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Molded vs. Enrobed Bonbons

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#1 Stephanie Wallace

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 07:25 AM

After reading this quote from Truffle Guy, I thought that this topic deserved its own thread. Do you prefer the appearance of molded over enrobed chocolates?

4.  Attractiveness - I still believe a well done molded piece is the most attractive artisan chocolate, it has a shine like glass and the sharp detail/lines of the mold.  That being said, an enrobed piece can have a very visually appealing presentation as well.  Transfer sheets allow for a very unique presentation that many consumers feel is "handmade" anyway.  Also, there is an ability to add a 3-dimensional look to enrobed pieces.  You can use texture sheets for unusual patterns as well as ingredients as toppings.  This is an area where I will continue to feel molds offer more but you have to weigh the cost to produce.  Most artisan chocolatiers don't charge more for molded pieces and yet the cost/profit margin has to be lower if you are doing any artistic work on them.

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It is, of course, purely an aesthetic preference, but when I see a well made enrobed piece I feel like I am looking the skill of the chocolatier, and that level of genius that it takes to make something beautiful consistently under more difficult constraints (See Patrick Roger). On the other hand, molded chocolates always look kind of shiny and plasticy to me; they convey "piece of candy" more than "gastronomic experience" (not to suggest this is necessarily the case). What are your opinions?

Formerly known as "Melange"


#2 K8memphis

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 07:55 AM

I pretty much feel the same way, I prefer enrobed more than molded although whichever kind is most readily available overrides any preconceived notions :biggrin:

But I like cleverly molded chocolates that match the theme for events like weddings, valentines stuff like that for a specific celebration. I always like a box of pretty sea shells, classics. But truly the enrobed or hand modeled are the most intriguing.

The boxes of chocolates with all the different kinds perplex me even if they include a road map. I am forced take one tiny bite out of each chocolate in the box to see which ones I like first. My husband got over his horror of my method long ago. :raz: It's a cup-bearer type duty I take very seriously. :laugh:

#3 David J.

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 09:17 AM

The clean lines and shiny surface of molded bon-bons looks more "machine made" than "hand crafted" to me. To counter that you can do special things to the mold like painting it with colored cocoa butter or swirling different types of chocolate. I've experimented with both and it makes a nice presentation. The number of techniques you can use to spice up bon-bons are limited though.

You can get far more creative with enrobed pieces, making marks with the dipping fork, using texture sheets, air guns to create "wrinkles", transfer sheets, topping with nuts or other bits both inside and outside the enrobing, and piping figures in contrasting colors of chocolate.

Enrobed pieces just look more "hand finished" even if they are completely automated.

Having said all that, there are just some fillings that require molding. I wouldn't want to give up my soft carmel filling because I wasn't willing to use molds. Also having a few molded pieces in a box also adds a nice contrast to the mix.

#4 artisanbaker

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 09:28 AM

enrobed.
mad respect for those that only enrobe...
I agree with you Melange, and it seems most chocolatiers that enrobe shun molding altogether.

in the end, taste should reign...

Edited by artisanbaker, 01 February 2007 - 12:17 AM.


#5 tammylc

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:17 AM

When I started making chocolates, I did exclusively hand rolled and dipped truffles. As my volume increased, that's been harder to do. I was working from home, and will soon be working in a commercial kitchen, so having the space and time to let trays and trays of centers dry out became a real challenge! I've added some molded chocolates into the mix, on the theory that it will let me speed up some of the process. Although as Truffle Guy says in his first post, polishing and hand decorating molds takes a lot of time too.

My truffles are attractive, but definitely "homemade" looking. When I started thinking about offering molded bonbons in addition or instead, I was worried that they would look too machine made or too much like ye old box of chocolates. So I've been concentrating on using colored cocoa butters, luster dusts, etc to add a handcrafted touch. So far people seem to really like the new snazzier look, but as David J says, the variations are fairly limited.

Without a guitar cutter, cutting squares for enrobed ganache centers is a time consuming, imprecise and tedious task. I'm hoping David J's plans for an inexpensive guitar cutter work out, because then I could totally see moving back in the direction of more enrobing and less molding. (Especially once I raise enough capital to afford one of these!)

