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About teonzo

  • Birthday 11/05/1975

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    Venice, Italy

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  1. Is there anything about techniques involving pregelatinized starch, like the "water roux" method (aka Tang Zhong)? Time ago some of the MC posts talked about enriched breads, for example Migoya posted about panettone in a jar. But you wrote that they stop at brioche regarding viennoiserie. Is there something about enriched breads like panettone? Thanks. Teo
  2. Custom Polycarbonate Molds

    Very very nice! Go big with those molds! Teo
  3. Custom Polycarbonate Molds

    This is the way of thinking of discerning customers, meaning people who already know what they want before approaching the seller. They still are a minority, most of people are not that informed about food, they buy chocolate for gifts or for impulse buy. If you stop some random people and ask them if they know what bean-to-bar chocolate is, most of them will remain puzzled and silent. But they have money in their wallets and they buy chocolate, this ignorance will lead them to be more willing to buy a $4 re-melted Valrhona than a $8 bean-to-bar when they are going for something "fancy" (gift or special treat for themselves). Those people have money to spend and you want their money to have a successful business. Discerning customers pay your ego, non-discerning customers pay your bills. Pastrygirl is in a particular situation: she does not have a brick and mortar store, she does farmer markets and pop-ups (at least this is what I remember, please correct me if I'm wrong). This means she is exposed to much more casual passers. People who go to farmer markets don't go there specifically to buy chocolate, but they pass in front of her stand. You need something to attract them (look at it as a siren or a trojan horse), most of the time it has to be something familiar. Non discerning customers are not that familiar with creative bon-bons, filled bars and so on. But everyone is familiar with a plain bar. Those people are going to think that prices for bean-to-bar bars are too high (if not outrageous), so a fairly priced plain bar can be attractive to them when they need it for a special reason (gift or a personal award for passing an exam or similars). If you start to catch those fish then you can try to pull some impulse buys too and sell them few bon-bons or else. This is why I suggested to read a couple of books on marketing psychology. It's a dozen hour investment that will repay in the size of thousands dollars. It's an intangible investment but it's well worth the effort. There are various techniques to induce people in impulse buys, these buys make a sensible difference at the end of the year. I'm not meaning the difference between being polite and impolite to customers, it's something more subtle, but effective. You can still be ethical in your work if you pay attention to the quality of your products: you are not screwing people, you are telling them that the best way to spend their money is on your products. If you can add a good amount of plain bars to your revenue then you get various more intangibles. You sell more chocolate per month: this means you pay lower prices to your chocolate supplier; this means higher turnover so it's easier to manage your warehouse stock. You recoup mold investment in less time. It's easier to be able to afford the investment on a Selmi or similar, which is the biggest different for a chocolatier (not having it means thinner profit margins). Plus there is the advantage that plain bars have a much longer shelf life than filled products. I totally understand that as an artisan you get much more satisfaction producing difficult stuff, it's the ego of the "art" in "artisan". But more than all we are professional, which means money (profit) first. Please take what I wrote with a grain of salt. I'm not Pierre Hermé, these are just my thoughts and not general rules. Teo
  4. Custom Polycarbonate Molds

    Understood. In this case then just go big, spend more now to save much more later. You need to think about molds durability too: if you spend 1/2 now, but the molds will get ruined in 1/4 of the time, then you save money now, but you will loose later. There's not much sense to go the middle way on these things. I would strongly suggest to add plain bars to your production. I understand your reasons, especially with producer eyes, but the customers have a different view. Plain bars are always a good pull for other sales, meaning that most probably if you add them to your product choice then your sales of filled bars will increase too. The market for plain bars is way bigger than the market for filled ones. A person searching to buy a couple of plain bars will not stop at your business since you don't carry them; if you have them, it's possible he/she will add a filled one for curiosity or else. If in your market you are competing with a good number of bean-to-bar producers, then try to limit your costs, it's easier to sell a $4 bar (re-melted from Valrhona or others) than a $8 bar (prices for bean to bar operations are always much bigger). I would also suggest to go to a library and look for a couple of books regarding psychology applied to marketing. It's one of the best time investment a producer can make, there's a lot of stuff to learn on these things, a good amount of them are counter-intuitive. Teo
  5. Custom Polycarbonate Molds

    You can see some examples in this catalogue, page 23. Teo
  6. Custom Polycarbonate Molds

    Uhm, why are you scraping a molded chocolate bar? Did you include a ganache or something else? If the bar is pure chocolate, then it's better to pour the desired amount of chocolate into the mold (if you don't have a machine like the ones by Selmi, then use a ladle / pastry bag and a scale), then vibrate it. There's no need to scrape the mold, doing so is less efficient, plus it's a nightmare if the molds are a bit flexible. There is also another option: really thin thermo-formed molds (less than 0.02 inches), not re-usable, to be sold with the bar. This is what we did at the chocolatier where I staged years ago: put the molds on a pan (9 molds on each pan, 3x3), pour chocolate on each mold (having a Selmi with the automatic dosing mechanism helped a bit, but using a scale doesn't take more than scraping), vibrate the pan, let the chocolate set, then package the mold (with the bar still inside) in the carton box. Those kind of molds come pretty cheap (much less than a dollar) if you buy them in good numbers (more than 1000). They have various advantages: they help about packaging; they are an added value at the eyes of the customers; your costs are totally predictable (meaning you don't risk to break/ruin some sturdy molds and re-buy them); you save time on cleaning molds; it's more difficult for the bar to break during handling / storing / shipping. Teo
  7. GF flours - why so gritty?

