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Everything posted by reenicake

  1. I found a really nice cube mold at a plastics store. It is actually an acrylic lipstick tube holder for makeup counters and it has very straight-up-and-down sides. There is zero space to grip if you want to empty it out but makes nice 1" cubes. It is at work so I can't send you a pic until Wenesday... but this is pretty much what it is. lipstick holder
  2. for basic boxes, nashville wraps (see above post) has good prices. More high-end boxes at www.chocolat-chocolat.com. For custom stuff and generic boxes in big quantities, try www.tomric.com; they make the inserts for Jacques' heart box as well as boxes and molds that coordinate.
  3. store in a closed container with dessicant for a few days... the chopped nut coating sounds delicious though.
  4. Use a good quality couverture, work with it in the high end of the tempered range and bang the hell out of the molds. Thin, even shells can be made with correct technique even from low-cocoa butter content chocolate.
  5. To really understand it, a book will not help much. Watching strudel being made is very cool, and making it is easy once you understand the process, but it is not something best learned from a book but from a demonstration or a class. One of my first bosses was Austrian and I learned to make it just by making a ton, because he always put it on the menu even in the tropics.
  6. for a caramel ganache with dark chocolate, you will have to use approximately double the cream because it will evaporate a lot when you de-glaze (add it to the caramel to stop the cooking.) -- some advocate using milk so that you don't get too much fat. (Which would affect the texture by making it softer, like adding butter.) If color is a factor, does that mean she wants a caramel color? Then ganache is not the answer.
  7. My guess is that because the sugar gets hotter in Italian meringue, when it hits the eggwhites there is more evaporation of moisture? Personally I use Swiss because it is one less pot to wash, and no chance of caramelization. Is this the first time you used the Cake Bible meringue buttercream? It would be too sweet if you didn't get the whites whipped enough, or the entire buttercream was underwhipped. It's amazing how air, the invisible ingredient, makes such a difference. To make a buttercream less sweet, just use more butter. Or add a pinch of salt, which adds flavor as well.
  8. This sounds like a cousin to the French arlette, or the filipino otap, both of which are smaller like cookies. They are made similarly to palmiers (elephant ears), but after slicing they get one more flattening roll before baking.
  9. I was just thinking about this because we had dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. They have a charcuterie platter made from pork raised just outside, and bees to pollenate the vegetables and herbs they grow and cook. But they don't bake their bread in house. I got to wondering about whether for some people it is just not worth the trouble, or if they have a beneficial arrangement with a local baker to barter... by local baker it could be someone artisanal such as Dan Leader with his wood ovens, or just a bakery in town.
  10. Oooh, yellow, white, red, blue corn. Popcorn, caramel corn. Things with cornstarch like pastry cream or cream pie fillings, or puddings. Cornflakes, corn puffs. Hominy, masa, posole. My favorite is grilled corn, cooked right next to the field before the sugar turns to starch. Mmm. Just right for the holiday! BTW, in line with the non-Americanness post, there is a delicious traditional filipino-spanish dessert called Maja Blanca that is a coconut cornstarch pudding with corn kernels.
  11. maybe some orange flower water? That might go well with the angel food cake thing. or a tea-infused white chocolate ganache. In the Charlie Trotter book I think, they put the white chocolate in a sealed container with coffee beans so the chocolate absorbed the flavor and aroma. Or another good thing to do with tea is use it as a cooking medium -- to poach the floating islands maybe?
  12. I have been teaching at ICE since 2001 -- sort of falling into it as a result of being jobless after 9/11, since the restaurant where I was the pastry sous is 2 blocks away from WTC (my fiance, now husband, worked there also, so we were both scrambling.) I had taken the pro program when it was still known as Peter Kump's, and decided to see if Career Services had any catering leads. I ran across my teacher, who offered me a job. I accepted, thinking I could always quit if I hated teaching. I am still doing this, and even more, 5 years later. Jacques' chocolate has a rather complex flavor profile -- I like the 72% a lot, with espresso-cognac and toffee-like notes. Of the single-origins, I like the Peru the best. I also like his peanut butter-filled milk choc bar, but can't have it in the house anymore because our son is allergic to dairy and peanuts, and gets into everything. He can have dark chocolate though. David J., how exciting! Do you know what you will be doing? Hope you'll share any notes, pictures or insights, please? PS is anygoing to the Chocolate show?
  13. A properly calibrated convection oven will set a properly made creme brulee without a water bath. If your oven is any less than accurate and has hot spots or you are baking less than a full sheet pan of creme brulee ramekins, then variable oven temps and poor circulation may set some and not others. A testament to this is that the creme brulee were perfectly baked at 190 for 1 hr 15 minutes... all the time, 315 days a year, made by the same person. Thus the horror when Francisco was off and someone else's creme brulee didn't set.
  14. I add liquor to taste. Fondant is very sweet, so something like Grand Marnier, creme de menthe or Bailey's I add less of than straight whiskey or cognac. I prefer to do a light ganache for the sweet liqueurs -- more finicky to cap well but better eating.