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#6 Desiderio

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:29 AM

Even if I usually do more molded than enrobed, I find enrobed ones more attractive when well made.See our Christopher Elbow as well , http://www.elbowchocolates.com/ he has both molded and enrobed and I think his selection is one of the nicest I have ever seen.
I remeber someone told me once , not sure who, that the making of molding pieces was faster than making enrobed , since they had a small production and limited time ,so they opted for molding v.enrobed only for a matter of time and semplicity.
The other factor is that like Truffle guy said, enrobed chocolates ( and not everyone owns an enrober machine :raz: ) may not be as well sealed as the molded ones, thats another problem with shelf life , if there is any crack or hole in the chocolate , will cause some problem .I never use an enrober machine ( the one on the pic from Shotts class , looked perfect size for a small lab ) but I would figure that the coverage is more consistent than the manual coverage , maybe?
I think a well mix of both can show the ability/skills and inventive of the chocolatier , like the one Chrisopher produce.
Each filling needs a different shell so the freedom and the ability to decide wich one goes where and understand what is the texture that you need is also a skill that a good chocolatier has.So why not using all the tecnique and resorces they have.
An example for me is a lavender ganache, I cant stand it if is inside a molded shell, I can only produce it as an enrobed piece, same for cadamom, tea, chili pepper and so on.

Edited by Desiderio, 31 January 2007 - 10:52 AM.

Vanessa

#7 tammylc

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:35 AM

Those are some gorgeous pieces on the Christopher Elbow site! I'm going to have to go read through the "showroom finish" thread again to try to figure out how he did some of them!

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#8 alanamoana

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:48 AM

i agree with desiderio when she talks about different fillings. it's pretty impossible to enrobe a liquid caramel filling or a very soft ganache, so it really depends on what you're trying to cover with chocolate to decide how you will cover it.

they both - enrobing and molding - require practice and skill, particularly if you're hand dipping rather than using an enrobing machine so i don't think it is a question of one being easier than another. just working with chocolate can be a challenge in itself :hmmm:

#9 Rhubarb

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:16 AM

I definitely prefer enrobed pieces to molds--my current collection is 11 enrobed pieces and 1 molded--but I'm not dogmatic about it. The principal reason might just be that I prefer a firm, smooth ganache (and btw, Patrick Roger quietly blows my mind). To me, enrobed bonbons also represent a greater personal investment in each piece--working without an enrobing machine means I need to spend more time and attention to get professional results.
Maybe every chocolatier develops their own "ideal"...? My mentor had nothing good to say about molds, but I feel molding is an important skill in any chocolatier's repertoire. While I avoid them in my everyday work, they're great for holidays, events, shows, etc. It only makes sense to take into account the market and your customers' tastes.

#10 David J.

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:45 AM

Without a guitar cutter, cutting squares for enrobed ganache centers is a time consuming, imprecise and tedious task.  I'm hoping David J's plans for an inexpensive guitar cutter work out, because then I could totally see moving back in the direction of more enrobing and less molding.  (Especially once I raise enough capital to afford one of these!)



Tammy,

My plans for the guitar cutter proceed on. I've ordered the cutting board and if I can get a thin kerf saw blade before the weekend I'll have it cut along with the new brazing jig this weekend.

However you don't need a guitar cutter to take advantage of a poured ganache slab! Take a look at my thread on the Advanced Chocolate Class with JPW and you will see him using a deep oval ganache cutter. Using one of these you can punch out quite a few centers very quickly and they will all be precisely the same size and shape. Granted you will have some "waste" between the cuts, but all you need to do is roll it out again (a good way is between to plastic sheets with caramel rulers as pictured on the class thread) as you would cookie dough and punch again. You don't have to remove the chocolate bottom, just incorporate into the ganache and coat it again.

Tomric carries quite a few shapes, though a number of them aren't in stock. I'm currently waiting on the larger circle cutter myself. To find them go to www.tomric.com and type "cutter" into the search box.

