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Jim D.

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Everything posted by Jim D.

  1. Don't know how I missed that. It looks like what Teo described. Thanks very much. Needless to say, care would need to be taken (as with all vacuum solutions to storing chocolates) not to end up with the insides of the bonbons on the outside).
  2. If it's not too much trouble, could you point us to an example of these boxes? I have spent some time searching without success--Google came up with huge vacuum storage containers, but no storage boxes to which a pump could be attached.
  3. Miriam, Sounds like your assistant is a very assertive person! I've never heard that before about added risk from keeping fillings, but I am not a scientist. I have to say that I don't think the Aw reading is all there is to it. A ganache could have a very low reading but still contain spoiled ingredients. That said, there really isn't a lot in a typical filling to spoil, especially if one is using ultra-pasteurized cream. Have you noticed the expiration date on your typical grocery store heavy cream? As to your method, it's what I used to do all the time--making fillings ahead of time, refrigerating (or freezing if time required it), then reheating and piping into the shells. But I found that reheating is a very tricky process (and takes about as much time as making the filling from scratch). Anything with white chocolate will tend toward separating and be very difficult to re-emulsify. I gave up on that procedure. Now I make all the shells, keep them in a cool place, then make the fillings. There is no danger (of which I am aware) of keeping a chocolate shell for a long, long time. In this method, the fillings are made and used immediately. If I have a substantial amount of a leftover filling, I vacuum-seal it and freeze it. Then when I want to use that filling again, I cut the leftover amount into small pieces, heat it very gently to around 80F, stirring frequently, and use an emulsion blender to combine it with the new amount that I have made. Jim
  4. Does this mean you have mastered the eye technique? I suppose next you'll be charging us $700 to teach us how to do it! 🤩
  5. Jim D.

    Home vacuum sealing

    If you haven't already done so, you might want to read through the threads on preserving chocolates. There are lots of them, though they aren't grouped into a single topic. If you do a search for "vacuum" in this forum (not all of eGullet), you will find many different ways it can be done. Or look for "impulse sealer," and you will find my compromise method. Other ideas are under "shelf life."
  6. I looked at all of his recent Instagram videos and didn't see it there. Do you recall where it was posted?
  7. Jim D.

    Molded chocolates workflow

    I'm still puzzled as to why setting the mold on a side doesn't result in one side being thicker than the others. I think for this to work, one would have to have very, very little chocolate left in the mold. After the emptying and first scraping of the mold, when much of the chocolate has been removed, I turn the mold upside down. If I am busy with something else at the time, I balance it on two small upside-down ramekins and let it drip. If I have the time (and this is usually what I do), I tap the upside-down mold on the two ramekins, encouraging additional chocolate to come out. The theory is (and I don't recall where I read this) that the chocolate will flow down the sides, strengthening all of them. If the chocolate seems particularly thin (as happens with some whites in the initial stages of using them), I stop and take a look, and if the sides appear too thin, I turn the mold right side up to stop any more draining, even in some cases rotating the mold in all directions to thicken the sides or bottom. Then I scrape the mold a second time. I know most recommend scraping when the mold is upside down, but I have had no success mastering that technique. I can't seem to get the required leverage to hold the scraper tightly against the mold and also not let the mold drop. Perhaps I need a personal trainer for wrist strengthening exercises. 😊
  8. The fat bloom (not the white spots) could well be caused by the olive oil. When nut butters (as in gianduja) are enrobed in chocolate, especially dark, they often cause this issue, so the same thing could happen with just plain oil. I had it occur recently when trying to dip some truffle centers that contained gianduja and coconut oil. Some were fine, but many had oily spots showing on the chocolate, even after dipping an extra time or two. I have never heard of bread crumbs in chocolate, but it sounds intriguing; it may, however, require some rethinking if the problem keeps occurring. As you will discover as you experiment with chocolate, there are many possible causes for fat bloom--and every other defect. Chocolate has a mind of its own; this is part of the "fun."
  9. Jim D.

