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REPORT: 2012 Candy and Confection Conference

Confections Report

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134 replies to this topic

#1 RobertM

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:09 AM

Some of the attendees enjoyed a lovely day here in Washington, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. Secret Service was providing for their protection. (Notice the truck behind them...???)
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They ventured to western Virginia to enjoy a local BBQ joint
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While the Friday crew was getting together to head off to Albert Uster and Penn Quarter for some shopping, I was chided into making sure that Caramel Corn was on the menu for the Meet and Greet Friday night.

So, this morning I downed some coffee and headed out to the shop where I popped some corn
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Made some caramel
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which resulted in my famous caramel corn....
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See everyone soon....

#2 patti_h

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:55 AM

Can't wait! Our drive feels like its taking FOREVER!

#3 DianaM

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:06 AM

Wow, Robert, that is one HUGE copper pot! Caramel popcorn, yummm! :wub:

#4 Chocolot

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:45 AM

So glad you got your chores done:)

Ruth Kendrick

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#5 Beth Wilson

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

I love your set up for making caramel corn....can you share some more details with us? What is the make of the equipment or is it something you made. I have only done small batches of caramel corn but I dreamed of larger equipment so I didn't have to make soooo much in busy season.

Looking forward to seeing more of your days, really wishing I could be there too!

#6 Kerry Beal

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:59 AM

Posted Image

Can only give you a teaser this am - because I don't have time to post thoroughly (and I don't really have a whole lot of pictures that I took yesterday - too busy doing stuff).

At dinner last night we had draws for the door prizes - there were Cacao Barry T shirts, a magnetic mold and a 'chocolate kit' provided by Chocolat-chocolat. There was also a series of chablons and a backing board provided by Design and Realization.

So the picture is Rob (gfron1) showing off the magnetic mold he won.

More later!

#7 Prabha

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 03:47 PM

Just back from the conference and what a great time it was!! I'm going to need two days just to put together everything I learned. But the best part of all was meeting everyone! Thanks Robert and everyone else who made it such a great experience!

#8 tikidoc

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:28 PM

Just got back as well and I can also say it was a fantastic experience. I learned a ton and had a great time. I am totally exhausted! It was fun to put faces to all the screen names. I have really enjoyed the eGullet community since joining, but being able to meet so many eGulleters really makes it feel like even more of a community. As much as I value the information I gained from the conference, I value the new friendships much more.

RobertM, thank you SO much for putting so much effort into the conference, and to all the other long time eGullet members who made us newbies feel welcome. And to anyone who is on the fence about attending an eGullet event (like the upcoming Heartland event), I would absolutely recommend you do so. I have not had such fun in quite a while.

If any of my pics turned out, I'll post them in the next day or two.

#9 curls

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 07:52 PM

A teaser photo, the finished showpiece! Happy St. Patrick's Day.

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#10 patti_h

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:03 PM

Since I can't fall asleep because my mind is going a million mph with all I have learned over this weekend, I thought I would go ahead and post my account of the 2012 conference from a first-timers perspective. The whole weekend was amazing and there were always several things going on at once so there will be a lot that I miss and I hope others will post their experiences too!

We arrived late Friday and so our event was the meet and greet in the lobby at the hotel. To me, this was overwhelming- so many people together with a passion for chocolate! Everyone brought samples and set them out; the table was just beautiful and would cause envy for most people- I know it did with my friends on Facebook! It is amazing how there are so many experienced people who share freely of the info they have spent years figuring out. It seems every five minutes I was writing another tip in my notebook- now to reorganize and rewrite it all when I get home! I think a fun time was had by all as we met each other and put faces with screen names while enjoying a little (or a lot) of wine. We had several local people, as well as some who traveled from as far away as Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, Canada and even Denmark. That should speak to how awesome these conferences are that people travel from so far to attend.

We started bright and early Saturday morning with Joe Sophia from Cargill/Peters chocolate doing the first demo. He demoed a bananas foster Bon Bon that was piped into a dipped mold, and I think he capped that mold with not one drop of chocolate running down the side of the mold. He then made a carrot cake slabbed confection to set for dipping the next day. There was discussion about sourcing chocolate and a survey on how everyone tempers. Chris tables and just about everyone else seeds in one was or another. We broke for a wonderful lunch prepared for us by the culinary students at Stratford and everything they made was delicious! After lunch, Rob Connoley started our chocolate showpiece demo. There are a lot of talented chocolatiers here on EG and the showpiece in its finality had granite chocolate, carved chocolate, molded chocolate, modeling chocolate.... You name it I think we tried it! We had the opportunity to make flowers by making petals and then piecing them together and also by sculpting from modeling chocolate. It was great to see how everyone varied the techniques and came up with their own unique designs. While this was taking place there were several other things going on too, with Ruth (chocolot) doing fondant for creme fillings and Kerry doing a basic tempering class. One of the chefs from the school demoed making a gianduja torte which was really delicious. These pieces were used in Kerry's demo on dipping chocolates. We were served dinner at the school and the chefs really outdid themselves with our St Patty's day meal. Afterwards we all rolled out the door at the end of the day!

