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Jim D.

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Posts posted by Jim D.

  1. 16 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

    This stuff?



    I don’t know, but I was compelled to smell the case I just got - smells fine. I get mine from Nashville Wraps. 


    Yes, that's it.  And I also got mine from Nashville Wraps.  I still had some from a previous order, so was able to compare the two, and there was/is definitely a chemical odor in the newer one.  It also looked different, so for this particular color (which was out of stock for quite a while) they must have a different source.

    • Like 1
  2. An odd topic to be sure, but at least it's seasonal:  I reordered straw/grass/crinkle-cut paper for Easter baskets from my same supplier last year, and, unlike the previous supply, this batch has a off-smell, something chemical.  The supplier said no one else had reported the issue, but I know it's there.  What can I do to minimize the odor?  Last year I had some powdered vanilla and mixed that with the straw; it helped a little, but vanilla is a rather expensive way to reach the goal.  I thought of putting the batch outdoors in the sun for a while, but can't find a container large enough.  Yesterday I removed all the remaining straw from the individual bags and left it where it could air out somewhat, but I need an idea that will work more quickly.

  3. 58 minutes ago, Stephen Beaumont said:

    As I read this I was nodding the whole time. I’m at the point of looking for some custom boxes for all the above reasons and wonder who you ended up using?


    I have also started making some cylindrical “snack bars” which are popular and open some decorating opportunities. I would like to find a box (probably square) with a tray that will separate 3-5 of these snack bars but have not yet been successful in sourcing anything. Anyone have any advice on these?


    By the way this forum is a gold mine of information. Thanks for everyone’s input!!

    I ended up using Brimar Packaging in Ohio and am satisfied with them.


    There is a thread on packaging that is very useful.

  4. 6 minutes ago, jimb0 said:


    ahhhhhh. want.


    i'm always paranoid about my nut ganaches setting up, but they always do, eventually. usually after i've convinced myself it won't work.


    Me too.  Often it seems impossible how much they crystallize overnight.  Sometimes I am looking for a softer texture, but that is difficult (nearly impossible) to predict.


    I can attest to the deliciousness of pastrygirl's peanut butter gianduja.  I think she has mail order possibilities.  😉

    • Like 2
  5. 21 minutes ago, DJ Silverchild said:

    At least I think it is. I will be making my version of a Ferrero rocher.

    I made a 50/50 caramel to hazelnut praline paste mixture and I'm adding it to milk chocolate, and that mixture is 50% chocolate and 50% praline paste. I'm using the EZ Temper but it's too soft and didn't seem to temper. Once upon a time I had issues tempering Valrhona gianduja and this forum suggested tempering at a very low temp, it worked, and it saved the day. But I wasnt using EZ Temper then, and EZ Temper says to do everything at 92.5 degrees. My questions are:
    Will my mixture not temper at all? The Valrhona is a professional product and I'm doing this from scratch.

    Should I do it at a lower temperature?


    In my experience selecting the ratio of chocolate and nut paste is tricky and varies depending on the consistency of the paste.  I buy hazelnut praline paste from Cacao Barry (50% nuts, 50% sugar) and mix it with chocolate (dark or milk) with twice as much paste as chocolate.  This is what Peter Greweling recommends.  With almond praline paste (which I make myself), however, I find that I have to use 400g chocolate and 500g paste--more chocolate because the almond paste is much more fluid.  To be honest, I must say that I no longer worry too much about tempering the gianduja.  For one thing, it's impossible to test it for temper.  I get the mixture below 93F, then add cocoa butter silk and stir.  When it begins to thicken a bit, I use it.  When ordinarily I would be piping the gianduja into molds, I instead use a confectionery funnel--which has turned out to be one of the best chocolate-related purchases I have ever made.  I can fill the cavities without spilling a drop.  But it's crucial not to wait too long for the gianduja to get too viscous.  When I want to see in advance how the gianduja will turn out, I do what Chocolot suggested:  stir it over cold water (even ice water) and let it get really thick, then put a little in the refrigerator and see how it is going to turn out.  Then, of course, I have to reheat it gently to get it back to pouring/piping condition.  This next point is probably an obvious one, but I'll include it anyway:  I find gianduja an incredibly "forgiving" product.  You can reheat it innumerable times, test it (as described above), then add more chocolate or more paste to get the consistency you wish.  Another note:  it gets considerably more solid as it sits and I usually wait a day before doing anything more with the molds.  If you are using a guitar to cut a gianduja slab, it's very tricky to get just the right moment to cut it (bitter experience speaking here).