    Chocolateering in warm weather

    I seal my chocolates, which are in individual boxes, in plastic bags and then place them in a cooler with some "ice." They have stayed fine for several hours, and the bags keep them from humidity. (I consider that my purchase of an impulse sealer and a big box of sous vide bags to be one of the best I have made since beginning chocolate work.) Just don't let the recipients open the bags immediately, or condensation will ruin the chocolates. I place a small card on top of each box suggesting the recipient let the chocolates come to room temperature before cutting open the plastic bag. Ultimately all you can do is state the handling instructions in writing and then hope your customer follows them. If you are transporting the chocolates to a retailer, that person will be motivated to keep them safe. But we can't totally control what happens. I was told yesterday that a customer who made a big deal of surprising his wife with a box of chocolates (which I had sealed in plastic and to which I had attached the instructions), successfully sneaked them into his house--and then found a hiding place where they totally melted (they were described as flat as a pancake, a pancake decorated with colored cocoa butter).
  10. Yes, the "early seed" helps with cooling. I always throw in some callets/pistoles just after I set the Chocovision to go from 115F/46C to 95F/35C, but not a huge amount since it's so annoying to have those little chunks remain unmelted as the temp nears 95F/35C. Then, for tempering, I put in a large chunk that can be removed easily. The Chocovision instructions (and the default behavior) say to add the seed at the top melting point and leave it in until the temp reaches 90F/32C.
  11. I have previously exclaimed over @Kerry Beal's idea of using a warming tray and shop towels to clean colored cocoa butter from molds, but that was in the abstract. I have just finished trying it. I bought the shop towels, and my sister happened to have a warming tray she wasn't using. It has temp control, but the lowest setting is still fairly warm. I placed a Silpat on the tray (it tempered the heat somewhat), then the towels on top of that. I must say I am impressed. Instead of spending (literally) hours using an offset spatula and countless paper towels cleaning molds after the cocoa butter crystallized, today I sprayed each mold, then turned it upside down on the shop towels, rubbed it back and forth, and in 5 seconds the top was free of cocoa butter. Yes, if I used paper towels immediately after splattering or spraying a mold, the cocoa butter would come off, but it takes me far more than 5 seconds. And the brief time needed with a warming tray allows me to put the sprayer down, rub the mold, and get back to the sprayer, allowing less time for the cocoa butter to cool down. Someone who posted in another thread was seeking a way to hold on to the sprayer and wipe the mold at the same time; it's theoretically possible with this method as the Silpat keeps the towels from sliding around. After I finished spraying and all cocoa butter had crystallized, I saw a few places I missed, so I heated up the tray and ran each mold over a shop towel briefly. Every bit of cocoa butter came off, even with being quite firm at that point.
  12. I didn't think you didn't believe me; I just wanted to see if my memory was correct and posted those quotes because the idea of using a lot of seed is widespread. I looked in Greweling, and he (sensibly) says "slowly add increments of solid tempered chocolate" (no quantity mentioned, at least as far as I could tell from a quick look).
  13. The first result from a Google search produced this: That's from ghirardelli.com. Ecolechocolat.com says 25-30% for seed. Jacques Torres says 30%.
  14. I'm so glad to see someone knowledgeable say this about using seed in the tempering process. The amount of seed usually specified is much higher (I think I've seen 1/3 of the amount of melted chocolate). But when the chocolate is higher than 92.8F/33.8C, the Type V crystals in the seed are just melting away (I realize those temperatures are approximations). So I don't bother adding seed until the chocolate has cooled to around 95F/35C, and then I don't add very much. When I am tempering large amounts of chocolate, I use the Chocovision Delta, and its constant rotation tends to overcrystallize the chocolate sooner than desirable, so adding just a small amount of seed helps with that problem.
  15. I bought these 6-piece trays to hold chocolates and no longer have use for them. I am giving them away; all you need do is pay the shipping cost. There are at least 250 of them. Note that the cavities are large: 1 7/8" x 1 7/8" (these are intended for "turtles or toffees" or similarly large items).
  16. Trays have been given away.
  17. There are many questions in your post, but at this point I will comment on this one. As long as you are using an airbrush up to about .5mm, a small compressor from one of the Iwata Jet series will work. Brushes like the .7mm Grex require something larger. When I bought the Grex, tech support recommended a 1HP compressor. At the time they had a special, and I got the 2HP for the same price, and I have not regretted that. The larger the nozzle, the more compressed air you need. In my setup, the compressor runs a while, then shuts off, which (I think) is a sign that it is producing enough air. I never have to wait for the tank to fill up. When I bought an inexpensive HVLP spray gun, however, all that changed--2 HP was not enough. The compressor ran constantly, which (as I understand it) is not good for a compressor. If I were doing it over (those famous words we all utter at some point), I would have "gone big" in the beginning rather than keep upgrading in little steps. Too large a compressor is not a problem. When you are spraying a dessert and have to stop to heat up the airbrush so frequently that you get frustrated, then you will know it's time to upgrade your spray gun. If you follow the path many of us on eGullet have followed, you will get hooked at some point on making something, whether it's entremets or chocolates, and then you will start looking for upgrades of both sprayer and air source. There is a lot of information in this thread on that subject.
  18. For my coconut cream ganache, I use 150g coconut milk (emusified so that water and coconut are thoroughly mixed), 450g white chocolate, and 15g coconut rum (plus other flavorings). As Merry Berry implied, it is probably best to stick with the same brand of coconut milk (or you can purchase coconut purée from such manufacturers as Boiron). 465:150 is a very high proportion of chocolate to liquid, but the coconut milk I use is quite fluid.
  19. Jim D.

