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Jim D.

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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. The recipe seems to foresee what you had happen: And the author states at the beginning: You are dealing with adding eggs to a warm caramel, so I don't think you can expect it to behave as a plain caramel would, and I would anticipate all sorts of ugliness occurring. But how did your pie turn out?
  2. Since my pineapple experiments posted earlier (the ones you found), I have continued to work on my fruit caramel recipes. The white chocolate approach does work, but if someone wants to get the "pure" caramel-plus-fruit taste (no chocolate), there is no way I have found to avoid the strong possibility of scorching when using the normal method. I now add flavoring after the caramel has been completely cooked. You may not like or even approve of this approach, but at times I can be practical, and it's the flavor I care about (plus not having the ugly separation issue, even sometimes when using an immersion blender). I was present a few days ago when one of my customers ate a mango and passion fruit caramel, and her comments on the taste cemented my decision to use this method. So I cook the caramel (to be piped) to the hardball stage, where you would normally cook a caramel to be cut, then remove from the heat and add the butter with a blender. If there is a bit of separation, I don't panic because I know it will be fixed later (see below). Then I add flavoring, and for this I use Amoretti's "natural artisan" flavorings. According to the labels, these are mostly fruit with various types of sugars added, but the key is that the fruit purée has already been reduced--so no scorching. In addition to the two I mentioned, I have used apricot, cherry, raspberry, and pineapple. I find the flavors of these ingredients strong and authentic; the downside is that they are expensive. Using them has the additional advantage that it adds to the water content of the caramel, thus making the emulsification of the butter easier--I have not had a single case of separation since I began using them. One other hint I learned from Kerry Beal (who else?) is to add a pinch of citric acid; this cuts the sweetness substantially. With your pineapple and coconut experiment (which sounds very promising), I think citric acid would be a must for the caramel. On caramel emulsification in general: @teonzo posted a comment explaining the science that helped me. So when caramel separates, I now realize that it is just like a ganache in that more liquid is needed. Therefore I cook caramel beyond the soft ball stage so that it can be thinned out if necessary; I have also reduced the quantity of butter I add (and detect no taste difference).
  3. Good ideas. There is also the possibility of using a graham cracker.
  4. If you do a search for low-sugar cookies, you will find some ideas. Substituting an artificial sweetener (such as Splenda) will not decrease the sweet taste, maybe even increase it, but some people say it is fine to reduce sugar in a recipe by 25%, though that will affect browning. In searching, I found one cookie recipe (intended for children) that had practically no sugar, but I would not expect great taste. Maybe adding other flavors to the cookie (lemon zest, cinnamon) would help. You could also look into recipes for shortbread (which is what I often use), which tends to be less sweet.
  5. I would say the reflection is easy to accomplish with the appropriate software. I fact, I think (but don't have all the time it would take to search) that this sort of reflection has been discussed on eG. I don't believe that in real life it would ever be so perfect. In theory the gradients are possible, but I've never heard of anyone who has the ability to control airbrush spray to that degree. And one would have to be a bit crazy to use tape. You didn't provide the source of the image.
  6. I would add up to 10% of colorant to cocoa butter and make sure it is in temper. Mixtures of some colors (the metallic ones especially) tend to be more viscous than others, but none should behave as yours are.
  7. That one looks especially delicious. Are you willing to share the recipe for the topping, or at least the ingredients?
  8. I checked the Aw of the fillings I made: one with crushed ladyfingers mixed in, the other with the separate cookie. Both were remarkably low: 0.66 and 0.69. I too had qualms about adding cheese to ganache, but everyone seemed to think that if the water activity level is low enough, there is no issue. The tipping point for me was to find Peter Greweling's crème fraîche ganache. If he does not find a problem with that, then mascarpone is not that different.
