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