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  1. Thanks everyone for the replies! Yetichocolates that's quite similar to what I learnt to do! Except I do with it agar (no difference I suppose), but it's just not as chewy as a normal pate de fruit. I have to try the pipeable pate de fruit though! I'll be giving it a shot this weekend, will post some pics if it works out
  2. Hi all! I've been pondering about the possibility of making a firm-ish non-ganache fruit layer in moulded chocolates. I was thinking about the more modernist side of things, but I haven't come across a hydrocolloid that actually makes cold-setting jellies. Probably the closest thing would be a jelly/jam or fluid gel from blitzing set jellies, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to make something that was more firm?
  3. @mrk (not sure how to quote on a mobile, sorry!): Apologies, poor phrasing on my part. What I meant was I have air conditioning, which would lower temperatures to workable temperatures but I can't keep it on for the time needed to complete moulded chocolates, which I was estimating would take at least 2 days. So I was thinking of keeping the chocolates in the fridge after filling and before capping, e.g. cast the moulds and fill in one evening with air conditioning on, store in the fridge, take em out another evening with AC on and cap, then back into the fridge. It seems like quite a bit of trouble, but I'll probably give it a go one day anyway...
  4. Would it be possible to make moulded chocolates in hot humid weather with the help of a fridge? After staying in cool,dry climates for a while, I'm now back in the tropics where its almost ridiculously hot and humid with temperatures hitting 29 degrees C (89°F) on an average night. I know most people say to give up chocolate work at such temperatures, I still want to give it a last shot- I can temper, cast and fill the moulds with the AC going but might have to switch it off after that. Would it be possible to store it when its crystallizing and after they are capped in the fridge? I'm thinking of cling wrapping them to prevent condensation problems, but I'm not sure if it'd doable...
  5. That's a brilliant idea! Ditto the thing about roughing it up as well - or you could try just a small spot of icing or nutella, not sure how it would affect the aesthetics, though...
  6. Okay I'm going try this posting image thing again...thanks Smithy and everyone else for the help! I'm not sure whether it works because the pictures don't load in the text editor, so here goes nothing. I had gone on a short trip to Paris some time in Easter (benefits of living in UK: £20 buses to Paris) and was on a 'classics' kick for quite a while even after I came back...spending time at Jacques Genin can really do a guy in. His pastries, and especially his PDFs are unbelievable - it has honestly completely changed my view of gels and jellies forever. Lemon tarts! The base was much too thick, though the curd was pretty good if I say so myself. I'm complete crap at rolling and it's something I'm finding difficult to work on, because I don't usually handle that much dough anyway. I'm also not too sure about the meringue - I don't think it's traditional, and I don't really like the fluffy texture here. I torched one and also didn't quite like it - I'm thinking maybe adding dried out crunchy meringues would be a better match. Yeah, some poor french patissier is probably breaking in hives even as I'm suggesting this, but whatever! (Proof to my parents that heey, I do study) They tasted alright freshly baked and filled, but I was still rather disappointed. Tasting good food can be inspiring, but if the gulf is too big it can also become rather depressing. Plus I am quite annoyed with my oven. It's the cheapish kind with a pretty erratic element and incredibly uneven heating - I've since worked out some kinks which makes baking kind of like playing one of those flight simulator games where you have to do some 10 little button switches and stuff before you get the plane off the frigging ground. For example, I have to place a metal tray to preheat because the bottom element is pretty bad; I also place a large sheet of aluminium foil over the top and little cups of water to get the steam going, etc...it makes trickier stuff like choux a nightmare. And I still can't figure out how patisseries keep their choux crisp for such a long time - I bought an eclair which retained its crispness after several hours despite being filled with creme pat, and this sure as hell doesn't happen for me. This was a birthday cake for a friend. People are always surprised when I eagerly offer to bake cakes for free or at cost, when to me it's awesome that I get to bake something. It's difficult to find demand...This was with BraveTart's superb recipe and buttercream with loads of wine added. The nice thing about the whole minimalist 'Miette style' decorating is that it doesn't really need skill; ugly rose though. And because I am lazy to post in the other thread - chocolates! After two more attempts, I had some decent chocolates...until now. I had serious trouble demoulding this, and had a sad yield of some 13 out of 21 cells, with the rest absolutely busted and made for a crazy cleanup. I'm tempted to say beginner's luck ran out, but I'm thinking it was down to crap capping technique. I cap them with acetate because it's the only way I know - but this time I didn't scrape off cleanly enough. Then again, it might also be lousy tempering - everyone says not to work with less than 1kilo for tempering, but I do it with some 300g anyway. It's the whole budget and demand thing again - friends do find it weird that I keep showing up at school with sweets >.>
  7. I'm actually not sure if this belongs here, but the chocolate-centric thread is a bit intimidating...it's evident from the second pic that this isn't really showroom worthy, but I finally plucked up the courage to make chocolates! It's getting warm in the UK and I happened to find some cheap(ish) moulds, so I decided it's going to be now or never. I'm fairly happy with it, and it wasn't half as scary as I thought (to be fair, I imagined chocolate would drip all over the room so I pretty much covered up everything with newspaper and treated it like going to battle). It was probably easier because the molds are new...the filling was some homemade kaya (pandan coconut jam from Southeast Asia) that I had leftover. It's probably not ideal, but I never really paid attention to chocolate fillings before. It only occured to me after I made the base layer (i.e. the fun bits) that it probably needs some sort of structural integrity/keeping properties >.>
  8. Despite darch's good will and patience, I've given up after a long battle with my jammed spray gun. I've tried prying the piston attachment open until it got bent out of shape, soaking it in vodka, boiling water and dishwashing liquid, even acetone and sonicators (sneaky use of school equipment) but it still doesn't suck up liquid, so I've finally decided to just buy a new gun. I've obviously learnt from my lesson, so would like to seek advice here before buying one. I've tried searching around the forums and on the net, but am still not very sure which model, specifically, is reliable. Several websites just say 'wagner' in a general fashion but I know a chef who uses the Wagner 180P - is it okay for simple, more 'macro' spray jobs (not for airbrushing chocolate and fondant or things like that)? More importantly, what are the steps that I should take every time I finish spraying? Should I dismantle everything down and dump all the parts in hot water, or must I flush everything with cooking oil and things like that? Thanks!
