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  1. You need to buy some kind of desiccate to store with the nuts to absorb the moisture. Look up desiccate for a list of substances that are desiccates. While working at at restaurant I made candied nuts all the time. I bought a product called Damp Rid or Dri-Z-Air from the hardware store (http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productList&N=0&Ntk=i_products&Ntt=damp%20rid). Just put a little Damp Rid in cheesecloth or in a plastic container with vent holes. You also want to make sure that the container that you store the nuts in is kept sealed tight and isnt left uncovered too long. This also works great for tuile cookies and sugar work. Also make sure your caramelizing the sugar. If the nuts are still sticky after there dry, no amount of desiccate will help.
  2. Like you Mottmott, I too like European tortes. But I think for an 8 year old you will have to set aside your personal tastes and think like an eight year old. It will be a messy endevour but will be rewarding. I can think of a couple ways of going about this. Since you may not be able to be on your feet all day making a cake, waiting for it to bake and cool, and making the filling and finishing it. All the while doing it with the 'help' of you could easily be a 4-5 hour project. That sounds like a long time for you to be on your feet after a hip surgery, and a long time to hold his attention. So you can either make the layers or sheet cake ahead of time and just make the icing with him, or you figure out how to break it up into stages. I.E. mix and bake the cake, watch a movie while its baking and cooling, and then frost the cake. I think the key is no matter how messy it gets or how things turn out, have a positive attitute and he will love it. A simple marble sheet cake can be fun (just take 10% of the vanilla frosting and add a little cocoa powder) and swirl it in, cup cakes, or a basic layer cake filled with fresh fruit. Please post an update with what you decide to make
  3. If you have a solid cake recipe, why not just play around with the recipe. Its the fat and sugar in the recipe that keep the recipe moist, as both are liquifiers. First try and replace some of the butter with veg. oil (25%). You can also try a recipe that used buttermilk or heavy cream as these not only provide extra moisture, but also add a little fat. Lastly dont keep your cupcakes in the refridgerator. It will only firm up the fat and allow them to release moisture and dry out, plus the butter cream is not as luscious when cold. If you could wrap them that would be different, but since you are displaying them for customers its harder to do. Good luck!
  4. Ive done liquid caramel centers but ive always done them with molded chocolates. If the caramel is on the thiner side ive chilled my semi finished chocolates (outer shell and filled), prior to applying the base and sealing the chocolate. Then once at room temp the filling is liquid again. Of course you just have to be cautious to not leave the chocolate in the fridge too long else you will get sugar bloom. You could also play around with the enzyme that melts fondant, as when making cherry cordials. Im not sure if it will melt caramel, but if not you could try mixing different proportions of fondant with caramel until you get your desired consistency. But try the fridge method first, its fast and easy.
  5. Anyone know whats going into the space on Denny Way (or maybe its Olive Way, I always get confused) on capitol hill where the Wing Dome used to be. They just painted it a lovely teal blue, but I dont see any signs up yet. I hope its a bistro and not just another little clothing botique. Restaurants usually have a coming soon sign or a permit posted with the business name, so thats why im thinking something other than a food establishement.
  6. A magazine subscription is a good idea. I wonder if I could get a gift certificate for a subscription so they are able to fill out all the shipping information. (Im dealing with younger people who move around a lot). Any professional cook book ideas. I am not a huge fan of cook books myself, but I think they make a good gift idea. I am buying gifts for 2 people and im looking to spend under $40.
  7. I am the Pastry Chef at a restaurant with a few employees that I directly manage. I am looking for a good gift that I can give them as a holiday present, or if for some reason they decide to move on in the future. I was thinking about a cook book. Maybe the chocolates book by Peter Greweling (one of my former instructors) "Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner". But $40 each is a little out of my price range... haha or am I just cheap? I am open to any suggestions even if they arent a cook book. I know chefs like to recieve knives and hence they are the usual gift, but knives to the pastry cook dont hold the same value. Thanks!
  8. I agree with you kitwilliams and I was taught to use weight measurments. Weight mesurments are more accurate are are easier to convert. But with that said, I have trailed and worked in some of the best pastry kitchens in New York and the US and I found that many still use a combination of volume and weight measuring. Im not saying there right, but it works. Now im the pastry chef at restaurant in Seattle. The recipe book that I put together for the restaurant contains recipes in both volume and weight. If im in a pinch and need a recipe I commonly look online and find a recipe that will work (I have found both volume and weight based recipes online). When I forumulate new recipes I commonly use a combination of both. So a recipe might read 8oz sugar, 4 oz water, 2 T. Cinnamon, 1/4 oz of salt. Sure I could go though all my recipes and convert them to weight, but I dont have the time nor the desire to do that. But I understand your frustration, if I have a recipe that I increased and its a volume measurment there is not way that im going to portion 16c flour more than once, so the first time I portion the 16c flour into a bowl and weigh it and adjust it on my recipe. When a customer asks for a recipe I try to give it to them in volume but I dont mind sharing it in weight (if they are a die hard home cook they will have a scale) . A Book of Yeilds might make life easier, but its still time consuming.
