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Jim D.

society donor
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    Staunton, Virginia

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  1. If you are referring to the eye effect with a somewhat vague definition of the eye, that was, as gfron1 stated, taught in the class (whether all students mastered the technique is another question entirely!). If it is the well-defined eye (often black) in the middle with other colors around it, I asked Andrey about that design and whether he would share a general description of how he does that with the students in the course. Although his response was polite, he didn't answer my question directly, but he said he might include that in a future version of the online course.
  2. I am one of those too involved in holiday production right now to be able to answer your questions in the way you seem to desire, but I do have a suggestion: You might say whether you are looking for a paid mentor or not. If not, then I would just post my questions one after another; you will almost certainly get answers (it helps if you first look for a topic that is relevant and add your post to that thread). If you are willing to pay, you will probably get some responses as well and wouldn't have to submit post after post to the forum--you could just email back and forth with the mentor and get more individualized attention. I have thought of going the paying route myself to improve my caramel-making skills but have not gotten around to it.
  3. I mostly use Felchlin Maracaibo Criolait (a bit sweeter than the Creole pastrygirl mentioned). I was recently given samples of just about all the Felchlin milks. The Sao Palme is delicious but comes only in what are for me gigantic amounts. So I stick with Criolait. The very best I have ever tasted is Fortunato No. 4 from Peru (available only in the U.S. from Chef Rubber, made by Felchlin--thus the incredible smoothness--but not labeled as made by that company). It's 47% and is smooth as one could ever want (IMO) with no sour dairy notes. BUT (and this is what kept me from using it for everything) it contains no lecithin or added cocoa butter, meaning that it is very difficult to use for shelling--it will go from a bit too fluid to very viscous in minutes--and I wasn't willing to add things to it. So I use it sometimes for fillings. Before I became a Felchlin convert (perhaps fanatic), I used Guittard's Orinoco (now called Eclipse du Soleil); it is lower in cost and widely available.
  4. I think you two are probably correct. I have never been very good at explaining optical illusions.
  5. Very nice design. It is similar to the one you did (and very kindly explained to everyone) with black and a gold stripe. But in this case the black appears not to be splattered but applied some other way--it looks like little curlicues of black from a pastry bag. But that sounds incredibly complex.
  6. Jim D.

    Sesame praliné

    Check out Greweling's recipe for sesame squares. He uses sesame paste (tahini) as well as toasted sesame seeds. It is delicious, although cutting it into squares is tricky because of the firmness of the croquant.
  7. Keep your sanity during a Christmas rush? Surely you jest. By all means make as many in advance as you can and freeze them. That's what I am doing right now. There are steps to take to make this procedure work without ruining the product, but if you do it correctly, they will be fine.
  8. As you go along in a molding session, the chocolate starts setting sooner and sooner, so keeping the scraper clean becomes a challenge. I clean it with a silicone spatula, then wipe the edges of the scraper with a paper towel to get an absolutely clean surface (otherwise--as others have said--it will drag chocolate and filling along with it). To deal with the silicone spatulas getting unusable with hardened chocolate, I found a new technique today: I keep a heating pad nearby, folded over with a sheet of foil in the middle. As soon as I clean off a spatula (scraping as much chocolate onto parchment as I can), I tuck it into the foil, then use another spatula for a while. Within a short time the first one is warm and ready to be cleaned off with ease. I should add that I use a tempering machine, so cannot turn the molds completely upside down to empty them but have to turn them on their side and tap to get the chocolate out and back into the bowl. It makes more of a mess and requires some unusual techniques because I can't clean my scraper on the edge of the tempering machine bowl (it's rotating)--thus the use of spatulas. I'm really impressed, @JoNorvelleWalker, with how far you can have come in such a short time. Have you thought of a name for your business-to-come? Or where to store all the dozens of molds you will collect over time?
  9. That recipe produces a soft marshmallow. You just have to experiment with when to stop beating and start piping. I have tasted a bonbon after many weeks, and the marshmallow layer was still soft. I suspect egg whites produce a softer product (there is no gelatin to firm it up), but with the recipe to which you linked you are dealing with uncooked eggs (or eggs cooked with hot syrup, to be exact), and thus the specified two-week limit stated.
  10. I have. Check the recipe (note that the adjustments to make it pipeable are based on my experimentation, but the basic recipe is from RecipeGullet).
  11. In previous discussions of piping marshmallow into bonbons, people mentioned the egg white vs. the gelatin method of making it. There seems to be no significant taste difference between the two. I use gelatin in mine. I have tried dried egg whites but did not like the smell/taste of the dried product. I know many people believe that the hot syrup renders real egg whites safe, and they may well be correct, but I would not use eggs in a bonbon--why take a chance when it's not necessary? The Aw reading of marshmallow is rather low (compared to a ganache), but water activity does not tell you everything about safety.
  12. It's great to have you discuss your technique. Usually people have to be prodded to do this.
  13. Jim D.

    Thin ‘cookie’ for bonbon

    I do this quite often. Check out this thread for the possibilities and pitfalls. Thinness depends on your recipe (no baking powder or anything that will make it rise) and on how thin you roll the dough. It's easy--but quite tedious. You also need to make sure the cookies are not too large to fit in the mold (I learned the hard way). And you have to be careful to enrobe the cookie in something fat-based (chocolate, cocoa butter, gianduja) or it will turn to mush.
  14. Take a look at the first two pages of this thread. There are several recipes for buttercreams. I use Kerry Beal's.
  15. And I would say it was a summer well spent!