    For sure sorghum, millet and others are harder to mill than wheat. I never found a fine flour made with those grains. But I suppose it would be possible to mill them pretty fine: corn is a PITA to mill, most corn flours are coarse, but you can find fine corn flour. Probably it's a mix between cutting milling costs and psychological marketing. Grains like millet are much smaller than wheat, this means the bran ratio is much higher. Getting a fine flour when the bran % is much higher takes more work, if you discard the bran you loose a big %, if you mill it fine you spend much more money. Then there is the psychological effect: people who look for alternative flours usually do so because they want a "more natural" diet. A fine milled flour gives the sensation to be less natural (more manipulated) than a coarse one. So the subconscious of those people tends to say "it's coarse so it's better". Personally I think that coarseness can be a good thing in some baked goods, like shortbreads, pie crusts or cookies. In leavened/aerated goods (cakes and so on) that coarseness is a defect about texture, but with crumbly stuff it can give more crunch and so more satisfaction. That is if you don't mind that "sandy" effect on the tongue. I'm partial to this, since I grew up eating zaeti (cookies typical of Venice, made with corn flour and raisins), most of the time they are made with coarse corn flour, so it can be an acquired taste. Teo
  8. GF flours - why so gritty?

    As far as I know, it depends on what grains are included. Some grains are easier to mill (to get a small granulometry), others are more difficult especially if they are whole. For example whole sorghum and whole millet tend to give a coarse flour. Same for lentils. So it depends on what grains are used in the GF mix. Teo
  9. Melting lardo

    You can put each lardo slice on a single small piece of parchment paper, microwave the lardo, then gently fold it over the uni. Or you can use a hairdrier with a lot of patience. Or you can tell your guests you invented a new technique to get "curly lardo". Teo
  10. Jam - pectin

    There's not much use for a pH meter when making jams, since almost all fruit is acidic and the end result is naturally in the correct pH window. If you get runny jams then it's probable that you did not reach the gelification point (usually above 105° C), if it's the case then adding pectin won't give you a much firmer jam. So my first suggestion would be to check the final temperature and be sure you reach gelification point. If you reached gelification point and it's still runnier than what you want, then you can cook to a 1° C higher, or you can add pectin, in this case I'd say to go for very few pectin NH (mix the pectin with sugar and add it when you start cooking, aroung 40-50° C). Teo
  11. Melting lardo

    Try in a microwave at low setting (around 200 W), using the rotating table and putting the crostini on the circumference of the table (if you put one at the center then it's heated unevenly due to the hot spots). A torch gives strong and uneven heat, it's impossible to control the result on a thin slice of lardo. Teo
  12. Pichet Ong - "The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts" Hardcover version for $5.75 (81% discount). Teo
  13. Help with savory palmiers

    150° F is way too much, as @JohnT wrote then most probably it's a thermostat issue. But beware that an oven can be pretty tricky. Temperature fluctuactions are a given, if you set your oven at 400° F then you must anticipate it will fluctuate between 380° F and 420° F, fluctuation can be even bigger. Oven thermostats are set to work within a relatively wide range, meaning the heating mechanism will be activated when the temperature goes below X and then deactivated when the temperature reaches Y. The difference between X and Y can be more than 40° F, it has no sense for a domestic oven to be more precise, otherwise the oven will be on and off every few seconds. This means that if you set the temperature at 400° F and keep a thermometer inside the oven, you will see it fluctuating in a relatively wide range, it's pretty normal. So it is pretty normal that you set the temperature at 400° F and you check with a thermometer at a given moment, then you can get differences of 40° F or even more. If the difference is 150° F, well, then it's not normal. There can be other troubles. One depends on where the thermostat is placed. Depending on its position, the difference for the real temperature when you use it with or without the fan can be quite big. If you turn it on with the fan and set it at 400° F, then the next time you turn it on without the fan (always set at 400° F and starting from a cold oven), then when the thermostat goes off for the first time you can get a difference of more than 50° F, I would say 80° F is still normal. It just depends on how near the thermostat is to the heating system and the fan. When you cook puff pustry the goal is to give it a huge kick at the first minutes of cooking. If the puff pustry does not get that kick, then it's ruined, there's nothing to save it. It's much better to cook puff pastry at 500° F than at 350° F. So your aim is to get a HOT oven, then reduce the cooking times (or the temperature) if needed. Looking at your last photo of savoury palmiers, they came ok, but they were cooked at the lowest end of the correct temperature window. This means that if the oven was 20° F cooler then you would have incurred in some undercooked puff pastry. If you cooked those palmiers at 50° F higher then you would have got a better result. Cooking puff pastry is counter-intuitive: for almost all the other uses it's better to not go higher about temperatures, for puff pastry it's the opposite. It's better to err with higher temperatures, you don't ruin puff pastry if you cook it at 500-520° F. You ruin it if you cook it at 350°F. Teo
  14. Peanut Butter and Jelly - The Sandwich

    I tried peanut butter something like 20 years ago and did not like it. Same reaction with all the Italians I know that tasted it for the first time in their adult life. Maybe it has something to do with our eating habits and psychology. More probably it's because it's hard to find peanut butter here, you find it only in some specialty shops, so I'm pretty sure we get low quality products (just like happens with maple syrup, tahini and so on). I guess it's time to give another try, this time starting from whole peanuts. I have a lot of homemade jams, so finding a new use for them would be very welcome. Little personal curiosity. First time I crossed the wording "PBJ" was when I bought "Chocolates and Confections" by Peter Greweling, where there is a PBJ chocolate bonbon (if my memory is right it's a dual layer with peanut butter ganache and raspberries pate de fruits, @Chris Hennesmade a step by step thread years ago). It took me ages to understand that PBJ was referred to the sandwich and it was a food staple in the USA. Teo