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  1. I'll second the 'standard hotel pans don't fit in them' thing. Tried...deceivingly close, but not quite. You can, of course, order them from Mol d'Art. Otherwise...they are indeed excellent at the narrow but significant task they perform.
  2. I used to use a regular home stick blender, a cuisinart or something. That kind of thing is fine, depending on how much you use it. However, if you're going to become a serious user...I now use a professional robocoupe one...it's great, but it isn't exactly cheap. So long as you're not going to use it enough to overheat, I think you'll do fine with any of the decent home kitchen models.
  3. While I've ordered from PCB direct before, and you're right, it is a lot faster than local, I've ordered their transfer sheets only through US importers. The US importers have the sub-list of FDA approved transfer sheets, and have always warned me (for a couple years now) that ordering anything not on the list risks getting held up by customs and, in their experience, has a number of times in the past. So...maybe they don't always bother checking at the border, but it's not anything new. France simply allows some colouring ingredients which the US has not declared safe on the GRAS list yet. Good luck.
  4. Ahhh...I wondered about that myself. I typed the Ramirez part verbatim out of the booklet handout at the event, and thought it looked at little suspect. Thanks for the correction.
  5. Vincent Pilon won both of the two awards presented...one for taste, as well as the overall competition.
  6. 2007 U.S. National Competition of World Chocolate Masters... Held at the French Pastry School in Chicago on May 19th to decide who would represent the U.S. at the World Chocolate Masters finals in Paris on October 20-22nd, 2007. http://www.worldchocolatemasters.com/en/ Competitors were graded on a chocolate showpiece (minimum 1 meter tall), pralines (both dipped and molded), and on a plated dessert created from a mystery box of ingredients. I was at the competition (thank you Geoff at Barry Callebaut for the invitation by the way) and took the following pictures of the final sculptures and chocolates. My apologies for the mediocre pictures (especially of the chocolates), but it was crowded, the lighting wasn’t great, and most of all…I’m not that terrific a photographer. None the less...here they are: Naomi Gallego, pastry chef at PS7’s in Washington, D.C. -sculpture title: ‘Geronimo’ 2 Jove Hubbard, executive pastry chef at David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago. -due to shipping problems, Jove did not submit a sculpture, making him ineligible to win; unfortunately, I was also unable to capture a picture of his chocolates. Jimmy MacMillan, executive pastry chef at The Peninsula Chicago. -sculpture title: ‘Fountain of Youth’ Oscar Ortega, executive pastry chef/owner of Cioccolato Pastry shop in Jackson Hole, WY. -sculpture: ‘A Gift To the World’ Vincent Pilon, executive pastry chef at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV -winner of the both the competition overall, and the taste award -sculpture: ‘The Great Spirit’ David Ramirez, executive pastry chef at Rosen Shingle Creek luxury resort in Orlando, FL. -sculpture: ‘A Land Remembered’ Joseph Utera, culinary instructor at the Orlando Culinary Academy Le Cordon Bleu. -sculpture: ‘Indian Great Spirit’
  7. Are you saying DON'T let it come to room temp slowly, or DO? ← I am saying...do let the ganache warm up slowly, or at least don't start mucking around with it physically until it has warmed up a bit. Otherwise, it will break very, very easily. That said...I believe chefpeon is right that ganaches with significant corn syrup and/or butter will break even easier than simple chocolate and cream ones.
  8. Are you letting the ganache come up slowly to room temp out of the cooler before you stick a scoop or spatula in there...it will break very easily that way. In so far as adding the 'old' batch to a fresh batch, that is a great way to fix it. In general, slowly adding a broken emulsion to an established one is an excellent way to go. Optionally, you can toss a little of the broken emulsion into a robotcoupe (not one you share with garlic chopping and the like) and letting it run until it is fixed (you can hear the awful sloshing sound suddenly disappear and it will run silent)...then slowly add the rest to the now fixed emulsion, just as to the new batch. I know, people will object to the air introduced and all, and it depends what you are going to do with it. Chances are, many other issues will serve to limit your shelf life before the bit of air which got in there comes into play. Again though...it depends what you're going to do with it, and remember...it's not a first choice, it's one last ditch way to save the batch.
  9. Temperature ranges vary per brand and type, but if you've already rewarmed your tempered chocolate to 88F...you should be fine in so far as keeping your temper intact. The unwanted crystal structure types which would form at lower temperatures are already taken care of in your rewarm to 88F...they will be melted out already. They will not reform as your temperature drops (assuming you have the chocolate well in temper with plenty of crystals already), because the chocolate has already achieved the desired (and more stable) structure. All I'm saying is...letting it cool a bit won't harm your temper so much, but it will make the chocolate hard to work with as it thickens. Is there a reason you want a lower temperature, or is it just that you find walking the line around 88F difficult?
  10. rraaflaub

