Hi, my name is Nicole and I am a junior in high school in my first chemistry class. For my final project, I am making dark chocolate from scratch. I am planning on making dark chocolate using cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, and coconut oil. I plan on heating the ingredients in a small pot over a stove. I have two questions about how this should be done:
1- Do I need to temper the dark chocolate I make if I'm only making a total of about 1 cup of it? It will be separated into small pieces in a silicon mold once all the ingredients are mixed, but I'm not sure if it's necessary to temper it or not for the result to come out okay. Will tempering it just ensure that it will be better than without tempering it?
2- I'd like for my dark chocolate to not be bitter and I was thinking of ways to sweeten it. I know sugar will work to add sweetness, but I'm not sure if it needs to be melted for it to combine well with the other ingredients, or if it'll still be grainy. I could also add honey but I don't know if that will create the right type of sweetness. Should I add regular sugar or honey to sweeten my dark chocolate? Thank you
You might want to look into some of the forums at IFT.org as well as the confectionary organizations.
I don't think you'll need to temper much, but you'll want to cool the chocolate down a bit before adding to the molds. They'll cool quickly, which should be an advantage. Constant mixing/milling while cooling is what allows the crystal structure of the fats and sugars to be homogenous and small. This gives the most desirable smooth texture.
There are non-sucrose chocolates on the market, but they use other agents like sugar alcohols for bulking and sweetness. The crystal structure of sucrose is ideal, and honey of course is an invert sugar. I'd be concerned about a couple things - first, crystal formation. Second, water content of the honey itself. It's more like using corn syrup if you want to investigate those kinds of recipes. Sucrose will do the opposite, and bind existing water.
This is probably a good subject for experiment - honey vs. sucrose in dark chocolate. One advantage is the relatively low sugar level in dark chocolate recipes. If you do this experiment remember the difference in water content between honey and crystalline sucrose. I'm also not sure whether crystal size of the sucrose is important, there are different grades. That's something to investigate.
It sounds like you'll be going through a fair amount of cocoa for this project. You should reach out to cocoa suppliers and ask for larger samples of dark cocoa. I can help with that if you want to send me a message.