  15. I teach here in New York -- at ICE in NYC and at Monroe College in New Rochelle. I am an instructor for the professional programs but do recreational classes also. I first worked under Jacques as an extern at Le Cirque after pastry school, left for sister restaurant Osteria del Circo, then came back almost two years later to rejoin the pastry team in his final year there before he opened up his first own place in Brooklyn. My sojourn in the chocolate room (as opposed to the other pastry stations) was relatively brief but intense, maybe about 4 months of thousands of chocolates and the various garnishes used on the showy desserts, like the chocolate stove. We also produced the chocolates that the Palace placed in the rooms; it was here that he set up the templates/basic formulas for much of the start-up line of filled chocolates. When I got married he was unable to come, but sent 200 of those chocolates to serve at our reception! I often bring my students to his two shops, he's always very welcoming and warm when he sees me. In the downtown shop he has a video on continuous play of himself and his staff doing the entire chocolate-making process, from selecting and roasting beans to packaging the final bars. Andrew (Garrison) Schotts' wife Tina was Jacques' assistant in writing his first book, Dessert Circus. The pastry world, and thus the chocolatier world, is small.
  16. Creme brulee is cooked when a firm rap on the pan holding the ramekins yields no sloshing -- instead the whole surface should shake as one, like jello, or not at all. Remove from oven, remove from water bath (depending on the shape of your ramekins, big tongs or a wide fish spatula work well) to another pan, cool and chill. The most attractive crust for use with a blowtorch comes from using either granulated sugar sifted over in a thin layer, or raw sugar (turbinado/Sugar in the Raw) sprinkled over, pressed lightly, then the excess dusted off. Blowtorch away, angling the flame like a shading pencil. This rigmarole is much better seen than explained in words, but I hope you get the idea.
  17. This works well! I've seen truffles coated in this mixture, and a ganache based on it too. Dissolving the matcha in water would make the white chocolate lump! I know flavor was beside the point for this experiment, but I think it tastes great. The matcha is quite strong in taste (some find it bitter) but the sweetness of the whicte chocolate cuts that. Or the other way around.
  18. As an aside, praline paste is made with caramelized sugar and toasted almonds/hazelnuts. It's a smooth, pourable, oilier texture than almond paste (which is heavier, moldable) but a nice flavor. I've made this with cashews and it is fabulous.
  19. One of the first things I ever made by myself was a chocolate roll made of melted chocolate chips, graham crackers, maybe peanut butter? I was 7. Good chocolate is hard to come by where I grew up, so it was mostly dipping things in melted chips or confectionery coating. My introduction to serious chocolate work was 15 years ago during a college externship at a fine hotel where they had a chocolate room and I spent a lot of time hand-dipping to very exacting, competition-level "no-foot" standard. Since then it has been off and on, making chocolates in pastry school, as petits fours in restaurants, and working in another chocolate room for one of the greats, Jacques Torres. As of now I am an instructor in the pastry and confectionery arts, sharing the craft with others.
  20. Try whipping your cream for the mousse a little less -- a more fluid mixture will more readily release large air pockets. Also, give the form or the tray with the individual form on it a rap on the counter (pick up, drop) and a few taps along the circumference to encourage the air bubbles to rise out. If you still get bubbles along the perimeter, you might also try filling the forms halfway, chilling them to soild, then filling the rest of the way.
  21. If the whole batch is not setting, you might check your recipe -- especially if you are doing volume, try checking the size of your eggs. Some eggs and eggyolks are a lot smaller than others and if you count instead of weigh you could end up with far less coagulating proteins. Also, check your cream -- a higher butterfat content will be more liquid when hot, but set fine when chilled. (I know how frustrating this is, for years I worked at the restaurant that popularized creme brulee in NYC and would make 80-100 a day. A horror if one day they did not set; because we were not allowed to 86 it -- I would have to make the whole batch over.)
  22. it also depends on how "frozen" you take things; a home freezer will not be as cold, or as drying, as a commercial one. To cut opera, in addition to the directions above, you might want to cut in strips first, then crosswise. We used to assemble and freeze, then do long strips, return all but one to the freezer, then take crosswise cuts. For ala carte service, we would keep the cut surfaces together to keep them from drying out.
  23. For the fake cupcakes, you can carve down florist foam or those styro balls sold everywhere for inside Christmas ornaments. Depending on the size, you could probably get them to fit inside the papers without cutting. I second joint compound/spackle for icing. for the real ones, I imagine you would need something more substantial than knots to act as a spacer between each cupcake to prevent them from slipping off the fishing line... this would also create some distance so you don't have to use something impossibly hard and non-compressible for icing.
  24. You can increase the butterfat by using cream or incorporating butter; add more cornstarch; or thicken by adding cocoa butter or white chocolate. Gelatin will soften when piped, from the warmth of your hand. HTH!
  25. ask your neighborhood bakery, they may be friendly enough to order it for you from their bulk supplier...
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