    Candy Pads

    This sounds interesting...I'll try contacting Qualita. Meanwhile, I've dealt with both Chocolat-Chocolat and Murnane for years, and I know they don't have brown throughout for the interior of their pads. In fact, I've been to Murnane (they're local for me) and they count among the years-of-experience manufacturers who've told me they don't know of anyone in the US who makes it.
  11. rraaflaub

    Candy Pads

    Very good question. I've asked this question to several of the big American manufacturers & distributers and the answer seems to be...nobody does that here. They all can handle gold, white, or custom printed tops on your candy pads...but first, custom is expensive, and second...absolutely nobody has the facilities to do the wavy interior layers in brown. You can get them (such as through Glerup Revere), but they are importing them from France. If anyone can prove me wrong (and for me the real big deal is the interior layers, not just the tops)...I'd love to hear it. Mean time, I've gotten the same story from many guys who've been in the business here for 20+ years. Of course, if anyone has a supplier for stock brown throughout pads in Europe who'll deal in small quantities, that would be nice to know too...I've never really looked.
  12. This is a very quick and handy method of making a one-off mold when needed...but one of the primary drawbacks you should keep in mind is that the molded chocolate surface will look awful...it will bloom like crazy and look prtty sickly. That is all fine, so long as you have a plan to spray it, cover it, whatever. Otherwise, this is a good technique, which will allow a surprising amount of detail to come through.
  13. "....What I hadn’t paid much attention to before was proper cooling. Too fast and the temperature dips down into the range where the unstable crystals form and compete with the good crystals for the cocoa butter. Too slow and the crystals form coarsely for a poor result as well. I’m not clear on the mechanism for that however. If anyone can enlighten me on the subject feel free to speak up...." My two cents (four by the time I finished this...sorry): A common tempering problem is coarse crystals...it results in a less shiny, sometimes even slightly mottled looking surface. This can result from cooling too slowly, or from reheating off the marble too slowly while tempering in the first place. To restate what you already know, tempering is the process of forming little seed crystals in the proper form (because there are several), and allowing them to spread out as they rub up against their neighbors (hence stirring is helpful...it increases the interactions), and latch on, copying the same form. It's like the kid experiment of letting the sugar crystals grow on a string in a glass of sugar water. Here is the problem...you would rather have a whole lot of seeds grow into small clusters before butting up against their neighbors, than letting a few seeds grow into really large crystals before butting up against their neighbors. It is just like the sugar crystals again...if they get large enough, you can see where one crystal set stops and the next one starts (because when they hit one another, they aren't generally in the same alignment, so a border formed). While this is less obvious in chocolate, the effect still can be enough to interfere with the nice reflection & subsequent shine of the surface, or even to give a mottled appearance where you can basically see where sets of crystals start and stop if you look closely enough. Hopefully that is clear...I'm a bit tired tonight, so maybe I should have waited 'til morning. Meanwhile, I do have one comment on the slam method of molding. It very much speeds up production, but the two things which have always bothered me about it are that it makes the seal harder to achieve when bottoming (with extra ganache all the way up the side of the shell interior, and maybe even remaining on top of the open edge)...and, that it takes a bit of care to avoid getting a bit of ganache back into your tempered chocolate when you do bottom the mold. This is only significant if you are using your tempered chocolate for some time, and filling many molds, or if you are highly concerned with the shine of subsequent molding. Depending on your batch size and order of production, you might not care.
  14. If you are using wafers, it is difficult to obtain anything both fine and consistent. However, I find blocks far more convenient...cutting them is much more under your control, and they oxidize slower (and take up less storage space). If you do try blocks, I also use a serrated knife and slice off appropriate thicknesses...it is quite fast and easy. However, rather than balancing the block on its edge, I simply cut it while it lies flat. The issues with this are...it takes more force to slice the entire width of the block at once, but you quickly get used to it...also, it is difficult if you do not own a decent and fairly long serrated knife. Otherwise you can cut the corners back, switching between sides when the edge is getting too long for your knife. All in all I like this method the best, and it is extremely fast...I often finely chop up 5-10kg at a time this way...however, if you don't have a heavy & long serrated knife, the on-edge idea may well work better. Happy chopping, Randall
  15. Correct, and co-incidental timing! In fact, I had found La Gentile in Italy and sent them an email a week ago, and had not heard anything back...until this morning. I received an email and a follow-up call from these guys earlier this morning. They do have them in stock regularly, not all the options, but the others they can get (they order every 6 or 8 weeks apparantly). The cost is around $9-10/#, which isn't bad (2kg bag increments). They are shipping some out to me today by UPS, I'm not sure if I'll get them by Friday or not...but I'm rather excited to try them out. Meanwhile, thank you rooftop...if they hadn't called me already it's good to know I could have finally found them.
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