#11 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:52 AM

I'm not a huge ganache fan, so I prefer molded. That way I can create a center that is intensely flavoured and not muddied up by the chocolate. I have however been having fun with Drew's recipes that require enrobing - there is flavour potential there!

I look at various chocolatiers websites and when I see that most of their chocolates are enrobed pieces I tend to think more machine made. ie everything just gets cut and pushed through the enrober, rather than matching the piece with the center.

#12 tammylc

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 12:20 PM

However you don't need a guitar cutter to take advantage of a poured ganache slab!  Take a look at my thread on the Advanced Chocolate Class with JPW and you will see him using a deep oval ganache cutter.  Using one of these you can punch out quite a few centers very quickly and they will all be precisely the same size and shape.  Granted you will have some "waste" between the cuts, but all you need to do is roll it out again (a good way is between to plastic sheets with caramel rulers as pictured on the class thread) as you would cookie dough and punch again.  You don't have to remove the chocolate bottom, just incorporate into the ganache and coat it again.

Tomric carries quite a few shapes, though a number of them aren't in stock.  I'm currently waiting on the larger circle cutter myself.  To find them go to www.tomric.com and type "cutter" into the search box.

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That's true - I have been forgetting about cutters, and that would certainly be faster and more consistent than cutting by hand. I'll have to go take at look at Tomric myself. I saw a set of chocolate cutters on JB Prince recently, but they were v. spendy.

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#13 Stephanie Wallace

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 01:20 PM

in the end, taste should reign...

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This brings up another key issue which I intentionally avoided in my original post; appearance is important, but taste and texture reign supreme. I prefer the appearance of enrobed bonbons, and I even more strongly prefer the textural contrast provided the thin enrobed shell against the slightly denser ganache. I also feel that the higher percentage of chocolate necessary to create ganache for enrobing tends to lead to a stronger focus on the flavor of the chocolate itself, the paired ingredients being more subtle. I'm curious as to others' thoughts on this as well.

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#14 Desiderio

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 01:44 PM

I think , as we said before , its all matter of the flavor you are putting into the chocolate, enrobed or molded.Like I said I prefer certain flavors to be inside the enrobed one, becuse the proportions between chocolate shell , ganche tickness etc, plays an important role on the flavor impact etc.On the other side , like Kerry said , not everyone likes the dense ganache , but like to play with different textures and combination that will be hard to do with an enrobed one.I do some filling that are semiliquid , and I need to use molded and I like the way they taste in molded as well.Some flavors pairs better with molded some others pairs better with enrobed ones, for my taste ofcourse.
Vanessa

#15 David J.

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:33 PM

That's true - I have been forgetting about cutters, and that would certainly be faster and more consistent than cutting by hand.  I'll have to go take at look at Tomric myself.  I saw a set of chocolate cutters on JB Prince recently, but they were v. spendy.



These are specialty items so they are rather expensive at $20 each. I have tried straight sided cutters in the past only to be dissapointed when the cut center sticks inside and falls apart when I force it out. These extra deep cutters are cone shaped so as you cut the second center it pushes the first up and into the body where you can just tip it over and it spills out easily. You can generaly fit three centers in the cutter at once so you only have to tip them out every other punch.

#16 Aria

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 09:34 PM

I definitely like to enrobe, my customers love enrobed truffles. The sensation of the couverture cracking to give way to the ganache is indescribable! I have to say though that SOMA Chocolate Maker of Toronto that receives none of the props it should makes exquisite moulded chocolates with the thinnest of shells imaginable. Off course they sell at $2 a piece.

I think , as we said before , its all matter of the flavor you are putting into the chocolate, enrobed or molded.Like I said I prefer certain flavors to be inside the enrobed one, becuse the proportions between chocolate shell , ganche tickness etc, plays an important role on the flavor impact etc.On the other side , like Kerry said , not everyone likes the dense ganache , but like to play with different textures and combination that will be hard to do with an enrobed one.I do some filling that are semiliquid , and I need to use molded and I like the way they taste in molded as well.Some flavors pairs better with molded some others pairs better with enrobed ones, for my taste ofcourse.

