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  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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"?
  10. I think I might try that - not having any significant experience with accidental crystallization of caramels, I wasn’t sure if it was something I needed to be super-cautious about... In a worst-case scenario of caramel crystallization, does the entire thing become crystallized, or just the edges (over a time scale of several days)?
  11. If they’re rounded enough, they don’t stick together - tumbling would round the corners pretty well, but I don’t think it would be sufficient to get them round enough (basically it would make rounded cubes, like gambling dice) - I need as close to spheres as I can get, since any flat spots will stick together once I start panning. (I might try it though, if no one has any better ideas)
  12. Does anyone have any tricks for making small balls of caramel (suitable for panning with sugar and chocolate)? So far I've tried making a batch of caramels, cutting them into little squares after they cool, and rolling them by hand into balls, but I very quickly run into the problem of the heat from my hands warming the caramels enough to release some of the fat from the butter in the caramel, making my hands too greasy for rolling. I could cool the caramels first to minimize this, but then they'd be too hard and won't change shape. I solved a similar problem when hand-rolling chocolate truffles by coating them in cocoa powder first - can I do something similar by tossing the caramel squares in powdered sugar first, or will that cause the caramels to crystallize?
  13. Having a bit of fun.... Caramels soft-panned in toffee, then covered in chocolate: I made two different batches to try out two different methods, and totally in a rush so neither are fully set, but so far both are tasty - I’ll give a report on which is better once the shells have time to fully set (assuming the toffee shells will fully crystallize under the chocolate)
  14. @minas6907: that’s really helpful, thanks. I had heard about gum acacia as a final coat, but also read that it didn’t do very well as a moisture barrier (but that was from an industry book, so they have different standards than I do). From what you’re saying, I should do fine with it, so I’ll give it a shot. I’m right now just at the very beginning of learning how to pan, and have huge piles of learning to do - my first introduction to panning of any kind was when I finished building my panner and fired it up the weekend before last So far I’ve made chocolate covered coffee beans: ...and dried bluberries soft-panned with lemon flavor (from which I learned I need to seal the blueberries first so the juice doesn’t make the yellow shell greenish ):
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