Jump to content

Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.


Resistance to decorated chocolate? Food?

  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 ElainaA

  • participating member
  • 207 posts

Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:09 PM

I am wondering if anyone else has had this experience.

On Saturday I took a plate of candies to a Christmas party. At the end of the evening there were 3 pieces left on the plate - the 3 that I had decorated with transfer sheets. This has happened to me before. Admittedly, I live in rural, upstate New York but this party was in Ithaca and the majority of guests were Cornell faculty - not an unsophisticated group. And I know for a fact that the pieces on which I had used luster dust were eaten by my husband - other wise they may have still been there. Last year I caught my daughter slicing off the tops of some candies because "they don't look like real candy".


It is not just candy. Last October my husband and I  took part in a weekend junket at the Sagamore in the NY Adirondacks sponsored by a major plumbing HVAC supplier for people in the industry and spouses (I was a spouse). The final dinner was quite elaborate - my halibut had 2 sauces plus a lemon foam accompanied by a spiced sweet potato puree ( which was wonderful), braised fennel, spinach and another vegetable that I cannot remember. At my table, the majority of plate were sent back hardly touched and from glances at the wait staff's trays, that was common. Dessert came topped with a chocolate cut out decorated with a fantastic transfer  - no one but my husband and I ate it even after I explained what it was.


So, my question is this: when I am having tons of fun decorating  the candy and food I make, am I forgetting the people who will be eating it? 



If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero
But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

#2 heidih

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 10,932 posts
  • Location:Los Angeles

Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:49 PM

I do not understand on the halibut example. Were you thinking the foam was the issue?

As to sweets, I immediately flashed back to those often used silver dragees I encountered as a kid. I know we thought it was somehow wrong and would look at the adults for direction. Personally I hesitate with the transfer sheet decorations because it seems somehow too artistic to eat - as if I should be saving it to take home and show someone. Silly but it is my reaction.
  • ruthcooks likes this

#3 DiggingDogFarm

  • participating member
  • 1,397 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:08 PM

I think it's safe to say that folks, well, not just any folks, even the "sophisticated," don't like transfers.

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!

#4 heidih

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 10,932 posts
  • Location:Los Angeles

Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:16 PM

Another example from today at a potluck - It was a mix of elderly nuns and pretty sophisticated local business people. Someone made a soft cheese ball decorated with three perfectly centered rings of olive. Even the old arthritic hands wielding ineffective plastic knives were using all their skill to avoid "violating" the olive decoration.

#5 DiggingDogFarm

  • participating member
  • 1,397 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:39 PM

It wasn't long ago that many folks in this area were reluctant to try a farmer's market tomato that wasn't either a red beefsteak, red oblate salad tomato or a red cherry tomato. Some are still stubborn that way.

I've also had folks turn their noses up at brown eggs in favor of white.

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!

#6 David Hensley

David Hensley
  • participating member
  • 154 posts
  • Location:Roanoke, VA

Posted 15 December 2013 - 10:31 PM

I'd eat them, I'm sure...

I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

#7 Edward J

Edward J
  • participating member
  • 1,299 posts

Posted 15 December 2013 - 10:32 PM

Actually, I have 6 varieties of bon-bons from about 25 in my showcase that use transfer sheets.  In the 7 years that I've been operating, I haven't had any negative comments, rather the opposite.

#8 Matthew Kirshner

Matthew Kirshner
  • participating member
  • 110 posts

Posted 16 December 2013 - 01:22 PM

IMO, the more fancy you get with decorations such as transfer sheets or garnishes for mini tartlets, most people do not normally go for those items.  Even thou you and your guess know it looks amazing and tastes amazing.  The bottom line is if it is already paid for, does it really matter at the end.  You went out of your way to make these treats, its there fault they did not have any. 


There has been times where I have random bonbons left over because people have mention to me "It looks to pretty to eat."  That's why for wedding cakes I don't go over the top with décor.  I want people to eat them, otherwise my wife eats them and yells at me for bringing them home.  So please don't get discourage if this happens you again, take it as a complement.


BTW,  I understand the fish plate why most would send it back, foam is not appetizing to look at.  Just my two cents.  Happy Holidays Everyone!!  

#9 Panaderia Canadiense

Panaderia Canadiense
  • participating member
  • 2,094 posts
  • Location:Ambato, Ecuador

Posted 16 December 2013 - 04:56 PM

I think maybe you are forgetting your eaters.  But on the upside, now you know that they don't want to eat transfers or lustred chocolates (I can't quite see why myself, but there is sometimes resistance from people who are used to commercial types of bonbons, and are simply completely stumped by some of the stuff that artisan chocolatiers or bakers do) so you don't have to go through the same effort for them.


For my part, I do some really elaborate things with gumpaste for wedding cakes, and I'll usually pack a couple of extra figurines or flowers or whatever and conspicuously eat them while I set up the cake (something most brides want me to do in full view of the guests - go fig!).  This seems to show the eaters that the decor is meant to be comestible, and then they're more likely to follow suit.  Although in the case of a couple of cakes, the guests took the edible figurines home as keepsakes…..