    I'm not sure why your gianduja was too fluid.  Did you make your own hazelnut praline paste or purchase it?  In any case, I would simply add more chocolate to the gianduja and see if it improves.  I can almost guarantee that by adding chocolate or paste you will eventually get the consistency you want, but this may require testing.  Another option which I have used is to add some coconut oil to the gianduja.  But since this keeps its consistency softer, this is obviously not your issue with this particular batch.

    • Like 1
  6. 1 hour ago, Jonathan said:

    I’m a dentist by trade (ironic I know) so I just grab whatever the free brushes are lying around work, I think these were just regular Colgate ones?

    As a huge fan of irony, I love this.  On a (slightly) more serious note, I have found that "firm" toothbrushes work better.  Ever since dentists started recommending soft toothbrushes, the firm ones are more difficult to find.  And regarding Colgate:  Not long ago I got a batch that shed its bristles.  Not something desirable in a chocolate.  Doesn't Colgate know its target audience better than that?

    • Like 3
  7. 5 minutes ago, Jonathan said:

    Just a normal toothbrush, although I flick with a gloved finger and at a reasonable distance, seems to get smaller, more evenly distributed flecks


    Thanks for the information. I'll have to take a look at the distance factor.  It also seems that the viscosity of the cocoa butter (which varies from moment to moment) and the amount of cocoa butter on the toothbrush play a role.

    • Like 1
  8. On 2/21/2021 at 4:35 AM, Jonathan said:

    Now that there’s no upcoming events I’ve had a bit more of a chance to play. Tiramisu cats for example, vanilla marscapone mousse and a tia maria and espresso ganache


    Your splatter is very nicely done, more even than most people (including me) get from a toothbrush or a spray gun.  What did you use?

  9. 1 hour ago, EsaK said:


    Alright, if you can work with for example 35-37C going into the Delta then in my opinion it ought to work. Though as said, you'll need to trial and error to see where you need to put the dial on the melter to get to that temp range after dumping choc into it and having it there for whatever time your production would usually dictate. Certainly not an automatic tempering machine level of a solution, but I think better than making a mess by dumping into the Delta. 


    Also, I'd get at least the 6kg one, which is large enough to dump 275x175 moulds. Think the smaller models don't work with those moulds, if you happen to have any.


    Another idea, get the Control Freak (I'm not sure if other induction cooktops with similar temp control exist and would work, for example the Rocook) and big pot(s) that allow you to dump your moulds into them. Gives you precise temp control, helps with other cooking/caramels, potentially easier pouring back into the Delta (IMO easier and cleaner to pour from a big pot than the gastronorm container of the melter). I don't know what the price differential would be for you (whether you could find a discount on either, more likely the CF), but maybe something to consider.


    I have seen many comments that the temp control on the Mol d'Art is not very accurate.  For my purposes that would not be a huge factor, but it's a disappointing flaw in a device that so many people swear by.  There is also the issue that, for what it does, the Mol d'Art is expensive.


    Thanks for the suggestion of the Control Freak.  I like the idea that it would have so many other uses.  I would, of course, have to get a large enough container for dumping, and it's always going to be difficult to dump something rectangular into a round bowl.  Another issue I would need to look into is how tall the combination of induction cooktop plus container would be; the Mol d'Art has the advantage that it is not as tall.


    31 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:


    The heater and thermostat are on the bottom of the unit, small volume is fine.  They heat relatively slowly but I think if you kept the melter around 40C it would keep your dumped-out chocolate warm enough to add back to the Delta.


    Thanks, that's exactly what I needed to know.  Have you found the inexact temperature control extremely problematic?  What about emptying the Mol d'Art container?  Does it have an edge that allows for pouring without making a mess?

