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hannah

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About hannah

  • Birthday 04/26/1966

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  1. White Trash Delicacies

    Creamed chipped beef over white Wonder bread toast or Welsh rarebit (but call it Welsh rabbit)
  2. Tempering Chocolate

    I am so glad chocartist mentioned those pre-molded shells! I've been wondering if anyone used those -- Eliseo Tonti introduced us to them, and I remember asking him if he didn't think it was "cheating" and wasn't it better -- more "artisanal" -- to hand roll everything. He gave me a pitying glance and said "Senora, that's a nice idea but it's just impossible -- you will never leave the lab if you roll everything by hand!" I rolled mushy truffle balls all morning because I was still resisiting those shells -- and what a piece of work this has been! In and out of the fridge every two seconds, two or three layers, ganache on the ceiling -- BAH! Tomorrow I am ordering truffle shells so I can concentrate on other things, like perfecting dipping technique and garnishing.
  3. Tempering Chocolate

    Don't be too excited about my success, suechoc -- my beautiful tempered chocolate has opened up a whole new world of mind-boggling mystery! Like why do some chocs drop out of the molds like butter, and others hang out in there for hours without unattaching themselves?! And why do the molds work (most of the time) but the centers dipped in the same chocolate never dry?? And why so many air bubbles -- what's up with that??? Why such inconsistencies???? These are only a few of the great hurdles you are about to encounter on your journey...good luck, and let me know if you fare better than I (and how)!
  4. Tempering Chocolate

    Veni, vidi, temperus.... (I came, I saw, I tempered) Ta-dahhh! We have success! Both direct warming (with Elaine's step-by-step and new microwave) and seeding (Steve and Chefette), and with all types of chocolate. And it only took two days to figure out! Whew. I am now a dippin', moldin' fool. Thanks y'all!
  5. Tempering Chocolate

    ok, I said I wouldn't be back until victory was mine, but I lied. Just wanted to respond to Steve and Chefette about Tonti. First, Steve, you mustn't think for a moment that I didn't/don't/can't appreciate the class I took with Eliseo. I knew I was in the presence of a true maestro, and was duly cowed. I also learned a great deal in a short amount of time, but because of my level of experience (which was/is zero) and the fact that Italian is not my first language (though Eliseo was very easy to understand), I may not have been in the best situation to truly respond to and absorb all that he had to offer. But in these past few days I find myself returning again and again to the materials from his class, going over his recipes (though he always said "Never learn recipes! Learn the WHY behind the recipe!" -- and ain't it the truth) and techniques, trying to understand more now than I did then. As for Chefette's questions, the class was unfortunately a short one of only a week (I took it this past February at CAST Alimenti in Brescia, outside Milano). It was indeed a professional class but was entitled "Il cioccolato dalla A alla Z e cioccolateria artigianale" (Choc A to Z and Artisanal Choc), so obviously it was geared towards the chocolate novice or near-novice. There were only eight of us and I was the only non-Italian AND the only one without at least some experience in the food biz. The others were also newish to chocolate but were or had been working as apprentices or assistants in pastry, gelato, and chocolate shops around Italy. But I would say as far as chocolate goes we were all on equal footing. I believe he took the class seriously because he takes chocolate seriously -- VERY. It is his life, that fact was very clear. He knew we were novices (hence the name and purpose of the class) and he DID teach us to temper -- theoretically. (In fact I just reread the page on tempering and he had us cross out every method but "riscaldamento" -- direct warming! NOW I know). But theory and practice are two different things, and like I said before, most of the time we sat in bewilderment as he prepared one ganache after another, or tempered bowl after bowl, without telling us whats or whys. We all (not just me) gleaned as much missing info as we could from his three harried assistants! The bottom line is, not everyone can teach, especially new info to new students. (Other classes before ours had complained to the director, so our experience was nothing new). I could tell Eliseo would be in his element in master classes, but a basics course was beyond him as a teacher, and I could see sometimes that he may have been frustrated with us. (BTW I have a master's degree in English Education, and was a kickass high school teacher, so I know whereof I speak). Let me put it this way -- there is a reason why some people teach high school and some people teach college -- it's a matter of temperament, patience, and interest. HS teachers teach first students, then the subject matter. College professors teach first the subject matter, then the students. Eliseo is a professor, and one of the highest order. If I were already a pro, he's the one I'd seek out. But don't get me wrong. I really liked the man, we had a few laughs, and he was very generous when I asked him to go over certain things. AND he was tough on me and made me explain things back to him in my broken Italian whether I liked it or not. I have the utmost respect for him. Chefette, he didn't demo much -- the basics of chocolate sculpture and marzipan modelling. While fascinating, I was really hoping to spend the last two days of class in PRACTICE, which we didn't get to do. I left understanding how much I didn't know. I don't know if any of you teach beginners, but if you don't, you should. You've all demonstrated the generous patience and intense interest in your metier that are necessary-- and hey, you could turn a coupla bucks... Steve, I was in Rimini at the Sigep trade show in February. Did you get to go to the very lovely nearby town of Riccione while you were there? One of my favorite towns in Italy (explanatory note: my fiance is Italian (from the Tuscan coast, lucky me) and we lived in Tuscany until a month ago. Now we're here in this rainy no-man's-land just waiting for the day we can move back! So anyway, that's how I ended up at CAST Alimenti). That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.
  6. Tempering Chocolate

