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Jim D.

society donor
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    www.santiagochocolates.com

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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. @Bentley, that's exactly what I needed to know. Thanks very much. I saw a reference on Instagram from someone who had tried a recipe from the site for water ganache, and I was intrigued. The video I found was, of course, only an introductory tease that led to signing up for the site.
  2. This ancient thread seems to be an appropriate place to ask about online chocolate learning. I already subscribe to the Savour website and have found it very helpful. Do people have opinions on Callebaut's Chocolate Academy online?
  3. Yes, the blender is used to mix in the butter, making an emulsion. But if you are cooking the caramel to the 275 range, you may need an industrial-strength blender. Regular ones may not be able to cope.
  4. Same for me. Since I began using a blender, I've had no separation of fat. You do have to blend in the butter fairly soon after taking the caramel off the heat or it gets too thick.
  5. With the metallics, I add melted plain cocoa butter, stirring the whole time, until the result has more or less the consistency of the non-metallic colors. For some reason I don't understand, although the metallics are thicker, they seem to come out of the Fuji faster. It takes a lot of gold, for example, to cover molds properly.
  6. Sorry, I wasn't clear. The air control valve (it's not a knob) is attached to the quick connect coupling, so it is essentially part of the flexible hose, not the gun itself. The knob with the numbers (directly above the blue handle) is to control the amount of "paint" going through the gun. When you are spraying you can release the trigger a bit, then tighten that knob, and it will keep you from pulling the trigger all the way back (which would be the natural thing to do) and spraying the paint full-blast. Or at least I think that's what it is for. That's part of my learning quest for the future. I believe we have the same setup if you followed Kerry's advice (it's never wise to ignore Kerry's advice).
  7. The dehydrator I ended it getting is the Avantco CFD10 Dehydrator, which I got from webstaurantstore.com. It's the only one I found that was large enough for my purposes and has stainless steel shelves. The temperature control also goes lower than many others and is reasonably reliable.
  8. I found a fairly large (and surprisingly inexpensive) dehydrator. I put the bottles of cocoa butter in the night before along with the Fuji gun (empty). Then the next morning I temper the color I am using, then take the Fuji out and blow out any color remaining from the previous use. I then fill it with the new color, and it is ready to go. When I finish with that color, I put the Fuji back in the dehydrator (if you followed orders and bought the flexible hose, it's easy to detach the spray gun). Starting from scratch with a cold Fuji does not make for a happy spraying experience!
  9. @BottleRocket, as you are new to eGullet, I can assure you that you will find extremely patient people on this forum who will do all they can to assist you (and learn from you at the same time). As one member of the forum put it, "all the thanks I need is knowing I helped someone! I live for that." To answer your specific question, yes, the Fuji gets hot. I too was alarmed by that, but it's just the way it is. Fuji advises users to turn off the machine whenever not in use. So even during the short time when I am filling the container, I turn off the Fuji. The remote switch makes that easy. As far as starting a new thread, I thought about that a long time, but concluded that there are so few Fuji users on eG that the forum hosts might not think that was a good idea. I have learned that the principal control is the air control at the bottom of the gun. Adjusted properly, it allows you to splatter, and I keep it turned somewhat lower than fully open to control the cocoa butter usage. Too low, however, and you will get the "orange peel" effect. In the beginning I found it useful to spray with just water against a background that will allow me to see what was happening. Using water takes away that urgent thought you get, "You are wasting expensive cocoa butter at a frightening rate." Of course, you have to completely dry out the spray gun after this experimentation. I must confess that although I finally (more or less) mastered splattering (which is achieved solely by adjusting the air flow), the effect differs so much from one cocoa butter color to another (something Chocolot told me about) and tends to be too much splatter for my taste that I have gone back to using a toothbrush against a dough scraper. I decided on this only after I finally found that a toothbrush labeled "firm" is the one that works best. It may sound as if I regret getting the Fuji, but I don't. When I am spraying a large number of molds with a deadline for orders, nothing can compare with the speed of the Fuji--and, maybe most of all, the fact that it can spray for a long, long time before the cocoa butter gets too thick. At those times, I just count the cocoa butter usage as part of "the cost of doing business."
  10. I also have a Fuji with the setup you mention. There is another thread where spraying has been discussed, and in that thread I mentioned how useful it would be to have a place where Fuji owners could discuss issues. We may as well use this thread, which is a more comprehensive spraying discussion. When you write "without wasting half a bottle," that struck a chord. That is my chief complaint about the Fuji. Especially the Chef Rubber Jewel colors come out in huge quantities when using it. For my most recent batch (a smaller one), I went back to my Grex airbrush and was amazed at how little cocoa butter I used. I must say, on the other hand, that the coverage of molds is much better with the Fuji. And its speed cannot be denied. For Christmas production, I would still be spraying if I had used an airbrush. I am also interested in learning more about controlling the spray and what the various knobs do and intend to look for some Fuji videos dealing with that. I can't believe that those who use the Fuji for painting don't have occasion when they need a better-targeted and less-intense spray. I hope to find the answer to these questions.
  11. It would be interesting to know the results of your attempts. And photos (if they are presentable--most of mine were not).
  12. I am pleased to report the result of some experimentation: With the molds at room temp (approx. 70F/21C) and the warming tray heated thoroughly (but with heat mitigated by a Silpat and several layers of shop towels), I rubbed several molds on the towels for several seconds. The temp rose to around 72-73F/22-23C) as measured by an IR thermometer. I rubbed a couple of molds for about 10 seconds (probably the most I would ever rub one), and the temp was closer to 80F/27C. So, as far as I can judge, there was no danger of causing the cocoa butter to go out of temper. If I had a substantial buildup of cocoa butter (as happens with the Fuji spray gun), just to be safe I would probably rub for a while, wait a few seconds, then continue.
  13. @Kerry Beal, do you think the heat from the tray might throw the cocoa butter out of temper? I ask because I am using this method of cleaning molds, and it is very quick and effective. But I am having more difficulty lately with cocoa butter sticking to the molds. For a while I was completing all airbrushing on all molds (which sometimes meant several colors), then, at the end of the day, rubbing the molds, but that meant the tray had to be very warm and took quite a bit of time, since the c.b. had crystallized thoroughly by then. So I returned to rubbing each mold after airbrushing it with a single color (or splattering it or swirling a color in it). And I let the shop towels pile up on the tray to mitigate the heat, since even on a low setting, the warming tray is quite warm. But the issue continues. Of course, there are dozens of possible reasons the c.b. might be sticking. I know you said your tray is quite warm, so was wondering if you had noticed this issue.
  14. Try holding the airbrush farther away from the mold and/or reducing the air pressure. But, for those of us who took Andrey's online course, this proved to be a very difficult technique. I was so frustrated by it that I had someone film me while I made multiple attempts, then sent the video to Andrey, who critiqued it and made suggestions, but all to no avail. I had a few successes but definitely not enough to make the technique something I could use in actual production. It takes a lot of practice and maybe luck (having the two cocoa butters at the right consistency and temperature). You can read much more about this issue in this thread about the Dubovik course. For perspective on such issues, it may be useful to know that Andrey does not produce chocolates; he creates decorative designs, one mold at a time. In response to a question from a student who asked about pricing issues, Andrey replied that he didn't really know as he had never sold a chocolate!
  15. I don't spend every waking moment working with chocolate. Once the Christmas chocolates were done, I turned to desserts for Christmas dinner. This is one of three, a caramelized orange polenta cake:
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