  10. 2 minutes ago, EsaK said:


    I've got a 6kg Mol d'Art melter. I'm not sure how the Delta works, but if you want to ladle chocolate from the melter to it that is precisely (for example within half a degree or something) some temp then you might be calling trouble. The melter requires tweaking and testing, and you're unlikely to get it precisely correct each time in my opinion. If it's not so precise whether the chocolate going into the Delta is slightly over or untempered, then I suppose this might work. But I wouldn't expect to get the melter to give you precisely the temp that you want.

    No, I'm not looking for the same temp.  In fact, when I add untempered chocolate to cope with overtempering, I want to be sure it is NOT in temper and have discovered that the tempered chocolate in the Delta is quite forgiving about the temperature of the added chocolate.  In other words, I can add chocolate to the Delta that is as high as 100F/37C without causing the choc to go out of temper.

  11. My question about the Mol d'Art is not on message, but this seems a logical place to post it:


    I use a Chocovision Delta to temper and hold chocolate to make shells.  The problem with dumping them is that the bowl of the Delta is round and its diameter is not quite large enough.  The mess is almost more than even I can endure.  I have tried various methods of dealing with the issue, with no success.  What strikes me as workable would be to have a Mol d'Art melter beside the Delta, dump molds into the Mol d'Art, keep the chocolate at the right temperature, then, when the chocolate left in the Delta is getting low, ladle the melted chocolate back into it.  I generally follow a similar method to deal with overtempering--have some untempered chocolate ready to add to the Delta.  One question comes to mind about the Mol d'Art, and I haven't been able to locate the information:  How much chocolate is required to have it work correctly?  I don't know where the thermometer that regulates the thermostat is located, so don't know whether I could turn it on, then begin dumping the molds into it immediately or would have to wait for a certain quantity of chocolate to accumulate.

  12. 10 hours ago, Jonathan said:

    I do like it but I still HATE tempering it and the price makes it for certain things only

    I too hate tempering Opalys.  In making shells, at first it is too fluid and the shells turn out too thin unless one takes precautions.  Then, at some unpredictable point, it gets quite viscous, and shells are too thick.  Sometimes I have heated it to the 90F/32C point to get it to work.  Once before, when I was complaining about Opalys, @Kerry Bealhappened to be going to the Valrhona factory and asked them about it.  Her report:  "they said the white was very susceptible to over-crystallization so you had to take care not to scrape the last bits off the table into the bowl - keep the sides of the bowl warm and scrupulously clean."

  13. 1 hour ago, jimb0 said:


    imo that sounds like it would look cool and dramatic, but do you really want to eat a chocolate bar that has filling pour out? tbh i don't think i would (though it would look attractive in photos). i suppose, of course, it depends on the viscosity - a caramel syrup that stretches but doesn't pour, is common, for example. and they're obviously used in bonbons, but you tend to plop those in all in one go.


    i do like the idea of a honey-flavoured goo of some kind, though, for sure.


    I'm still thinking over the baklava possibilities, and honey definitely has to be in the mix.  Any honey plus white chocolate ganache I have found sounds as if it would be teeth-torturingly sweet.  I don't see that a milk or dark chocolate ganache would be part of the baklava taste.

  14. Another thought just popped into my head:  There is such a thing (I had to consult Google) as dried honey.  I have no idea what it tastes like, though I have some molasses powder that tastes fine, but it might even be possible to put all the flavors (not the rosewater) into the gianduja.  But I think I would go with the two layers for the sake of contrast.

  15. 3 hours ago, pastrygirl said:


    How low can you go?  I'm skeptical that feuilletine will stay crisp with any amount of available water.


