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Everything posted by Haley

  1. I am in Alabama and currently work out of my home so I feel your pain on the humidity. On really damp days I don’t even attempt some things. It is also usually much more humid in the mornings so I don’t start early. I have found that the EZ temper silk helps with humidity issues when I temper by hand. I haven’t tried it with machine tempered chocolate. I also store my chocolates in a wine fridge for humidity control. When heating the kitchen I don’t like to go above 64/65 degrees and when cooling I like it at 68/69 degrees. But it does make it hard on days like we’ve had recently where neither my AC nor my heat kick on to dry out the air because the house is sitting right in between those temps. As others have said, sometimes the bloom doesn’t show through and the chocolates come out of the molds fine. Good luck!
  2. I have had grainy texture with a couple different brands of cocoa butter. I get the best results if I melt and temper the cocoa butter myself then pour it out flat on parchment to set. Then I break it up and put it in the ez temper and it comes out perfectly silky. It’s an annoying extra step, but well worth the results.
  3. The way they explained it to me was that they have to have proof that you are charging sales tax on your final end product.
  4. I just pour the whole batch onto the molds and then use a scraper to spread it evenly into the cavities. I usually get a couple cavities that don’t fill completely or a few drips over the edge of the mold, but I have to have something to taste for quality control, right? 😉
  5. I use these molds from chef rubber for my caramels and I absolutely love them. No cutting, just pop them out. https://shop.chefrubber.com/item/606015/Candy-Mould-Square/
  6. It was a while ago when I made it, so I can’t remember exactly. I know I tried to follow the recipe exactly as written the first time and it never set up at all. I’ve made them a couple times and never had them firm enough to cut so I’ve always piped them into shells. Could have been user error though.
  7. Thanks! I did these with drops of colored cocoa butter (one petal at a time) and hit them strategically with straight air from my airbrush, blowing them in the direction I wanted them to go. For the purple/blue flower I just put 2 drops in at the same time and the air blended them together. There was a lot of trial and error at first but I ended up loving (for the most part) the non uniformity and random splatters that came with this technique.
  8. My Easter collection this year. Raspberry Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Pretzel with Caramel, Calamansi Meringue Pie, and Cookie Butter Crunch.
  9. I’ve made the Rob Roys, but had the same issue. Way too soft to cut. I tried adding more chocolate and it still didn’t set up enough. I just ended up piping them into molds. My husband loved them though!
  10. Good point! I hadn't considered that but you are absolutely right. That is why I come here for advice because I'm sure I will overlook so many things like this! Thanks
  11. I tend to get a lot more peaks on my dark chocolate ganaches, so I usually have to go back after the filling is set and use a gloved finger to gently press it down or even use a small angled spatula to scrape off the tip of the peak.
  12. Thanks so much for the advice. The main reason I am trying to make it look like a traditional kitchen/guesthouse is for resale down the road if we sell the house or if I end up growing out of the space and decide to move to a larger commercial space. I think the actual built-in "kitchen" will be quite small. I was thinking maybe a 2 burner induction cooktop, a small oven (the only thing I use it for in my current chocolate work is roasting nuts), microwave, sink, open shelving above and built-in cabinets below, a stone top island (maybe with a hand washing sink in it), and fridge/freezer combo. Obviously if I end up being able to do commercial, I would need to be sure to meet different requirements with sink and other appliances. Its all so much to think about so I really appreciate all these tips!
  13. Thanks! As far as the dish-washing, that will depend on if I can go the commercial route or not. Since it's residential I may not be allowed to do anything other than a cottage license anyway. But if I can do commercial I'm sure I'll need the 3 compartment sink and grease trap.