  9. I have completed my experiment with creating a tiramisu bonbon. First I baked eggless "ladyfingers." I use quotes because although these looked similar to ladyfingers, they certainly did not have the light, airy texture or the taste. When baked for the time specified by the recipe, they tasted mostly of raw flour. Only after being baked for a half-hour or more until they browned a bit did they have any taste at all. I ended up throwing the leftover ones in the trash. The mascarpone coffee ganache went well. I used instant espresso powder to obtain the coffee flavor, and it was successful. When the ganache was complete, I divided it into halves. Into one half I added pulverized ladyfingers, and with the other, topped the ganache with little cookies I had baked from the same batter. The result: In the first batch, the crushed ladyfingers basically dissolved into the ganache with no discernible taste and not much texture. The second was more successful: after one day, the ladyfinger cookies maintained their texture; by the second day, they had some crispness but were noticeably softer. I feel sure the softening will continue (inevitable movement of moisture from wet item to dry). At least there was some pleasing contrast between the coffee ganache and the cookie (see below for alternative bonbon idea). The mascarpone was, however, the biggest disappointment. I think any taste it contributed was in my imagination. It is simply too mild a cheese to be tasted in proximity to the dark chocolate shell. In my version of Susanna Yoon's cheesecake ganache, I use cream cheese and sour cream, and although they also are mild, still they have some tang contrasted with mascarpone. My conclusion is that I will probably not be adding tiramisu bonbons to my repertory of chocolates. If I made actual ladyfingers, they would dissolve in mush if added in pulverized form and probably do the same if added in cookie form because they are so porous (which is why they soak up the coffee in an actual tiramisu). As I ate this filling, I kept thinking that I would rather have had a bonbon with a layer of coffee ganache, topped with a small layer of hazelnut praline gianduja enclosing a shortbread cookie.
  10. I agree about the overspray from white. I'm not sure why it happens, but it is bad. It also happens with metallic colors. I just purchased a spray booth that does a reasonably good job of removing the backspray (I call it that because the spray bounces off the booth and back at me). I also got a small electric fan which I place behind me, aimed at the spray booth, and that seems to help drive the spray back toward the fan that sucks it from the booth. If you like the trigger-style airbrush and are able to spend more money, I recommend the Grex Tritium airbrush (there is a review of this on eGullet). Grex tech support recommended 30psi, and that is about where I keep it. Grex also has a fairly large metal cup that holds enough cocoa butter for several molds (depending on their size, of course). The small cups on other airbrushes nearly drove me crazy.
  11. Upon further reading about tiramisu truffles, I think you are onto something--and I was overthinking the whole concept. Given that most people eat a bonbon in a single bite (maybe two), keeping the flavors distinct may not matter, so I could add (liquid) coffee (plus perhaps some Kahlua) to the cheese ganache. Since my adaptation of Susanna Yoon's recipe already includes 50g of lemon juice, I could simply substitute coffee for the lemon, and the proportion of liquefier to chocolate would be unchanged (always need to keep the water activity in mind). Once I see if that works tastewise, I can try (1) adding the ladyfingers as crumbs or (2) adding them as cookies, perhaps surrounded by white or dark chocolate to preserve their texture. I will report back. We all know there are many unforeseen twists between developing a new recipe and executing it.
  12. Excellent idea. I make a crème brûlée bonbon, and to get the crunch, I make a hard-crack caramel and grind it in a food processor. If ground enough (but not too much), it will have crunch but will not be difficult to eat. But again, it won't last in humidity (I have the advantage of being able to encase the caramel bits in a little chocolate, protecting them from the elements).
  13. Getting the right thickness of caramel for your purposes is not going to be easy. I don't know if you have ever eaten a candy apple, but it is a dentist's dream come true. Requires very, very careful eating. And, of course, you shouldn't try to make the caramel on a humid day. Your eaters' teeth may be stuck together permanently.
  14. Not sure what the gianduja would be made of. Chocolate plus ... ? I think any kind of nut paste is going to add its own flavor.
  15. Good idea. I've seen a recipe for chocolate ladyfingers, so coffee should be easy to do.
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