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Everything posted by lebowits

  1. Oh, I hear you on that one! ← Speaking of dipping... Has anyone noticed differences in the viscosity of milk vs dark chocolates at "working" temps? The particular milk chocolate I am using seems to have a much higher viscosity at nearly the same temp.
  2. I too had similar experiences in culinary school. I've always used my nose whenever possible to help me determine when something is done. When it begins to "smell good" which is of course subjective, it is usually done, no matter what the writer has suggested. And of course, I would love for you (chefpeon) to post your brownie formula. I've been using a recipe for years which is more cake like, and while I love it (it is great with a ganache topping), I'd love another more gooey (and proven) formula. I'll post mine in a bit. I always have trouble remembering the measure of one particular item.
  3. For what it's worth, I've had extremely good results with my Chocovision Rev 2. While the capacity is small for all day production, I can temper about 1 Kg which is more than enough to do a run of about 125 pieces or so depending on size. Most of the formulas I'm using are about that size. I use the machine to melt/temper the chocolate (and it does this very well), then remove the bowl from the machine and dip my pieces in the now "still" chocolate. When the chocolate gets too cool, I hold it over a stove burner for about 8 - 15 seconds while stirring to prevent hot spots. If I were going to require larger batches, they have a larger "professional" unit which can temper about 5 Kg. Alternatively, if I needed to temper more than one chocolate at a time, I would certainly consider multiple Rev 2s.
  4. You might consider adding a bit of glucose or corn syrup to your ganache. I've been using formulas from Peter Greweling's book with great success. Usually, a very small amount of glucose (60 - 300 grams) per 1000 grams of chocolate depending on how soft or firm you are trying to get for the texture of the final product. The ganache helps prevent crystallization and has consistently given me incredibly smooth ganaches which remain so for several weeks after enrobing. By then it doesn't matter because they are all eaten.
  5. Trishad - I tried using tempered chocolate but the chocolate solidified as I was spreading the capping coat since the plate was at room temp. How did you get the plate to come away cleanly?
  6. I've taken a bit of a philosophical view to this weekends efforts. I did wind up with a nice looking product in the end. This is my investment in education I believe that my biggest issue is with capping the pieces. I used the capping plate and melted, untempered chocolate. The problem is that the heat from the chocolate seems to ever so slightly melt the top of the shell, causing the plate to stick. I used my tempering machine to melt the chocolate and was working with at at 108F. Once finished with the capping operation, I turned on the tempering cycle for dipping the pieces. Now I have to mention that the shells come in a thin plastic tray and a top tray protects the shells during filling. It doesn't seem to matter if this top plastic tray is on or off when capping. The shells stick either way. Does anyone have any other experiences and advice for me regarding capping?
  7. Well, my first attempts were pretty awful. First, I tried using a ganche that I normally would hand roll after tabling it to encourage crystallization and a firmer texture. I quickly discovered that piping even this softer version caused me to watch very carefully so as to avoid leaving air gaps anywhere. It was also difficult to fill the shell completely. I then looked for a formula specifically tailored for use in these shells. This gave me an extremely loose ganache which piped to the tops of the shells very easily. The real trick came in sealing the shells. The sealing plate, using melted, untempered chocolate turned out to be very frustrating as the shells would stick to the plate. On those few pieces that needed to have a bit of space filled in, this mostly worked. I'm now about to embark on enrobing the shells in tempered chocolate. While I expected this to require a bit of practice, I truly didn't think it would be this difficult. I'm thinking to asking one of the chefs at Albert Uster for a demo.
  8. I will be doing both truffles and slabbed pieces. This weekend I'm going to make the Earl Gray ganache in Chef Grewewling's book. Previously, I've done slabbed gianduja and marzipan pieces. One of these days, I'm going to scrape up the money for a guitar to make cutting painless. My ability to cut a straight line freehand could use some work. I've done a few filled pieces and plan to get back to that as well. I'm taking a bit of a winding journey with the idea of building my skills. In the end, I expect to be able to choose from a range of products and techniques. I'm also going to get hold of a disher per Kerry's suggestion and give that a try. The great thing about experimenting with chocolate is that there are usually plenty of folks around who are willing to help you get rid of the results, whether YOU like them or not.