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#17 sote23

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:46 PM

Even if I usually do more molded than enrobed, I find enrobed ones more attractive when well made.See our Christopher Elbow as well , http://www.elbowchocolates.com/ he has both molded and enrobed and I think his selection is one of the nicest I have ever seen.
I remeber someone told me once , not sure who, that the making of molding pieces  was faster than making enrobed , since they had a small production and limited time ,so they opted for molding v.enrobed  only for a matter of time and semplicity.
The other factor is that like Truffle guy said, enrobed chocolates ( and not everyone owns an enrober machine  :raz: ) may not be as well sealed as the molded ones, thats another problem with shelf life , if there is any crack or hole in the chocolate  , will cause some problem .I never use an enrober machine ( the one on the pic from Shotts class , looked perfect size for a small lab ) but I would figure that the coverage is more consistent than the manual coverage , maybe?
I think a well mix of both can show the ability/skills and inventive of the chocolatier , like the one Chrisopher produce.
Each filling needs a different shell so the freedom and the ability to decide wich one goes where and understand what is the texture that you need is also a skill that a good chocolatier has.So why not using all the tecnique and resorces they have.
An example for me is a lavender ganache, I cant stand it if is inside a molded shell, I can only produce it as an enrobed piece, same for cadamom, tea, chili pepper and so on.

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hi vanessa,

to answer your question, I was in the shotts class and did get to use the enrober. yes, the coverage with an enrober is superior to hand dipping.

someone in class asked him if you could only get one piece of equipment, what should it be. He answered an enrober.

Edited by sote23, 31 January 2007 - 10:51 PM.


#18 sote23

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 11:10 PM

However you don't need a guitar cutter to take advantage of a poured ganache slab!  Take a look at my thread on the Advanced Chocolate Class with JPW and you will see him using a deep oval ganache cutter.  Using one of these you can punch out quite a few centers very quickly and they will all be precisely the same size and shape.  Granted you will have some "waste" between the cuts, but all you need to do is roll it out again (a good way is between to plastic sheets with caramel rulers as pictured on the class thread) as you would cookie dough and punch again.  You don't have to remove the chocolate bottom, just incorporate into the ganache and coat it again.

Tomric carries quite a few shapes, though a number of them aren't in stock.  I'm currently waiting on the larger circle cutter myself.  To find them go to www.tomric.com and type "cutter" into the search box.

View Post


That's true - I have been forgetting about cutters, and that would certainly be faster and more consistent than cutting by hand. I'll have to go take at look at Tomric myself. I saw a set of chocolate cutters on JB Prince recently, but they were v. spendy.

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I don't know how well they work, but you might want to take a look at chocoflex. it's a silicone mold made specifically for ganache. you can see it at www.pastrychef.com

#19 tammylc

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 04:42 AM

I don't know how well they work, but you might want to take a look at chocoflex. it's a silicone mold made specifically for ganache. you can see it at www.pastrychef.com

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Yeah, I saw those linked in another thread. They are also really expensive and beyond the realm of my little start up budget. Maybe someday, if the reviews come back positive. Has anyone tried one yet?

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#20 Truffle Guy

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 08:41 AM

My findings in the Shotts class were that enrobed and molded bonbons are not equal. From an artisan chocolate business perspective, the ROI on molded pieces is less and so my eyes were opened to some of the advantages of enrobed pieces.
It takes these advantages to convince me to do any enrobed pieces.

For me, I don't think aesthetically there really is a doubt on what is more eye catching, it's molded pieces. The variety of shapes and designs of molds makes it possible to create true pieces of art, they can look like something in an art gallery. You just cannot achieve the same shine, contrast of color and design or artistic statement with an enrobed piece. If you ask 100 consumers which is more visually appealing between Chris Elbow's Chris Elbow Rosemary caramel or any of his enrobed pieces, I think over 90% would say the Rosemary caramel. It is dramatic, colorful and more importantly unexpected for chocolate. If you ask 100 chocolatiers, you will get more of a split and probably more will pick enrobed. Why? I think it is a combination of factors including:

