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Jim D.

society donor
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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. After the countless threads on making stripes on shells--with no clear winner--is this the holy grail of striping?
  2. Very attractive. What did you use for the masking for the stripe?
  3. I know what you mean. I am on his list to be notified about developments but have heard nothing lately. It did sound good. He is a very confident man. Supposedly he used it exclusively in his shop during the 2017 Christmas season.
  4. @Anonymous, I agree with most of what you initially wrote about learning to make chocolates. I also think using attractive packaging goes a long way toward getting one's product accepted and even valued. I noticed the difference once I bought custom packaging, developed a logo and started using it all the time. At least in the U.S. decorating chocolates has become the norm. "Too pretty to eat" is what one hears all the time. I myself think colored cocoa butter (especially white) has an offputting odor and taste, but so far not a single customer has ever mentioned it. I gather you are in the UK, so I am a bit surprised that you mention decorating. From anecdotal and video evidence, I had thought that in Europe decorating was unusual. I too think the Keylink videos are very helpful--and they are rarely mentioned in people's lists of how to learn the trade. In those videos the man who does the teaching (with the wonderful accent) does decorate chocolates, but they are rather subtle decorations compared, for example, to those done by someone like Salvatore Martone in Las Vegas or Norman Love in Florida (allegedly the one who started decorating chocolates). Like you, I have a Chocovision Rev2 machine, which I use for dipping chocolates and for very small batches, but upgrading to the Delta machine made all the difference in the world. I can get so many other things done while it is tempering away. There is a new tempering machine supposedly coming out this year from Choklat in Canada that will be more programmable and will not have the style of baffle other machines use (and therefore molds can be emptied into it without making a mess).
  5. I just can't cook __________!

    @Lisa Shock, Thanks for those tips. I do have the dough well chilled before placing it in the oven, and any time it softens during the whole process, I stop and refrigerate it. And, of course (!), I use scales to measure ingredients. The CI recipe for crust using vodka is quite moist; do you find that works for my issue? I do make a crust that goes a bit beyond being crumbly because I find the frustration of having a crust crack, develop holes, etc. when rolling it out to be too much to stand. The recipe (for a single crust) calls for 4 oz. AP flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2.5 oz. chilled butter, .5 oz. chilled shortening, and a maximum of 1/4 cup ice water. Since I almost always prebake crusts to help with the soggy bottom problem, the oven is at 425F when the crust goes in (Rose Levy Beranbaum's recommendation). I have the fat in small pieces in the freezer a short time before starting, mix the fat and flour in the food processor, then take the crumbs out and add the water with a fork in a large mixing bowl so that I can see how moist the dough is getting (it's amazing how the amount of water differs from one time to another).
  6. Microwave- and Heat-Safe Bowl

    @gulfporter, Don't know how I missed both of those products, but they look very promising. I guess plastic has come a long way. Thanks for the information.
  7. I just can't cook __________!

    I can make a pie crust with a decent taste and flakiness (a Julia Child recipe), but I have never been able to make any sort of decorative edge on it. I can flute it beautifully, but once it gets in that oven, it loses all definition. Unlike the person who started this thread, I would very much like to have suggestions.
  8. Microwave- and Heat-Safe Bowl

    My current method is to melt the chocolate in the microwave, then pour it into the Chocovision Delta tempering machine I use for large amounts. That pre-melting speeds things up a huge amount. A thin lip is definitely an asset for the bowl--a pouring rim would be another improvement; when I pour from the Corningware, the chocolate inevitably rolls down the outside of the bowl. I also melt additional chocolate overnight in a bread proofer at a temp where it is definitely not in temper to deal with the issue of over-crystallization as time goes on. For that, I use a gigantic SS bowl. Ladles are another issue I was going to post about at some point. I found that a metal one causes the chocolate to solidify on it much too fast, so I switched to a large plastic one, but the ones I have found are rather thick plastic and so make precise pouring quite difficult. So far I have not located a large, thin plastic ladle.
  9. Microwave- and Heat-Safe Bowl

    There is a lot of discussion of this issue on the internet. The consensus seems to be that rounded items (such as bowls) are safe, but things with edges (such as foil) are not. Moving forward with that assumption is more than I am willing to risk. There are some SS bowls with outer plastic coating that are advertised as microwave-safe, but the plastic would make them unsuitable for placing on a hot surface and the ones I saw are too small for my purposes. I did some more checking online and did manage to come across a set of large plastic bowls that would fit in my microwave and would, I think, be perfect for melting chocolate. Needless to say, they don't fit the criteria I gave earlier, but they will make melting chocolate much easier (a 2.5-quart Corningware bowl with 3 kilos of chocolate in it presents quite a challenge in getting it from a microwave located on a shelf at eye level to a counter without a huge mess).
  10. Pistachio Paste

    Buy them already shelled--it's definitely worth the cost, given the stubbornness of the shells.
  11. Microwave- and Heat-Safe Bowl

    Thanks for the Corelle idea. It would be great but would need to be larger than they seem to make.
  12. In my chocolate work I often microwave chocolate to get it started melting, then place it on a heat source to continue the melting (I have a stainless steel slab placed on top of a pot of hot water--this eliminates the condensation occurring when using a normal double boiler). Since the microwave eliminates using stainless steel, I use some Corningware baking dishes, but they are quite heavy when filled with chocolate and thus not ideal--their thick edges are also terrible for pouring chocolate, which runs down the outside. The perfect solution would be a large lightweight bowl that is microwave safe but could also be placed on the heated SS slab. This might sound like a hopeless search, but recently I saw such a microwave-safe metal bowl. I asked the person who brought it to a potluck dinner where he got it, and he did not remember, and there were no identifying markings on it. Is anyone familiar with what I am describing?
  13. Me too. A pot dedicated to this use would be great. The color doesn't matter to me at all. I would like to see photos of the bottom of the bread and of the crumb.
  14. @tikidoc: That sounds very successful. I'll be interested in whether there is any leaking. I just looked at my notes from Jean-Marie's caramel, and the unusual ingredients I mentioned earlier were isomalt (for shelf life, he said), sorbitol, baking soda, and lecithin. This is the recipe for hazelnut-vanilla caramels included in our workshop packets, or are you referring to a different recipe?
  15. Meltaways

    This is late, but there is a useful eGullet discussion of the different types of coconut oil.