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Trufflenaut

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  1. I haven't tried the pillow mint formula (though it does look interesting to try). The recipe I'm using is from "Candymaking" by Ruth Kendrick and Pauline Atkinson - it only has water, butter, sugar, peppermint extract, and coloring. After making several batches successfully, then having a string of failures (when the batch fails, it suddenly goes from a pullable gooey mass to a pile of crystallized sugar that falls apart at the merest touch in a span of about 10-20 seconds - it would be pretty awesome if you weren't crying over the wasted effort), I did a little bit of research, and found an article that mentioned having to pull the sugar outside in winter for it to work successfully, as it needed the cold air to cool it down as fast as possible during the process. I've since gotten into the habit of pulling the sugar in front of the AC vent at full blast, or outside if it's a cold night (by southern california standards) and have had a much higher success rate. For the working time, if you try cutting them when too warm, it's easier to cut, but more oozy (you have to keep everything moving or it will slowly flatten out onto the table), and if its too cold, it becomes much more solid and difficult to draw out into a rope and cut ("crystallizing" may be the wrong word at this point - it gets much more solid and brittle at this point, and you can feel a grittiness on the surface), so basically the 2 minute window is the temperature range between "too soft to hold shape after cutting" and "too hard to cut effectively". After cutting, the candies harden up into something the consistency of a very hard caramel, and overnight they crystallize into soft pillows of awesomeness.
  2. Do you mean leaving most of it cooling on the slab untouched, and cutting out a small portion at a time to pull and cut? I haven't tried that, but I'll give it a shot.
  3. Unfortunately, it requires rapid cooling or it falls apart
  4. With a quartz slab, I would still have to deal with trying to keep a slippery pastry scraper stable while cutting - I've occasionally had it slip sideways while cutting and fling a piece or two across the room. A knife and cutting board might work, but an optimal solution would be something hinged and table-mounted, so I can just slide the candy through and chopchopchop without having to worry about keeping a tool stable. I was thinking my optimal solution would be something like this, but in an easy to clean and spring-loaded version: https://kwcigarfactory.com/desktop-guillotine-cigar-cutter/
  5. I need some advice on a safe(ish), easy, and fast way to cut buttermints I often make buttermints for friends for the holidays, and have run into problems cutting them into bite size pieces before the sugar cools and starts to crystallize too much, so I'm looking for ideas on how to do it more quickly so I can do larger batches. Note that I am doing this at home and have very little budget, but on the plus side I don't need to end up with perfectly uniform pieces. The basic process for making the buttermints is: 1. cook butter and sugar to 260 degrees 2. pour out onto buttered marble slab and let cool slightly 3. add color and flavor, and pull like taffy while it cools further 4. when it just starts to show signs of crystallizing, roll into ropes and cut before it crystallizes much further (I have maybe 2 minutes if I'm lucky to get all the cutting done) The main problem I run into is that when handling the candy during steps 3 and 4, my hands need to be buttered so the candy doesn't stick to me, and even if I quickly wash my hands, any cutting tool needs to also be buttered to prevent sticking, and basically it's nearly impossible to maintain a good grip on anything. The second problem is that the candy at this point is hard enough that if I try to snip it with scissors it will tend to slide along the blade instead of getting cut, yet it is still plastic enough that if I pick it up it will tend to sag under its weight and thin out too much while I'm concentrating on getting the scissors to cut right. My best results so far have been with leaving the candy on the marble and cutting it with a pastry scraper, but pressing down hard enough to cut all the way through with a slippery (due to the aforementioned buttered hands) pastry scraper while trying not to gouge the marble underneath is not particularly fun. I did try pruning shears once because the curved blade holds the candy in place instead of sliding along the blade, which worked fine except for the fear of lopping off parts of a finger made it too nerve-wracking to be done quickly. Basically, I'd love to find something that works like this, but for something with the consistency of a hard caramel: Any ideas? -Trufflenaut
  6. Before getting too involved with the modifications you mentioned, you might try putting the items you are panning into the freezer for half an hour or so before panning (or in the refrigerator for a few hours). The chocolate will set very quickly on the cold items, and much less quickly on the room-temperature pan. If you are panning something dense like macadamia nuts or hazelnuts, they'll stay cold enough to keep setting the chocolate for most of the panning session, and when they warm up too much for the chocolate to set nicely, you can just stick them in the fridge for a little while, then continue. For less dense items like coffee beans, you'll just need to give them a break in the fridge more often. Note that you don't want everything to be too cold - you just want it to be cold enough that the chocolate sets "very quickly" and not instantly (though once you get the hang of it, you might try experimenting with very cold centers - it can make interesting things happen). I've panned several pounds of nuts and coffee beans so far, and I've only needed an occasional blast of air with a fan (not cooled air) to have pretty good results. I also don't have any obstacles in my pan, and have found that if I use cold centers, I don't really need them - the chocolate ends up coating the pan with a rough surface of chocolate, and that ends up providing enough grip to keep things tumbling. I usually only have troubles with getting things tumbling at the very beginning, until they get a nice layer of chocolate started, and the cold centers help speed up that initial process. Give it a try before making any modifications to your pan - you may find out you don't need the mods... Or you may find out that you do need them, but at least you won't have lost much time or materials in the testing. As for using drill motors in panning machines, the problem is that drill motors need to spin very fast to get enough cooling so they don't overheat - constantly running them at the low speeds needed for panning will make them burn out very quickly. I solved this problem in my panning machine by taking the gearbox out of one drill, and putting it in the chuck of another intact drill, and attaching the pan to the gearbox - this gave enough of a speed reduction that the intact drill runs at nearly full speed, while the pan runs at good panning speed. If you are planning on going this route, feel free to message me and I'll can give you any advice you need.