  9. There are most certainly many ways to skin this truffle. I've tried the melon baller trick before with mixed success. You would definitely need a firmer ganache (perhaps refrigerated for a few minutes) to pull this off consistently. In my experience, the ganache doesn't want to "let go" of the tool. I'll have to give piping another try. I didn't have much luck with it previously, but that was simply due to lack of experience. As for the quality of the chocolate and shells, I've had good results with the AUI chocolates. The shells don't appear to be very thick. I'm reasonably sure that they use chocolates similar to their couveture. I'll taste them and see. Thanks to everyone who has posted opinions. This has been a big help. I'm planning on producing at least 2 different pieces this weekend, Peter Greweling's "Chai Tigers" and a variation of his Earl Gray ganache.
  10. Thanks for your thoughts. I happen to live near Albert Uster Imports which is where I buy my chocolate. They offer shells in milk chocolate, semi-sweet, and white along with the filling and sealing plates. I've decided not to use the filling plate but did break down and get the sealing plate.
  11. As I've embarked on my chocolate odyssey, I've always thought that one way to distinguish myself would be to perform all the labor manually. From making the ganache, tempering the chocolate, decorating the pieces, etc. Of course, the first thing to go was to always temper the chocolate by hand. The addition of a small tempering machine to my list of toys, err, "tools" changed that. Notably, however, I have always formed my truffles by hand. While the product has varied a bit in size and shape, I got pretty good at over time and I was always proud of my work. Now I find myself in a position to make a significant quantity of truffles (and other confections) and see if people will actually BUY them (what an amazing concept). In order to meet my time line, I find myself forced to try out pre-made truffle shells. This will allow me to focus on the flavors and textures, achieving a consistency of size and shape, while avoiding the drudgery, excuse me, meditation of hand rolling each piece. I would like to ask the confectioners for your opinions. Am I sacrificing my "art" for convenience, reducing quality, and taking away part of what makes my product unique? Or am I just finally realizing what all professionals already know, that using such things is what enables us to actually sell our products for a price that people are willing to pay while allowing us to make a profit? Ultimately, I'm asking; Have I been a bit of a snob about it?
  12. Chocolate and Humidity (not to mention humility) I needed to do 2 major pieces this weekend in preparation for an event. As it turned out, the humidity was the worst we've seen all summer long. On Friday evening, about 1 kg of milk chocolate seized in my tempering machine. Now I've always found that my particular milk chocolate (Albert Uster Imports 37% couveture) has been a bit "thick", but this was the worst I've ever seen. Despite being in an air conditioned room at a comfortable temperature, the humidity just seemed to take over. Then on Saturday, I my workhorse chocolate (AUI, 62%) was almost unworkable. I was making "Pistachio Homage" (very back of Chef Greweling's book) and had the worst time dipping the pieces. I had hesitated to add more cocoa butter to thin out the chocolate because I was re-melting some left-over from a previous batch that was already thinned. In any case, I managed, but I would not want to have really needed to do anything more. I was exhausted from managing the temper (I don't dip in my tempering machine). Has anyone else had similar issues in humid weather?
  13. The Bronte pistachios that Corti sells are indeed peeled. ← I've been checking out the Corti Brothers web site for the last couple of weeks. No pistachios. Unless of course I'm surfing the wrong site (here). Thanks for all your suggestions. So far, I've been able to source adequate raw, shelled, and mostly skin free pistachios at a local organic market chain (Roots).
  14. I'm curious about how you created the "containers". Did you poor plaques (molds) and simply not fill them?
  15. I made Nougat Montelimar last weekend but was very disappointed. I don't know if I added the sugar to fast to the whipped egg products or if the sugar being cooked to "hard crack" was the issue, but my resulting product was very hard. I'm leaning toward collapsing the eggs and need to try again. Kerry - To what temp did you cook your sugars?
