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Posts posted by lironp

  1. Visit to Cocoa Plantation in Ecuador

    On my recent trip to Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, we stayed for a day in Guayaquil, in order to tour a cocoa plantation and small factory- "Hacienda El Castillo". They manufactur the chocolate- from the cocoa trees to bar, solely in this plantation.

    We started in the main house, where we drank some cocoa juice, made from the pulp surrounding the cocoa beans- very sweet, but delicious:

    We saw cocoa trees in various stages of growth.

    In Ecuador, the cocoa variety that is grown is called "Arriba"/"Nacional". Since this pure variety doesn't produce many pods, they use a clone "CCN51"- a hybrid of trinitario and Nacional

    Inside of a cocoa pod:

    Fresh beans from 2 pods- 1 pure nacional (the darker), and one CCN51

    cocoa tree

    Sun Dried and fermented beans:

    They mostly dry their beans in the sun, but if it is rainy, they have a gas heater to dry them. They claim there is no impact on the final flavor of the chocolate (I don't know how true that is), but there was a very heavy gas smell


    The small factory

    and their website:

    They produce 50%, 70% and 100% chocolate in the factory.
    After tasting the finished chocolates, we were a bit disappointed- the 50% was very very sweet, the 70% was just an average chocolate, not very special, and in my opinion not very good (The 2 left bars in the picture below).
    I bought a bar to bring to the conference in April, to hear some other people's opinion.

    Eventually, we went to a supermarket and bought some chocolates, that are produced in Ecuador, from cocoa grown in Ecuador:
    2013-01-20 18.18.51.jpg

    What really stood out (in price as well- ~$8-9 per bar), was the Republica del cacoa chocolate. They use only the pure nacional type, and not the clone. They had bars from severel areas in Ecuador which were incredible, and my favorite was a dark-milk chocolate- 65% milk chocolate- where you could taste the high quality dark chocolate, with some milk creaminess.

  2. I make a Guiness caramel adapted from William Curley's orange balsamic caramel:

    150 ml guiness

    90 gr whipping cream

    300 gr caster sugar

    40 gr glucose

    100 gr unsalted butter

    100 gr salted butter

    Caramelize sugar and glucose to a dark amber. Add warm cream and butter, cook to 110 celsius. Add warm guiness, and cook to 107.

    I want to try and replace some of the sugar with muscovado sugar, and see how that turns out as well

  3. I blend all of my ganaches with a hand blender, or make them in a food processor from the start, the difference in texture is incredible, and totally worth the effort in my opinion. If you do that, then I think Valrhona's method doesn't have any added value- it is supposed to create a better emulsion, but I think that if you use the blender at the end, it really doesn't matter how you created your ganache (as long as you just add alcohol and essential oils after it has cooled down a bit, so they won't evaporate), the result will be the same.

    When blending with a hand blender, you can really see the ganache emulsify and change texture to something like mayonnaise, and this results in a much smoother and creamier texture. In my experience, if I don't do that, then within a few days, the ganache starts getting more dry and grainy. You can always judge of a chocolatier has done this by seeing your teeth marks in the ganache after you have bitten into a chocolate.

  4. For some time I've been wanting to make a "creme" center that I can flavor. From my research I've found that there isn't much written on the subject. One friend gave me a formula/method for making a fondant based center, but I'm not yet satisfied with my results.

    Continuing my research, I went back and found a formula/method in "Fine Chocolates 2" by JP Wybauw. On p. 182, he has a formula labeled "Butter cream" which is as follows:

    500g butter

    500g fondant sugar

    100g condensed milk (or cream)

    Beat the butter in the processor until foamy.

    Add the fondant sugar little by little while stirring thoroughly.

    Add the condensed milk and blend into an attractive smooth cream.

    On the next page, he has a product called "Rum Cream in Ganache Cuvettes" in which he states:

    "Flavor the butter cream (see recipe page 182) with rum."

    Several things I'd like to open for discussion here:

    1. I used sweetened condensed milk in another product, but went searching for another perhaps "unsweetend" milk just in case. Unable to find one, I decided to use what I had.
    2. After making the basic product, I flavored it with seedless raspberry jam. First 100g, and deciding that the result didn't have enough raspberry flavor, added another 100g. The result had good, but not "hit you over the head" raspberry flavor, decided to call it a success. I may add more since my taste buds are now blown and need to taste it again later.
    3. The resulting product is smooth, somewhat stiff, but should be able to be piped into shells. I may thin it just a bit with a bit of alcohol. Since I don't have shells prepared yet, I've covered and refrigerated the bowl and will let it come to room temp tomorrow. Since it looks quite a bit like other butter cream products, I'll also likely whip it up to get it back into shape. That's when I expect I'll add the alcohol.
    4. Wybauw lists the water activity (aW) at 0.812 which is lower than many of the "standard" method ganaches in his books.

    Has anyone worked with anything like this? Any thoughts on the shelf life? I figure it can't be any worse than my other cream based ganache products and I plan to seal it in a shell. So as long as I don't trap air I would expect to get about 6 - 8 weeks.

    Comments, suggestions, warnings?

