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Everything posted by chefpeon

  1. For those of us who don't have Yard's book.....it would be most helpful if you posted the recipe for the cookies! That way it's a lot easier to troubleshoot your "spreading" problem, and possible procedures that may have caused it! Cheers! Annie I love troubleshooting!
  2. So, uh, isn't that the very nature of a pastry chef......to show off? I know if I have a chance to do that I seize the moment. Carpe Sucre!!! I ain't in the biz, for the money honey! Annie
  3. I agree with chefette! I wouldn't bake one big one......it really defeats the purpose and pleasure of the dessert on many fronts. Definitely try it doing the small ones first......you'll know right away whether a large one would have been a disaster or not. As with all recipes, I always test them AS WRITTEN first.....then I make the adjustments. You just never know what is going to happen until you try it. Cheers! Annie
  4. Hi again....! The IDEAL way to use the ramekin would be to cut circles out of parchment that are the same size as the bottom of it. Grease and cocoa it the same way you would the parchment to line the sides. It'll come out no problem, I'm sure. I've done molten chocolate cakes before, and it's true no matter how well you butter and flour the ramekins, sometimes those suckers don't wanna come out. Parchment is truly a life saver. Don't use the muffin liner things! Even if you grease them, I think the little folds in the liners will make it a major bitch to peel off the cakes.....and I don't think lifting them straight out of the tin will work.....the dessert is to be unmolded onto the plate which leads me to believe it's somewhat fragile. If you do it the muffin tin way, I'm afraid your cake won't have much of a shape by the time it gets to the plate! If you sprinkle icing sugar on the warm cake, the steam and moisture will probably make the sugar "disappear" quickly, so it may be a waste of time to try that. Besides, I'm imagining the dessert in my head, and it looks kind of cool if you dust it with cocoa and some of the dusting falls on the tuiles. Tuiles are actually pretty easy.....and if you have a silpat, it's even better. You just need to remember to bake a few at a time and not let them get too brown (if at all!). Cheers.... Annie
  5. Howdy....... Here's my thoughts..... *no reason why you can't halve the recipe.....I don't see any problems with that.... *if you use ring molds, the 2 or 3 inch diameter suited for individual servings would probably be best *you can probably also use ramekins.....line the sides of the ramekins with the cocoa dusted parchment then butter and cocoa the bottoms of the ramekins (in fact, ramekins might work better with the method I have in mind, below) *Obviously, this is a dessert intended to be served warm. So, you COULD bake them all in advance, store them in the fridge and re-warm them before serving, or (this is what I do) you just bake them a la minute. This is why I like to use ramekins, because they are easier to store in the fridge (especially a home fridge). If you do the ring mold method, you have to stick the whole sheet pan in the fridge, and a lot of people just don't have that kind of room. I fill the properly prepared ramekins with the cake batter (stick the coffee mold in there too), wrap them in plastic wrap, then when I need to serve the cakes, I just take them out of the fridge and pop 'em in the oven (since they only take 14 minutes or less to bake). Nothing better than a warm cake right out of the oven.....this is how this particular dessert is meant to be eaten, so take advantage of that fact. I don't think it's too ambitious for a home baker.....it's easy in that it's all made in advance.... at serving time, you just bake, unmold, and serve! Have fun! Annie
  6. Yowza! I like both of those concepts! Anything to reduce that horrible aftertaste! Thanks for the info......and just to clarify, acesulfame K is Nutra-Sweet, right? And I'm also going to try that Whey-Low stuff......thanks for the tip on that! Annie
  7. Wow.....I had never heard of such "sweetener synergy". Very interesting! My question is, what would you be trying to achieve with this synergy? A low sugar, highly sweet baked good? I've NEVER had good luck with artificial sweeteners.....I'm always looking for ways to use them because in todays calorie conscious Atkins lovin' society, if you don't jump on the low-this-low-that-bandwagon, you lose business. I am just never that happy with the end result when I bake low sugar low fat. If this synergy would help me create a low sugar baked item that actually TASTED GOOD, I'd be anxious to know about it! Annie