Day two we spent a lot more time "doing" working on our own and in small groups. Steve gave a great demo on airbrushing and decoration of molds. Many of us had a hand at airbrushing and really enjoyed it. It is amazing what the application of color will do to give your chocolates that professional look. Kerry gave several demos again, making lemon curd in the thermomix, pâté de fruits, making aerated chocolates with the isi dessert whip (a flop but we got to see the technique)! Rob demoed making a raspberry caramel, Ruth demoed making tulip cups and stemmed tulips. There was a whole lot of md decorating & filling and a lot of mold banging! Erica (chocoera) demonstrated her shoe decorating technique and Donna (curls) demoed how to flock her adorable flop eared bunny. Rob put our showpiece elements together and made a silk purse out of a sows ear! We had another wonderful meal made by the chefs and culinary students, then it was a frantic push to finish all we had going. As things were finished we brought them out to the dining area and the spread was truly beautiful. Everyone has their own unique style and you could see that shining through all the work. Everyone participated in cleaning the kitchen then we spent some time chatting and ooohing and ahhhing over the finished chocolates. We all left with new knowledge, new friends, and probably some new plans to work out doubly this week to make up for the extravagant meals and never ending chocolate buffet! I know I left with tons of new ideas, new friends, plans to purchase items I never knew I needed and couldn't live without, and new confidence in my own abilities with chocolate. I am already planning to attend next year at Niagara on the Lake!

If there are spelling or grammar errors, they are probably my fault but let's pretend they were caused by "darn you autocorrect!"

A HUGE thank you goes out to Robert for putting this whole thing together. It was a super fantastic time!

#11 Sue Casey

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 06:29 AM

Sounds like it was a fantastic time. So sorry to have not been able to attend this year. I lot of effort goes into putting on one of these conferences and kudos to RobertM and all the others who helped to make this year's Chocolate Conference a success. Is it too early to start planning for next year's?? ;)

I'm hoping the recipes for Banana Foster, Carrot Cake slab as well as other ones that were made at the conference will be posted. I would be anxious to try them.

Looking forward to seeing all the chocolate work and results of your experiments.

Edited by Sue Casey, 19 March 2012 - 06:30 AM.


#12 susanmc

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:25 AM

Thanks to everyone for sharing your confection knowledge over the weekend. Robert you did a fabulous job of planning the conference!

Susan

#13 chocoera

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:47 AM

Some of the attendees enjoyed a lovely day here in Washington, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. Secret Service was providing for their protection. (Notice the truck behind them...???)
Picture 002.2.jpg

They ventured to western Virginia to enjoy a local BBQ joint
IMG_4369.1.jpg

While the Friday crew was getting together to head off to Albert Uster and Penn Quarter for some shopping, I was chided into making sure that Caramel Corn was on the menu for the Meet and Greet Friday night.

So, this morning I downed some coffee and headed out to the shop where I popped some corn
Picture 005.1.jpg

Made some caramel
Picture 006.1.jpg

which resulted in my famous caramel corn....
Picture 008.1.jpg

See everyone soon....



can i just say that i love love love love bob and love love love love love his caramel corn? mmmmm...... also, big kudos to bob for the wonderful conference! great location, fun speakers (a big hello to joe when he joins eG...or should i say "cocoa joe?!" ) and AMAZING FOOD AND CHOCOLATES!
i might actually have enough gumption to try a sculpture for my family or for the shop thanks to Rob's (gfron1) spirited and comical presentation. he made it so approachable and fun and his skill and passion are noteworthy and inspiring-thanks so much!
really loved the airbrush demo with talk of different techniques, places to get start up equipment, and ways to bring out your creative side- his pieces that were just "to show/demo" turned out to be some of the most beautiful i saw! thanks so much steve!

and a big thank you to all the virgins that showed up ;) we love new faces and opinions and love that you all want to come back! yea!!

thanks for a great weekend everyone, and hope to see you next year!