    Steve- if you want I can send you the apple/calvados buttercream recipe we got in my course in lenotre- I loved its texture, and it lasted for quite a while (no condensed milk in it)

  5. We have had this discussion before about overheating invert sugar - which seems to have originated with something Wybauw said. Is there any evidence that overheating invert sugar really does change it's chemical structure in a way that negatively impacts shelf life and taste?

    I asked him about that in the course I took with him-

    He said that he found that to be true only for one type of inverted sugar he had worked with that had been inverted with some sort of chemical, (that is not really available to purchase), instead of the traditional way (which is what confectioners usually buy). I don't remember the details of the whole explanation, or the differences between the sugars, but at the end he explained that there is no problem boiling the invert sugar that we usually buy, and the one we used in the course.

  6. Funny you should post Mette's pic, it's what inspired me to try luster dust on my chocs. :-)

    I buy the Sosa luster dust from Lentia, together with pretty much all my confectionery ingredients. If you cannot find it at your regular ingredient distributor, try the PCB dusts. I think CK is more for cakes, fondant etc, and in my experience, it does not adhere well to chocolate. However, since PCB specializes in chocolate decorations, I would assume their dusts would work really well.

    Polishing molds - I will polish a cavity if it has release marks. Otherwise a quick wipe with a soft non-static-y cloth, just to make sure nothing's in there. The harder I rub, the less dust will adhere, you noticed this as well.

    What kind of mold are you using, domes?

    I'm using both the dome molds like in Mette's picture, and diamond ones like yours. I tried some of these molds again, this time with a diferent luster dust that did adhere, however without applying a layer of cocoa butter before- they turned out shiny, but definitely not as shiny as before, I guess I need to decide if it's worth the extra effort...

  7. gallery_29514_1165_312531.jpg

    Thanks Kerry- I have the book, I'll see if he gives an explanation somewhere.

    Diana- those are beautiful- I really like the copper on this shape. That, or the picture above (I think this was made by Mette?) are exactly what I'm trying to achieve.

    Do you polish the cavities before applying the dust? On the one hand I find that gives a better shine, but on the other when I do that the dust doesn't stick as much...

    It might be the brand- I have one dust by CK that barely adheres even when I apply the cocoa butter, I'll just try the others. Where do you get the SOSA brand from?

  8. Thank you!

    These are the flavors:

    * coffee cups- milk chocolate espresso ganache with some dulce de leche at the bottom

    * Sea shells- filled with milk chocolate-peanut butter gianduja

    * squares with pink (freezed dried raspberry powder)/yellow (peanut) powder on top- raspberry PDF & peanut butter gianduja

    * diamonds- vanilla caramel and Tanzanie dark chocolate ganache

    * mini cupcakes- pineapple caramel and vanilla marshmallow

    * white logs- whiskey-milk chocolate ganache

    * piped rosettes- piped hazelnut gianduja, topped with a caramelized almond

    Lironp, what temperature is the gianduja at when you pipe it?

    I'm not exactly sure, probably somewhere around 70-75? I put the bowl of gianduja in a bowl of ice water, and mix until it becomes thick enough for piping- because of the combination of fats in the chocolate, the temperature is a lot lower than just regular chocolate

  9. Thank you!

    These are the flavors:

    * coffee cups- milk chocolate espresso ganache with some dulce de leche at the bottom

    * Sea shells- filled with milk chocolate-peanut butter gianduja

    * squares with pink (freezed dried raspberry powder)/yellow (peanut) powder on top- raspberry PDF & peanut butter gianduja

    * diamonds- vanilla caramel and Tanzanie dark chocolate ganache

    * mini cupcakes- pineapple caramel and vanilla marshmallow

    * white logs- whiskey-milk chocolate ganache

    * piped rosettes- piped hazelnut gianduja, topped with a caramelized almond

  10. tikidoc- these are beautiful, I love these colors, it makes the chocolates look like jewels!

    I also have a question for whoever works with luster dust- I usually clean each cavity, then smear a thin layer of cocoa butter on the molds, then apply the luster dust with a brush, and then pour in the tempered chocolate. I find that if I don't apply the layer of cocoa butter, the dust doesn't stick well enough to the mold, and the chocolates don't come out as shiny, but on the other hand this process is very time consuming... Does anyone have a better method? Has anyone tried airbrushing the dust with alcohol and found that successful?

  11. I'd say it still looks a bit foamy compared to janeer's picture- her meringue is smooth and shiny, I think yours might be under whipped.

    Do you use regular sugar or confectioners sugar? Regular sugar is added when whipping, and confectioner's sugar can be added at the end if you want to bake it (it will be whiter, smoother, firmer and shinier). If you substitute the regular sugar for confectioner's sugar, I don't think you will be able to add a lot of volume to the egg whites.

    Do you add the sugar right from the start, or when the egg whites already start foaming? If you add it right from the start, then you also won't be able to whip them to full volume.

    You also shouldn't be scared of over whipping- you can whip egg whites for quite a long time, even after they have reached stiff peaks (when you hold the bowl upside down, and nothing moves), without ruining them. It is also very important to use the whipped egg whites straight upon completion- otherwise they start shrinking and losing texture.

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