Silk Cocoa Butter - a shortcut to tempering chocolate
Oct 23rd 2022
What is Silk Butter: How to Make it and Use it for Chocolate Tempering
Cocoa butter is a substance that can be crystallized in various forms. When heated and cooled in a specific way, it forms a stable structure 5 crystals or beta-crystalline structure ( we will call them the "good" crystalls). It will still be the same cocoa butter, but the crystallization of the molecules will determine how it appears and behaves.
Tempered cocoa butter when it's solid will be shiny and brittle. This is essential for chocolate bars and bombons, as it looks much more appealing to have a glossy chocolate with its characteristic snap. Untempered cocoa butter will have a range of crystal formations and will not help you temper chocolate as easy as silk butter. Consider silk butter as the form of cocoa butter with the highest concentration of these “good” crystals, that will help you “seed” the rest of your chocolate. By “seeding” we mean that these “good” crystals will be used as a pattern by the rest of the butter, and because they are at the right temperature, they will create a chain formation of more of these “good” crystals throughout your chocolate, thus, tempering your whole batch.
The term Silk is because the butter looks very silky when you make it; at that point, it is still a bit opaque and in an inbetween liquid/solid phase (it's soft and creamy looking). Silk butter is basically fully tempered cacao butter, which you will be using for seeding your butter or chocolate batches.
The easiest way to make Silk Butter is with a Sous Vide. Please use an accurate one, as the temperature is crucial for the formation of the correct crystals in the butter.
You will need:
- Cocoa butter (natural or deodorized)
- A Sous Vide
- Large pot with water to fit Sous Vide and jar
- A jar with good heat transfer properties (glass is great because you can see all the time the butter without having to open it)
- An ice cube tray or zip lock bags to store your silk butter in solid form.
1. Set up your Sous Vide, big pot of water
2. Chop the deodorized or natural cocoa butter.
3. Place butter pieces in the jar. Close the lid, so no humidity or water will get inside the jar.
TOP TIP:Do not ever let water or humidity mix with your cocoa butter. It will seize, making it think and unusable.
4. Place the jar, and the sous vide in the pot of water and let it stay at a temperature of 92.5 +- 0.1°F for at least 24 hours. Make sure the part of the jar that contains the butter is fully submerged in the water (use anything to weight it down if necessary)
5. After 24 hours, your silk should have a cosnistency of mayonnaise. It should look opaque, soft and silky.
TOP TIP: If your butter still has hard pieces after 24 hours, adjust your Sous Vide to 92.8 +-0.1 °F and try egain. If the butter is entirely liquid (and starts to be clear/translucent), then you need to let the butter cool down and become firm again. It needs to go back to a solid phase because the “bad” crystals will be the pattern that will be predominant in the butter. So let it become solid again, chop it, and start all over lowering your Sous Vide to 92.2 +-0.1°F. THIS PROCESS IS A TRIAL AND ERROR.
6. Scoop your silk in ice trays or small zip-lock bags (make it flat so that you can break pieces off). Let them set uncovered, then cover the tray/ close the bag and store them until you need them.
TOP TIP: If you have any molds to pour it in (poly carb, metal, gets, make sure they are also the same temperature as the silk and cool down together. If the molds are too cold, this will give a shock to the butter and cool it too fast.
Once you have your solid silk butter, you can store it at room temperature (ideally at 64 - 65°F). Make sure there is no humidity ( room temp and storage is fine the the preferred storag . but if you put it in the fridge because of weather or because the room gets to hot, it better to vacuum seal it to avoid humidity)
Every time you create anything with cacao butter and need to temper it for that beautiful gloss and crisp snap ( chocolate bars, body butters, bonbons, pralines), use about 2% of this silk. It is better to grate it (i.e., with a parmesan cheese grater) so that when you mix it (thorough mixing, but slow and gentle and then let the silk spread and crystallize the rest of the mixture/ doesn't take long. Then pour your product into your molds (again, it should be the same temperature as your mix to avoid the thermal shock with the mold).