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Everything posted by stscam

  1. When making our dark chocolate gelato we always make a thickish slurry with the cocoa powder and very hot water - stirring with a stick mixer to incorporate. This then gets mixed in to the base. Texture is smooth as smooth can be. Cocoa is Cacao Barry Extra Brute (22/24% fat).
  2. We're going to be making Amish-style Soft Pretzels to sell at an Oktoberfest being organized in our town for next month. We've got a good pretzel recipe. We dip them in a baked baking-soda bath (a'la Harold McGee, and in lieu of lye) prior to baking, and they come out looking fantastic. But after 12 hours or so they start to wilt and wrinkle, and look altogether sad. The process: mix, scale, tie, dip, salt, bake. No ferment or proofing (they get way to poofy if we do). Bake at 450F for 6-7 minutes. They come out looking gorgeous. And they taste great, too. But after a few hours they begin to wilt. Any thoughts on how we might prevent the wrinkling? Cheers Steve Smith Glacier Country
  3. We're working on gluten free breads to satisfy growing requests for GF products. We've developed good tasting recipes for white, rosemary, and multigrain. The problem we're having has to do with the dryness of the crumb (it almost powders in the mouth). We add about 1TBS veg oil for each loaf, but that doesn't seem to help. All the recipes have either whole eggs or egg whites, and butter. Our dough base is sorghum flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour, with a small proportion of Expandex. Any thoughts on how we might be able to add and retain moisture in the crumb for a better mouth feel? Cheers, Steve
  4. stscam

    Luster Dust

    We use dusts from Chef Rubber, and just brush them dry into the molds. Then we "swoosh" liquid cocoa butter on the molds, which holds the dust in place. Those colors also come from Chef Rubber. I've never tried dusting after removing the chocolates from the mold. Cheers, Steve
  5. Brand new, never-used polycarbonate molds can be "seasoned" (kind of like an iron pan). When we get new molds we first clean them with a damp towel. Then we pour plain dark tempered chocolate into them. When the choc is set up (give it 24hrs at room temp), we de-mold. Sometimes the pieces stick, and may require freezing, banging, or even careful washing. The result is a microscopic layer of cocoa butter (i.e., "grease") that remains on the surface of the cavities. This usually (but not always) makes de-molding a snap. The next time you clean the mold, do so gently with warm water and a clean, soft towel. Carefully wipe the inside of each cavity so that water droplets don't dry and form blotches. Such a cleaning technique does not seem to wipe away the cocoa butter coating. We've found that brushing luster dusts into a cavity can aggravate sticking issues. We paint our molds with a brush, rather than use an air brush or spray can. It's possible that the color could atomize as it comes out of the airbrush, hitting the polycarbonate almost dry. This might also aggravate sticking. Hope this helps. Cheers, Steve Smith
  6. To close the bottoms of molded chocolates we ladle a 1/2 cup or so of tempered chocolate onto the mold (which I hold with my left hand). Then we place one end of the mold down on a sheet of parchment paper, holding the other end elevated a couple of inches. Using a clean, straight, metal bench scraper, we pull the scraper down the length of the mold in one steady tug. This usually ends up with nice, clean bottoms on the bon-bons. The chocolate that ends up on the paper can simply be allowed to set and reused at your convenience. Couple of tips: Once you've poured the chocolate onto the mold, use the scraper to tap it rapidly to clear air pockets. We set the scraper up so that the blade tails behind the handle. Did that make sense? In other words, we pull the scraper across the cavities, not push it. The scraper can be cleaned between each pull with another scraper, a knife, or any straight edge (we use the top of the baffle on our X3210). A lumpy edge on your scraper will give you a lumpy bottom. If you end up with a hole or nick in a bottom, you can use some of the tempered chocolate you just scraped off to fill it. I usually just use a finger tip, but a small palette knife would work too. Overfill a cavity? If the filling is liquidy try using a small syringe (available in drug stores) to suck up the excess. If the filling is firmish, try a larding needle to scrape out the excess. If you get filling on the top sides of the shell, try scraping the filling down to the tempered chocolate so you'll get a good seal. Hope this helps. Cheers, Steve Smith
  7. When we proof we cover the dough with sheets of freezer paper (shiny side down) that has been sprayed with PAM. We usually have very little trouble getting it off, especially if the dough is chilled. You should be able to find rolls of freezer paper at Costco or other stores like that. Cheers, Steve
  8. Tammy, Andrew's g-pectin isn't really designed to do the sort of pdf you're aiming for. It's a special blend he created to make pdf to be paired with chocolate and then enrobed. Hence its softness. You want to look for "apple pectin." Most of the pectin in the canning section at the markets won't work well for pdf. And stay away from citrus pectin. Try this link to L'Epicerie for small quantities of the right stuff: http://www.lepicerie.com/customer/product....02&cat=0&page=1 They also have glucose and citric acid (we tend to use fresh lemon juice instead). You can probably substitute corn syrup for the glucose if you want. Good luck and keep us posted. Cheers, Steve