#14 lebowits

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:56 AM

Having missed last years event I was really looking forward to this weekend. I wasn't disappointed. Of course, the highlight is getting to meet so many people that share our passion and to put faces (and real names) with the eG handles everyone posts under.

There was simply so much going on, there was no way to be bored. Demos from Joe, Kerry, Rob, and even my own humble efforts with air brushing. Of course, we all wanted to make things and it amazed me to see the buffet at the end of the weekend.
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Before all that beautiful product was out on display we had to start with our traditional Sharing of all things Chocolate" on Friday night. What a wonderful way to meet and greet "old friends" for the first (or perhaps 2nd or 3rd) time. Not that a little wine and cheese didn't make more than token appearances
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Joe Sofia made his first appearance and demoed making both a molded bon bon (Bananas Foster) and a slabbed bon bon (Carrot Cake).
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For what I believe may have been an eG Workshop first, Rob C (gfron1) constructed with a little help from many contributors a showpiece appropriate to the time of year (St. Patrick's Day).
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Of course, with Easter not too far off, we had to have at least one bunny appearance.
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Big thanks to RobertM for organizing not just a wonderful event, but also a great venue. Stratford University was a gracious host and an excellent facility.

I'm sure we'll see much more from others who attended.
Steve Lebowitz
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Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#15 DianaM

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:03 AM

Raspberry caramel? That sounds awesome - Robert, could you share your recipe, please?

Steve and Donna - thank you for the pics! I am so jealous!!

#16 RobertM

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:02 PM

My deepest and most sincere thanks to everyone who attended this years conference. Each one of you helped to make this an amazing weekend and I can not thank you enough, special thanks MUST go to:

Stratford University (Woodbridge Campus) for allowing us to invade your entire third floor for two days and the wonderful, outstanding hospitality you shared with us. Everyone at Stratford was AMAZING, the lunches and dinner were truly stunning and delicious.

Joe "Coco Joe" Sofia for spending the ENTIRE weekend with us and providing some amazing instructions on several different techniques and formula development. Joe even jumped in on other areas of chocolate work, helping people make flowers for the Showpiece, helping people with their molding techniques, and other one on one formula development! Can't wait for you to join eGullet Joe and continue to join us here online and in person!!!

To Cargill/Wilbur for their VERY generous donations of ingredients, your willingness to help underwrite the cost through your generous donations helped to keep the cost of the weekend to the attendees reasonable for all.

To ALbert Uster imports, for also supporting us through a magnificent donation of supplies, including chocolate, glucose and fruit puree's we used in the amazing raspberry caramels and the fruit de pate

Kerry Beal, for her continued support and encouragement over the last few months and for her willingness to do several demo's, including her basic tempering class; pate de fruit and of course, the mighty Thermomix, and for setting the bar on the toys that someone in the chocolate world can own. I don't know what can be said about Kerry that hasn't been said a million times over, but, my world has become that much better and a great deal brighter for your guidance, mentoring and friendship.

To Rob, for his very high energy presentation and his amazing sculpture which is still being enjoyed here in Woodbridge. I shall never be able to hear the expression "straight face" again without thinking of you!

To the Chicago School of Mold Making for supplying Rob with molds and tools to use in his elaborate and beautiful chocolate showpiece

To Chef Rubber for his donation of cocoa butters for use during the weekend, and thank you to Steve Lebowitz for his teaching the mold decorating portion of the weekend and helping everyone and anyone with his wisdom and advice.

To Chocolat Chocolat Inc for your over the top donation of equipment (a magnetic mold, a complete "kit" to use in chocolate making, and many, many other items)

To Amoretti and your donation of flavor samples that assisted everyone this weekend to produce some very, very amazing truffles and bon bons.

To Design and Realisation for your continued support and kindness

Curls has gotten into a habit of saving my life for the last two conferences, and I have no clue how this one would have been possible with out you

To Chocolot (Ruth) for her never ending smile; her willingness to allow me to play with some raspberry caramel; her willingness to teach us about butter creams and the lost art of hand dipping.

Erica and Brad for being a muse and inspiration on flavor development. It is because of you that when I'm in my "test" kitchen I push myself beyond what I begin the project believing, with the words "what would Erica do?"

Lastly, to my wife, for giving me the freedom and time to "go off and do my thing" with some truly amazing and talented people, I cherish each day you are in my life.