  • judiu and annabelle like this
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

#10 ElainaA

  • participating member
  • 207 posts

Posted 17 December 2013 - 01:55 PM

I think the issue with the halibut was both the foam and the how (overly, perhaps) intricate the entire plate was. Not a good fit for this group.

I only started experimenting with transfer sheets and luster dust last year. I only make candy at Christmas and most of it is bagged up and given away as gifts - so I rarely actually witness what happens to it. I get an overwhelmingly general positive response but little information on specifically what was liked and what was not. Maybe I should send out "rate this candy" emails similar to the 2 I just got from Amazon! (Please, I hope NO ONE thinks I really mean that!). Interestingly this year I tried texture sheets for the first time - those candies disappeared very quickly - I think the difference they still definitely looked like chocolate. 

I think next year I will dial back the decoration. Sigh. It is so much fun.


  • judiu and annabelle like this
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero
But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

#11 HungryC

  • participating member
  • 1,503 posts
  • Location:greater New Orleans

Posted 17 December 2013 - 03:27 PM

Count me as a person who doesn't much like transfer decorations on chocolate and who absolutely loathes luster dust.  I'll eat the transfer decorated ones...but luster dust looks like cheap frosted eyeshadow, not food.  Granted, if the chocolate is drop dead awesome, I'll eat it anyway.  Sadly, I've encountered FAR too many molded/filled chocs created by someone who confused pretty with delicious.  Thick shells, too-sturdy coverture, tasteless fillings that purported to be green tea, lychee, tobacco, etc (yet tasted merely of sugar)....somehow the less stellar chocolates always seem to look "fanciest".  A locally well-regarded chocolatier's products command a premium price, are nice to look at and are conceptually interesting, but no better tasting than your average mall Godiva.

#12 xxchef

  • participating member
  • 250 posts
  • Location:Northern Arizona

Posted 22 December 2013 - 07:25 PM

I personally dislike over-decorated chocolates.  A LOT.  I go out of my way to find appropriate, yet simple garni for our candies and, if it weren't for the need to distinguish between different but similarly shaped and enrobed centers, I'd probably go for a nice, glossy "nekked" every time.  You can get a lot of mileage out of creative stringing variations and, when really necessary, look for a complimentary garnish.  A sprinkle of espresso powder on a cappuccino truffle or a piece of candied orange peel on a Grand Marnier center is SO much better than some stock transfer sheet or meaningless luster dust.  BTY, a lot of "luster dust" is basically plastic and says right on it   "non-toxic, but not to be consumed".  Scary?  Yep.

The Big Cheese
My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"
BMR on FaceBook
"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

#13 Amanda Ball

Amanda Ball
  • participating member
  • 1 posts

Posted 25 December 2013 - 03:32 PM

Hi, just my $.02: I don't like heavily decorated chocolates and avoid them. There's something off-putting and not food-like about them. I also agree with the poster who commented that luster dust was reminiscent of eye shadow. That's exactly how I see it, too. I only like my food to be decorated with food if that makes sense and for some reason looking at an elaborate gilded design on top of a piece of candy registers in my mind that the candy will taste like some inedible object; wax, plastic maybe.


I know that's not necessarily logical, but that's how I feel about it and I'm guessing I'm far from alone.

#14 Tri2Cook

  • participating member
  • 4,045 posts
  • Location:Ontario, Canada

Posted 25 December 2013 - 04:03 PM

Perceptions influence reaction. Some people perceive snakes as slimy. If they touch a snake, they wipe their hands in disgust. There's nothing the least bit slimy about your average snake, they're quite dry, but that doesn't change how the people who think of them as slimy react. If, in your mind, the decorating will make them taste like plastic or wax, you're probably going to avoid them and if you don't, they may even taste plastic or wax-like to you. So I can definitely understand where you're coming from. Fortunately, I don't have that problem... I'll happily destroy and devour the most intricately artful creation without hesitation if you put it on a plate in front of me. :biggrin:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#15 Kajikit

  • participating member
  • 112 posts
  • Location:Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Posted 01 January 2014 - 11:18 AM

Given the choice between a gilded or transferred chocolate and a plainer one on the same plate, I'd take the simpler one. I know that that decorative stuff is 'non-toxic' but that doesn't mean that it's really any good for you to eat it...

#16 quantumcloud509

  • participating member
  • 14 posts
  • Location:Spokane, WA

Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:20 AM

I also prefer non transfer sheet or overly airbrushed chocolates. In certain cases its ok, (such as a robins egg done right) in most its not. Wife and I are attempting to cut out any fabricated colors out of our diet, and I refuse to work with non food based colors in my cooking/ baking at work which makes life tough and limited, but I tend to see myself more of a purist and have hope to find a variety of colors I can make myself from vegetables and the likes. 

mise en plase