  8. When I was managing a wholesale/retail shop, I noticed a lot of people did things differently than I did. I'm really not into micro-managing and I'm fine with letting people do things their way, as long as it: A) doesn't waste time, and B) the end result is the same However, if I saw somebody doing something the "hard" way, I'd always show them the "easy" way and they were usually pretty grateful for the tip. Or, if I saw someone doing something differently, I'd ask them why they were doing it that way, because, maybe they knew something I didn't. I try to learn from everybody....employees included! If people would just check their freaking egos at the door, we'd really have more of team atmosphere in the kitchen and we'd be helping each other do our jobs better and faster. If your meringue is coming out fine then I wouldn't worry about Mr. Co-worker's little snit. BUT, just for fun, try it his way....see what happens.....nothing like keeping an open mind, and always trying to do something better. In a previous thread (buttercream) we were all discussing different meringue methods, mainly, swiss and italian. I was a bit incredulous that a lot of people would be going through the "hassle" of making italian meringue for buttercream, when I thought doing swiss was easier and the end result was the same. For me personally, working the "sugar syrup way" is a hassle. BUT it isn't for others. (Humility check, here!). The bottom line is, they make an awesome buttercream their way, and it's easier for them....and realistically, takes about the same amount of time for each.....everybody has a different classification of what "hard" is.... for me, it's keeping an eye on the sugar syrup temp when I'm doing nine million other things at the same time. Yep, I'm the PC that always boils the cream over too....GUILTY!!! Annie
  9. I had that same thought when I was reading this thread......why didn't the pizzelle maker work? It seems like it would...... How funny......I'm Dutch, and I've never heard of the things. It's probably a good thing they are hard to find out here. I don't need something else to get addicted to! Annie
  10. I'm sure you're quite right about that! And THAT'S why I'm for doing everything possible to up the dessert sales! Give them equal exposure....have the dessert menu....lurking.....tempting people.......eat me......eat me.......! Annie
  11. Hey, that's a good point. Which leads me to this next quote.... Why do you think having a dessert menu on the table of a more upscale restaurant is inappropriate? If it's displayed in one of those nice heavy coverlets like some wine lists are, I think it's a very elegant addition to the table. Also, it's easy to slide in newly printed lists when the desserts, wines, coffees, liqueurs, or prices change. I think there are more benefits to a menu permanently on the table than detractors. With a menu permanently on the table: *Customers are able to see what is offered for dessert so they can choose a meal that will suit them.....save room for something sweet! *they can leisurely peruse and dicuss it with their compatriots while they are waiting for the meal to be served (dessert menus are a great source of dinner conversation, and a great ice breaker topic-especially for those nervous guys on prom dates....) *the server doesn't have to worry about bringing a menu back *you don't have to worry about main menus being "hogged" by the dessert ordering folks (as you pointed out) *desserts are given "equal time" like they should be I do agree with you regarding the point you made about the main menu and that printing costs are big. If the fare changes frequently, having the desserts on the main menu probably isn't the best idea. But I really am solid in my opinion that the dessert and after dinner fare be displayed on the table (elegantly), because if nothing else, it puts the concept of dessert on the diner's mind. Subliminally at least! Ok, so I have a major interest in creating job security for in-house pastry chefs..... is that so bad? Cheers..... Annie
  12. YEAH! That's why I hated doing the rye! It would take FOREVER to proof....I'd keep checking it.....and it was like watching a pot boil. I finally would just sort of forget about it, then bam.....I'd always miss it......it'd be overproofed! Sometimes I got lucky and caught it at the right moment, which I think only lasts about 15 seconds , and I'd have lovely rye.....but most of the time.....well........shit. I'm probably the last person to give any advice about making perfect rye.....but.....I've sure paid my dues in the "screw-up" department! I actually know what perfectly proofed rye looks and feels like (I've seen the Loch Ness Monster too.....and, ahem....just as often.) Seriously, I think nightscotsman is probably right.....underproofing sounds real logical to me now that I really think about it. Who says proofing ain't an art????? Annie
  13. Hmmmm..... Next, on Food Network, it's reesek's ButtermilkBoobie Panna Cotta with Nip de'Fraise and Cherry-ola Sauce!!! I crack myself up. Actually, in my experience, if you start with bad fruit, you end with bad fruit (with the exception of mashing overripe bananas for banana bread or something like that). There are so many varieties of strawberries......I bet they all have different moisture contents too. It probably depends on the variety, and the degree of ripeness you hit when you roast them. Regarding letting them set out of the oven, I noticed Gale Gand's recipe specifies that you let them rest 20 minutes.....probably something to that! Take them out of the oven....(no squeezing, Mrs. Whipple!), and make the sauce from the juices......then stick your nip on the implant, drizzle with your cherry-ola sauce, and voila! I hope. Cheers! Annie
