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    Los Angeles, CA
  1. For storage, I've found large coolers, such as Igloo, to be good in spaces that aren't AC'ed. If you buy two big gel paks, you can keep one in the cooler and one in the fridge or the freezer, and alternate them daily to keep the temp in the cooler chocolate-friendly. Just make sure that the chocolate is in an impermeable container or raised off the bottom of the cooler so that any condensation that comes off the gel pak doesn't make it wet.
  2. I bought a Delonghi 7 qt mixer a few months ago, and the tines on the whip attachment are breaking at an alarming rate. I mostly make marshmallows and nougat, which I know are hard work for the whip, but I'd love to avoid having to buy a new whip every couple months. Does anyone know if there's a way to reinforce the tines so that they don't break, or to re-attach them if they do? Thank you!
  3. I just came back from vacation with macadamia nuts, too! I was dying to try them in a lime dessert, so I made Jane Lawson's Macadamia Cake posted here http://chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=476 It's delicious! The texture turned out quite light, though it is pretty buttery. I creamed the lime zest with the butter. And I didn't make the syrup because it was already sweet and lime-y enough for me.
  4. Sorry, to clarify, my melted chocolate is starting at 115 and I'm using pistoles straight from the box to seed it; the pistoles are in fine condition. I also tried taking the melted chocolate up to 120 yesterday, but the resulting temper after seeding didn't improve.
  5. I've been tempering chocolate using the seeding method in my chocolate melter for the past year without a problem, but all of a sudden today, I can't get a decent temper! Whenever I temper, the chocolate looks very grainy and streaky; one batch of bloomed chocolate is so light it almost looks like milk chocolate. It's become pretty cold in LA (well, for LA -- it's probably around 60 in the kitchen, maybe lower), and I'm wondering if that is affecting the temper? Is it setting too quickly? Has anyone had issues tempering in a cold kitchen? It was also raining today (though now it's stopped), but I'm not sure if humidity was a factor. I've tried tempering with minimal amount of seed and keeping the temp around 90-91, but it doesn't seem to help really. Any help would be appreciated!
  6. I make ginger syrup all the time for drinks. Add club soda, and it's homemade ginger ale. A squeeze of lime makes it even better... and a shot of Gosling's Black Seal Rum makes it a homemade Dark & Stormy.
  7. Does anyone have advice about scaling up marshmallow recipes? I'm wondering how to adjust the whipping time so that the marshmallows turn out the same. I am planning to scale up the recipe by 150%, and it will be made in a 7 qt mixer (1000 watts) instead of a 5 qt mixer (750 watts). Right now, I whip them for 12.5 minutes. In developing the recipe I have now, I found over-whipping causes them to be tough, and under-whipping causes them to be less fluffy... and I want them to be just right. Thanks!
  8. Ok, so after splurging on a Thermapen, I've realized that the thermometer is probably not the reason that my caramels are setting so soft (though thank goodness I love the Thermapen!). When I make my caramel recipe, I caramelize the sugar first, and then add the dairy. I use the dry method of caramelization, and I gradually add the sugar to the pot until it's all caramelized. It turns out a deep amber -- not burnt, but full caramel flavor. Baking911 says: "Light caramel will harden into a very hard, glasslike sheet. Dark will harden into a softer texture; the darker the caramel, the softer it will be when it hardens with the most caramel taste. " So think it's the dark caramel that contributes to the softness. I don't know what to do, though, for it to consistently set just a bit more firm to get the same flavor.... I can't get a light caramel color when I use the dry method with a large amount of sugar-- it always goes to deep amber. Batches boiled to the usual temp of 248 set erratically, perhaps based on the degree of caramelization. I boiled one batch to 255.... and it still set soft! My thoughts would be to use the wet method and stop the caramel before it gets too dark, or to add more butter as a way to help the stand up quality.... but both would result in a different flavor. Personally, I like how silky the caramels are... but they do tend to droop in a not-too-pretty way... and I'm not sure that everyone would appreciate that. Anyone ever go through this issue? Any advice?
  9. When I make caramels, I caramelize the sugar first, and then add the dairy, and I'm going on 3 months of shelf life testing without any crystallization. I'm not sure if caramelizing the sugar first would call for changes to the recipe, though (it sounds like your mixing the ingredients altogether in the beginning).
  10. Ok, I think it's the thermometer. I was using a Taylor stainless steel one w/ a clasp on the back (I only bought it a couple months ago), but I figured that with this problem, I may as well try a digital. I used a CDN digital thermometer w/ a probe on a wire and the Taylor for the last batch... and the Taylor showed a good 8-10F hotter than the CDN. I took it off the heat 248 according to the CDN, and it seems to be setting normally! Finally! Now I'm wondering about what the candy thermometer of choice is...? I just want a thermometer that I can trust most of the time! Btw, Ruth, I just realized that I have your book! It's great! Edit: I've noticed for the past couple of weeks that my boiled confections have been boiling up pretty fast. I guess this is why, though I don't really understand how it can be so off... Low pressure for this long!?
  11. There's no milk -- are the fats in the cream so different that they wouldn't contribute to the stand up quality? I was thinking about the sugar inverting more b/c of the increased cooking time, but the batches don't seem to take a very long time. The weather has been pretty normal, I don't think low pressure... a little hot if anything, but not enough to make them this soft! I'll testing the next batch w/ slab or cold water and let you know how it goes!
  12. My pots are stainless steel, and I'm using the same ingredients, scaled-- milk solids are cream (organic valley) and butter. It's so odd, my smaller batches always turned out about the same, and now my larger batches are, too... only soft! I'm also making the larger batches into thicker layers (1/2" instead of 1/4" inch), but I can tell by the caramel that sticks to the thermometer and spatula are softer to begin with, too. I'm familiar with the cold water test, but what's a slab test? Thanks for helping!
  13. I've used the same recipe for chewy caramels for a while now. I used to make relatively small batches in a 3 qt pot that I cooked to 247, and they turned out chewy and firm enough to pick up. I've started making larger batches in a 6 qt pot, and ever since, they're setting too soft, even after cooking them to 248. They don't keep their shape and are really squishy. Any ideas why this is happening? I guess the obvious solution is that I should try cooking my larger batches to 249 or 250, and see what happens, but I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I use moderate heat when I make caramels, so I didn't think that my smaller batches were over-shooting 247... but that's the only thing that I can think of -- that when I make the smaller batches, the temperature gets higher than I think it does...?
  14. I've cut off pieces of orange pith alone to taste and always found them to be bland -- it seems like it's the translucent part that's bitter. Also, if you're using Valencia oranges, I've found that their peel is more bitter than Navels.
  15. I've made nougats that have changed texture over time, too. You may also want to try adjusting the recipe a bit by replacing some of the granulated sugar with a liquid sugar and increasing the egg whites slightly.
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