  16. Does quantity of a given item count? I think I must have made about 500 pieces of 4 different confections this weekend.
  17. An excellent source for these things, including Dutch process cocoa is King Arthur Flour. You can get to their web site at King Arthur Flour. Their dutch process cocoa can be found here.
  18. Over the last few days, I've made 2 of the pieces from Chef Greweling's book. First, I made the the "Toasted Hazelnut Marzipan" (p. 348), and then the "Pistachio Homage" (p. 370). The hazelnut piece was straightforward and relatively easy to execute. My one failure in this piece was to not thin the dipping chocolate enough before tempering. When Chef Greweling taught this piece in a class I took with him in September 2006, he demonstrated that the goal is to have the thinned chocolate ever so slightly reveal the lightly colored nut on top across it's peak. Here are a couple of pictures: and... The pistachio piece was a bit more difficult as I made it over 2 days. My youngest nephew was in town and wanted to make candy, so the few hours I had left after making the pistachio marzipan were taken up by making milk chocolate truffles with him. In the end, I had to refrigerate my marzipan overnight which dried it out a bit. Perhaps if I worked it a bit before rolling it out I would have wound up with a better product. I'll have to experiment with that next time. I'm betting that to achieve the same look of the nut on top, I would need to blanch and peel the nuts and then pull them apart into 1/2 pieces. Since blanching and peeling the nuts for the marzipan was rather lengthy I did not do it here. I think I'll do it though next time. Hopefully, I'll find a good reliable source for peeled pistachios. I have a post elsewhere to which someone replied to try Corti Bros., however a quick check of their website didn't turn up anythng (yet). I also did not texture the top of the piece as I believed that the marzipan was too stiff to be run through with a cake comb. Finally, this piece suffered from being too large by half. The method calls for using 1/4 inch rulers for the frame and the best I had was 3/8. I'm going to order some 1/4 inch bars this week to correct that. I have to admit that I love the flavor of this piece even with it's flaws. I am also now convinced that a guitar is a very useful device to have around. Cutting this was much too time consuming and prone to error. Here are pics of this piece: and...
  19. I think your best chance of getting an even line is to have the chocolate as warm as possible so it isn't as viscous. But I just dipped them all the way. ← Another piece in the Greweling book which is dipped up to the top surface is the "Pistachio Hommage". I took a class with Chef Greweling and he taught us to thin the dipping chocolate with melted cocoa butter before you temper it. This lets you check the consistency of the product. The hazelnut marzipan piece (I can't remember the name right now) also uses thinned dipping chocolate to great effect. While I was dipping my pistachio pieces, I would gently hold them on my dipping fork and by the pistachio nut placed on top (held in place by a tiny bit of chocolate). I would then gently tilt my dipping fork while lowering the piece into the bowl. This let me control how far down the piece went into the bowl. I then lifted the piece back up onto the levelled fork and finished as normal. In my case this was needed because my pieces were too tall and did not "float" in the tempered chocolate as well as they should. Hope this is helpful.
  20. Have you tried Tomric at www.tomric.com? If they don't already have a polycarbonate mold, they can make one to your specifications. I don't know what the lead time is for a custom mold.
  21. I began making a piece from Chef Peter Greweling's new book this morning which calls for peeled pistachios to be used in making a pistachio marzipan. I have shelled, unsalted pistachios, many of which still have some or all of the "skin" still attached to the nut meat. After blanching the nuts and peeling them myself I thought it would be worth searching for a source of bulk (e.g. 5 lb.) of pre-peeled pistachios. After a bit of research this morning with Google, I have not found what I am looking for. I've checked my local Albert Uster Imports, nutsite.com, nutsonline.com, and several other websites. No joy. Has anyone found such a thing?
  22. Thanks for all of your replies. I'm going to investigate several of them in more detail.
  23. I've been looking for 1/4" caramel rulers but cannot seem to find them from any of my usual sources. I've found 3/16" and 3/8" but not 1/4". Does anyone have a source? Steve Lebowitz umctg@yahoo.com
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