Why New Chocolate Bar Molds?
As I mention in the Kickstarter project, one of my goals is to get new chocolate bar molds. I've given a lot of thought to this and wanted to discuss my thinking in a more thorough matter.
These new molds will have the following benefits:
- Increase amount of chocolate in bars by 20%
- Larger + slightly thinner bars
- Better molds = better finish
- The Potomac Chocolate fish on the molds
More on these benefits below.
I received a generic test sample of the new mold I'm hoping to use. The sample mold is just for testing to make sure the size works for me, etc. As you can see in the photo below, it only has one bar cavity as opposed to three in the real mold. Also, it's made of a flimsy vacuum-formed plastic, instead of injection-molded polycarbonate in the real deal.
Benefit #1: Increase Amount of Chocolate in Bars
Most importantly, the new bars will be about 20% larger than my current bars. My current bar molds produce a bar that is 50 grams or 1.76 ounces. The new bars will be 60 grams or 2.12 ounces.
Benefit #2: Larger + Slightly Thinner Bars
My current bars are approximately 5 inches tall x 2.25 inches wide. This makes the bar a little thicker than what I consider optimal. I have wished my bars were a touch thinner for years. I just think a thinner bar produces a more enjoyable tasting experience. It's also a lot of easier to snap off a chunk of a thinner bar--my current bars are not the easiest to break. :)
Benefit #3: Better Molds = Better Finish
My current molds are vacuum-formed polycarbonate, kind of like the test mold above (although they're thicker and of a higher quality than that). As you can see in the first photo of the bar above, there's a very noticeable release mark, marring the finish. One of the reasons for this is that since the mold is so thin, it flexes as the chocolate cools and contracts. So, instead of the bar releasing all at once, it releases bit by bit. The release mark is where it released last. My molds, although thicker, can still flex a tiny bit. This causes there to be release marks on my bars, although they're much smaller than the one on the test bar above.
The new molds will be made of injection-molded polycarbonate. This is the gold standard for chocolate molds, creating molds that are super smooth, thick, heavy, and incredibly rigid. All of these characteristics add up to a nice shiny finish on the bars with no release marks. There are other factors related to release marks, of course, (like tempering), but injection-molded polycarbonate molds make it possible to get rid of them, while they can only be reduced when using vacuum-formed molds--not eliminated.
On a related note, I've recently heard from a another chocolate maker that he found that the weight and rigidity of the injection-molded polycarbonate molds makes a big difference when vibrating them on the vibrating table to spread the chocolate in the mold and release air bubbles. My guess is that the vacuum-formed molds absorb a little of the vibration, reducing the vibrating table's effectiveness.
Benefit #4: The Fish on the Molds!
Lastly, the new molds will be custom made for Potomac Chocolate, using the stock mold above and then adding my chocolate fish onto each square. My (non-)artist's interpretation of what that will look like is below. Honestly, I'm surprised at how excited I am about this.
So, that's my thinking on the new molds. It's probably way more information than you really wanted to know. :)
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