1. Tradition - More than most any other group of which I've participated, chocolatiers/pastry chefs seem to value tradition over change. It is a strange contradiction when you see all the incredible pastry "art" with sugar, chocolate and cakes. But none of those items are truly made to be eaten, they are technically "edible" but the compromise to vanity is perceived as complete. Yes, wedding cakes are eaten but they cost $5,000-$10,000 for the appearance not the taste. So, when a molded piece of chocolate looks like these showpieces, it would be natural to feel the same way, pretty and elegant but lacking depth and quality. It also is a more "American" excursion into the visual appeal not as fully embraced by the european aristocracy. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way but I see a similar history with wine. When California first started producing wines there was little if any respect and all european wines were considered superior. Today, when I'm at the wine store and feel like spending a little extra $$$ many of the more expensive bottles are from U.S. vineyards. I remember asking a local chocolatier, "have you ever tried a rosemary caramel" she immediately gave me a look of disdain and spit out, "I never mix sweet with savory". Well, good for her and good for me as new things don't threaten me and when I open my shop, I'll remember that times and tastes do change. 15 years ago if you asked for a list of the top 20 chocolatiers in the world, I doubt you'd see a name outside Belgium or France. Today, while respect is still very high for those individuals you would see new names on the list who are pushing the envelope on what is done with chocolate and they might end in more diverse surnames such as Love, Shotts, Donnelly, Elbow and Kee. I think that indicates growth...not an abandonment of tradition.

2. Perception - We are talking about aesthetic value. Webster's defines aesthetic as pleasing in appearance the word derives from the greek meaning "to perceive". But as we all know, we don't trust our own eyes when it comes to our own perceptions. If we did, we would make far better choices in our lives. Because we are so concerned with what other people think we buy cars for their exterior when we spend 99% of the time looking at the interior. BMW, Mercedes or Jaguar can slap a logo on an overpriced KIA and we gladly will pay $10,000 more for their low end vehicle rather than for a superior vehichle from Honda, Toyota or Nissan (I actually drive a Pacifica). Anyone ever see somebody with a laptop at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble? Want to bet that same person doesn't boot up in McDonalds? Of course not, whose perception do we want to influence at McDonalds? If Polo sells a sports shirt without a logo for $20 and the same one with a finely detailed, 3 color guy on a horse for $25...which one do you buy? Anyone ever pay $5 for an embrodiered polo rider by itself?

Anyway, you get my point. We have a spontaneous physical reaction when we see something (I want that, that looks good, yuck!) but we will process our decisions based on more than that and often it is strongly influenced by the perceptions of others. Beer, cigarettes, wine, (probably foie gras) are typically acquired tastes and the reason we go back again is often because of a desire to be accepted. Not always the case but often enough. How does this long digression relate to our topic? I do think many of us are still giving the perceived "right" answer of a traditionalist. From an aesthetic perspective, purely based on visual appeal....I'll trust my eyes and not care about the fact it probably is the "wrong" answer.

3. Business Justification - I also think many say enrobed pieces are better looking, better tasting etc. because it supports what they are currently doing. They make smart business choices for more efficient production and for artisan chocolatiers, that clearly is enrobed pieces. Saying anything less than you think your product is more attractive is telling people you are an artist who compromises your art for money. Nothing wrong with that but it goes against the basic doctrines of the artisanal oath. Interestingly, while it makes sense to do enrobed pieces for productivity and cost effectiveness, almost no one will go to the next step of adding preservatives. I'm certainly not advocating that or have any desire to do that (forgive me for the hypocricy) but really, isn't that just a few bus stops down the road? I guess my point here is do many of us defend what we are currently doing, merely because "we" are doing it?

4. Skill/time required - The last reason I think people may shy away from molds is that they are VERY time-consuming and require more "painting" skills using brushes and airbrushes. You have to shine the molds, paint, coat, fill then seal. There also is the issue of expression...it is truly unique for molds as there are no transfer sheets (except for magnetic molds) and we are still early in the "era" of painted molds and the artistic expression is often pretty shallow. Everyone does a "marble" design using a finger to create a swirl. Airbrushing techniques are also pretty standard at this point but I'm sure someone will push the envelope here and in 2 years....we will see some more dramatic pieces. All of this means more time to create each piece. I think the aversion, limited exposure and failures with these techniques influences what is more aesthetic....after hundred's of disappointing molded pieces, a perfect enrobed piece is a thing of beauty.

Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I do realize there is no "correct" answer. But for me, I remember the impact of seeing Norman Love's G Collection on Godiva's website 2-3 years ago and how it awoke artistic seeds in me that had been dormant for years. I love enrobed pieces, I'm amazed at their taste, texture and consistency but never did they reshape my perceptions. If anyone is familiar with the artwork of Tim Cotterill aka "Frogman", I see his artistry in each finely done molded piece that uses colored cocoa butter. He sculpts in bronze and we use chocolate. He creates pieces that people collect and admire while we create pieces that challenge everything our customer has known about chocolate and opens them up to new tastes. To me, a beautiful painted molded piece is the "hook" to get someone to try a rosemary caramel that in a more traditional form, would not be purchased. It sounds a bit naive or idealistic but what really excites me is that people are drawn to the visual and it gives me a chance to expose them to new tastes they would never otherwise have considered.

So...I guess my vote for aesthetic is molded.

Edited by Truffle Guy, 02 February 2007 - 11:22 AM.


#21 David J.

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:49 AM

I'm not biased one way or the other as I have several molds and plan on getting more. It's just that the options for enhancing the appearence of a molded piece are limited to 2D painting. You can get many different 3D shapes but that means buying another mold. You can't change the output of the one you have (short of glueing two pieces together to make them fully 3D).

The bright colors and high sheen certainly catch the eye. I'm just wondering how long that would continue if everyone started producing them. Right now they stand out for being different. Would they all start to blend together and get tiring?

As you stated the techniques are pretty limited right now pretty much to swirls and Jackson Pollok designs (I'm going to try for a Piet Mondrian look). That's a function of the relatively tiny canvas size of a bon-bon and the viscosity of cocao butter. I don't think anyone is ever going to get a fine line out of a spraygun, and even if they did it would be impossible to use it to paint a decent design inside a deep mold cavity.

I'm working on a technique to extend the possiblities and standardize/speed the painting of mold cavities. I have some food grade silicon mold putty that can be spread thin and forced into a cavity to match the surface. My initial test was to use a specialty paper punch to create a stencil with several small heart shapes and use that for a mask to spray through. Unfortunately there were two problems: 1) The force of the air lifted the edges of the stencil bluring the hoped for crisp lines, and 2) Even though the stencil was fairly thin, it still had a depth that shadowed the spray for any cut on the side of the cavity. I'm going to go back and retry it with a brush or cotton swab as that has a good chance of avoiding both problems. It would be interesting to see what people could do with the technique if it works out.

I believe that we need to look at the appearance of the full line of chocolates and that it should have variety. To me that means both molded and enrobed pieces enhanced with a variety of techniques.

#22 ejw50

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 05:54 PM

A vote for molded here.


Tastewise, I prefer a creamier ganache over a dense ganache.


Aesthetically, I prefer the shine and color possibilities of molded. Also, as an (amateur) chocolatier, I can appreciate the "difficulty rating" of molded vs. enrobing.

#23 Stephanie Wallace

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:02 PM

For me, I don't think aesthetically there really is a doubt on what is more eye catching, it's molded pieces. The variety of shapes and designs of molds makes it possible to create true pieces of art, they can look like something in an art gallery. You just cannot achieve the same shine, contrast of color and design or artistic statement with an enrobed piece.

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I wholly reject the notion that you cannot achieve the same level of artistic expression (correct me if I am misreading your statement) in an enrobed piece; even more so I reject the idea that “shine” is inherent to the visual quality of a finished bonbon, or most anything else. I do not think that one can equate “eye-catching” to good art, just as one cannot equate “ear-catching” to good music.