  14. Did you try a recipe for the strawberries that was similar to this? Gale Gand's Vanilla Roasted Strawberries 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 24 strawberries, tops cut off 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 2 tablespoons cherry or plain balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons red wine 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces Equipment: A baking dish, about 9-inches square Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pour the melted butter into the baking dish (or melt it right in the dish). Use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the pan. Place the strawberries (cut side down) in the pan. Sprinkle the berries with brown sugar and lay the vanilla pod over the berries. Bake until they are slumped and feel soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then remove the berries from the pan and pour the pan juices into a small skillet. Add the vinegar and red wine to the skillet and heat the mixture to a simmer. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cold butter. When ready to serve, place 6 strawberries on each serving plate. Drizzle the warm sauce over and serve immediately. My thoughts: Were your strawberries on the verge of being overripe to begin with? You'd definitely end up with mush if that were the case. Is your oven temp accurate? Do you use an oven thermometer? I believe if you macerated them before roasting you'd end up with mush too. Regarding the shape of your panna cottas..... Uh I think if you topped your little boobies with a strawberry....it would look an awful lot like a......nipple Is your panna cotta firm enough that you could maybe cut them in half and arrange the halves so they they don't resemble implants so much? Or maybe you can slice the tops off so that there is a larger surface for your strawberries...... Annie
  15. Hmmmm.....maybe this leads to another thread! There IS a strange co-incidence between great views and bad food..... but there are exceptions too. Locally, a famous great view/mediocre food venue is.... THE SPACE NEEDLE In fact, there's a joke that locals only go there to take their out of town relatives. It's true. We know what Seattle looks like, and we can get the same food at Denny's. But, an exception is..... PALISADE EXCEPTIONAL FOOD and EXCEPTIONAL view! But I'm way off topic.....sorry. Annie
  16. Sigh......making rye has always been a thorn in my side, that's for sure..... I baked artisan bread in a wholesale shop for 2 years, and if there was one bread that gave me trouble night after night, it was that freakin' rye! My theory about your splitting sides is that your dough doesn't have enough gluten (or development) to hold structure as it's baking. Rye flour doesn't have a lot of gluten in it anyway, and depending on what other flour you are using....that could be the problem. Also, proofing time.....are you proofing it too long, maybe? Do you use steam in your oven? As far as color goes, I never added caramel color to my rye.....I used blackstrap molasses, which is very dark and somewhat smoky. Gave me the color I needed, and an interesting flavor too. Maybe that's what the Latvian peasants used...... Just guessin'....... Cheers! Annie
  17. <ahem> Since it's been awhile since I graduated from pastry school, I figured I'd better hit the books again to refresh my memory about meringues. I've been in the "real world" too long and all those ragamuffins in the kitchen have soiled my proper education! Ok.....I actually knew my version of meringue (in that the whites and sugar are heated together) is called Swiss Meringue.....duh.....I've just sort of come to know it as "easy meringue", 'cause, well, that's what it is. According to his eminence Bo Friberg, the major difference between Italian and Swiss Meringue (besides the preparation method) is that supposedly Italian Meringue is more stable and is ideal for desserts in which the meringue is eaten "raw" or merely browned on top, such as Baked Alaska. Swiss Meringue will deflate faster. So......when it comes to making buttercream with meringue, the stability of Swiss Meringue isn't really an issue, because with buttercream, you don't have to really worry about it "deflating". I have come to the conclusion that if you make a meringue buttercream with Italian Meringue or Swiss Meringue......the end result will essentially be the same, the keeping qualities will be the same, and the flavor will be the same. So......... since Swiss is inherently easier.......why mess around with making Italian and doing it the hard way? I choose easy. Annie