  9. We tried palm sugar. The simple syrup was about 30 Brix. For fruit we used some sour cherry puree we made up from last year's cherry crop (our area is famous for its cherries). The result was a pretty creamy sorbet with a pronounced caramel-y flavor. The cherry fruit by itself cannot compete with the palm sugar. Perhaps something like raspberry might, but our customer wants mango and lemon too, and those are pretty mild flavors. Back to the workbench. Cheers, Steve
  10. SUGAR-FREE SORBET? Help! We have a customer who would like us to make a trio of sugar-free sorbets. Splenda is not allowed. But stevia, agave, palm sugar, or other more natural sweeteners are okay. Has anyone done this successfully? I thought I'd ask before plunging in head first and eyes closed. Cheers, Steve
  11. Muffin pans. Nothing is worse. Seriously. We used to do at least 30 full-sheet pans every Wednesday ("muffin day," hooray). Pity the poor soul who got stuck with the wash-up. You had to scrub down into every single cavity. Let's see, twenty four cavities times 30 pans - 720 messy, mucky cavities to wash. We had to change water every few pans because it just got filthy with dough and batter. But, thankfully, muffins fell out of fashion here a few years ago and we gave up doing them. It was a memorable day - that first Wednesday without muffins. Hooray. Steve
  12. Refractometers have dropped considerably in price in the last couple of years. I was just looking on eBay and saw several in the 40-90 Brix range for between $30-80. We have two - an Atago (58-90 Brix) that set us back $200+ in 2004, and a No-Name from China (0-80 Brix) that we paid about $100 for in 2005. With such low prices currently, there's no reason not to have one and make sure your PDF is cooked to a T. We use a solid copper "jam" pot for our PDF. It's 16" in diameter and is a joy to work with. We also have a pair of solid copper "sugar" pots that we use for other sorts of sugar cooking, and occasionally for PDF. All three are the quintessence of "heavy-duty." We got them all through Previn, in Philadelphia. I've never used an induction cooker. Would it work with solid copper ware? What would be the advantages? Cheers, Steve
  13. Pam, Many thanks, this is just what I'm looking for. Hooray for eGullet! Cheers, Steve
  14. French pastry shops display slices of cakes in rows and divided by round papers upon which each slice sits, and that are folded up to protect the sides. Standard cake doilies might work, but I don't want to go that route. Try as I might I cannot find a source for these on the Internet. Does anyone have a U.S. or Canada source for these elusive thingees? Cheers, Steve
  15. We've started making two-layer chocolate palets in the spirit of the instructions Andrew Shotts gives in "Making Artisan Chocolates," and using his "G Pectin." Our PB&J has been a big hit - when and if the pate de fruit (PDF) sets up (which isn't all that often). We make PDF regularly, using a Boiron recipe (but our own purees) and proper apple pectin. So PDF is not something that intimidates us. Our success rate is very high. And of course we get a good firm set. I know that when using G Pectin the set is much softer, but it should still be a flexible sheet that can be handled gently. I spoke with the folks at Chef Rubber, who distribute the G Pectin, and they suggested we add a few grams more pectin and try cooking it a bit longer. This still gave us uneven results. SO - Does anybody out there have any experience with G Pectin leading to a consistent success rate that they'd like to share on eGullet? Cheers, Steve
  16. Yikes! My bon bons have begun to stick in my molds, and I'm losing 15-30% of them. The molds are Chocolate World domes with 21 cavities. I've been using them for 2-4 years, so they should be well-broken in. When I clean them I spray the cavities with hot water, then dry them with a soft towel. I almost always decorate the cavities before molding the shell. I use a combination of luster dusts and colored cocoa butter - both of which are brushed on as separate layers (dust first). Then I do the shell with tempered couverture. After letting that set overnight, I add the ganache filling. And finally, I bottom them with tempered chocolate. After the finished pieces have set for a few hours or overnight, I de-mold. And that's when I find pieces that do not wish to release. Has anyone had similar experiences and found a solution? Cheers, Steve
  17. I've had a plastic base guitar for 4 years and have no complaints. The plastic is strong and rugged. Indeed, the guitar base alone probably weighs 20 pounds. All the plastic pieces are securely aligned with bolts. It is in no way flimsy or cheaply built. Cheers, Steve
  18. EBay often has good deals on refractometers. I bought one for less than $100 that runs the scale from 0-80 Brix. I mainly use this to measure sugar in fruit pulp and puree. I also have a more expensive one I bought through Previn in Philadelphia. It's made by Atago and has a range from 58-90 Brix. This we use for our pate de fruit. When using a refractometer be very careful how you clean the surface of the glass receptor. It can easily be scratched, and then it won't give accurate readings. You also should calibrate them from time to time. Because the EBay unit goes down to 0 Brix, you can use distilled water to set the zero point. The Atago requires a special solution that is surprisingly expensive. I swear by these things for accuracy in confectionery work. Good luck. Steve Smith
