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Posts posted by psantucc

  1. I've also used a thermapen with fine results. Never seen or read about the use of a refractometer with caramels. 

    I finally took a moment to dig back and figure out why I thought I could use a refractometer to make caramels.


    I just assumed so. No one recommended it. So maybe the reason it doesn't work for me it that it doesn't work, period.


    Now I have to figure out why. Since I don't really know how to use a refractometer at all, maybe I'll start by using it for something it should work for and see where we go from there.


    I'll see if my Thermpen gives the results I'm looking for, too. Thanks.

    • Like 1
  2. Is this a slightly different recipe for apple caramel than the one you posted in another thread (I don't recall lecithin in that recipe)?  You may remember that you and I discussed apple caramel, and I have made your apple caramel (with a bit more apple cider jelly) with great success.  But I use it to fill shells, so the firmness doesn't matter so much.  I have no issues with recooking caramel; in fact, I did it just last week with some caramel that was too firm.  I added a little cream (but others recommend just plain water), and the caramel melted without a problem.  I do have continuing issues with getting a caramel that is meant to be firm enough to hold its shape but soft enough to eat easily.  As the caramel nears the temp I am aiming for, it becomes quite difficult to get an accurate reading of the temp of the contents of the pot.  I use the "drop a bit into water" test, but the caramel keeps cooking while I do the test.

    My problem exactly. I do find the water test more helpful than temperature, but it takes so long to get a result that I don't know how one can ever get it just right.


    I went so far as to get a refractometer, but I've never used it. By the time I've cleaned it from test one, the answer to test two is "burnt".


    Anyone have a technique that works around this?

  3. Psantucc - good to see you here! We missed you last weekend!

    Missed you too, and the conference - it was thinking of you that finally made me get off my bum and at least post. My twin sons turn 18 in a month, and I confess I wasn't prepared for the degree to which the demands on my time and funds would increase. Whenever I squeezed in a  confectionery session for most of this year I ended up without time to organize my thoughts before haring off to the next thing.

    Someday I shall return!

    • Like 1
  4. Latest test model. I figured that the open sides really chilled the probe and 1/3 pan more than I thought likely, so added insulation - blue foam wrapped in foil. Heat deformed the foam somewhat, but the results were good - center temp between 1 and 4 degrees C over setpoint, depending on time in the heat/cool cycle. When set to hold, center was steady at 2 degrees over setpoint with less than 1 degree C variance.




    Made bourbon cordial cherries with it, still setting up. Note: moulding fondant around a small, pitted, wet cherry does not result in a better or easier piece than dipping in melted fondant. They're both pretty tedious and subject to fault, at least when I do it, but I really like the flavor better than the firm candied cherries.



    • Like 3
  5. My favorite recent project: a precise chocolate warmer on a budget. Still in testing; this is the first attempt:




    Total parts cost $50.00. Note the genuine thrift shop Revere warming tray (as used by Kerry Beal!) I can't believe I found one. Water for this test as I wasn't ready to risk chocolate.




    Two short tests later shows it rigged for dipping. It worked, and the extra hot pad space kept my spat ready to go. Though it kept the chocolate within 1 degree C of center point, the difference between the real center and set point grew as the level of chocolate fell - and the chocolate was warmer than the probe. I nearly lost the last bit.




    This year's Easter production came entirely from the warmer.

    • Like 3
  6. Beginning a post binge. These aren't exactly "lately"; my first public sale last November:



    Before going to the venue, clockwise from top: Irish Cream fudge, Cappuccino Truffles, Raspberry rustic truffles, white chocolate amaretto chocolate shortbread sandwiches.


    Candy on the sale table



    Wide shot. My wife makes the beautiful cookies.

    • Like 5
  7. I have a question psantucc...did you use a starch mold for the cherry cordials with the stems?  Also the marzipan looks great, I wish I could make those in shop I work at.

    No starch mold for either type of cherry - I followed Grewling's method, heating the fondant to liquid in a bain-marie and dipping. Stems make that process a whole lot easier.


    Thanks for the marzipan compliment. I was very happy with the final product, particularly the texture, and it wasn't nearly so difficult as I feared to make them.

  8. Lovely collection Pat.  Now if I could just get rid of the ear worm - "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK - I sleep all night and I work all day"

    Glad I could share :wink: !


    This was a piped butter ganache, so I made them all in one go, about 3.5 hours start to finish, and the song just kept coming back, alternating with the Australian philosophy song.

    • Like 1
  9. A bit of catch-up (not ketchup; I haven't made that ganache since workshop 2013)....
    Bourbon Sour Cherry Cordials:






    They turned out very liquid. Next time I'll wrap room-temperature fondant rather than dip in liquified; I think my layer was too thin. Also, dipping stemless is a right pain.