If you ask 100 consumers which is more visually appealing between Chris Elbow's Chris Elbow Rosemary caramel or any of his enrobed pieces, I think over 90% would say the Rosemary caramel. It is dramatic, colorful and more importantly unexpected for chocolate. If you ask 100 chocolatiers, you will get more of a split and probably more will pick enrobed. Why? I think it is a combination of factors including:

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Also, I do not think the opinions of %90 of consumers are particularly relevant to our aesthetic preferences (or those of the following 100 chocolatiers); most of us range from extremely interested to completely obsessed with chocolate and are significantly more knowledgeable on the subject than the average consumer. Our perceptions are therefore influenced by a greater understanding and greater attention to the details that go into production. To extend the music analogy, the average listener will never appreciate music in the same way that someone with a strong understanding of composition and the skill required to play an instrument will. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the average persons’ perception, simply that we are coming at the issue from a very different angle.

More than most any other group of which I've participated, chocolatiers/pastry chefs seem to value tradition over change.

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It is impossible for us to legitimately argue this point, but I will mention that my experience with chocolatiers/pastry chefs has been precisely the opposite. I have seen enormous interest in pushing boundaries and trying new techniques; the industry has been extremely interesting for the past few years. However, I also must note that molded and enrobed chocolates in simplest form both fall into the category of “traditional”. It is what we do with either of those mediums that is new or groundbreaking.

2. Perception - We are talking about aesthetic value. Webster's defines aesthetic as pleasing in appearance the word derives from the greek meaning "to perceive". But as we all know, we don't trust our own eyes when it comes to our own perceptions. If we did, we would make far better choices in our lives. Because we are so concerned with what other people think we buy cars for their exterior when we spend 99% of the time looking at the interior. BMW, Mercedes or Jaguar can slap a logo on an overpriced KIA and we gladly will pay $10,000 more for their low end vehicle rather than for a superior vehichle from Honda, Toyota or Nissan (I actually drive a Pacifica). Anyone ever see somebody with a laptop at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble? Want to bet that same person doesn't boot up in McDonalds? Of course not, whose perception do we want to influence at McDonalds? If Polo sells a sports shirt without a logo for $20 and the same one with a finely detailed, 3 color guy on a horse for $25...which one do you buy? Anyone ever pay $5 for an embrodiered polo rider by itself?

Anyway, you get my point. We have a spontaneous physical reaction when we see something (I want that, that looks good, yuck!) but we will process our decisions based on more than that and often it is strongly influenced by the perceptions of others. Beer, cigarettes, wine, (probably foie gras) are typically acquired tastes and the reason we go back again is often because of a desire to be accepted. Not always the case but often enough. How does this long digression relate to our topic? I do think many of us are still giving the perceived "right" answer of a traditionalist. From an aesthetic perspective, purely based on visual appeal....I'll trust my eyes and not care about the fact it probably is the "wrong" answer.

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M-W also defines aesthetic as “...responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses.” When assessing chocolates I want to do more than simply trust my eyes; I want to put considerably more thought into every aspect that is relevant to my perception. While I agree that many people are drawn into certain beliefs by peer pressure (and that it can easily apply to the enrobed and molded sides of this debate), I think using that as an argument in this discussion is seriously underestimating our and other’s ability to judge using reason.

3. Business Justification - I also think many say enrobed pieces are better looking, better tasting etc. because it supports what they are currently doing. They make smart business choices for more efficient production and for artisan chocolatiers, that clearly is enrobed pieces. Saying anything less than you think your product is more attractive is telling people you are an artist who compromises your art for money. Nothing wrong with that but it goes against the basic doctrines of the artisanal oath.

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What can I say to this beyond “many of us do actually prefer the appearance (and other qualities) of enrobed pieces”? This is a ridiculously unfair assessment and denigrates some of the opinions that have already been presented by others in this thread.

Interestingly, while it makes sense to do enrobed pieces for productivity and cost effectiveness, almost no one will go to the next step of adding preservatives. I'm certainly not advocating that or have any desire to do that (forgive me for the hypocricy) but really, isn't that just a few bus stops down the road? I guess my point here is do many of us defend what we are currently doing, merely because "we" are doing it?

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Again, if productivity and cost-effectiveness are not your reasons for creating enrobed pieces, then enrobing is not remotely analogous to adding preservatives to your ganache.

