The present invention concerns the making of edible articles
by immersing cold plungers into chocolate-like mass deposited directly onto a conveyor
The apparatus according to the present invention comprises
a support for at least one cold-pressing plunger with pressing surfaces, and that
the apparatus carries a lower closure part being movable up- and down in relation
to the web and adapted to rest on the conveyor web during pressing of the mass and
having a central guidance channel for the at least one plunger.
Cold-pressing of chocolate-like mass and chocolate directly
on a conveyor web is a relatively new technical field, which is for example described
Among the greatest challenges in this field is the positioning
of the deposited mass on the web conveyor, so that the pressing action of the plungers
provides the best possible result without residual waste on the web, and creating
a fully shaped article.
Another challenge is to get control over the mass laying
on the conveyor web in the period after depositing and before the plungers presses
it into shape. Until now only high-viscous mass has been possible to apply. Low-viscous
or liquid mass simply spreads on the conveyor before it is captured by the pressing
Generally, chocolate-like masses are suspensions of non-fat
particles such as sugar, milk powders and cocoa solids mixed up with a liquid fat
constituent. Often the fat phase comprises genuine cocoa butter of until around
30%, but may comprise substitutes as well. Such substitutes can be in the form of
other types of fat-containing oils. Chocolate types where the cocoa butter has been
replaced wholly or partly by other fats are often named commercially as compound
chocolate, in which the cocoa butter has been replaced by palm-kemel oil. Mass made
of 100% fat in the form of cocoa butter or the like as compound is also possible.
However, for the chocolate-like mass according to the present
invention it is decisive, that whether the fat phase constitutes of genuine cocoa
butter or substitutes therefore, that the fat phase is capable of crystallizing
into stable crystal types, such as the &bgr; crystals developing in genuine cocoa
butter when the mass solidifies.
The chocolate-like mass is brought to a tempered, liquid
state and then deposited directly onto a conveyor web. Optionally, the conveyor
web may then be shaken for obtaining a more even distribution of the chocolate mass.
When the mass is chocolate mass having a content of genuine
cocoa mass it is tempered. By the tempering process the mass is brought to around
40-50°C, where after it is being cooled to around 25-34°C so that crystallisation
is initiated. Then the mass is reheated around 0,5-2.0°C for re-melting most
of the in-stable crystals in the mass, however preserving a content of stable &bgr;-crystals
which melts at a higher temperature than the in-stable crystals. The stable crystals
are preserved in the mass ready for depositing in an amount of typically 0,01% -
5%, preferably in an amount of 0.1% - 2%. The stable crystals could preferably be
of the &bgr;V or &bgr;IV type.
After the edible articles made are solidified, they could
be filled with a centre mass of a creamy or liquid food material, which differs
from that of the article material. The centre mass could be an alcohol containing
mass, a sugar containing mass or a creamy fondant mass, simply any of the centre
masses known to the chocolate industry. Finally, a chocolate covering layer may
be deposited for closing the centre mass off thereby creating a kind of "praline-like"
article if the edible article made by the invention is flat or plate-shaped such
as a tablet, a centre in the form of a biscuit could be arranged as well.
Such general techniques of cold-pressing chocolate-like
mass directly on a conveyor web are described in
EP 1356741 A1
WO 98/30111 (Mars
) also discloses embossing of details on top of enrobed products. A pre-made
centre is made by extruding mass and cutting into desired length. The bar-shaped
centre is then arranged on a supporting surface and enrobed with chocolate mass
before embossing. The disclosure is silent about depositing chocolate directly on
a conveyor web before embossing as the disclosure exclusively deals with enrobed
products. The disclosure is also silent about any means for the depositing of the
However, the prior art is silent about how to position
the depositing of mass lumps on the conveyor web so that the plungers thereafter
precisely encompass and presses the mass lumps up to well-defined chocolate pieces
without any residual waste on the conveyor. By the prior art as described in
the mass lumps are deposited on the conveyor web with a mutual distance
where after the conveyor moves on to the pressing operation. Then, with the prior
solutions, there must be no off positioning when the cold-pressing plungers comes
to engagement with the lumps and presses them up to shape. Otherwise the residual
chocolate will be pressed aside from the tools and create chocolate waste on the
web and incomplete articles. Then with these prior known methods only high-viscous
mass is applicable - otherwise the mass will simply run uncontrolled out on the
conveyor web before being captured by the pressing tools.
Also the prior art gives no indications of how to handle
the depositing of low viscous mass or liquid mass, so that it remains safely encompassed
by the pressing tools. Neither does the prior art give solutions of how to make
articles with more than one type of mass in the same article.
The inventive solution is characterised in, that a mass
depositing device is fixed to the support of the apparatus and comprises a nozzle
part with an opening for depositing of the mass, which part is adapted to move into
the line of movement of the cold-pressing plungers, deposit a lump of mass at the
web and thereafter retract again before the next pressing operation.