    Oktoberfest Marzipan, from scratch:





    I had trouble leaving fork marks on the sides of each piece. Chocolate too viscous, maybe? I also want whatever knife they used to cut the chocolates in Grewling's book. Looks like I used a cleaver!


    These are Lumberjacks, and they're OK:




    Maple and smoked sea salt ganache in semi-dark chocolate, sprinkled with turbinado.


    • Like 6
  10. I love your ¿ruler? system would like to know where did you get it.




    I made it myself. It does some things, like this kind of frame, better than traditional rulers, but you can't use it to roll out to even thickness. It's what mould-makers call a "clinker box". I didn't even know that until after I made it B-}=


    It's very simple to make. I got Aluminum Angle from OnlineMetals.com




    1-1/2 X 1-1/2 X 1/8" ALUM ANGL 6063-T52

    Two Ft. (24") Length

    3 piece(s)


    Cut it to length, cut short pieces for the clamp tabs, and fixed them in place with JB Weld metal adhesive, taking care that no adhesive spread to the food contact surface, as I don't know it's food safety.

    • Like 1
  11. I usually can't make anything in the summer, but we had a surprise break in the heat and humidity that let me do a couple projects for my Co-Op Brewpub; experiments for now, but likely to be full-on production in the fall:

    First, a milk chocolate bark with dark-roasted malted barley:


    If I can find a suitable mould, I think I'll go with batons for production

    Second, a new bar snack - doesn't look like much, but it's tasty. It's malted barley with a seasoned coating based loosely on Moroccan spiced almonds. I call it BarleyKorn:


    Now back to waiting out the weather to start my caramel experiments!


    • Like 3
  12. For my part, I can't get over the caramels. I have several different formulas, but none of them turn out firm enough to stand alone like those; dip or wrap in less than 10 minutes is required! Do you mind sharing a recipe? I can't decide if I should start troubleshooting my formulae or my technique.

    Thanks! Glad you like them! The folios is from Chocolates and Confections. Specifically, the sea salt caramels use the formula that include sweetened condensed milk, and the espresso caramels use the formula that contains evaporated milk and fresh cream. For as many recipes as you've tried, I'm going to assume you have Greweling book. There's a note on each caramel recipe that the temp of 239f or so is just an estimate, and that the caramels should be tested by hand. When making caramels, I add the butter at 230f or so, then when it nears 235ish I remove the thermometer and test a little bit of the mixture in cold water every few minutes, and you'll just see what the caramel feels like as you cook it a little longer. Just make some caramels and cook them a little longer then your inclined to. They will set up firmer, and have nice sharp edges when you cut them. Let me know if you want grewelings recipe if you don't have it already.

    Thanks very much. I do have the Grewling book, but all of my currently in use caramels are ones I've been making since before I got it. It never occurred to me to try his formulas and technique. I shall do so as soon as convenient, and see what results I get and if I can apply them to other recipes.

  13. Part one of my wrestling with technology is over: some not very good, but possibly helpful, video is to be had here:


    My thanks also to Kerry and all our demonstrators, including the informal ones (I'm looking at you, RoberM!) who are always worth watching work. I learned a few things:

    - I'd forgotten much of my moulding technique, and need to brush up!

    - Great technique for fondant and cordial cherries

    - Halvah is hard for everyone

    - The very cool decoration with lustre dust in alcohol on the edge of an acetate

    - Some caramel troubleshooting tips I'm eager to put into practice

    - Someday, I'm going to have a pan. And an enrober. And a pony...

    I didn't mange to try out my refractometer! I imagine you'll see some posts from me when I do.

    Thanks to Chocolat for indulging a longtime fan with an autograph for my copy of her book.

    Thanks to MelissaH for the challenge that led to Ketchup Ganache with bacon, everyone willing to try it, and lebowits for a straight-faced and legitimate critique: smaller pieces of bacon more evenly dispersed.

    Thanks to the kitchen and bar crew for a quality of dinner not to be had at any price anywhere else.

    Photos to come if anything worthy appeared in my very poor phone.

    Apologies for things I've already forgotten. Remind me at Workshop 2014!

  14. Heres a few things I just did for an event. Gold dusted caramels, espresso caramels, and sea salt caramels, along with blackberry and peach pate de fruit.

    For my part, I can't get over the caramels. I have several different formulas, but none of them turn out firm enough to stand alone like those; dip or wrap in less than 10 minutes is required! Do you mind sharing a recipe? I can't decide if I should start troubleshooting my formulae or my technique.

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