  18. Ok......um.....maybe I'm doing it wrong or I don't know something, and if I don't I'm sure you'll all tell what it is.......I think I can trust y'all to guide me. BUT...... I've been making wedding cakes for 14 years. I've made all different kinds of buttercreams. I've made small batches on Kitchenaid mixers and huge batches on 60 qt. mixers. I go through buttercream like cars go through gas. If I were doing the "sugar syrup" method I would spend WAY too much time making buttercream and it'd be harder to get anything else done. My favorite buttercream, is of course, a meringue buttercream......it tastes the best, and I like it's workability......but I've never had to make it with a hot sugar syrup. I've tried that method, and the purpose of it is sort of lost on me. I mean, it just seems like it's doing it the hard way. Since I do such a large amount of wedding work (among other things), my life is about finding the easiest way to do something (without sacrificing quality, of course). I have always made my meringue buttercream like this: (and it's so EASY) Whisk my sugar and egg whites together, either directly in the mixer bowl, or in some sort of double boiler. If I do a small batch on the Kitchenaid, I will mix the two together and stick the whole bowl in a pot of simmering water, whisking often, until the whites and sugar are nearly too hot to touch. Then I put the hot whites and sugar on the mixer and whip to stiff peak. Then I add my cool butter in chunks and add vanilla. Voila! Perfect buttercream with safely cooked whites and no sugar syrup hassles. So my question is, why do you guys do the sugar syrup thing? I see no difference in the finished product, when done my usual way in comparison to the sugar syrup way. Is there something I don't know? Annie
  19. Hi all..... thanks to Pan for quoting me from another thread and starting this one. As a pastry chef AND a restaurant diner, I see things from both ends (as we all do). Some restaurants have their desserts printed on the main menu. This is good when you first sit down and plan out your meal. It's always nice to know what the restaurant is offering for dessert before you order the main course. It doesn't mean you have to order dessert while you're ordering your main course.....but I like having the desserts on the main menu in plain sight, so I know what's there, and if I even WANT to consider dessert. Usually I don't bother ordering desserts from restaurant that serve the usual boring fare like chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and pie 'o the day. BORING! The bad part about having the desserts printed on the main menu, is when the server takes the menu away after you've ordered your main course, you sort of forget what was on there. You either have to ask the server to bring the menus back, or you awkwardly say, "What do you offer for dessert?" This is an easily solved problem however......I think the best solution, truly, is to have the dessert menu permanently displayed on the table. The customer doesn't have to ask for the menu back, and it keeps the idea of dessert on their mind. Not everyone is a savvy gastronome who considers it an art to eat a fine meal. I'm talking about your average schmoe here, and percentagewise, a lot of our customers are just average schmoes.......average hungry schmoes. This is not to say that the servers shouldn't be expected to sell. They should. It is an excellent idea for the servers to mention dessert specials as well as the dessert menu at the beginning of the meal. If the server gives dessert "equal time" in the mentioning department, the more likely they are to sell a dessert. When you give desserts the same emphasis as the meal, you are telling the customer that you have something special and they really should try it. That is, if you DO have something special. If you don't, then, well, a good server will make it seem like you have the best apple pie around.....even if it IS bought in by Sara Lee......but I digress. We all know that advertising works mostly, by repetition. When something is in your face all the time, it's hard to iqnore. Advertisers consistently hammer away at people....you know how it is.......when you find yourself absentmindedly humming, "My bologna has a first name...." Don't get me wrong.....I'm not into "hard sell", but I DO believe in the concept of repetition. Effective dessert marketing consists of: A) Printing the desserts on the main menu; B) Having a second dessert menu permanently displayed on the table OR having the server automatically bring back a small dessert menu at the end of the meal to refresh customers memories; and C) effective mention by the server as they are presenting dinner specials at the beginning of the meal. Desserts can be profitable! And really, A,B, and C above don't cost that much to implement. It's sort of a no-brainer to me. Why NOT do all you can to help the bottom line? There are some places that sell their desserts by presentation of the "pastry tray" after dinner. I call these the "stunt desserts". And I think it's mostly a bad idea. Even the most beautiful dessert with the lovely plating doesn't look very appetizing after sitting out a while. Not only that, the servers are manhandling the tray, sticking their fingers in desserts accidentally while pointing them out to the customers, or even having the customers sticking their fingers in them. Doesn't take long for that pastry tray to look downright icky. People don't like icky. Icky is unappetizing...Icky ruins potential sales. A surprising number of restaurants that I visit (and I visit all kinds) really do