  7. For my mom’s birthday: ~2 1/2 lbs each of chocolate covered macadamia nuts and hazelnuts... I deliberately left a lot of doubles (and a few triples) to go for more of a “nut cluster” effect
  8. Really awesome work! Would you mind sharing your final recipe? I want to play around with starch-only gummies, so I'd love to hear what worked for you, as well as any observations you made about how different factors changed the final outcome. (edible science is the best kind of science)
  9. That sounds like exactly the type of crazy scheme I'd come up with... I like it! Not gonna try it, but I do like the way you think.
  10. I don't remember what recipe I had used for the caramel, but it was fairly soft once cooled, and I used one of the cheap clear plastic molds used for chocolates - at room temperature the caramel stuck like crazy to the molds and I couldn't get it out cleanly, and after putting it in the freezer for a while, the caramels stuck even harder to the molds, and were still soft enough that I couldn't just leverage them out. For panning, if the caramels are rounded enough, they shouldn't stick significantly, and even if they do, once the first coat is on they'll act just like anything else in the pan. At least in my experience, the stickiness of caramels is directly related to their temperature, so even a little bit of cooling should drop the stickiness quite a bit. You may have had a problem with doubles and triples when panning with chocolate on very cold centers, simply by insta-hardening the chocolate before it had a chance to thin out across the whole batch - cooling the caramels in the fridge for a while should cool them enough to reduce their stickiness while not being so cold that the added chocolate won't flow at all (but this is speculation, and warrants experimentation to verify ). I think with taffy-pulling the caramels you basically made fudge... That actually gives me some ideas for interesting panning experiments to play with later, and makes me worry a lot less about the result if my panned caramels do crystallize - if I end up with chocolate covered caramel-fudge instead of chocolate covered caramels, it wouldn't be a disaster.
  11. The panning process itself for caramels doesn't seem to need any special considerations - I just recommend popping them in the fridge for half an hour or so first to make sure they're firm - panning on small scales (1-2 lbs or so) doesn't seem to put a lot of "squishing" force on the centers, except in any corners that exist. If you want to pan caramels with chocolate, I recommend just trying it - it will probably go a lot better than you fear. The marzipan roller board looks perfect. If I get some time, I'll fix up my 3D printer and try printing one - the finish on it wouldn't be perfectly smooth, but it will work fine for something that's going to be panned with a smooth coat anyways. I wouldn't recommend any molds (and especially not ice cube trays) for caramel - the last time I tried it the caramel stuck to the mold quite viciously, and getting them out was a significantly unpleasant process, with a high casualty rate (but also keep in mind that I'm a noob, and I'm sure there are more competent people who know how to do such things correctly).
  12. Update: Apparently soft-panned sugar shells don't crystallize of they're covered in chocolate too soon (I figured as much, but I was in a hurry and didn't have time to wait before chocolatifying them)... But they still taste good.
  13. In that case, I may just try the powdered sugar and see if it works. I’ll report back once I’ve done some testing. Thanks for the help.
  14. Hrm... That might work, but may not be optimal... Would cornstarch work? (for one of the things I have in mind, cocoa powder would not be optimal) Is sugar crystallization triggered only by sugar crystals, or is it also triggered by anything that's sufficiently "not smooth"?
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