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Jim D.

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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. I don't make my own hazelnut paste (or pistachio--I do make pecan and almond because I can those smooth enough in the food processor). I use Cacao Barry's, but as I don't have room to store the big pail in the freezer/refrigerator, I buy it from L'Epicérie in smaller containers--obviously it's been repackaged and I am at the mercy of those who remix and package it. "I'll allow you your preference for raw pistachios": You must be using "you" in the sense of "everybody" because I am one who lightly toasts pistachios (we have discussed this). I tested my preference again recently and was confirmed in my view that toasting makes them tastier. And, of course, hazelnuts cry out to be roasted/toasted.
  2. For gianduja, Greweling specifies 2:1 praline to chocolate, and it still firms up quite a lot. You are right that it is the praline paste and the coconut oil that soften things. Greweling's ratios for meltaway are (roughly) 1:1.5:4 coconut oil:praline paste:chocolate. You can see the proportion of chocolate is very large. I need to play around with increasing the amount of praline. One additional factor over which I have no control is that the consistency of praline paste varies a great deal, even when the hazelnuts and oil are well mixed.
  3. I wanted a bonbon filling that remains somewhat soft (unlike gianduja, which gets rather firm) so I substituted Greweling's praline meltaway for gianduja. He calls for milk chocolate, but I used dark. I was very disappointed in the lack of hazelnut taste in the result; I don't know if milk chocolate would have made it all that different. I compared his recipes for this meltaway and hazelnut gianduja, and the amount of hazelnut praline paste in the latter is much greater. I am wondering if there is any formula to calculate how much coconut oil can be used in a meltaway before it refuses to thicken enough. In other words, I want to increase the praline paste to chocolate ratio and assume I would also need to up the amount of coconut oil.
  4. Never having smelled it, I don't know what it smells like. I think you are correct, though, that it has a somewhat chocolate smell, but (IMHO) not in a good way. I am not a fan of El Rey. I have a kilo that I can't imagine ever using in any way. A minority view, I know.
  5. Yes, definitely use a deodorized one. I find that even the deodorized has a somewhat offputting smell and taste. I can only begin to imagine what the other is like.
  6. Andrey Dubovic online classes

    Thank for the lead. Since the course begins next week, I had to go ahead and found dry colorants at Chef Rubber. I hear that mixing them can be difficult. Do you have any hints? I am not looking forward to this procedure. I shouldn't have asked Dubovic if they were required.
  7. Was this the Greweling recipe? If so, I love the flavors in that--and the crunch factor is very high. How did you cut the pieces? That is one hurdle since a guitar is (IMHO) out of the question, and it's hard to cut through the sesame layer neatly with a knife.
  8. If you haven't seen the Keylink videos, they are worth a look. I'll look for others when I have more time, but if you go to Youtube and do a search for something like "decorating chocolates," you will find more. Then there are the Grex airbrush videos on using an airbrush to decorate (not specifically chocolates, but still useful).
  9. Among other things, I use the summer months to research new flavors for chocolate fillings and new techniques for decorating them. If you haven't seen it, look at the lengthy eGullet thread on flavor combinations and (as you undoubtedly know already) there are zillions of videos on technique. I am fortunately in a situation where I can cool the kitchen to an acceptable temp and humidity (good thing as I have a wedding in mid-August requiring 800 pieces). I have learned many things over the summers by rereading recipes I thought I knew and techniques I thought I had mastered (Greweling, Notter, Wybauw). These ideas are, of course, predicated on the assumption that you cannot bear to stay away from chocolate for an entire summer. You could, as a last resort, seek out a girlfriend/boyfriend with an air-conditioned kitchen and a high tolerance for mess.
  10. I have tried lots of things to make pear taste more like pear. I make pear purée myself so that I can get as much of the fruit in it as possible (as opposed to just the juice). Then when I make the PdF (using Pomona's pectin, thus less cooking), I include some puréed dried pear. Finally I add some "pear essence" (a distilled fruit flavor from France) that boosts the flavor a bit more. Even with all that, the flavor was still fairly faint. But I kept at it and made the PdF one layer in a bonbon matched with an almond-pear cream (Kerry Beal's recipe) that includes Poire Williams (pear brandy) and some more pear purée. Almond really goes with pear. But I am intrigued with matching it with caramel and will give that a try.
  11. Andrey Dubovic online classes

    I can now report that the bonbons I feared might cling to the mold did not. In spite of an adverse environment when spraying the shells, 71 out of 72 fell out of the molds with little coaxing, and the 72nd came out after a few minutes in the freezer. As everyone ends up concluding, there's just no explaining it--and one can go crazy trying. When you step back a bit and consider what we are doing (forcing a part of cacao to do things it was never intended to do, adding colorants to it, blowing it through a device never meant for that purpose), it's a miracle it works at all!
  12. Andrey Dubovic online classes

    After I did the conversion from C to F, I realized how low that temp is (I can now think in grams, but the temp thing is beyond me). If the theory of crystallization of cocoa butter is correct, then wouldn't the undesirable crystal types start reforming at that temp (with no seed being used to encourage Type V crystals to form)? The cocoa butter also starts getting really viscous at that temp. A couple of days ago I may have reached that low temp accidentally because the humidity was so bad in the basement (my spraying area) that I had to cool off the room more than usual and the c.b. really thickened. We'll see if that worked later today when I unmold. I'm sure we will be providing reviews of the Dubovik course. Almost daily on Instagram he has been posting new stunning designs that aren't covered directly in the classes, but I'm hoping to learn a little about how he does what he does. It is daunting to attempt to learn those techniques from someone so talented.
  13. @Choco Monster, I keep telling your mother it's time to give up her day job and concentrate on this obvious talent. I hope you enjoyed the workshop.
  14. Some beautiful work done at the workshop. I was particularly intrigued by the decoration shown in the photo below. Anyone know who did it--and how the beautiful pastel effect was created?
  15. Andrey Dubovic online classes

    Since he stresses tabling so much and implies that's what we will be doing (a marble or granite slab is on the required equipment list), I was just planning to go ahead and use silk (we don't have to video our process, do we? ). I just posted a comment to him briefly explaining the EZtemper and describing how I use it. We'll see what he says. After all, he should have one in his kitchen, shouldn't he? I was thinking it might be helpful if the three of us from eGullet had email exchanges with notes and comments as the course goes on.