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  1. Jean-Pierre Wybauw's book has a couple of ganache recipes that use purees and the general technique seems to be: boil the puree and sugar together bring the cream to a boil blend the puree and the cream together pour over chopped chocolate to melt (if using) add invert sugar add butter incorporate thoroughly mixing in as little air as possible proceed as you normally would HTH, :Clay
  2. Taylor: If you don't already have a copy, I can recommend "The Chocolate Bible" by Christian Teubner. In addition to covering the basics of working with chocolate it gives a number of recipes with step-by-step instructions with pictures. You can probably find what you're looking for in here. This is not a replacement for a book like Jean-Pierre Wybauw's excellent "Fine Chocolates Great Experiences," but you'll probably find it easier to get comfortable with the basics as outlined in The Chocolate Bible before tackling Wybauw. An alternative to The Chocolate Bible might be The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Chocolate, but there's much less emphasis on the basic techniques of working with chocolate to make enrobed ganache-centered truffles. :Clay
  3. Wendy, I sort of knew all this, but I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy until I have the experience to eyeball it: knowing temps and times is part of my process, it forces me to pay attention in a different way to what I am doing. I'll let everyone know how it all works out. :Clay
  4. C- Bear: Thanks - that's what I thought, just not sure how wide the temperature variation was. It's a 5 quart pot, solid copper (the inner surface is not tinned), $102. :Clay
  5. I was at Bridge Kitchenware earlier this week replacing a saute pan that got dinged in shipment and I noticed some beautiful copper pans made specifically for sugar work. They are a lot cheaper than I thought (and much heavier), so I am going to treat myself to a large one when I move back in to my house after a nine-month renovation project. I plan to do a lot more experimenting with caramels of various sorts. Question: I have an old-style bulb candy thermometer and I wonder if that's the best kind to use or whether a surface-read thermometer might be better. I've always wanted an excuse to purchase one of those digital infrared thermometers and I wonder if this is the right time. Thanks in advance, :Clay
  6. I have to second David Lebovitz' characterization of LeRoux's caramels. Many consider them to be the best in the world and I must admit that I have tasted none finer. I've not been to Quiberon but they are available in Paris in Denise Acabo's fabulous shop, a l'Etoile d'Or which is near the Moulin Rouge (metro: Blanche). Two different ideas presented here strike me as very good ways to incorporate beer into chocolate: The first is to make a flavored caramel using beer. A Belgian-style lambic with a strong secondary flavor (e.g., raspberry) sounds the most intriguing to me, although a Guinness caramel also sounds mighty appealing. Although it might sound weird, I think that the key to either of these would be a little salt to enhance the flavors. (I'm treating myself a copper caramel pot next in a couple of weeks at Bridge Kitchenware and I am definitely going to try my hand at doing this -- I would probably go to the extreme of making the beer caramels chewy and then "bottoming" them with chocolate.) The second would be to infuse chocolate malt and other beer-making ingredients in the cream used to make the ganache. These are likely to be quite bitter, so I'd think about some flavors to balance that bitterness, maybe a little bit of texture, too. A salted cashew praline to go with the Guinness sounds pretty interesting to me. :Clay edited to fix grammar and punctuation
  7. The ideal temperature for storing chocolate is between 55 and 60 degrees F with a relative humidity about the same (55-60%). One important aspect of this is that, insofar as possible, the temperature and humidity should not vary much. It is also important that the chocolate be wrapped to protect it from any incidental contact with moisture, against the possibility of the cocoa butter picking up any odors (cocoa butter is an odor magnet), and to keep the chocolate from "drying out." A dark cool corner of a basement or a temp/humdity controlled wine cellar set for red wine (which is what I have) is just about perfect. Ideally, you are able to leave the chocolate in the wrapper that the manufacturer provides. If you can't then you want to use multiple layers of protection - at least two. Freezer-weight zipper-close bags are good for this purpose, as long as you make sure to expel as much air as possible. A home vacuum-sealer is great for this too. One of my favorite wrappings to use is the new Press-N-Seal plastic wrap, especially the newer freezer-weight kind. This has got enough weight and the sealing ability makes it possible to wrap the chocolate VERY tightly. After you wrap this way (you could also use freezer paper or similar), place the wrapped block inside a heavy weight plastic bag, squish out the air, and seal. Whatever you do, do not use aluminum foil as an inner wrapping layer that directly touches the chocolate. Stored this way, chocolate without any dairy ingredients can be expected to easily last 18 months or more and chocolate with dairy ingredients at least 6-12 months (depending on the existing expiration date). If you need more time, find a slightly colder spot in your basement, say 48-55 degrees, ideally one where the temp does not swing wildly (the major problem is change in dew point which is where moisture condenses out of the air). This temp is about where white wine is often served, so a chiller/cellar set for white wine is perfect. Conventional refrigerators (and freezers, especially frost-free ones) are also dehumidifiers and so aren't the best places to store chocolate. There's no need to freeze the chocolate, in other words, unless you think you won't be able to use it up within a year or more from buying it. You can freeze if you need more time than this, but it's important to ensure that no moisture is in the packaging otherwise it will condense on the chocolate and possibly cause sugar bloom. Double-bagging with freezer-weight bags is a must. It's also best to freeze/thaw in two steps: to freeze, first put the chocolate in the fridge for a short time to ensure that there is no moisture condensing (if there is, insert a paper towel to absorb the moisture and pop back in the fridge, check after an hour, and if the moisture is gone, remove the towel) then pop the chocolate in the freezer. When thawing, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight (depending on size) then bring the block out and put it in a cool place away from heat or sunlight to let it warm up to room temperature. :Clay PS. Freezing is most often used to protect the dairy ingredients in ganaches and other fillings. I advise against freezing unless care is taken to ensure that the recipe is freeze-compatible. Taking the temp down to about 34-38 degrees F works like a charm as long as sufficient care is taken to protect against condensation as the chocolate warms up.
