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Jim D.

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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. @Casey H.: I have a Grex Tritium with .7mm needle. It is a very good airbrush, but as I wrote earlier in this thread, I can't get it to do more than one mold, maybe two, before reheating is required. Again this depends somewhat on the temp of the spraying room. But the Grex does NOT do splatter. If you go back several pages in this thread, you can read about my experiences. The confusion arises from the fact that the Grex does splatter paint, but it will not do so with cocoa butter. The tech support people confirmed this experience of mine and suggested splattering off a spatula. I also tried a Badger and a Paasche; neither does splatter. Maybe there are airbrushes that do, but I don't know. I have never sprayed luster dust (and don't think I would run the risk, but that's your decision). Grex says a 1HP (minimum) compressor is required for a .7mm needle. If, however, you think you might ever switch to an HVLP gun, I would go higher because my 1HP struggled with an inexpensive HVLP paint gun and a 2HP does not cost that much more than a 1 [correction: I have a 2HP, and it struggled with an HVLP gun--it was fine for the Grex .7mm; I think some HVLP guns require higher PSI than 2HP provides.] My production sounds somewhat similar to yours. I found that switching from a Paasche to a Grex was a huge improvement, but I have to say that the Grex still requires frequent reheating. It got so frustrating for me that I more or less gave up on it. It is still great for gradients, which are difficult (though not impossible) with a higher-power HVLP gun.
  2. HVLP guns do tend to have larger needles, and thus they give faster coverage. A bigger reason that I like them, however, is that they hold more cocoa butter and don't cool down so quickly. With an airbrush, sometimes I couldn't even finish one mold without using the heat gun. With an HVLP gun, I can do several molds. Depending on the needle size, HVLP guns generally require more pressure than an airbrush. But you can get compressors at fairly low prices. There is a lot of discussion of this earlier in this thread.
  3. Jim D.

    bonbon filling

    If you are serious about shelf life, I would suggest consulting Wybauw's ganache books (they are not inexpensive, which is why I included "serious"). He writes about it a lot and uses ingredients (mentioned in Kerry's post) that extend it. Caramel is, as pastrygirl stated, about the only filling I would expect to last for months. But after all that has been said in earlier postings, the fact is that a chocolate producer cannot control what the customer does with the chocolates after purchase. I've had people buy large boxes and tell me later that they ate one piece every few days "to make them last." To my involuntary expression of horror, they tell me (in much kinder language) to mind my own business. And all this is why I have food safety insurance.
  4. This is a very common issue (and why I have mostly switched to an HVLP gun, which doesn't cool down so quickly). It can be cocoa butter crystallizing where you can't easily get at it (between bottom of container and the airbrush passages), or it can be a particle of solid cocoa butter clogging a crucial passageway (0.5mm is a very small opening--to state the obvious). If you have a probe thermometer (such as a Thermapen), stick it into the container all the way, stir the cocoa butter to make sure it is still liquid, and check its temp. I have found innumerable times that I was very sure the cocoa butter was fine only to discover from the Thermapen that the temp was too low at the very bottom of the cup and the cocoa butter had begun to crystallize. Once I applied the heat gun more than I thought prudent, the flow resumed. All that being said, spraying cocoa butter with an airbrush is a challenging operation. Finally, what is the temp of your airbrushing space? Although many people who get superb results (such as @gfron1) keep their area quite cool, it is a fact that if your temp is very far below 68-70F, your cocoa butter is going to solidify more quickly.
  5. When I have a substantial break, I am going to use Greweling's recipe (with oil) and also what Paul Young does to make a water ganache and see what happens. I will check the Aw reading of each. I have been trying to do a blueberry ganache for a long time, and this might be the solution (I see that you have worked on this as well). In fact, there are so many fruits that I have thought about, but using a regular ganache renders them tasteless. I was so convinced that peaches, for example, would make a delicious ganache, but they don't. I suppose I should post my results on the already-existing water ganache thread. If I am not mistaken, I think some eG people (including, I believe, @Kerry Beal) recently did a workshop with Paul Young; maybe they have some insights on his method.
  6. I just watched two of Paul Young's videos, and he does not use any oil in his water ganaches--they are just sugar and water boiled together then poured over chocolate (and, in one case, lots of whiskey). The absence of oil would certainly bump up the taste of whatever flavor is being used, whether whiskey or blueberries.
  7. @shain, do you mind telling the brand of tahini you use? (I realize you may use something not available in the U.S.) I was using one that I liked in a filling for chocolates (the sesame had been roasted, unlike many others), but the company had a recent recall for contamination, so I am reticent about using that one again.
  8. Jim D.