  14. Thank you so much Kerry! This is all very helpful.
  15. I am in the very beginning stages of building a chocolate house in my backyard. It will technically be a guest house/mother-in-law suite, but I will be using it mainly as my chocolate kitchen for my cottage food business (and am considering making it fully commercial if the health department will allow and if my budget allows). I plan for a main open kitchen/living room (with stainless steel tables instead of living room furniture), a large pantry for storage, a bedroom (with closet for extra storage), and a bathroom. The advice I am seeking is for a couple things specifically, and any advice in general is appreciated. Specifically, I am wondering what future equipment to plan for and the requirements I would need to accommodate for that now. I would love to someday upgrade to a tempering machine and enrobing line, so I know I need to consider electrical requirements for that, but also space. If I'm dreaming and want a selmi someday, how much space would I need for that? Would you put it against a wall, or do you need access to both sides of an enrobing belt? I'm assuming this would determine where the electrical outlet needs to be. I was really hoping to get a feel for all this equipment at the conference this year, but that apparently, was not in the cards. Other concerns are a spray area. I can't bring myself to buy a nice big spray booth right now because I imagine there has to be a way to build one cheaper. Either way, that brings up the concern about venting. Would it be smart for me to build in a vent to the outside, and if so, any advice on where to put it? I want the house to look as much like a normal kitchen as possible. Do you think a vent hood above the stove could somehow serve multi-purposes? Or do you think it would be better in a large walk in pantry where the cocoa butter could be more confined to one room? I plan to put a small island in the kitchen. I know marble is the classic material for tabling chocolate and other things, but does granite or other cheaper stone work as well? I do not temper my chocolate by tabling, but do occasionally use a stone for certain things (I've always just used my granite countertop in the past and it seemed to work fine). Since a traditional island will help the house feel more like a guest house and less like a commercial space, I figured I should make sure it adequately serves my chocolate purposes. Another question is about rolling racks and stainless steel tables. Where do you buy them and what size tables would you recommend? I have found plenty of places online but was wondering if anyone has any good (or bad) experiences with anywhere in particular. I have so many questions and am feeling super overwhelmed about it all so I appreciate any advice anyone is willing to give. Also, if anyone would be willing to share photos of your spaces, I would love to see them. I know its a busy time for all, so thanks in advance for any help you can give.
  16. I used these boxes for the large eggs https://www.nashvillewraps.com/boxes/clear-favor-boxes/p-358/1114 I had to custom make the colored inserts that hold the eggs in place myself. I have a cricut cutting machine and made a template that would hold my egg size in place. Since I only made a few of these, it worked well for my small scale production. I have used my cricut to make packaging for my bars and inserts for my boxes instead of trays. But it is only useful for very small quantities because it's quite time consuming. It does let me try different packaging ideas so when I am ready to make a big custom order I'll know what I like.
  17. Thanks! I actually didn't do much blending on purpose on those eggs. I was just doing layers of splatters, paint brush swipes, and finger swipes (when the big splatters started to drip down the side of the egg in a way I didn't like--that's probably where the blended look came in). I loved how they turned out in the end though. If your friend wants to find me, I'm on Instagram @handcraftedbyhaley
  18. I went ahead with my Easter chocolates this year and am so happy with how they turned out, but will never put myself through this painting process again! It turns out that I enjoy painting a few intricate eggs at a time, but not 60 per batch at a time. I was worried that all my hard work would go to waste but it turns out that people were really looking forward to these chocolates with all that’s going on and I ended up selling every last box. Flavors are s’mores, caramel with shortbread cookie, cookies and cream, and caramel with peanut butter and pretzel. The large eggs have small milk chocolate and cookie butter truffles inside them.
  19. Playing around with some egg designs. TBD which ones make the cut. Also waiting on a new order of cocoa butter colors so there will be more testing soon!
  20. The nice sold slightly better (as I suspected and was prepared for knowing my customers). I offered a slight discount when buying a box of each and that seemed to help balance out my inventory.
  21. Finally back on the forums to get some Valentine’s inspiration and thought I’d share my Christmas collections. I can never narrow down the flavors that I want to make, so as usual, I overdid it. I made 24 different bonbons this year in order to fulfill my idea of offering a “nice” box (more traditional flavors) and a “naughty” box (more non traditional flavors and more dark chocolate). Nice box flavors: turtle, salted caramel, strawberry, peanut butter, cookie butter, hot chocolate, peppermint, coffee, coconut, key lime, raspberry cheesecake, and hazelnut gianduja Naughty box flavors: rosemary olive oil, bananas foster caramel, kalamansi, spiked eggnog, salt and pepper, peanut butter pretzel, creme brûlée, pecan gianduja ganache, dark chocolate passion fruit, hazelnut latte, mango habanero, and chai I’m going to stick with a much more manageable number of flavors for Valentine’s Day!
  22. Here are a few of my pictures from the weekend so far. A few of us went to the City Museum last night and had too much fun. Can you spot Willow in the last picture?
  23. I made it to Atlanta. One more flight to go! I don’t travel by myself very often and I’m realizing that airports are so much easier without 3 little kids in tow. It’s kind of relaxing to sit here while I know my husband is at home running carpool and after school activities 😂
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