nothing to promote dessert sales, and that's why I made the initial statement in the first place. As a consumer, I find it more of an "effort" to order dessert, because in a lot of instances the dessert menu isn't readily available, or there's no mention by the server. I am MUCH MORE LIKELY to order a dessert if there's no "effort" involved. A lot of people can be very hesitant to ask a server for anything extra, even though they want it. You can increase your sales by making sure your more passive customers feel comfortable. I think offering information upfront, during and after the meal (in a non pushy way) would help EVERYONE. The customer, the front of the house, the back of the house, and of course the restaurant owners. It seems such a simple concept to me.....I don't understand why more restaurants don't do it. Cheers! Annie
  20. Ha! As it happened, in the spirit of doing "good business", and not burning any bridges (the wedding biz is tight around here, and if you piss ANYONE off too much your business really suffers-word gets around). And of course the old adage that the "customer is always right".....I ended up agreeing to refund the bride half the price of the cake. Of course, that isn't saying that I actually wanted to throw up after that whole episode. It literally made me ill, and I considered becoming a Kalahari Bushman for a while. Truly truly....a customer from hell. I think she is the basis for all that paranoia I feel now. Anyway.......Ted.....regarding the servers selling desserts......I don't know if this has ever been addressed here, but I am a religious supporter of dessert menus being shown and offered WITH the main menu rather than remaining hidden til the end of the meal!!!! I don't think it does any favors for the front OR the back of the house to keep it all under wraps! I think customers should have the opportunity to see what's for dessert....they are more likely to save room for it if they see something tempting, and it's less of a "sell" for the servers when the customer already has dessert on their mind! Most restaurants in my neck of the woods merely consider dessert an afterthought, and not nearly as much care goes into dessert as much as the main courses.....in fact, most desserts are "bought in" rather than made in-house. It sucks. and it doesn't make job prospects very plentiful, that's for sure! Perhaps I should change my name to "Sara Lee"....... Cheers.....Annie
  21. Funny thing for me.....when a pain-in-the-ass customer walks through my door, I instinctually know they're trouble. Don't quite know what it is about them, but an alarm goes off in my head. I always second-guess myself though, and attribute it to being paranoid. But every time, my "alarm" has been dead-on. I wish I could just not even begin to do business with these people. But what would I say? I'm a psychic pastry chef and I don't do biz with people who give off bad vibes? Yipes. When you're in the wedding cake business, these jerks are not only assholes, but HIGH MAINTENANCE assholes, meaning you actually have to talk to them more than your average customer. The irony. Then you know when the job is finished you're STILL going to hear from them, because they WILL find something to complain about. Like the time I assured the bride that I used NO shortening in my icings because she was obsessive about it. I also told her that because I only used butter, her cake would not be stark white, it would be ivory. She acknowledged she understood. I don't know HOW many times she called me to go over details again and again and again.....the cake was planned out to each freaking crumb. I couldn't wait for the wedding day, so it would just be OVER. But no. The week after she gets back from her honeymoon, she calls to say that she didn't like the cake because it looked "kind of yellow". And of course, she shouldn't have to pay for it. I think my mouth just dropped to the floor. For all the time she sucked out of me, I figured she owed me money even if she DIDN'T have to pay for the cake. All in all, I really would have been better off if I hadn't done business with her in the first place. I always think about the scene in a great movie called "Mostly Martha". Martha was a chef who took great pride in her work, and she took customer complaints very personally (I think we all tend to do that-there's a little piece of our heart on every plate!). A man kept sending his meat back saying it was overcooked. Martha finally storms out of the kitchen, throws a piece of raw meat on the table in front of him and says, "There! Is that RARE enough for you??" Gotta say I had a good laugh at that one. When I get a pain-in-the-butt, I try to go into my zen mode and imagine myself in my little happy place storming out of the kitchen with a piece of raw meat. IS THAT RARE ENOUGH FOR YOU.....you little bastard!!!!!! Creative stress relief.....from having a good scream in the walk-in, to "accidentally" toppling the dish rack full of cake pans (ah, the noise!), to "zen happy places"...... I'm all about stress relief. It's a fine art. Ya gotta perfect it in this business! Cheers! Annie
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