting nervous about this machine after reading all this and the instruction booklet that doesn't give much instrution.  Thinking maybe I need to sell it on EBAY before I mess it up :)  Can someone give me very simple step by step instructions on how to use it...remember I'm not that tech savi...I love my revolution that I just put it in and push the button, but I need something bigger.  Please help!