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Art

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  1. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    Darienne: It is Claudio Corallo. He is a farmer/chocolate maker, out of Sao Tome. http://www.claudiocorallo.com/ -Art
  2. Art

    Water Ganache

    We had an absolutely wonderful time at William Curley's shop today. We just came back. (It is way late now -- like 1:00am.) Today, we went to William Curley's shop. William was such an incredible host. He invited us (us being my wife, myself, Martin Christy -- of the Academy of Chocolate -- and one of our top retailers Matt Caputo) William prepared a series of desserts for us to try. They were all absolutely incredible. William has quite a resume when it comes to various restaurants he has worked at. (I'll let people look that up if interested.). But more importantly, the flavor of all his desserts and truffles were incredible. William uses Amedei exclusively. This causes his truffles to be a bit more expensive but all in all, his flavor is so much more improved, he has developed quite a following (to the detriment of two other nearby chocolate shops.) Needless to say, we were treated to a complete chocolate tasting course. All of his truffles were very well balanced and were beautiful in flavor. Regarding shelf life -- getting back to the question that I'm responding to here -- his shelf life is 3 weeks. He figures one week for himself and two weeks for the customer. I gave him some chocolate for him to try and he gave us some chocolate to take back with us. We will treasure the chocolate not only because of the craftsmanship but also because we felt that by the end, we had a new friend. Personally, I admire William's dedication to using only the very best ingredients and working each and every day to step up his game. (We had a medium length conversation about this.) The end of the day consisted of walking along the Thames and watching the sun set against old stone bridges. As to how the water ganaches of Damien Allsop stacked up against Willaim's cream ganaches, they are both very different. I am not convinced that either technique is inherently better but more simply each is a unique tool that can be used by the right craftsman to achieve a particular end. -Art
  3. Art

