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Jim D.

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    www.santiagochocolates.com

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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. Jim D.

    Favorite white chocolate

    Told you so. 😋
  2. Jim D.

    Melanger experimentation

    You can increase the proportion of chocolate and get a firmer product, but it will have less hazelnut taste. I don't know if adding chopped nuts works into what you are thinking about, but that would add some flavor without thinning out the mixture.
  3. Jim D.

    Melanger experimentation

    In my adaption of Greweling's recipe, I use: 200g dark chocolate (I know you said you would use milk) 200g hazelnut paste 50g hazelnut praline paste 4.5g cocoa butter silk It gets quite firm, in fact so firm that I posted a question on how to get it softer for bonbon fillings (the answer was to add coconut oil). But when gianduja is handled, it's the nature of the beast to melt. I would think adding more cocoa butter (probably not silk) would make it even firmer.
  4. Yes, a huge amount of gold dust--and some truly beautiful packaging.
  5. Jim D.

    Flavor combinations

    Almonds and cherries are a great combination. I would go with that. If your friends aren't so weird that they dislike nuts, you could also add some chopped toasted almonds.
  6. Jim D.

    Andrey Dubovic online classes

    That is exactly the quote I was going to use as a caption of my "pill" picture on Instagram. I think the pill design falls into the classification of a "witty" piece, probably not something one would make by the dozen. A number of the last designs in the class are more in the showpiece category, and it's a bit difficult to labor over them too much when in the back of your mind you are thinking that this is something you will never, never make again. If some pill and lollipop molds show up in the eGullet classified section, you will know where they came from.
  7. You might want to check the existing thread on natural colored cocoa butter.
  8. Jim D.

    Melanger experimentation

    I"m sure you are already aware how quickly hazelnuts go rancid. I bought several U.S.-made praline pastes, and all were rancid. Now I buy Cacao Barry from reputable places and (so far) haven't had any issues. If you find good hazelnuts, I am sure your homemade paste will be even better. I wish I had space for a melanger, but I have to draw the line somewhere. The (former) guest bedroom is now completely taken over by chocolate-related equipment.
  9. Let me add my praise of Felchlin. I regularly use Maracaibo dark and Maracaibo Criolait milk. Albert Uster has free shipping (if I buy enough) and good customer service. A few minutes ago I picked up some leftover Maracaibo dark I had firming up on parchment in the kitchen and scarfed it down--couldn't resist. I am very surprised that Felchlin is a less expensive brand in Australia because in the U.S. it is about the same as Valrhona, but as @ChocoMom wrote "worth every. single. penny. or franc, or whatever." I think Valrhona Caraibe tastes very much like it, and if the political situation in Venezula ever puts an end to Maracaibo, that will be my substitute. I have tried the various Felchlin whites, but found them too sweet. For white, it's Valrhona's Opalys for me, as difficult as it is to work with. For milk chocolate ganaches, I often use Fortunato No. 4, which is amazing in taste.
  10. Jim D.

    Andrey Dubovic online classes

    Yes, the cost is 1400--but that is in Belarusian rubles. It converts (at the moment) to about $725 US.
  11. @pastrygirl, I was wondering what that black liquid was. I completely agree with you--if it's cocoa butter, then I think I'll pass. A thin layer of colored cocoa butter sprayed on a bonbon is one thing, but this seems a bit much. Is it possible it's something else?
  12. I use a tempering machine, and I have also observed the temperature variations from one part of the bowl to another. And there is the issue of the variable temperature that comes from having the heat turn on and off with a thermostat in the chocolate--very inexact. In actuality I can usually tell if the heat has come on because the chocolate varies sightly in consistency--and the size of the "foot" (when I am dipping) fluctuates accordingly. Like you, I try not to worry (too much) about what I consider spoiled pieces; often, I have discovered, those who receive my chocolates don't appear to notice streaks or other imperfections, and, of course, with the right decoration on a dipped piece, no one notices! I believe @Kerry Beal has a temper meter but don't know whether she uses it regularly or not. I was interested that you switched from dipping to molding. I think of molded chocolates as much more difficult to make and more prone to "user error."
  13. I am interested in what you write about maintaining chocolate's temper. The theory under which we all operate is that properly tempered chocolate has a predominance of Type V crystals. I think most of us take that on faith since it is impossible to test the chocolate constantly (and still keep working with it); we don't really know how predominant those crystals are or if other types are also present. I have long wondered what keeps the undesirable ones from re-forming as the chocolate cools, but I am not a chemist. And then there is the over-crystallization issue--too many Type V crystals--but then one wonders how many is too many? It seems to me that testing temper by spreading a little chocolate on parchment or marble is somewhat inexact--how long is too long to wait for it to set? or is that actually a streak or not? From what I have read about temper meters, they take quite some time to perform a reading, and it would seem that by the time the meter has the verdict, the chocolate has moved on to another state. With all of these issues, it's a wonder any people continue to work with chocolate!
  14. I wasn't going to say anything, but since Kerry has commented: I would be happy with that dipping job. Those feet! Amazingly small for a non-machine job. I think you might need to accept that there are imperfections in chocolate work (particularly without an enrobing machine). And how did you make those green dots? A pastry bag? Very nice work, I would say. Certainly a steady hand at work. IMHO you should be pleased.
  15. Jim D.

    Do Brita-type filters work?

    Now that sounds interesting. The screen in my faucet gets clogged much too quickly; the plumber thinks it is from the cast iron pipes. And it is horrible to clean since the manufacturer designed the faucet to be attractive to look at but impossible to take apart fully. I definitely don't need anything that will slow down the water flow more than it already is. So where would a prefilter be installed? Under the sink? That under-sink area would get rather crowded with all this equipment. I suppose everything could be installed in the basement before the pipe comes up into the kitchen. I did have a plumber discuss replacing just the particular pipe that runs from the initial house inlet to the kitchen (leaving other pipes as they are). That new pipe would still require some sort of filter because of the stuff in the pipe from the street to the house.
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