  9. I was taught the single spoon quenelle technique at a fine dining restaurant in NYC. There are a few pointers that can help you achieve success, but like other posts the easiest way to do it is to buy a tub of ice cream or cool whip (never thought of that, but that sounds like a good idea). Make sure you have some hot water handy. Hot tap water is good. Boiling water can be too hot and you end up melting the ice cream before you get it qunelled. If the ice cream is at the proper temp and is the proper consistency cold water will work. A ordinary teaspoon works fine. Work from the center of the container toward you. You are basically just scraping the top of the surface of the ice cream and allowing it to curl around it self. When you reach the side of the container you can press the quenelle to compact it, then finish shaping it. Most of the time when working with ice cream you may not get a quenelle the first time. I mean you may have to go back and forth between the ice cream and the hot water 2-5 times to perfect the quenelle and get it perfect. If you acheive a perfect quenelle, but it sticks to the spoon, warm it up on your hand to release it. The warmth of your hand is enough. I find that the corner a 1/3rd pan or a 1/6th pan is great a achieving a quenelle. Its the same size as the spoon and you can use it to your advantage. After you master that, then you can try to form quenelles free form. You can buy 1/3 and 1/6 pans at a local restaurant supply store for under $10, but a lid and reuse them at home . When working with whip cream or cool whip you have to work fast, as it will melt much faster than ice cream. Also, hot water is a must. I think a blow torch is uneven and can get the spoon too hot. Unlike ice cream where you can go back to the same quenelle if its not perfect, with whip cream you have a one time chance. Have fun!
  10. Pastry Chef Central has a set of caramel rulers, but it will set you back $300 (www.pastrychef.com). You can also buy them from a metal company. This web site has square stainless steel in various lengths for a great price. (http://www.metalsdepot.com/products/stainless2.phtml?page=square&LimAcc=%20&aident=).
  11. I think you might be getting confused by "professional" flour. Most bakeries that produce bread dont use special fancy four. They go to there supplier and order generic bread flour, pastry flour, cake flour etc. Sometimes a higher protien flour may be ordered to produce a product with a higher gluten content, thus producing a more chewey product. King Aurther is a great product, but added cost isnt always worth the cost. It may help to compare it to chocolate. Valhrona is a great product, but very very expensive. Since the customer is rarlely consuming the chocolate in its raw/pure state (meaning is mostly used in a cake, mousse, ice cream, etc), it would be almost impossible for the customer to tell that I was using Cocoa Berry or El Rey verses something that costs twice as much. I am a pastry chef at a restaurant, if I were to only use Valhrona chocolate my dessert cost be $2-3 per dessert (my cost) verses $1-1.50 as it is now. But with that said, I stock 3-4 types of chocolate at one time depending what im making and what flavor im going for, I might use Valhorna as one type. Sure is about using a great raw product, but its more so what you do with that product that makes it great. Perfect your technique, then play with unique artisan flours. It would be great for you to make a basic boule with 4 different types of flour and do a side by side comparsion. Maybe one is a store brand bread flour. If you do insist on using a $15 bag of flour, at least use Voss water instead of tap. I agree with Beanie, but local or fresh milled if available. But these tend to have a shorter shelf life, so keep them in the fridge.
  12. Many people of the kitchen staff have a great appreciation for wine. But rarely will they spend $200 on a bottle of wine, so even if you have a glass left, send it to the kitchen staff as a thanks. You might even get special treatment the next time you come in if they remember you.
  13. I think your thinking of Cap'Fruit, but another good brand is Perfect Puree.
  14. Just use a different recipe. Below is a recipe that I have used many times and it works well. The trick is to get your puree at the right consistency (basically something slightly thicker than water). Im a pastry chef and I usually buy my purees from a suplier, but I were to make a strawberry puree I would destem a bunch of strawberries, puree them plain (no sugar), and reduce them by 25%. 900g Puree 23g Pectin 90g Sugar 900g Sugar 180g Glucose 14g Tartaric Acid Combine pectin and first sugar in a bowl and mix throughly. Simmer puree. Whisking constantly, add pectin and sugar mixture. Add second amount of sugar. Once boiling, add glucose, and continue to cook until mixture reaches 225 F. Remove from heat and whisk in acid. Pour into mold and let set. Unmold and coat in granulated sugar. The pectin in this recipe is just basic powdered pectin. I didnt have tartaric acid so I used lemon juice. Rhubarb is in season now, try pureeing that and making pate a fruits out of that. Best of luck to you!
  15. Wow, I didnt know Peter Greweling put out a book. I had him as an instructor about 3-4 years ago at the CIA. I learned so much from him and I still have all the notes and recipes from the class. The book sounds great, ill look into getting it.
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