    Water Ganache

    I'm in London right now (for the Academy of Chocolate Awards on Tuesday night), and yesterday, I met with Damien Allsop who is famous here for his water ganaches. I have to say, they are absolutely wonderful. The texture is perfect. The ganache is fairly stiff but very smooth and creamy. His flavors are perfectly balanced. This was especially noticeable when compared to chocolates that I purchased on Friday from another well known chocolatier / chocolate house. Their flavors tended to be either too strong or too mild with perhaps 20% being spot on. Damien's by contrast were all perfectly balanced and really highlighted the chocolate being used. We traded chocolate and as I write this, I'm truly enjoying another piece. ;-) The flavors in his sampler box are: * Raspberry * Olive Oil * Peanut Crunch * Salty Licorice * Pear Aniseed * Basil Leaf Damien is a really nice guy to boot. It is going to be really exciting to see what he is able to come up with as his business grows. (Right now, he has no storefront and wholesales his chocolates to a number of hotels and restaurants.) I've made water ganache truffles at home and have really been pleased with the results. However, seeing what can be achieved when someone has spent lots of time with it and truly knows what they are doing has been a real eye opener. I'm definitely going to have to spend more time experimenting with water ganches. (When I can find time that is.) Later today, I'll be meeting with William Curley who won the Academy of Chocolate's award for the best truffles. He has won numerous years in a row. I haven't tried his chocolates yet and after hearing such wonderful things for all these years, I'm really excited to do so. -Art
  4. Thanks Ruth! The Chocolate Salon this year was incredible. Previously, the Salon was held in a smaller venue in Fort Mason. There were so many people last year that it was elbow to elbow. It would take 15 minutes to go from one side of the room to the other. They'd only let someone in when someone left making for some very long lines. This year, the venue was easily 3-4 times the size of the previous one with twice as many vendors. This was wonderful since it allowed there to be space between everybody's tables and people could spread out a bit. In addition, people could actually walk easily around the venue. It was really exciting seeing all that was being made. We were so busy though that I was only able to get away from our booth very rarely and then only for a couple of minutes at a time. In fact, I was only able to sample one other vendor's truffles, that is XOX Truffles. I have to admit, that was on purpose as their truffles are really good and I always make a point of sampling them at the events where we cross paths. The number of people who came to the show was far more than what we anticipated. We ran out of samples around 3:00pm as did many of the vendors. In some respects, this is a good thing in that it indicates the number of people and where the show is headed. Next year, we plan on taking twice as much chocolate as this year. All in all, it was a great show for us. Winning a few awards was really a nice treat but most importantly, we really enjoyed meeting so many great people and with the larger venue, it really worked in so many ways. -Art
  5. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    Thank you so much Darienne! It is really appreciated! We are completely humbled and blown away around here. I don't think it still has sunk completely in yet. Last year, our Madagascar won a Bronze and quite frankly, we were completely and totally ecstatic about that. This year, our Madagacar won a gold and then we won two silvers (Ocumare and Montanya) and two bronzes (Jembrana and Ocumare Milk). For me, the most amazing thing is that each of our chocolates placed. I love our gold immensely but the fact that each of our chocolates placed shows me that we are being consistent and that it wasn't just a fluke. To me, that is just huge. The awards announcement is here: http://www.academyofchocolate.org.uk/acade...wards/2009.html and our press release is here: http://www.amanochocolate.com/press/releas...009_awards.html Of course, I also love the fact that we are an American chocolate company. Europe has for so long been known as the only place to buy really high quality chocolate. I think it is wonderful to show that we can make truly exceptional chocolate on this side of "the pond" as well. I'm heading out Tuesday to the chocolate festival in Linkoping, Sweden where I'm apparently one of the headline names at the festival. After the festival is over, I'll be visiting Cologne, Amsterdam, Brugges, and finally Paris for a few days. If any eGullet members happen to be at the festival or along my route, please stop in and say hello or let let me know and perhaps we can get together or do dinner! I love putting faces to the names I see on the board. (Especially with people who truly love the very best food.) Thanks to everyone here for the support we have received over the last few years. As we all know, one of the very best parts of cooking is seeing the joy it brings others. -Art
  6. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    All the percentage does is tell you how much sugar is in the chocolate. Thus an 82% cocoa is approximately 18% sugar. A 70% cocoa is 30% sugar, and a 50% cocoa is 50% sugar. So if you are making a ganache, you can always simply add more sugar. The flavor you taste is due to the beans and how they were roasted and conched -- not so much the percentage. I had ganache filled truffles this last week at one of the nations leading restaurants last week made from our 70% Jembrana. It was absolutely incredible. So it isn't the percentage so much as how the ganache is prepared and more importantly what cocoa beans were used to make the chocolate, how they were roasted, how they were conched -- all decisions on the chocolate maker's part. It isn't the sugar -- you can always add that when you make the ganache. For a ganache, there is no difference between the chocolate maker adding the sugar or you adding the sugar (provided it all dissolves). -Art
  7. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    Not having tasted it .... It probably has to do with the beans that Scharffen Berger used as well as how they roasted them. I doubt that there is anything that anyone can do. -Art
