USING MY ACMC TABLETOP TEMPERER
A few years ago I completed my Ecole Chocolat Course. I was very proud of my achievement and went on to making chocolate bonbons all the while working on my cake business and other endeavors such as running a long time business, my travel agency.
My biggest problem in the beginning was keeping my chocolate on temper while I (slowly at first, I must admit) filled my chocolate trays, removed the air bubbles before emptying them. By the time I did three or four my ambient temperature would take over and I was back to square one. What to do? The chocolates were popular but I just did not have that kind of time (to waste…) on my hands…
I investigated a few chocolate temperers, read all I could on the Ecole Chocolat’s blogs and finally decided on the ACMC machine (thanks, Daniel!).
The machine came in, oh, what a beautiful sight! I thought that now it would be easy- going the machine would do everything for me freeing me up for other things. I started using it and had a lot of success, then I discovered the success was only achieved if I tempered a very small quantity of chocolate! I noticed that if I had more than 2 pounds on the rotating bowl the results would be spotty; the chocolate would test on temper, however, when the chocolates were unmolded there would be some spots, sometimes a few streaks. Again back to the blogs read about other people’s experiences and try again!
I was following the user’s instructions to the letter and just could not understand why there was a problem. Reading all the information, checking that my usage was correct I was about to despair blaming myself for the occasional mishap and I decided to work with small quantities so my results would be successful. On the back of my mind I still blamed myself and the machine thinking that I really should have decided on the Revolation - not chosen because in my mind, it was more appropriate for smaller quantities of chocolate.
The months rolled by I started to get more proficient using the ACMC. I started working with the machine with and without the baffle – which has a way of getting in my way when I am doing molds – I just hate the mess on the baffle when I dump the chocolate back in the bowl – I did that just once and devised a way to tape the thermometer to the outside of the machine so the temperature keeps registering and the bowl keeps rotating. I even devised a less messy way to work with those larger chocolate molds (four cavities across, eight down – those horrible things were designed for man’s hands – they never thought of us ladies!). Of course I love the RESULTS of those molds: more product, less time, however, hand cramps afterward! What I do now is to coat half of the cavities on each of those lady-hating molds and then when my last one is half-coated I started again with the other halves. It works for me, thankfully!
One day I acquired a “toy”: I was going down the isles of an electrical supply store and I saw an infra red thermometer. I thought that it was well time I bought one just because I dislike very much to clean up the probe of my thermometer when I pre-melt my chocolate before throwing it in to be tempered. Yes, the ACMC takes FOREVER to melt so I skip that part also (again, thank you, Daniel!).
I started to play with the thermometer and made an awful discovery: the register on the machine displays the temperature of the BOWL, not of the chocolate mass! I checked and double checked and sure enough – there was a difference of 6-7 degrees between the display and the real chocolate temperature. The bowl registers the indicated temperature but with a larger quantity, the chocolate does not have time to warm up.! That is a huge difference and that is why I had problems with streaking, spots when doing larger quantities. I was happy to find out that it was not me!
I contacted ACMC about this difference and they DO acknowledge that there is NO WAY for the machine to read the CHOCOLATE temperature. Well, they warned me that the infra red only reads the SURFACE temperature and I should use a candy thermometer instead on the small hole next to the probe. (I hate to be sarcastic, he means one of those Professional thermometers, long and skinny; CANDY thermometers are big and bulky…) I did tell them that I DO agitate my chocolate when taking my readings! I suggested that they should post this information in their User’s Manual but will they?
I just recently contacted them about a new problem: with the incandescent light bulbs being phased out what type of light bulbs will they recommend? They are aware of the problem, however, they do not have a solution yet. They are testing several products but have not found one yet as a replacement.
Their communication reads: “We are still working on finding a more permanent solution for heating the machine as incandescent bulbs become phased out. We’re still testing to see if halogen bulbs will work and we’re also investigating if a screw-in type ceramic heater might work as well. For now I would suggest stocking up on 100W Frosted bulbs until we have a solution”.
I was ahead of them on that also, I do have a stock!
My chocolates now are perfect and I am very thankful I found a way out of my little problems with my machine. I am looking forward to an upgrade but with the economic conditions right now I will proceed with a lot of care!