If I have left out anyone from this list, please consider it done only out of my forgetfulness and ignorance, it was not done for any other reason.

#17 RobertM

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:25 PM

The calm before the storm - these are excellent views of the main kitchen we used and just some of the equipment people brought with them
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#18 Tri2Cook

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:31 PM

This isn't really doing anything to help relieve my jealousy over being unable to attend. :biggrin:
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#19 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:19 PM

I'll start out with some photos of the Friday night event: this is the "just showing off" part of the festivities, where we all brought in chocolates to share. We had a lot of chocolate this year (and no small amount of wine, either!):

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#20 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:36 PM

Of course, we started the morning out with coffee... or tried to. Kerry Beal brought a vacuum pot for tikidoc, and we attempted to figure out how to use it. Despite all three of us having advanced degrees, we were unable to do so! (Tikidoc got it figured out in the end, but we ruined two pots of coffee trying)

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We had some gift bags provided by one of our sponsors:

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And of course, an amazing array of ingredients to play with for concocting strange new ganaches (lots of people brought their favorites or picked up a few bottles of something interesting to try):

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The first scheduled event was a demo by Joe Sofia of Cargill (owners of Peters and Wilbur chocolates, among other things). He did a molded bananas foster bon bon and a slabbed carrot cake candy

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Shiny... we like shiny.

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#21 Darienne

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

This isn't really doing anything to help relieve my jealousy over being unable to attend. :biggrin:

Ditto for me.
Darienne


learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

#22 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:54 PM

Lunch on Saturday was an incredible set of sandwiches: of course, we had to have some table decorations...

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We had a shrimp po' boy:

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And a roast beef with pesto and figs:

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There was also a chicken salad served on croissants, but since it was assemble-it-yourself I won't disgrace it with a photo of the sloppy mess I put together: it was delicious however, as were all the others. Yes, of course I had one of each! Finally, sensing that the massive array of sandwiches they put out was simply too little food, they included a dessert:

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Alas after sampling all the sandwiches I couldn't bring myself to try it, but reports indicate that it, too, was delicious.

While of course as the event organizer it is RobertM's job to pat everyone on the back, I can tell it like it really was... and it was wonderful. Everyone at Stratford was kind and helpful (despite the incredible mess we made and the fact that almost half the participants had almost no confectionery experience at all!); the students we met were polite, helpful, and inquisitive; the facilities were perfect for our purposes; and they fed us amazingly well. I cannot thank Stratford enough for not just allowing us to use their space, but for truly hosting us in the best fashion.

Chris Hennes
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#23 Lior

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:56 PM

everything looks exciting and fabulous! So wonderful to see all the happy and interested faces,all the sharing and love of our art!!

#24 tikidoc

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:03 PM

Agree completely, Chris.

I was also quite impressed that several faculty from the culinary school were not only there, but participated in both our instruction and the preparation of the meals. Even the Dean of the culinary program was there, and served and bussed tables! I thought his willingness to help with the scut work set a great example for the students for a strong work ethic.

#25 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:11 PM

After lunch Saturday was Rob Connoley (gfron1)'s showpiece demo. We started out with a brainstorming session about what comes to mind for the holiday (in this case St. Patrick's day):
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Once he/we came up with a design, he used poster board to lay it out on the work surface, teaching some of the finer details of how to tape it down correctly, etc.:
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Then mette piped in the chocolate:
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That last one is one of the silicon molds provided by Chicago School of Mold Making:

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The cool thing about the silicon molds is that since they are flexible, you don't have to let them solidify flat:
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Then Steve Lebowitz demoed a technique for making a granite-like base structure out of various colors of chocolate and cocoa butter:

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Chris Hennes
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#26 Shelby

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:42 PM

So, even a total and complete newbie like me who has never made a chocolate in her life would fit in ok there?



Loving all of the reports, by the way.

