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Truffle Guy

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    Tampa, Florida

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  1. Kerry, They look great and I love the toast on the nuts....I think this is one of the hardest confections to make well. Do you brush them with cocoa butter to help with the humidity?
  2. We are getting ready to move to our new store and will be adding Pastry and Gelato/Sorbet to go with our chocolates. I'm trying to find a good source for macaroon packaging as they are so delicate. Mad Mac has a great box/tray and I'm looking for something similar. I have some samples from Revere Group on the way (Acetate boxes) but would like to look at some other options. I'm looking for at least 2 sizes of boxes (5-6 and 10-12). Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks. Bill
  3. A minute sounds about right for spinning but we don't leave it at room temperature. We use clips on the molds and put it in the refigerator and then about every minute, we rotate the mold so any liquid chocolate will flow to a new area. We rotate the egg about 4 times so it has a chance to get a good flow of the chocolate. We are in Florida so by this time of year, heat is already a problem hence using the refigerator. Time to get started on our end, I can't believe Easter is already coming up on us.
  4. I can't believe how long it has been since I've been online...too busy. Anyway, I have a very fond memory of this thread as it is where my chocolate life really began some years ago. It seems such a long time ago that I was working in my kitchen trying to figure out how to actually temper chocolate and mesmerized by the beauty of a shiny painted bon bon. I just started appearing on HSN last month which is something I never imagined when I posted my first message on eGullet. I owe this website a great deal and I'm glad to see people still are poking around this thread. Anyway, we do various sizes of Easter Eggs and do the human spinning as well but one way we found to combat the latent heat is to do multiple layers of thin chocolate before filling the shell, clamping and spinning. We use a heavy brush and after painting the egg, brush 4-5 thin layers of chocolate in the mold. This allows for good crystalization and then when we do add the chocolate that will finally create the finished egg, we have a good solid base that is crystallized. You just have to work very clean so you don't have edges. I hope you can post the egg pictures....I'd love to see them. Bill
  5. I'm excited to be invited to attend a 3 day workshop on Bon Bon's at Ecole du Grand Chocolat Tain L'Hermitage at the beginning of March. I've not been to France so I'm spending a few days in Paris before/after the training. I'd really like to visit as many chocolatiers as possible in that time. I plan on visiting Pierre Herme and La Maison Du Chocolat but would love to get any other suggestions that have made impressions on people. I'm most excited about attending the class and learning but the chance to visit the Paris shops will also be a great time and I'd like to start compiling a list so any help would be much appreciatted.
  6. We have 4 of the racks from Tomric and they work very well. They are a bit expensive but it does help us not only to store them but also stage them when cleaning. The last thing I need is another drawer to open to look for things, I really like being able to quickly find a mold and the racks allow us to label where each mold type should go. For seasonal molds we put hem in storage bins and break them out into the racks when needed.
  7. Kerry....why do you use the cornstarch? Does this do something different than using a gloved hand?
  8. We were exhibitors at the New York Chocolate Show for the first time and it was a great experience. We had done 2 previous shows to prepare for the event but they just didn't have the same volumes. I went to the 2008 show as an attendee and I could tell it was not as busy this year with all the economic and health impacts. We had Halloween on Saturday night which impacted the size of the crowd and then the NY Marathon on Sunday which I'm sure had some impact as well. We've been in business now for just a bit over 2 years and it was a great way to measure ourselves against more mature companies. I also had a chance to meet with some great chocolatiers. One of the highlights was having Norman Love come talk with me and give me positive feedback on one of our bon bon's and our overall product. It was exciting to have one of the top chocolatiers in America actually recognize me and humbling to get praise from him. I also had the chance to meet up with some other iconic american chocolatiers such as Andrew Shotts from whom I've learned so much. Donald Wressel was great to finally meet in person and a wealth of knowledge and again someone who greatly encouraged me with some kind words. I also met Tim Brown from Aroa Fine Chocolates in Boston and had a great time chatting with him for a couple days and as always....learning as much as I can. I'd encourage anyone who is wanting to get some exposure to consider attending next year. It is expensive but well worth it to get some honest feedback on your product and where you stand in the artisan chocolate world. We had a good time with our booth next to Berkshire Bark and they were great sharing their experience over the years at the show, it really helped us prepare for each day. I'd love to hear any feedback from anyone who attended as we are always looking to improve. It's hard to believe only a few years ago I was asking what "tempering" meant and now we've come back from the the biggest show in the country....makes all the sweat and struggle worth it.