    Colored Cocoa Butter

    I should have said that yes, it did taste burnt and smelled definitely "off."
  20. Jim D.

    Colored Cocoa Butter

    In my experience you can do that as long as the cocoa butter wasn't heated so high that it burned. The telltale sign of that is little hard bits in it that won't dissolve. The first time I overheated c.b., I didn't realize what had happened and kept trying to heat and retemper, but the bits remained.
  21. I have not had that issue. The black currant ganache I mentioned previously has a lot of butter in it, so that helps with water content.
  22. Jim D.

    Cleaning cocoa butter sprayers

    I do more or less the same, except that I never spray water through the gun. I just get the gun warm, then empty it out as best I can, then add a new color and continue. In another discussion on this topic, the consensus was that most people do not do really thorough cleaning of airbrushes or sprayers (such as would require taking it apart). It's not like using it for paint--with cocoa butter, you can just melt everything out.
  23. I cannot begin to list all the flavors I have tried to incorporate into a bonbon without success. After a particularly tasty peach season, I thought how easy it would be to have a peach bonbon, perhaps with a cinnamon layer as well. Alas, almost no flavor. Blueberry has also stymied me (though I have not given up). The best approach, I think, is to make a water ganache, replacing some or all of the usual cream with fruit purée (Jean-Pierre Wybauw has such a recipe for black currant ganache, and it is wonderful), but shelf life suffers. As for flavor in gianduja, I have a large package of pecan gianduja made with dark chocolate in my freezer, with the thought that someday I may find a use for its faint pecan flavor. I think milk chocolate works best with pecan and almond, and for pistachio gianduja, I use white. I hope you will find a way to preserve the pecan + smoke + spice flavor without having chocolate overwhelm it.
  24. There is no tape I have found that says it is food safe. There was a post on eG some years ago from someone who said he had such tape and would post the name of it within a couple of days, but he never did and I had no success in tracking him down. Both Avery and 3M deal in food-safe adhesives, but I don't think they cater to the small consumer with these products. There is a company that makes specific shapes explicitly for use in making decorated chocolates. I bought a sampler pack, and they are cut not for rows in the mold but for individual cavities, which, of course, is a pain in the neck, and to top it off, they did not stick well at all. I read through their website, and there is no statement whatever about food safety. I saw no residue with using the VinylEase tape, but I didn't look with a magnifying glass or anything like that.
  25. Just one note on pecans: I do a lot of different giandujas, and the pecan version has the mildest flavor of all of them. You wouldn't think so, but so it seems. As dark chocolate will overwhelm it very easily, I have switched to milk. I'm just saying that your hopes for strong pecan flavor may not be realized if you are using dark.