    How To Make Transfer Sheets

    The discussion of wood grain reminded me that Jin Caldwell demonstrated making wood grain transfer sheets at the 2017 eGullet workshop in Las Vegas. I asked other attendees if they had a video of her technique, and a video was posted on May 22, 2017, on the Facebook workshop page. It's difficult to find that particular posting in a very long "page," but I just found it again. Jin used a spatula held at an angle to make the chocolate (yes, she was using chocolate) as thin as possible. I had forgotten, but I tried her technique after returning home but had cracks (which she, of course, did not). The overall problem I have with making transfers is that you never know how they are going to turn out until it's too late. I tried posting a link to that video, but (maybe because it's in a "closed" group) it doesn't work.
  9. Jim D.

    How To Make Transfer Sheets

    I had exactly the same problems. I bought guitar sheets from Chef Rubber, the flexible ones. But anytime I added a second layer of cocoa butter (or even made a single layer a bit too thick), flaking began, and I almost gave up (still intend to try again this coming summer). I can't imagine airbrushing a layer on since it is so difficult to control the flow of cocoa butter from an airbrush, but I will give that a try as well. Anytime I have tried airbrushing a layer of white onto a purchased transfer sheet (to make colors like red show up on dark chocolate), that has also been a mess.
  10. There is U.S. minimum for fat content in heavy cream, so I just assume that in grocery-store cream all corners that can be cut are cut and so go with that minimum. Not a very precise way to cook.
  11. Peter Greweling's recipe calls for 400g cream, 400g praline paste, and 400g chocolate (in this case, milk). Depending on the consistency of the paste (which can vary a great deal), I also add a little cocoa butter to firm up the ganache. Your ganache will let you know if you have too much fat--it will separate and the fat will float on top. This can be fixed by adding more liquid. For a long time I found this illogical, but then I realized what should have been obvious all along, that the water and fat content do have to be balanced. One of the difficulties with U.S. cream is that much of the time the fat content is not specified, so it's a bit of a crapshoot.
  12. I'm not sure this is what you are asking, but.... As I understand ganache, it always has some liquid (usually cream, but other liquids can be used) that must be emulsified with some sort of chocolate. If you want something that (1) has more nut taste and (2) can be inside a shell with crisp ingredients (such as a cookie), then gianduja is ideal because (1) there is no liquid to dilute its taste and (2) there is no liquid to soften the crisp item. It's all fat. A praline ganache will often use hazelnut praline paste, cream, and chocolate and requires emulsifying. A hazelnut gianduja will use hazelnut praline paste and chocolate, no emulsifying required.
  13. Jim D.

    Tempering (Tabling vs Seeding)

    Exactly my concern. I have a dehumidifer in the basement, where the chocolate packaging in stored (it's a DeLonghi). It puts out a considerable amount of heat. I don't think I would want one in my kitchen. I don't recall if your kitchen space has AC or not, but if it does, AC lowers humidity--but not all that dramatically. On a hot, humid Virginia day (when I try not to make chocolates but sometimes must), I can eventually get the house temp down to around 65F, but the humidity is more difficult to get below 50%. I never make caramel on days like that.
  14. Here is a direct link to the video on Youtube. And many thanks to @pastrygirl for taking to time to make it.
  15. Jim D.

    Tempering with mycryo

    I would fear that using a whisk to dissolve Mycryo (or for any other purpose in chocolate work) would introduce air bubbles into the shell or ganache, which, in the case of shells, can later pop into tiny holes and, in the case of ganache, can shorten shelf life. If I were still using Mycryo, I think I would use an immersion blender, keeping the blender beneath the surface of the chocolate/ganache. When employing such blenders, instructors like Kirsten Tibballs, Andrey Dubovik, and Melissa Coppel use tall, narrow containers for the purpose of diminishing the number of air bubbles.