    I agree.  I wouldn't expect feuilletine to stay crisp when mixed with a ganache.  What I would try is to make pistachio gianduja instead of a ganache.  It has more flavor than a ganache can deliver.  What I do is to toast some pistachios (very slightly--I know some people disagree with the toasting, but a side-by-side test left me thinking toasted is better).  Then melt pistachio paste and white chocolate to make gianduja, plus some feulletine (if you want more crunch since pistachios aren't really very crunchy). Pipe a tiny amount of the gianduja into each cavity, sprinkle in the pistachios, then pipe more gianduja on top.  My thinking on this somewhat elaborate procedure is that is if you try to pipe pistachios mixed in with the gianduja, they will stick in the piping bag, and if you put the nuts in first, air bubbles will form (experience speaking), so they are enclosed in the gianduja.  Let that set. In keeping with Peter Greweling's thoughts on migration within bonbons, I would paint the gianduja layer with a thin layer of melted cocoa butter (obviously this step is optional).  Then you could make a ganache layer (getting the honey and cardamom flavor into that, maybe even some rosewater--some baklava has it) and pipe that on top of the gianduja.  In thinking about this whole idea, I am getting inspired to give it a try myself.

    • Like 2
  16. 8 hours ago, CaitlynA said:

    Thank you @Kerry Beal and @Rajala. Sorry it has taken me a minute to get back. It has been a little hectic with Valentine's day. I tried with and without using a sponge for the "crashing wave" white. Neither look very good compared to hers. She makes the design look so soft and delicate whereas mine looks a lot more forced. I'll keep playing around with it in my spare time. 


    I know what you mean by looking "forced."  I have that same trouble when using a sponge, whereas others seem to have it all blend together with no obvious separation between the colors.  If you want to be really depressed, take a look at the Gallery section of Monde du Chocolat.  Coming close to replicating the Easter eggs are a goal of my life.  Someone suggested that somehow blending in some white cocoa butter makes it all come together.

  17. My Valentine's Day assortment for 2021:




    Top row:  (1) "pecan pie" (dark caramel, pecan praline gianduja, pecan shortbread), (2) coffee ganache with Kahlúa & hazelnut praline gianduja, (3) "crème brûlée" (vanilla buttercream with crunchy caramel), (4) milk chocolate & caramelized sesame crunch, (5) dark chocolate ganache with absinthe, (6) "raspberry rose" (dark chocolate ganache with raspberries and a dash of rosewater). Bottom row: (1) Speculoos cookie butter & milk chocolate, (2) passion fruit ganache, (3) dark caramel with Maldon sea salt, (4) banana & passion fruit caramel, (5) almond praline gianduja with caramelized almonds & dried cherries, (6) squares of Arriba 72% with peppermint oil.  All pieces were enrobed in one of two Felchlin chocolates: Maracaibo Clasificado 65% or Arriba 72%.

    • Like 5
  18. 6 hours ago, kriirk said:

     looking at your photo, it looks more like the cause was air bubbles inside the dough.


    Perhaps I should not use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar to start--although doing it by hand does not sound like an easy task (yes, I do know electric mixers have not always existed!).  But why would the "crater" effect not happen with larger pieces made from the same dough?

  19. @jmacnaughtan, others on eG have mentioned making a pipeable layer with crushed gingersnaps or graham crackers, and I have experimented with that concept.  You are certainly correct that it takes some "playing around" to get the right mix of the crushed item and whatever holds it together.  Cocoa butter and the crushed cookie tasted horrible; chocolate tended to cause the layer to lose its crunch.  Most recently I tried @Rajala's idea for a gingersnap bonbon.  It calls for partially crushing gingersnaps and adding chocolate, ghee, and coconut oil, but my attempt lost the crunch (I finally made gingersnaps instead, and the resulting filling was delicious).  After my experiments, I concluded that a "praliné layer" (as it is called by some) does not come close enough for me to the crunch of a cookie.  It is an idea certainly worth more experimentation because it is so much easier to pipe in a layer rather than add a cookie plus a "moisture barrier."

    • Like 1
  20. 45 minutes ago, jimb0 said:


    have you tried knocking a good 25 degrees off of the temperature, or maybe a couple of minutes of bake time? 


    No, but I will the next time I make them.  Thanks.

  21. 15 minutes ago, jimb0 said:

    ah. what sort of time and temperature are you baking them at when they get to be like this?


    350F, for about 15 minutes or until they brown slightly.

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