Coating with chocolate (Hand Panning)

If you want to coat things in chocolate there are a few different methods, you can hand dip enrobe or pan products, If you choose panning you will need some need some specialised equipment;

I found the Basic Comfit kit to fit on my Kitchen Aid attachment  was a good starting point and not too expensive.

Up from there, stand-alone panning machines can range anywhere from £3000 - £6000 range up to £1600 for the Selmi.

Remember you need to calculate how much product you will have to sell to get a ROI on the machine or attachment you have just bought.

One of the reasons chocolatiers don’t hand pan anymore is because larger companies have made it so cheap to buy chocolate covered peanuts and raisins (using cheap compound), small confectionery shops would need to charge higher prices just to make a profit.

But if you use top quality centres and fine chocolate and follow advice of experts it can be a lot of fun.

A Basic Technical Process:

For this example, let's use roasted cocoa nibs from Soa tome, place them in your panning machine.

start rotating the drum on the slowest speed possible

Add a coating of chocolate 100-150 g of chocolate for 500 g of Centres.

Blow some cold air to help the product set more quickly, (I use a Dyson fan) or you could just wait.

Put your hand in the drum to move the beans around making sure they are not sticking together or to the drum.

Once the chocolate starts to set, you can add another layer of chocolate; don’t leave it until its fully set and hard.

At this stage you could introduce another texture by adding things like sea salt or feuilletine.

Keep adding chocolate layers until you reach the thickness that you want, the total amount of chocolate you use to coat your product depends on two things:

a. the shape of our finished product; the point of the panning process is to make a round product, so if you start with something like an almond, which is flatter and has more surface area, rather than a hazelnut, the amount of chocolate you need to add will be much greater,

b. the thickness that you prefer.

there is really no standard recipe, it’s totally up to you.

Now we are ready to finish our product. If we want dusted a truffle look: once we our desired thickness, add one final coat of chocolate to the nibs. Then turn off the fan and add some unsweetened cocoa powder, allow the nibs to complete a few more revolutions in the drum and then stop the machine. If you leave the machine continue too long after adding the cocoa powder, your beans will look dull. cocoa powder just one example; but if we were coating with white chocolate, we could add a white finish with icing sugar, or orange mango powder, etc. I use red hibiscus, raspberry, blueberry and beetroot powder for different finishes.

If we want a shiny finish, there are more things to do.

Remove the product from the machine and clean and dry the drum thoroughly – if there is a large amount of chocolate stuck to the drum, you can use a heat gun and pastry scraper to help remove, once your machine is clean and dry, add your coated product back into the drum. Now you will do a two-step process called glossing and lacquering.

Lots of chocolatiers have their own secret recipe but here are a couple that work.

An example of a glossing recipe is:

350 g water,

570 g maltodextrin,

80 g cocoa butter –

Melt the cocoa butter. Warm the water and dissolve the maltodextrin powder. Combine the water into the butter mixture. Keep between 30-35C.

An example of a lacquer recipe is:

170 g water,

85 g gum Arabic powder,

250 g 70 proof liquor –

Heat the water and dissolve the gum Arabic. Combine in a mixer while gradually adding the liquor. Now to proceed with glossing your product. Weigh out 1% of your beans total weight in glossing solution. With your machine running, and your product inside, use a heat gun to VERY slightly warm the outside of your coated product, just enough to make it soft but not melt. At this point, add the 1% of glossing solution all at once. Allow your glossing solution to dry. This can take up to 30 minutes, but at this point the beans should be starting to shine. -Once the glossing solution is dry, you can add a lacquer solution. Allow to dry again.

Remove the products from the machine and allow them to air dry for a couple of hours dry; or, dry them with a fan.

You will need to repeat the process once maybe twice to achieve the right level of shine.

That is the basics process. but experiment and play it can be fun.

A basic quantity recipe:

1kg Cocoa nibs (roasted)

300g dark chocolate

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