  9. I have a customer who wants gold foil on some of the molded pieces we do as well as some cups. I can do the gold foil in the cups ok but not having worked with foil before, I'm struggling a bit with the shells. I've tried applying afterwards and it just doesn't seem to work well. I've applied to the shell but when I fill it sometimes gets flooded. Is there a trick to applying in the mold so that it will not move when the chocolate fills the cavity? Thanks for any help. -Bill
  10. FYI....on the taste of El Rey White not being deodorized. It doesn't have a chocolate flavor as there is no chocolate mass only cocoa butter. I always felt it had a more earthy or organic taste but nothing that made it taste more like chocolate. In fact, I think you want to tell your customers as it will be different than most white chocolates they've had and they could be put off it they don't understand why. Use it as a marketing ploy.....
  11. I've used more white chocolates than I think I can count and the type you use will depend a bit on how you will be using the white chocolate. If you are using it for molding (and especially if you are airbrushing) you will want to avoid some of the chocolates that are "too" viscous. Here are my thoughts on each I've used. I use almost all of the chocolates below so I'm not incented to push one brand over another. From my perspective here are the prices (others may get better deals) $$$=Exspensive $$=Moderate Price $=Good Value El Rey $$- I started with El Rey and the white can be a challenge when molding as it is so fluid and while it does a very thin shell, if you are using colored cocoa butter the white chocolate shell may not be thick enough to "pull" the cocoa butter out of the shell when it contracts. Also, I do think El Rey has a more "organic or earthy" flavor to it than some of the others which can be a challenge when you are using flavored ganaches. I also had a hard time getting consistent product so I'd suggest going to El Rey directly if you use it. E. Guittard $$- The white chocolate can be a bit thick for shells but other than that is is a very nice chocolate, one of my favorites. I was told last week by Guittard that they have a new higher cocoa % which will be more fluid. Callebaut $ to $$- You just need to be careful that the white chocolate is fluid enough for shells. You can always add cocoa butter if needed. Very creamy white chocolate that I really like for centers. Cacao Barry $$ - Very similar to Callebaut, works okay but I feel it is better for centers than shells...at least for my chocolates. Felchlin $$ to $$$- Another excellent white chocolate that is smooth and tasty. It can be too fluid so you may need to "cut" it with a thicker white chocolate. They have several options although I normally only use their top line. Des Alpes $ to $$$ - They have 3 lines you can choose from and all are suppose to be good for molding (have not tried yet). Gemline is their top line and I've had it when taking classes at The Notter School and it seems very fluid and has a nice creamy taste. I recently tried the Orchid line of white and found it interesting...it is creamy with almost a buttery finish. It is also very reasonably priced. Valrhona $$$ - You get what you pay for. This is the primary chocolate I use. When I started, I didn't want to use it because I felt there was an "elitist" persona to the chocolate. If there is, it is well deserved (in my opinion). It is not cheap, even in quantity but it is so consistent, I've never had a problem with it. It not only is fluid and great for molding, it tastes great as well. Cluziel $$$ - I felt it tasted great but wasn't as fluid as Valrhona. I only used it a couple times so I might have to try it again. Hersheys $ - Just kidding I think these are the chocolates I've used. There are no "right" answers on what to use, it just depends on your application. My perspective if primarily from one who does pretty extensive airbrushing and uses white chocolate for molds. I don't normally use the same white chocolate for centers as I do for shells as it doesn't make sense to pay $7 per lb to make a passion fruit ganache where the overwhelming taste will be passion fruit.