  19. Many chocolate and candy shops, particularly on the East Coast, carry high quality non-pareils. If you have a way to temper, they are easy to make. We use 58% Cacao Barry couverture. We get the "seeds" from Pfeil & Holing in NY. And we use a $4 Wilton plastic funnel that comes with a finger-controlled "stick" to pour the choc into quarter-sized disks over the seeds (which are spread out in a sheet pan). Cheers, Steve Smith
  20. We have a restaurant customer who wants us to make challah loaves for his french toast. He'd like a loaf to yield as much as possible, so the question begs: is there a way to ensure a more even lengthwise top to the bread? He won't be using the heels, but still, he'd like to get as many consistently sized slices as he can. Any thoughts? Cheers, Steve Smith
  21. Kerry, Great demo. I've tried both screens and rubber stamps to make transfers. The problem I had with the screen was getting the cocoa butter to the right temp and keeping it at that temp long enough to do the whole sheet. There are commercial screen presses that have heaters built in which keep the "ink" at a consistent temperature, but they cost $5,000-10,000 or more. Rubber stamping is also hard to get consistently right. Too much pressure and you get mush. Too little and you get such a thin transfer that it won't read well on the chocolate. We started using self-inking stampers (with custom stamps). We paint the cocoa butter onto the ink pad, then stamp onto acetate. We can get 3-4 transfers before we need to re-ink. Cheers, Steve Smith
  22. To me, rhubarb is, like anchovies, one of those things people either love or hate - black and white, no middle ground. Folks up here in Glacier Country seem to love the stuff, and we strive to fill their cravings. We make a variety of sweet products with rhubarb, but when we cook it, it turns an unappetizing brown. Anybody know of a way to keep the stuff from going brown? Would blanching help? Any other thoughts? Cheers,
  23. CSY, If you haven't already, download the Boiron recipes. You'll note that they all call for a percentage of glucose (liquid, not powedered). This helps cut the sweetness down because glucose is only half as sweet as granulated sugar. I've not worked with polydextrose, so I can't add anything there. Still, the Boiron recipes call for an amount of sugar close or equal to the amount of puree. A well made pate will always taste sweet, but the fruit flavor should be the dominate characteristic. And it should never be cloyingly sweet. See if you can find a copy of Gaston LeNotre's ICE CREAMS & CANDIES book. It has a number of PDF recipes that use time and temp to get to the proper pour point (though, as I recall, he puts the pectin in toward the end of the process). That will save getting a refractometer, as least for now. I've had no luck making pates with Pomona (it's a citrus pectin). Do try to locate an apple pectin and run with that. It will absolutely do wonders for your frustration level. Cheers, Steve
  24. I'm afraid I can't help you with agar. Where are you located? L'epcierie sells apple pectin in three sizes. Fine them here: L'Epicerie Just take good quality, ripe fruit and whizz it in a food processor or use a stick mixer. Many PDF recipes call for 1kg (2.2 lbs). You can halve everything without much worry. You do not need pieces of fruit in the pate for that "burst-of-fresh-fruit" sensation. Strawberry "juice" would be thinner than "puree." It's possible to make PDF from juices, but thicker is better. The apple is there to add pectin. Apples are particularly high in natural pectin, and a recipe using apple is not all that unusual. The flavor of the strawberry will overpower the apple. Sorry I didn't get back to your direct query. I hope this helps. Cheers, Steve
  25. Pectin/pate de fruits-wise, apple works best and most reliably. I've never had any luck with any of the stuff in the canning sections of supermarkets, nor did the Pomona brand pectin work. I use Paris Gourmet apple pectin and the Boiron recipes and get very consistent results. I know some confectioners who use one of the Louis Francoise pectins (forgot which, sorry). Once you find one that works, stick with it. Refractometer-wise, if you're serious about making pates de fruit having one of these is worth every penny. As I write this, there are five pages of refractometers on ebay. But you do need one that will read in the 60-80 brix range (most pdf ends up around 75 brix). They should cost in the $50-60 range. We make our own purees from local fruit, adding cane sugar to bring the brix level up to those of the Boiron purees. This also helps ensure consistency. We buy the fruit in the summer. After pureeing it, we pour 1kg of fruit into H-pans lined with saran wrap. We freeze this until solid, remove it from the pan, and vaccuum pack the resulting brick, so that it will be ready to use when we pull it from the freezer. We always mark the brix level on the bag so we know where we're starting from. Commercial PDF - we just got in a sample of pates from Hediard, Paris. I was pleased as punch to see that they package theirs in square acetate tubes, just like we do! And their jellies look a bit moist and inconsistently doused with sugar, just like ours! They tasted pretty good, but I'll stack ours up against them any day. So there! Cheers, Steve
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