Hereby is obtained, that both depositing and pressing of
the articles into shape is achieved in the same mutual position of the apparatus
and the conveyor web. No dislocation nor off-set in relation to the desirable line
of attack of the plunger to the deposited lump occurs. The apparatus remains in
position during depositing as well as during succeeding pressing into shape of the
The process is that the conveyor web is stopped and the
nozzle part with the opening for the depositing of the mass moves into the line
of movement of the at least one cold-pressing plunger, a lump of mass is deposited
at the web and the nozzle part retracts again. Then, the cold-pressing plunger moves
down and presses the mass Into shape and moves up again so that the conveyor is
free to move further on to the next depositing position.
According to a further embodiment of the invention the
guidance channel for the at least one cold-pressing plunger could also comprise
an opening in the side adapted for the passage of the nozzle part into the inner
of the guidance channel, and that the at least one cold-pressing plunger is adapted
to be moved up to a position in which the pressing surfaces is above the opening
in the side of the channel adapted for the passage of the nozzle part.
Hereby is obtained, that the mass is surrounded by the
lower closure part already when being deposited. Then, when the mass hits the conveyor
web, it is restricted to move outside the bordering made by the closure part. Then
highly liquid masses may also be pressed into shape. Highly liquid mass types that
would otherwise be impossible to restrict to the very small pressing area on the
conveyor web. The so-called one-shot and triple-shot principles may then also be
used for depositing mass. This really opens up for new possibilities of creating
desirable articles comprising more than one mass type for the market. This is a
great advantage when two or three different types of mass are to be used for the
making of the articles, For example with the one-shot depositing principle a great
drop of mass having an outer totally surrounding layer of one mass type and an inner
centre of another mass type is deposited into the inner of the lower closure part
before the pressing operation.
During the pressing operation the pressing surfaces maintain
temperatures below the solidification temperature of the mass being pressed into
Thereafter the plungers are retracted from the edible articles
then being stable in their shape. So necessary for the plungers to be capable of
being retracted from the chocolate without deforming the contacted surfaces of the
articles is, that the outer part or surface "skin" of the chocolate layer has solidified
and thereby contracted slightly. The pressing surfaces are high gloss surfaces,
which are then transferred to the surfaces of the articles that then becomes glossy
and shiny as well.
When being deformed by the pressing surfaces of the plungers
the ready-made surfaces of the chocolate articles are simply an identical print
of the geometry of the plunger pressing surfaces.
The chocolate rapidly solidifies under crystallisation
from its surface in contact with the pressing surfaces of the plunger and the lower
closure part and inwardly through the chocolate layer. By being forced into contact
with the colder pressing surfaces of the plunger, the tempered chocolate solidifies
and contracts slightly at its part in contact with the pressing surfaces whereby
it releases. Decisive is here, that the tempered chocolate contains stable crystals,
which makes the chocolate mass contract just slightly when it solidifies in contact
with a continuously cooled surface. A solidified outer "skin" is created on the
chocolate in contact with the pressing surfaces when the chocolate solidifies and
contracts slightly, and this is sufficient for the chocolate to release from the
plunger surface where after the plunger can be retracted. The pressing surfaces
are high gloss surfaces so that diminishing friction is created with the chocolate
mass when it contracts slightly during contraction. The remaining or inner part
of the chocolate layer then doesn't need to be solidified when the plunger is retracted
from its contact with the chocolate. The solidified "skin" of the chocolate layer
secures a geometrical stable geometry of the article though heat remains inside
the chocolate mass when the plunger is retracted from contact.
When the plungers are retracted before the articles have
solidified completely, the chill forced from the inside does not reach all the way
through the layer before the plungers are retracted. Though the bottoms of the articles
in contact with the conveyor web have solidified slightly in the outer "skin" simultaneously
with the forced solidification from the pressing surfaces of the articles in contact
with the plungers, heat still remains in the inside of the articles when the plungers
are retracted. The inner of the chocolate articles are more or less "leather-like"
when the plungers are retracted.
However, care should be taken so that the chill is limited
and so that it is secured, that the rapid cooling from the pressing surfaces doesn't
reach all the way through the articles whatever the thickness thereof may be. If
it does it may create cracks in the chocolate, especially at "sharp" corners, etc.
or at parts where the thickness varies. The combination of the temperature of the
pressing surfaces and the immersion time thereof in contact with the chocolate determines
the actual amount of chill taken up by the chocolate mass. Obviously, the immersion
time has to be reduced when the article thickness is smaller when keeping the temperature
of the pressing surfaces essentially constant.