  12. Ceviz, I'm guessing I'm the chocolatier in question as I had my chocolates tested in a lab and they were free of bacteria and mold after 12 weeks. It was pretty expensive and would need to be done for each recipe but was needed for one of our large customers. I don't add any preservatives but do use glucose and invert sugar. I never tasted the pieces but I know that in general the flavor is best for 3-4 weeks and then begins to weaken....it varies depending on the piece but that is my general observation. The preparation of the ganache and the ingredients is very important but I believe the storage of the piece after production is probably a bigger variable in the shelf life. If it is stored in an optimium environment, it will last much longer than say stored in a wholesalers location where the temperature is 74 degrees during the day and even higher at night. Another factor to consider is the type of chocolate you use in the center. While white chocolate has a shorter shelf life than dark chocolate in its solid form, I believe it has a longer shelf life as the ganache base due to the increase in sugar content and the decrease in cream/water content in making the ganache. A caramel has a very long shelf life in general and you will see many prominent artisan chocolatiers with ganaches that in many ways more resemble a caramel. I also think one reason we got a long shelf life is that we "double" seal the bottom of the bon bon reducing the chance for air to get to the ganache. I believe it was in a class with Stephane Glacier where he said a good seal will prolong shelf life and so I try to make sure there is no thin shell or holes in the bottom of the bon bon. There are some tricks (actually tools) that can increase shelf life that I have not seen discussed much here, namely a vacuum mixer. I think many chocolatiers consider its use a "competitive" edge and so it is not mentioned often. It's cost can be prohibitive but it can add a few weeks to shelf life which can be a significant gain if you go from 3-4 weeks to 5-6 weeks. One thing I also always do is reboil any steeped cream, I never allow it to sit out and cool then pour over chocolate. The only cases of mold we've ever had were 2 batches done when we steeped cream and then my intern poured it directly over the chocolate without reboiling. I've also often wondered if boiling cream in a microwave might have an impact on extending shelf life (although I'm sure it brings a host of other concerns). Also we never use a whisk or even a spatula to mix the ganache, we always finish it with an immersion blender or will use a vacuum mixer (in the near future). Another factor to consider in the real (or rather retail) world is the rotation of product. I've seen people restock by filling the back and then continue to pull from the newest product leaving some aging product up front. If you sell to a wholesale account it is very difficult to manage this process. Temperature is a critical factor.....the way the lab accelerates testing for shelf life is to increase temperature. I'd guess that this probably impacts shelf life as much as the actual construction of the piece. It would be interesting to do a study where multiple people use the same recipe and then test for shelf life while documenting other critical factors that might be overlooked such as: 1. Quality of ingredients: Did you buy your cream at a store that might not properly store it? Are you using the best ingredients or the cheapest? 2. Process: Film the process of making the ganache then compare to another person who used the same recipe and ingredients. 3. Environment: What is the temperature of your working kitchen? What is the humidity etc? 4. Chocolate used: Is there a difference in shelf life based on the brand of chocolate? Does tempered chocolate improve shelf life? 5. Cleanliness: How clean is your kitchen, how clean are you and your tools? Just a few thoughts, I'm sure someone less sleep deprived could add more. I'm very interested in shelf life but it is of primary concern if you are wholesaling your product. My experience in 2 years is that our retail customers never have the chocolate long enough from time of purchase for any shelf life issues but our wholesale partners do sometimes have issues which often are more controlled by them rather than me. I'd also love to hear more thoughts on the subject.
  13. I have a customer who wants a large (30") chocolate fish. My preference would be to buy a large mold rather than make it, if one is available. They are looking for a fish that could be used to make a chocolate trophy. Thanks.
  14. Yes, I'd love to see the picture. Maybe I can just use the dried lavender as is.
  15. I have a customer who wants a lavender truffle topped with a candied lavender flower. I only have the dried lavender petals and wondered if anyone had a suggestion for candying them. Thanks. Bill
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