February 20, 2013

Making Chocolate Molds for Easter

by Josh Early Candies


Easter is right around the corner and we at Josh Early Candies are hard at work at our Allentown store preparing our milk and dark chocolate molds that bring to life the traditional characters that have warmed the hearts of our customers year after year. To help you better understand what goes into making these very special chocolates, this blog post will offer you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the production process.

Although machinery exists that would enable us to churn out bulk quantities of our chocolate in a short amount of time, we're adamant about continuing to make it the old-fashioned way. Simply put, machines don't run the show in our kitchen.

Creating chocolate in small batches allows us to carefully monitor and control the quality of the final product, thereby giving it that nostalgic look and feel that you just can't get from the mass-produced chocolate you'll find in the large chain retailers.

Our artisan approach calls for a very hands-on, labor-intensive process, and we rely on our team of local workers to help us manufacture our high-quality chocolates. The fact that many of our dedicated staff members are beloved long-term employees only adds to the charm of our candies.

We use an assortment of molds, made of either metal or plastic, to form our hollow chocolate figurines for Easter. The silver molds we use today are especially meaningful, as they are the very same molds used by Josh Early IV back in the early-1900s.

Naturally, these molds come in varying shapes and sizes. The largest of our molds require two of us to handle. With these molds, especially, the crucial first step involves clamping and clipping the two halves together to create a tight seal. The last thing we want is to have a mess all over the floor in the kitchen!

Next, we flood-fill the molds with perfectly tempered chocolate to completely coat the inside, tapping the mold gently to make sure the chocolate gets into all of the crevices that give the mold its distinct character.

Once full, the molds are turned upside-down to allow the excess chocolate to drain. This first coating of chocolate forms the shell of the mold.

Lifting the larger molds to pour out the extra chocolate is an extremely physical endeavor. When full, these molds can weigh over 100 pounds, which is why this is always a job best done by two people.

The molds are then placed, right-side up, on wire racks to allow the excess chocolate to continue to drip while the first layer of chocolate sets. You can see here just how large the plastic mold for the rabbit is in comparison to some of the other molds that we use.

To reinforce their shape, figures made with our larger molds require two coats of tempered chocolate.

As for the smaller molds, they only need one coat of tempered chocolate before being sent through our cooling tunnel to set.

Now would be the perfect time to explain how we give the molds their bottoms. Once the molds have been overturned onto the belt, they're lifted up again a few seconds later to allow pools of chocolate to form. The molds are pushed, gently, back-and-forth through those pools to spread the chocolate out a bit, then they're set down again to continue their journey through the tunnel. When they've set and the chocolate has been freed from the molds, the figures will be able to stand up on their own.

But how do we know when it's safe to un-mold the chocolate? It's all about temperature. When the chocolate has cooled and properly set up, it will pull away from the mold, making it easy to remove. The mold in the background of the above photo illustrates this phenomenon perfectly, as you can see that the head of the rabbit has already started to retract. It will only take a few more minutes for the rest of the mold to do the same.

Removing the larger figures from their molds is a delicate process. We release the clips and remove the clamps and then peel back the pieces of the mold, one side at a time. Great care is taken during this step to prevent any chocolate breakage.

Before we move the molds to the packaging area, we use a sharp paring knife to remove any rough edges and to smooth down the seams. And a brush helps us sweep away the chocolate shavings.

Remember how we mentioned our use of perfectly tempered chocolate? It's the main contributing factor to the look and shine of our Easter molds. Any chocolate that doesn't meet that standard is melted down for use again. Paying close attention to details like these ensure that we're offering our customers the very best. We hope you've enjoyed getting a better look at what goes into the making of our Easter molds. We'll be sharing more behind-the-scene photos of our production process on our Facebook Page, so be sure to "Like" us so you don't miss the action!