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Everything posted by merlicky

  1. A couple last minute questions about the conference. Cash or check for payment? Also, will we be getting receipts?
  2. We won't be able to get there for the 10am tour, but we'll be there for the show and tell. Also, I second the pdf demonstration idea...especially layering with ganache. I also wouldn't mind learning about fondant based centers too.
  3. I thought that there was no way that I could make this conference, but as fate would have it I seem to be able to. Could put me down for the workshop with a +1 for dinner? My wife would like to come to the dinner, but not the entire workshop. Has anyone put together a schedule for the workshop? I see that we start at 8:30 on Saturday. What time is everyone meeting at Chocolate FX on Friday? When and where do we have the show and tell? What time is dinner on Saturday? What time do we start on Sunday? I haven’t gotten a chance to read through the entire thread and my wife wants a basic timeline since she will be doing her own thing while I’m at the conference. Thanks.
  4. I’m leery of comments that claim that such and such a way is the only way to do something, especially when it comes to chocolate ganache. I’ve done a number of butter ganaches (both my own recipes and other people’s recipes) and found that they can work just fine with or without tempered chocolate…it all depends on the technique. Butter ganache problems usually come from butter temperature. If the butter is melted it is very difficult to emulsify (usually requiring a food processor) and can leave you with an oily, lumpy ganache. If the butter is too cold then the chocolate will set up almost immediately when it contacts the butter and will leave little clumps of chocolate in the ganache. What I normally do is melt the chocolate and pseudo-temper it. I heat the chocolate just enough to make sure it is all melted, and then I stir it while cooling it down to around the upper end of the tempered range (it is typically right about there anyway). Since I don’t always have tempered chocolate on hand, this saves a lot of time over actually tempering the chocolate. I like to use room temperature butter that I cream with the sweetener and any other dry ingredients. I find that incorporating air at this point doesn’t matter too much since it is pretty much taken out in the next few steps. I stream the chocolate in while stirring (for small batches I usually put a glass bowl on a rubber mat so that I can use both hands, and for larger batches a stand mixer works well). Once the butter and chocolate are emulsified, I add any wet ingredients while stirring. Since the chocolate was only pseudo-tempered it will take awhile for it to set up. To get around this problem I pour the ganache out on a marble slab and work it a few times. Overworking can cause the ganache to break, but it doesn’t take long to get the feel for how much the ganache can take. A good rule of thumb is to stop when the ganache gets to about 72°F. Scrape it into a piping bag and immediately fill molds, or leave it in the bag for a few minutes before piping it out (for things like lemon logs or rainiers). It will set up pretty quickly.
  5. Too true, too true...I'm not a huge fan of the 38% Felchlin. I used to use it quite a bit, but it has a malty flavor that I find off-putting in a lot of my ganaches. I switched to the E. Guittard 41% Orinoco as my workhorse milk chocolate..nice caramel notes and a good solid chocolate flavor, plus it is nice and fluid and easy to temper and work with.
  6. My opinion is that butter will not help. Adding butter will add the dairy flavor which is yet another flavor to compete with the pear. Plus, mixing fats changes the texture and softens the final product so it will change the consistency of the ganache (I personally like the texture with added butter). Cocoa butter also sets up much, much firmer than butter, so substituting them as equivalents will leave a ganache that is way too soft.I agree with Alleguede above, the best way to increase the pear flavor is to reduce the puree. Grewelings recipe calls for the puree to be reduced by half. If you did not do that, then I highly recommend it. If you did, you could try adding more puree and reducing it by two-thirds…then add a touch more of the pear liqueur to bring the water content to the right level.
  7. Kerry, at one of the chocolate conferences you gave everyone a handout for pate de fruit proportions to use with the Boiron purees. If you use the apple pectin from Chef Rubber, and make your own puree, are these proportions still likely to work? I called them, but they didn’t seem to have any clue about proper usage with different fruits. I’d use the Boiron purees, but I live in blueberry country and want this truffle to be one of the locally sourced flavors (and I have a bunch of frozen blueberries).