  8. {{{Shudder}}} I am trying not to imagine it. :Clay
  9. If you want to shorten cooking times when making DdL with tins of sweetened condensed milk, use a pressure cooker. A typical can takes 35-50 mins (YMMV) once pressure is reached. However, you MUST release pressure immediately and fish the can out of the hot water otherwise it will overcook and become grainy (sugar crystallizatio) and/or lumpy. Let the can cool naturally, don't shock it in an ice bath or you're pretty much guaranteed to muck up the texture. One other vehicle for the DdL for a cake layer that hasn't been mentioned would be {long beat} milk chocolate ganache. Make the ganache slightly thicker than normal because it will thin out when adding the DdL. Although it's not kosher for truffles, slightly warming the ganache and using a ballon whisk to incorporate a lot of air will give you a great texture ... at the expense of shelf life. I've found, however, that whipped ganache/DdL like this keep well when refrigerated and sets up nicely with a firm but light and airy texture. For the ganache, use a milk chocolate with flavor notes to accent the DdL -- Valrhona Jivara which has malt flavoring in it would be an interesting choice in this regard. :Clay
  10. This is something I wondered about with chocolate and my research indicated yes and no - not all silica gel packages are made with food grade materials and you need to calibrate the size of the bag and the adsorbency of the gell to the amount of humidity present and the space. It's possible (if you're not sure of the specs) for the gel to overydry the items in question and ruin them. More interesting is a silica gel product designed to protect against condensation. This keeps moisture out of the air while not drying out the food product. Here's a link to one such product. :Clay
  11. Try Package Nakazawa. Japanese company with a sales office in LA. Several high-end hotels I know of were looking to use them for their packaging. Comparatively inexpensive, too. :Clay
  12. Oh please do tell how you make this choc/dulce de leche ganache !!!! I make my dulce de leche by cooking an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pressure cooker. Usually 30 minutes after the cooker comes up to pressure suffices, but there's a thread in Pastry & Baking that covers the process in detail with lots of different options (especially this post). If you do cook in a pressure cooker, be sure to release the pressure immediately and remove the can right away, otherwise you'll overcook it. And, let the can cool completely before opening. Next I make a milk chocolate ganache. I tend to make one large quantity of a basic recipe and then divide it into smaller batches and make several flavors at a time. For this purpose, I'd use a 1:2 parts ratio of cream:chocolate (though the exact ratio depends on the fat content of the cream and the actual milk chocolate used). Once the chocolate and cream have been fully incorporated and still slightly warm, I add the dulce de leche, usually in a 1:3 ratio (4 ounces (weight) dulce de leche added to 12 ounces (weight) ganache) - making a pound of ganache. Fold together and let set. This will make a pipable (at room temp) ganache and I find it holds up well under refrigeration if care is taken to prevent condensation inside the container. :Clay
  13. Most of the recipes I have seen would make me think that the ratio is 1 drop to 1 pound of fondant sugar - which might be more reasonable. I like mklynch's approach a lot, but it strikes me as something that should be made a la minute or within a few hours of being served at most, otherwise the alcohol in the cherries, even with the cocoa powder coating, might start deconstructing the chocolate shell. Drying the surface of the cherries is important also, I imagine, otherwise there is the chance of the chocolate seizing (even with the cocoa powder coating). I have an event I am doing shortly and I am going to do these a la minute for dessert (at this point probably using store-bought cherries in liquor). I will bring out the temperer, but get really messy and "roll" the cherries like I might a conventional ganache center in chocolate in my palm. Might get some of my guests to help me on this one - tasting the "rejects" sounds like a lot of fun. :Clay
  14. I attended a short demonstration given by Mr Linxe in 2003 here in NY. One of the reasons why he boils his cream three times is because he buys raw cream. The first two boils are to pasteurize the cream (and, I suppose to develop some flavors and perform some of the other chemical transformations). After the 3rd boil, any flavoring ingredients are added and left to infuse. :Clay PS. As an aside, I observed in a demo given by Pascal Le Gac of LMDC there in NY in 2004 that he used a wire whisk to mix the ganache - and confirmed that it was their usual practice when I asked. I know that this is the subject of much debate. I have trouble believing that they make all their ganache by hand in small batches. With the boutiques they have in Paris and around the world, production has to be much larger scale than that. Does anyone know for certain? By hand or under vacuum with a Stephan or similar?
  15. Chocolate-covered cherries are covered in-depth in the Jean-Pierre Wybauw book - in fact, there is a whole chapter on fruit-in-liqueur chocolates. There's too much detail to try to reproduce here, but there are several different recipes as well as complete instructions and a description of the chemistry. Invertase is an important part of all of the recipes. :Clay
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