The invention is explained further below by reference to
preferred embodiments as well as the drawing, in which
- fig. 1 is a schematical, perspective view of a production line comprising the
apparatus according to the invention,
- fig. 2 is a schematical, sectional view of the part of the apparatus according
to the invention comprising the support with the cold-pressing plungers and the
mass depositing device,
- fig. 3 is a schematical, sectional view of the part of the apparatus according
to the invention comprising the support with one of the cold-pressing plungers and
the nozzle part of the depositing device, shown in a retracted position,
- fig. 4 is the same as in figure 3, shown in an advanced position,
- fig. 5 is the same as in figure 4 with chocolate mass deposited on the conveyor
- fig. 6 is the same as in fig. 5, with even more chocolate mass deposited onto
the conveyor web,
- fig. 7 is the same as in figures 5 and 6, with the nozzle part in the retracted
- fig. 8 is the same as in figure 7, now with the plunger having been pressed
down to complete cold-pressing of the mass into shape,
- fig. 9 is the same as in figure 8, now with the plungers raised again and a
fully shaped article on the conveyor web, and
- fig. 10 is the same in a position after a one-shot article has been pressed.
The apparatus 1 according to the invention is disclosed
schematically in figure 1 arranged for the making of articles from chocolate mass
on a conveyor web 2. The conveyor web runs through a cooling tunnel 3 with an entrance
section 4. The conveyor web 2 could be made of a plastic material or of a steel
The conveyor belt or web 2 runs through the complete cooling
tunnel 3 by a known "closed" or "endless" conveyor principle and is typically driven
by running around driving rolls at the ends of the line.
A cooling unit 5 is arranged for providing the apparatus
1 with cooled air or cooled liquid circulating through parts of the apparatus for
achieving cold temperatures of the plungers. A dehumidifier 6 is arranged for providing
the apparatus 1 with dry air so that dew is avoided in the apparatus 1.
The apparatus 1 comprises a support 7 for at least one
cold-pressing plunger 8 with pressing surfaces 9. The apparatus also carries a lower
closure part 10 being movable up-and down in relation to the web 2. The support
7 is typically arranged so in the apparatus that it can move up and down towards
the web from an upper position where the closure part 10 is high from the web and
to a lower position where the lower closure part 10 rests on the web 2.
The lower closure part has a central guidance channel 11
for each plunger 8. The disclosure in the figures 2-10 is simple and schematic as
a great variety of known control and connection means can be applied for the lifting
and lowering movements of the support 7 as well as for the movements of the plungers
8. It could be hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders, servomotors or mechanical engaging
toothed wheels all controlled by a PLC or computer or other control means.
The apparatus also comprises a mass depositing device 12
fixed to the support 7, which is also schematically disclosed in figure 2. The depositing
device 12 comprises a nozzle part 13 with an opening 14 for depositing of the mass
15, which could be contained in a hopper 16 as disclosed in figure 2 or in a decentralized
In figure 3 - 10 the mutual positions between the lower
closure part 10 with the plunger 8 and the depositing device 12 are shown schematically
without any connection means for providing best possible clarity.
In figure 3 the lower closure part 10 is shown in the upper
position and the depositing device 12 is shown in the retracted position.
In figure 4 the lower closure part 10 is lowered to rest
upon the plastic web 2 and the depositing device 12 is moved into an advanced position
in which the nozzle part 13 is moved into the line of movement of the cold-pressing
plunger 8. Thereby is achieved, that the mutual positions are kept between the pressing
tools and the depositing operation.
In the side of the guidance channel 11, i.e. in the lower
closure part 10 is arranged an opening 17 for the passage of the nozzle part 13
into the inner channel 11 as disclosed in figure 4. In the disclosed position of
the nozzle part 13, the plunger 8 is moved up to a position in which the pressing
surfaces 9 is above the opening 17 in the side of the channel 11.
In figure 5 the same positions is disclosed as in figure
4, however now is also disclosed that an amount of mass 15 is deposited through
the opening 14 in the nozzle part 13. In figure 6 the mutual positions is still
kept and a greater amount of mass has been deposited on the web. It still clearly
disclosed how the inner surfaces 18 of the lower closure part 10 encompasses and
surrounds the mass 15 having been deposited onto the web 2. Then the mass could
be of any viscosity and even comprise ingredients. The possibility of that liquid
mass runs out on the web before being surrounded by the pressing tools is completely
In figure 7 the depositing device 12 has been retracted
to the off-line position and the nozzle part 13 is removed from the opening 17.
The pressing of the mass into shape can now be performed.
In figure 8 is disclosed that the pressing operation is
finished as the plunger 8 has pressed the mass out to full engagement with the surfaces
18 of the lower closure part 10, so that the article 19 is completely shaped and
In figure 9 the lower closure part 10 is lifted up to the
upper position and the forming surfaces 18 has fully left the article 19. The conveyor
web 2 moves the row of articles on to the left, so that the process can start over
again beginning with the position as depicted in figure 3.
In figure 10 is disclosed how an article is made with a
one-shot depositing process. A drop of mass having an outer layer 21 of on type
of mass and an inner centre 22 of another type of mass was deposited on to the web
2, where after the pressing operation took place as in the previous figures. The
great advantage is, that during depositing the two layer mass is safety surrounded
by the forming surfaces 18 of the lower closure part 10. Also when the mass is highly
liquid. After depositing the pressing operation takes place in a fast manner without
any intermediary positioning.