  8. You can dump the cream right over the chocolate without a problem. The technique them becomes stirring in small circles to create the initial emulsion, and widening those circles as the ganache begins to form. Despite what chefs from Valrhona say (and they are notorious for claiming their way is the only way), there is no one magic way to form a ganache. Many different techniques will produce the same (or at least very similar) results as long as they are done consistently. I’d recommend trying various methods and figuring out what is easiest for you. I have developed slightly different techniques depending on the truffles I am making. A chocolate cheesecake ganache, a champagne ganache, a caramel based ganache, a plain chocolate ganache, all have slightly different methods that seem to produce the best result in the easiest way. I can get them all to work using one technique, but it isn’t as efficient. For instance, I use an emersion blender with cheesecake, I add flavorings at a different time with champagne, and I don’t pre-melt any of the chocolate with caramel based ganaches. If you have trouble with ganache breaking or being grainy, then I have found it is usually caused by one of two things. The first is that you didn’t emulsify it properly. If you are just stirring then use a glass bowl and check if the ganache is smooth and slightly clingy as it runs down the side of the bowl. If you see small chunks or an inconsistent look then keep stirring or hit it with an emulsion blender. I’d recommend not using a whisk or beaters since they incorporate air. This reduces shelf life and if used in truffles can cause the ganache to shrink inside the shell after awhile leaving air pockets. The second issue is that one of the ingredients may have been too cold. If you add the butter after the emulsion is formed, make sure that it is soft and at room temperature. The graininess is often caused by colder butter (or other ingredients) that comes into contact with the cocoa butter. The cocoa butter sets faster around the cooler ingredients and forms little clumps. This is why the ganache will look good initially, but get grainy as is sets. It is also why the little “grains” will melt.
  9. Be careful using anything from Guittard Chocolate Company that is not of the E. Guittard line. They have a white chocolate that is reasonable, but most of the non E. Guittard chocolate is not really premium and is best used in baking and not as a couverture.
  10. A number of items in Grewling’s book use a pate de fruit along with a ganache (ex. The PB&Js). I would like to do this with blueberry - a blueberry pate de fruit with a dark chocolate ganache. I have had 0 luck in getting the pate de fruit to turn out. Perhaps it is technique, perhaps it is ingredients, perhaps it is proportions. I have tried a number of different techniques, cooking temperatures, and cooling methods. I have tried various proportions of pectin to sugar to fruit to acid, etc… The best result I end up with is a sort of grainy jam (though once I left a little of the blueberry puree sitting out for a couple of days and it gelled up pretty good). Any suggestions on the best way to make pate de fruits? What is the best pectin to use (this could be my main problem since I am using pectin sold for making jam, but I have heard of people using this for pates)?
  11. I use E. Guittard 61% Sunrise as my standard dark chocolate. The texture and flavor profile compliment every flavor I have tried so far, plus it is pretty good eating chocolate so can be used in molded items too. I buy it in cases of 25lbs from a distributor for less than $4.50/lb (or less than $10/kg).
  12. I'd love to come...made the first two, but missed last year. Put me down as a maybe for now. Also, I'd like to see some time devoted to pâte de fruits. These things and I just don't get along.
  13. One thing I noticed when he was making the "miracle" ganache is that he did not stir it properly - stirring in small circles from the center, gradually moving out to larger circles. He basically just went at it haphazardly. By stirring correctly you gradually mix the cream into the chocolate. By doing it haphazardly you are attempting to do it all at once. Therefore, mixing from the center out accomplishes the same thing he describes using the 5 additions of liquid...only it is much faster. I see using a blender to finish off a ganache as something akin to the conching process in making chocolate. During conching the chocolate solids and sugars are further broke down and fully coated with cocoa butter. This creates a better texture and a more refined taste. By using the blender he is basically breaking the components down and getting a more consistent structure. This can be accomplished by other methods, such as tabling the ganache. Careful tabling can draw out flavors and create a smoother, tempered ganache. The shearing between the marble and the spatula have a similar affect as the mixer. However, too much agitation can cause the ganache to split. I have made ganache with the same chocolate, same ratios, with and without tabling; the tabled ganache has a consistently superior texture and draws out a lot more flavors from the chocolate.
  14. I'll be there, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for putting this thing together this year. Mike.
  15. This is extremely short notice, due to my job situation I though there was no way I would be able to make it this year, but it looks like I will have the money to attend after all. If less than a week’s notice is okay, I would like to be added to the list. Thanks, Mike.
  16. Not exactly. It depends on how you are dropping the temperature of the chocolate. If you just heat it up and leave it to cool, then the chocolate won't be in temper. If you heat it up and put tempered chocolate in it to cool it and seed it, then it should be in temper. However, it is usually not best to use chocolate that has just reached the required temperature. Initially there might not be enough seed crystals distributed through the chocolate and you could get spotty temper or streaking. So, usually once the chocolate cools to under 90°F you want to agitate (stir) it for a little bit to get a good quantity of seed crystals throughout the chocolate.
  17. To add a little more to what Keith said… When you work with the microwave until the chocolate just starts to melt you are basically using the seeding method. You are not melting all the chocolate, so the remaining chocolate will seed whatever cocoa butter comes out of temper. If you use this method you have to make sure that you are using chocolate that was already in good temper. Also, when using the seeding method you don’t have to bring the temperature down and then heat it back up to working temperature. This is only needed if you are tabling the chocolate (or any other rapid cool method). The tabling method quickly lowers the temperature of the chocolate, thus producing Form V crystals along with some lower form crystals. By heating the chocolate back up to working temperature all the lower form crystals are melted away leaving just the good Beta crystals. The seeding method, if done right, does not result in these lower form crystals and therefore you don’t need to drop the temperature and heat it back up.