  8. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    The other thing that can cause them to be sold for cheap is if a store or chain that carried Scharffen Berger closed down. All that excess inventory gets resold to chains such as the one you describe. So it may have nothing at all to do with the quality of the product or closeness to an expiration date but may have something to do with where one of Scharffen Berger's vendors is financially. In either case, I'd grab what you can. -Art
  9. Yes, yesterday was spent out on the Bonneville Salt Flats launching rockets. (These are really big rockets -- not those little Estes toys that we all grew up with. Some weigh over 100lbs and fly up to 17,000 feet or so. You have to get FAA clearance in order to fly this high. About two or three miles away, was the "racetrack" which is just as flat as where we were. We could watch cars zoom back and forth at 200mph+ See these links to see some of the more impressive rockets that were launched yesterday: http://uroc.org/index.php?option=com_conte...1481&Itemid=715 http://uroc.org/index.php?option=com_conte...=528&Itemid=715 Fun fun! Came home and spent the rest of the evening working on getting our new (well, built in the late 20's early 30's) melangeur going. There are some slight mechanical problems that have to be worked out before we can use it in production. It is a very beautiful machine though. In fact, it looks almost exactly like the melangeur in the "Avatar" engraving I use that shows on the left side of my posts. -Art
  10. I have a 30 liter dewar and it costs me a bit more than $100 to fill it up. I need to buy a smaller one for smaller "projects".... -Art
  11. If you do not do it too long, you can gargle it or even hold it. I used to freak people out by sticking my hand in a dewar of LN2. Not only that I'd _leave_ it there until they were well past the freak out stage. It was pretty fun. The trick is that since your hand is warm, the LN2 evaporates and creates a thin film of "air" that actually insulates your hand, mouth, or whatever. The problem comes in when your hand starts to cool down so the LN2 doesn't boil as much thus there is less thin film of gas protecting your hand. Also you have to be careful as it likes to freeze in collection points. Once I put my hand in a dewar as a fist and left it in for a very long time (like 30 seconds). My hand was mostly alright but I ended up with frostbite on the pads at the base of my fingers. There the gas couldn't form a nice protective layer for long enough. That was the end of my freak people out with LN2 days. Of course, I still found other ways to have fun such as making Nitrogen Tetraiodide and tesla coils of various sizes... Oh, small pieces of dry ice make for some nice belching too. Just be sure to drink something _first_. I wouldn't try that in a restaurant environment though. Some might think it a bit uncouth. -Art
  12. I know Anna. She is just as nice as she seems in the video. Her chocolates are pretty good too! -Art
  13. There are a number of different things that you can do with a bag of cocoa beans. First though, be sure to roast them. There are a number of "raw-foodies" out there who encourage people to eat raw beans. This is a bad thing and is bound to get somebody very sick one day. Cocoa beans can carry e-coli as well as salmonella and because of this, roasting is very important. A few years ago, Cadbury had to issue a giant recall because of bad chocolate and if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. To roast, you can spread out the beans on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven for about 20 minutes at 350F. I'm not sure of the actual time because I do it by smell and taste followed by an infrared thermometer to keep me on track. Roasting starts when the beans reach 210F and can go up from there industrially, roasting can happen in roasters with temperatures as high as 425 degrees F. but for short periods of time. Be sure to transfer the cocoa beans to a cool cookie sheet when they are done and place in a cold place (preferably with a fan) to cool the beans quickly. They are continuing to roast as long as they are above 210 degrees. (That's why we have a 4,000 cubic foot / min blower hooked to our cooling table. It is incredibly overkill but it cools the beans down to almost room temperature in about two minutes.) Once your beans are done, you can remove the husk. The husk is a papery shell that surrounds each bean. Simply crush the bean between your thumb and forefinger and you'll see it is there. Since you only have just over 1/2 lb, you can remove the husks by hand and wont' take too long. For larger amounts of beans you will have to figure a way to winnow out the husks. (A fan and a large bowl work well.) Now you have nibs. Since you only have .6lb, it is probably not enough to make chocolate with. Especially with a Champion Juicer. Champions are great but a lot of chocolate gets stuck inside and if you start out with very few beans to start with, you will have significantly less by the time you are through. You might be able to do something with a VitaMix or a Cuisinart since they don't trap ingredients like the Champion does. Just keep forcing the chocolate back down into the blades and watch your fingers. It will eventually get to a point where it will start to stick together in one large mass. You will have to fight with it a bit to get it past this stage. Warming it in a pan (or microwave) will help keeping it from gluing itself together too much. Add your sugar once the beans have liquefied and process until you feel it is "done." In your case, I'd work with the nibs directly since the above instructions don't work well unless you have at least a couple of pounds to play around with. You can use the nibs for chocolate chip cookies, in a bowl of strawberries, sugar, and vanilla, in salads perhaps with a citrus vinaigrette, and a number of other creations. Let your imagination be your guide. Of course, nibs are great by themselves. -Art
  14. This is pretty odd. I have a hard time thinking the large machines used in the chocolate industry are all sent to the NSF folks for approval. NSF usually really comes to bare when water is involved. Unless you are making ganaches or water based fillings, it really should not be a problem. Chocolate by itself is considered to be a dry ingredient and as such, different rules apply than those that apply to wet ingredients. Generally, this simply means "smooth and easily cleanable" but stainless steel etc. isn't required. Hope this helps, -Art
  15. Art

    Fine Chocolate

    Thank you so much. One of the best parts of making chocolate (or cooking for that matter) is simply making people happy. -Art
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