  9. Hi everyone, I'm not too sure if this is the right place to post as I'm rather new to the forums. Mods please shift it if I'm posting in the wrong place! Basically, I have an airless spray gun which isn't working. If anyone has experience with guns and can offer some help, I'd be incredibly grateful! The model of my gun is the Clarke CAS110 (see http://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/clarke-cas110-electric-spray-gun or attached images. The company, Clarke, is probably based in the UK. I've sprayed with it only twice before using cocoa butter mixed with colored white chocolate with no problems, though I probably didn't clean it very well. The last time I used it was nearly 4 months ago, and I brought it out again yesterday to spray a cake for a friend's birthday only to have it fail on me. The gun didn't seem to suck up any liquid, not even water, and I noticed that the motor sounded a lot less noisy than usual. It used to be freakishly loud, and this time it was a lot softer. I'm not really familiar with these guns and not sure how to go about even unblocking the system. The manual only suggests dismantling and cleaning the nozzle and valve components, which I've shown in the last picture, and it still didn't work. I haven't called them the company up for assistance mainly because I don't think they will be very happy to hear that I was spraying chocolate with their gun. Any advice?
  10. Hallo! I've been lurking on eGullet for quite a while learning and reading about interesting stuff but never really shared much. I'm currently on holiday (ah...the woes of being a student ^^) and so have been doing some baking... Yann Menguy's Brownie Chocolat from a French TV patisserie competition. The only French I know are for food and cooking terms, so I pretty much just ogle at the video and use Google translate to get the recipes. Sadly, I can't pipe for nuts, and made it look rather like someone took a dump >.> Still tasted nice, though. Below is Amauary Guichon's Finger Praline, from the same show. It's basically a dressed up brownie. Very French, I suppose... Goodness, my pictures are ginormous (I'll try to rescale)
  11. Hi everyone! Spotted this thread while I was googling and decided to seek help from all the experts here. It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks and I’ve finally decided to throw in the towel and ask for some help. I’ve had some degree of success with macarons, and while they were not being incredibly beautiful, still had feet and smooth tops. Most of the aesthetic flaws were due to my lacking piping skills than anything else. After coming back from the holidays (I’m a college student), I moved to a new place and recently the landlord had the oven replaced. This one has no fan and had terrible heating – though I figured after mapping the oven’s hot spots and getting a thermometer, it shouldn’t be a problem (the oven heats more at the back). Long story short, I started baking, and for the first few batches I had what I felt were ‘teething problems’ – lopsided shells, wrinkly shells, etc. They were still obviously macarons, though, and so I tried to make small tweaks and adjustments – vary amount of egg whites, temperatures, etc. At my 5th batch, I hit a snag – I got cookies which resembled Italian amaretti cookies more than anything else, and it’s not a one time thing – after multiple batches of identical mistakes, I’m exasperated! I have no idea what went wrong and why this happened, the cookies seem to be developing feet (see third pic) but they just look so wrong. I've since tried many fixes to no avail. They are incredibly consistent for mistakes, as though I even intended it to happen. Unlike the cracks I had before, where there were one or two gaping chasms across the top, this seemed like bubbles. From what I’m seeing in the oven, they have smooth tops all the way until the 7th minute when they hit puberty and acne spurts out all over. I reasoned from the orange like pockmarks that perhaps I undermixed the batter and left a lot of air, so I went to town with it and beat the tar out of it– but it’s no go. I’ve tried varying temperatures from 140 – 170 degrees celcius (10 degrees increments), I’ve tried venting, different positions in the oven, placing a sheet to prevent the tops from prematurely browning. Nothing works, and I get that pimpled cookie so many times I’m considering passing it off as a self-invented recipe. Strangely, it tastes like proper macarons I’ve had and liked – slightly crisp exterior, nice and moist interior. It just doesn’t look anything like a damned macaron. I’m using a typical Italian meringue recipe with 1:1:1 almond flour:icing sugar:caster sugar (for the sugar syrup) method and 70% of egg white to almond flour. From what I’ve seen, the method is pretty standard – mix half the egg whites with almond flour, heat sugar to soft ball stage and make an Italian meringue before mixing. I’ve ensured that the sugar syrup doesn’t recrystallize out when I made my macarons, so it shouldn’t be that…and I’m really at my wits end. I’d be extremely grateful if you guys could help me out because there are a few bake sales depending on this next year!
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