  18. I suspect part of your problem might be a lack of fat in the ganache. While water can extract the taste compounds of the tea, it does not really absorb the aroma compounds like the fats do. These volatiles get released, which is why you get strong smells from hot tea or coffee. The longer the tea steeps in the water the more taste is absorbed, but also the more aroma is released. Since smells are about 80% of what we consider flavor you are probably losing out on a lot. The taste compounds of tea are also going to roughly mirror those of chocolate, where as the aromas are going to differ greatly. So, steeping in water is going to end up mimicking and enhancing a lot of the tastes in the chocolate without really changing the flavor (this is why Ina Garten always uses coffee in her chocolates). If you want to use dark chocolate with the matcha I’d recommend either trying to steep in cream, or trying to steep in a neutral flavored alcohol and add it to the water ganache. That way a lot more of the aroma volatiles are retained and released in the mouth, so more of the matcha flavor should come through.
  19. This is a question for anyone who has sold chocolates in bulk quantities before. How do you package/ship the chocolates? Also, if you are doing events like showers or parties, what sort of presentation do you use? I've donated chocolates to a few organizations in the last couple months and now I'm getting a lot of requests by people who want to purchase some for various events. All the sudden it hit me that I have no idea what I'm doing. I've always just brought them in baking dishes and set them out on things like three-tiered platters. However, if I'm sending them or delivering them this doesn't really work. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks, Mike.
  20. The majority of my truffles are round and typically turn out around .45 ounces once enrobed. Since I am getting close to making this a business I’m curious about the “standard” size and shape of truffles. I know a lot of people do molded truffles, but for those that don’t use molds what sells the best? Also, if you are doing square truffles, how do you avoid the excess chocolate on the top? Instead of a flat coating of chocolate I always end up with a convex coating. I’ve seen enrobers that blow the excess chocolate off, but is there a way to do this when hand-dipping? Thanks.
  21. Thanks everyone for the information on freezing truffles. I have some experimenting to do, and some more questions to ask them at the kitchen. But, this does seem like a workable option. Edward, great advice! My mind has been so wrapped up in how I am going to make the truffles work that I wasn’t even considering other product. There are so many other chocolates that have longer shelf life than truffles (caramels, gianduja, fondant centers, butter ganaches, chocolate coated items, molded chocolate, etc…). I could definitely supplement the truffle production with some of these to help pay for the time.
  22. When freezing and thawing, do you have trouble with the chocolates cracking? The centers and the coating will have different ways in which they expand/contract and it seems this could be a problem. I'll have to do some testing...is the proper freezing method in the Grewling book (or some other one)? Thanks.
  23. I’ve read a number of threads on here about business startups and small scale production. I’m at a point now where I want to start selling some of my chocolates. I’ve got all the legal stuff in order but I’m not quite sure how to work out production. I have to rent a kitchen by the hour, which creates a fixed cost that must be overcome before any profits can be made. After factoring in that cost with labor, ingredients, packaging, and various other costs I figure I need to make and sell at least 400 truffles each time I use the kitchen in order to sell at my target price and meet my desired profit margin. Producing that quantity is not a problem; in fact I could make quite a few more in the time blocks I would be renting. What I don’t quite understand are the logistics of this kind of business model. The quantity of 400 truffles seems like a pretty significant amount; I’m not sure how to make it work because the shelf life prevents me from stocking up and selling them over time. Do I need to get a charter wholesale customer before I move forward? Do I just take a beating on profits, or change my selling price, at first? Can an hourly, rented kitchen work for things like farmers’ markets or internet sales or other events where individual boxes are sold? Can I sell individual boxes or should I just try to find bulk customers? I know I could easily make this work for holidays like Christmas, but I’m just not sure what to do the rest of the year. I have a lot of people interested in my chocolate, but they would want a box or two at a time...not 400 pcs. I also have a couple places in town interested in using my chocolate for events, which would meet the 400 pcs quantity, but wouldn’t be steady work. I will be making chocolates for a couple charity events in the next few months and I would like to pass out some business cards. However, unless I get some of these logistic questions worked out I don’t see how I can really promote myself as a chocolate business. I’d greatly appreciate any sort of advice from anyone who has worked through any of this already. P.S. This is kind of rambley so I apologize if I’m not making any sense.
  24. Thanks for the responses, I guess I should have been more specific...I was trying to use white chocolate as a coating around a ganache. I added as much cocoa butter as I could while still keeping it viscous enough to cover the center. The truffles looked great, but they were way too sweet. If I continue with this truffle I will probably reduce the sweetness of the center a bit to try and compensate, or use a milk chocolate to enrobe and use the white in the decorating.
  25. Is there anything that can be added to the white chocolate that will minimize the sweetness and still allow it to set properly?
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