She's expressed frustration with crock-pots and pans because of how difficult it is to maintain a constant temperature. So I came up with this to give to her as a Christmas gift. She got her present early so I could get mine and I am rather pleased at how it turned out.
I know it doesn't look like much, but it holds the chocolate at a pretty constant temperature. Only drops like one degree every 5 to 10 minutes. If it drops to far just flip it on for a few seconds and the chocolate's temperature is right back where it was.
I used a push button switch for this that sits on the floor so that it can be turned on and off with your foot. Cause lets face it when your hands are covered with chocolate you don't want to be flipping a switch.
In the picture the chocolate has set over night and hardened up. I will try to get another picture of it actually in use.
Step 1: Items Needed
Stainless Steel Bowl with a lip (smaller in diameter than bucket)
Items I purchased at Home Depot:
Heat Shield insulation
Adhesive (I like the spray on kind works fantastic for this)
Low profile light socket (You may need to purchase small bolts and nuts to attach)
100 Watt Bulb
Push button switch
Drill with bits
Screw Drivers (phillips and slot)
Sharpie or other marker
Wire cutter with stripper (I just used a knife - but do as I say not as I do)
Step 2: Prepare the Lid
You will need to cut a circle from the foil insulation with the scissors the same size as the inside of your lid. Then cut from the middle of that circle a whole the same size as your bowl. Glue the circle to the bottom of the lid. Then cut a whole in the lid with a knife, jigsaw, or Dremel the same size as the bowl so when placed inside the lip of the bowl will rest on the lid and hold the bowl up. You can prepare multiple lids this way for different size bowls as well.
Step 3: Prepare the Bottom of the Bucket
With the scissors cut out a circle the same size as the bottom of the bucket.
Place the light socket on the middle of the insulation and trace around it. Then cut out a fraction of an inch inside your trace so that when you mount the light socket it extend slightly under the socket.
Turn the bucket upside down, place the insulation on the bottom of the bucket, then place the socket on top of it where it should go. Drill holes in the bucket through the mounting holes for the socket. (Note: This may not work if your mounting holes are not symmetrical. If they aren't just mark where the holes should go. Mine were so it worked for me.)
Now using the adhesive, glue the insulation to the bottom of the bucket.
Step 4: Attach Socket
I drilled mine slightly off-centre but still well under the socket.
Cut the end off the extension and strip the ends. Run the wire through the hole and wire it to your light socket.
Then put the light socket in place and bolt it to the bottom of the bucket. I bought smaller bolts so that they didn't extend past the lip on the bottom of the bucket.
I cut a notch in the bottom lip of the bucket to run the wire through so it's not sitting on the wire. You can glue it in place, or if you do an angled cut in the lip, then the lip itself can hold it in place.
Step 5: Attach Insulation to the Sides of the Bucket.
My bucket had sloped sides. The bottom of the bucket was about 8 inches in diameter and the top of the bucket was just over 9 inches in diameter. I did a whole bunch of math to figure out the proper way to cut the insulation so it fit right. I left the top long so that I could cut it off after gluing it in. My suggestion, choose a bucket with straight sides and skip the math. Although, because my bowl was 9 inches in diameter the sloped sides helped hold my bowl. So there is an advantage.
However you choose to do it, cut the insulation for the sides and glue it in place. Like I said, I left it a long at the top and cut off the insulation after it was glued in place.
Step 6: Button
Drill a hole in your electrical box and mount the button.
Put your bucket where you are going to be using it, make sure you leave enough length so the box will sit on the floor, cut the cord and wire up the button. I wired the button into the hot side of the cable. Some electrician will probably tell me that's wrong. But I figure since there is no ground, it probably didn't really make a difference.
The electric box had punch outs, but I thought drilling it would make it look cleaner. To finish up I will be screwing the box down to a piece of wood.
Step 7: Conclusion
I thought about using a heat lamp, but a 100 watt bulb works great.
Put in the chocolate and turn on the light.
It took about 30 minutes to melt 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate. With seed chocolate I believe it would go quite a bit faster. When it finished melting it was at 120 degrees and she had to wait for it to cool down. We ended up taking the bowl out because it was holding it at 120 solid. once it got down to 95, she put it back in and it held the temperature solid.
My mom usually, melts her chocolate at 20% power in the microwave first cause it does go faster.
You are not going to want to leave the light on all the time. You just turn it on for a little while at a time. use an instant digital thermometer to watch the temperature. This set up gives you much much greater control over the temperature than a crock-pot, a pan on the stove, or some of the other cheap methods I've seen. But it still will take practice to learn to maintain the temperature where you want it.
These are the first chocolates my mom made in 5 years. She wants me to wait and take a picture of her next batch, cause they will "look a lot better". I'll try to do that.
This is my first Instructable so if you like it or if you make one, I would love to hear from you.