#27 Chocolot

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:49 PM

Had a fabulous time!! It was great being with other people who share your passion. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have people in my life that don't really "get" my passion:-) I arrived on Wednesday so I could do some site seeing. Thanks to Bob and Kerry I had a wonderful time. We arrived for our White House tour that Bob had arranged with one of his friends that work there. Unfortunately, we were at the gate and they moved everyone several blocks away and we had to wait for some unknown reason. After 2 hours, we decided we had other things to do. We did get some pix. Unfortunately, I can't seem to upload them. Maybe someone will help? We then went to wine country and did some touring and checking out some wineries. Bob took us to a unique BBQ place that was very tasty. Dinner in Old Town Alexandria and back to the hotel. Next morning, Curls, Kerry, Mette and me got together for an all day adventure. We started out at Albert Uster, went to DC for lunch at Poste, shopped at Cowgirl Creamery and Co Co Sala. While there, we talked our way into the back room to watch them make their chocolates. None of us had ever seen a shop trim the feet off their chocolates, but they did. Hit a liquor store-Ace Beverage, another confectionary Artisan Confections (where we also got the back room tour). Donna (Curls) is one impressive driver. She drove us around in a huge Excursion and handled it like it was her Porsche TT. We got caught in traffic and didn't make it to the dinner at the Asian restaurant, but we made it to the Meet and Greet. Many, many impressive chocolates. We had also shamed Bob into making caramel corn for us:-) Very delicious! This is one nice community of people. We talked and talked and talked. Saturday, was the big day we had been waiting for. Bob did an amazing job organizing and hauling his entire candy room to Stratford. We had several melters and each got filled quickly. Joe did some fun ganaches and then we got our hands in the chocolate. Rob (Gfron1) showed us how to do a chocolate sculpture with Steve's help. Steve made chocolate granite for the base of the sculpture. Steve also showed us some fun airbrushing techniques. He melts his cocoa butter in a dehydrator and it keeps it warm--brilliant idea. Kerry was doing many demos in the other room as has been previously reported. I watched her make a fluffy pistashio nougat in the Thermomix. I think Kerry can do anything she wants in that nice machine.
I didn't see everything that was happening but what I did see was great. Everyone was helping each other and learning. We had some newbees (Heather) who doesn't own an apron and is more familiar with delivering babies than cooking, but she was here to learn. It was so fun to watch her succeed and have a smile on her face the whole time. For those of you who didn't make it, you should have tried harder:-) Looking forward to next year. I'll try to figure out how to post the photos. It keeps telling me I have failed--not a good thing. Another huge thanks to BOB--love ya.

Ruth Kendrick

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#28 tikidoc

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:54 PM

Shelby, I am a relative newbie (I've made some chocolates and candies before but nothing like what we were doing there) and I learned a ton and feel like I can recreate many of the things we did there (probably not the showpiece though :smile: ). I brought a friend with me (Heather, see Ruth's post above) who has never made chocolates and rarely even cooks (but appreciates good food). She made some really beautiful chocolates, learned a lot, and had a fantastic time, and is interested in going again next year. She told me that I may have to back her up because her boyfriend was not going to believe that she actually made those gorgeous chocolates! There were several people there (Kerry, Chris, Ruth, and Joe, among others) who were very generous with their time and knowledge, and led us through things step by step. So absolutely, you would fit in.

Jess

Edited by tikidoc, 19 March 2012 - 03:57 PM.


#29 Shelby

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:00 PM

Shelby, I am a relative newbie (I've made some chocolates and candies before but nothing like what we were doing there) and I learned a ton and feel like I can recreate many of the things we did there (probably not the showpiece though :smile: ). I brought a friend with me (Heather, see Ruth's post above) who has never made chocolates and rarely even cooks (but appreciates good food). She made some really beautiful chocolates, learned a lot, and had a fantastic time, and is interested in going again next year. She told me that I may have to back her up because her boyfriend was not going to believe that she actually made those gorgeous chocolates! There were several people there (Kerry, Chris, Ruth, and Joe, among others) who were very generous with their time and knowledge, and led us through things step by step. So absolutely, you would fit in.

Jess


Thanks for your response, Tiki :)


I'd LOVE to attend some time...but , every year I look at the pictures and it seems SO over my head. I'm afraid I'd be the class dunce lol.

Edited to add : Plus, I don't have one of those cool cooking coats like Chris H. has, either lol

Edited by Shelby, 19 March 2012 - 04:01 PM.


#30 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:42 PM

At this point we split up and the more hands-on stuff began. I'll begin with Steve's work on the Mint Patties. These are basically fondant, mint, and invertase, enrobed in dark chocolate. Absolutely fantastic mint flavor. Steve heated the concoction up to 160°F (I think that was the temp, right Steve?):
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Then into a double-pastry-bag for piping into circle forms:
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However, since Steve has "pastry hands" and that bag was hot, the job got handed off to Rob (who has "grill hands") to finish while the rest of us critiqued his form:
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These set up for a few hours:
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And then get dipped the same day, before the invertase has a chance to liquify them too much to handle:
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Chris Hennes
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