4. Skill/time required - The last reason I think people may shy away from molds is that they are VERY time-consuming and require more "painting" skills using brushes and airbrushes. You have to shine the molds, paint, coat, fill then seal. There also is the issue of expression...it is truly unique for molds as there are no transfer sheets (except for magnetic molds) and we are still early in the "era" of painted molds and the artistic expression is often pretty shallow. Everyone does a "marble" design using a finger to create a swirl. Airbrushing techniques are also pretty standard at this point but I'm sure someone will push the envelope here and in 2 years....we will see some more dramatic pieces. All of this means more time to create each piece. I think the aversion, limited exposure and failures with these techniques influences what is more aesthetic....after hundred's of disappointing molded pieces, a perfect enrobed piece is a thing of beauty.

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When enrobing means more than running squares through an enrober and throwing transfer sheets on, but instead dipping by hand and figuring out new and original--and often very difficult--ways of decorating pieces with consistent results, it can be an intensely time-consuming, frustrating and expensive endeavor. I do not think that molds are any more daunting.

Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I do realize there is no "correct" answer.

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This, of course, I agree with completely, but it seems that you have come up with several reasons that people prefer enrobed bonbons other than that they have legitimate, well thought-out aesthetic preferences.

There are a number of reasons why I do not find molded pieces particularly appealing, but I completely believe that there are good and thoughtful reasons for the preference.

Formerly known as "Melange"


#24 cotovelo

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 09:27 AM

Thought I would chime in on this....
I think that molded pieces and enrobed pieces present two very different worlds of chocolate making. There are different skill sets that are used to produce a good molded piece and also for a good enrobed piece. I have seen/tasted lots of bad molded pieces (i.e. shell being too thick, air bubbles, cracked bottoms) so I don't really think that they are easier to make.

Even though I am a "reluctant" business man, and I say that because I do need to make a profit to continue doing what I want to do, I don't let that make my decision on what I want to produce. Flat out, molded pieces offer something that enrobed pieces can't and that is the ability to use super soft caramels and creamy ganache fillings that you can't cut with a guitar.....they are different. Out of the 21 pieces in my collection I have either 11 or 12 molded pieces and 11 or 12 enrobed pieces. I like that balance.
Which style your prefer, or think is more beautiful, is your choice and opinion. I actually prefer to eat enrobed pieces more. I tasted a few of Andrew Shotts bon bons last weekend when he was in town for an event and it reinforced my opinion that he is one of, if not the best, in the business.
Remember, this is all very subjective, as with any food or art. Too me, seeing an expertly made enrobed piece is just as beautiful as seeing a brilliant molded piece. I know what it took to get to the end result of both pieces.....skill and talent.

From production standpoints, it is faster to turn around molded pieces. It is generally a 2 day process instead of 4 days for enrobed (or 3 days if you have a cooling tunnel). There is more labor than enrobed but the process on a whole is faster and I find that after costing all of my bon bons out, surprisingly there is very little price difference between the two. And that is taking labor into account as well. And actually, if you take into the account the up front cost of an enrober, guitar, cooling tunnel, and other equipment needed to produce enrobed pieces, molded pieces are much less costly to get started with.....all you need is molds and chocolate!

So for me, arguing that it is better business sense to make more enrobed pieces than molded is irrelevant....and I think as you get into your business that will become evident pretty quickly.

In the meantime, eat whatever bon bons you think are the best!

Christopher

#25 xdrixn

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 09:25 PM

question, without wanting to start a new topic on the subject...In regards to working cleaner has anyone seen a stainless steel bowl wide enough to pour from a mold with a pour spout?
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#26 Kerry Beal

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 05:03 AM

question, without wanting to start a new topic on the subject...In regards to working cleaner has anyone seen a stainless steel bowl wide enough to pour from a mold with a pour spout?

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Here is a 5 quart bowl from Crate and Barrel

This cuisipro set has an 8 quart bowl but no sort of handle to lift the bowl.

More bowls

Really big bowl

And a couple more

An interesting mix available. None have a very big pouring spout and none have a terribly satisfactory handle, but there might be something useful for you.





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