    Yes, it was Eliseo Tonti. Does that mean something I should know about? I just want to extend my warmest thanks and gratitude to the eGullet Disaster Relief Squad, especially Steve, Elaine and Chefette, all of whom have gone above and beyond to wake me from this tempering nightmare. Today is my day, I just feel it. The next time you hear from me I will have joined the ranks of successful temperers. Off I go...
  7. Tempering Chocolate

    Oh, woeful, miserable failure! Perhaps I should just not be allowed to touch chocolate ever again. It's been a long, long day. Attempt 1: Yes, I switched to dark chocolate. I do not have a reliable microwave, so I tried Elaine's direct warming on a bain marie. I weaned myself from the thermometer and just heated very slowly until my chocolate was fluid, as she said. Then I removed it from the heat and added new seed chocolate and started stirring. Out of curiosity, I did check the temp after removing from heat and found that it had already reached over 120F before all the chocolate was melted, so what's a girl to do? I knew then I was doomed, but I kept going anyway. So the direct warming was failure #1. Question: Why does everyone else's chocolate melt before 90F, and mine doesn't??? Is the microwave the secret to this particular method? Attempt 2: I decided to keep going, as I said, just for practice with the seeding. Needless to say, I did reach 90F after a short time, but it was of course a moot point. I poured some in a test mold anyway, just to check at least viscosity, which has been a big problem these past few days. It was thick and did not drip out when I turned the molds over. Again for the sake of practice, I brought the heat up a couple degrees to test viscosity, but it didn't make much difference. So seeding (using small chunks, not pistoles) was failure #2. Questions: Is this chocolate ruined forever because of the too-high heat? How thin/warm must the chocolate be for molding? Why isn't the 88-90F temp good enough? This is a huge mystery to me at the moment, and one that is really getting my knickers in a twist. Attempt 3: Out of sheer frustration and curiosity I turned once again to the machine. I really just wanted to see what it did that was different from what I did. I changed the default settings to melt dark choc to 45C, then temper/cool to 31.5C. At that temp, it still seemed a bit thick to me, but I did a knife test which turned out ok (the first one that has!). Then I dipped some truffles, which came out rather well and, to my surprise, actually hardened within a reasonable amount of time and had a decent (though not great) shine. THEN I tried to mold again and found the chocolate just too darn thick to work with. The first I put in at the 31.5C temp -- it did not drip out and now will not come out of the mold period. So I increased the heat by a couple of tenths at a time, molding something every two tenths or so up until I reached 32.2C. The same result each time. Too thick going in, and NOTHING drips out when I turn them over. ( I did warm the molds before use). And so far I have had nothing actually come out of a mold once it's gone in. So that's where I am. This mold thing is really sticking in my craw because I can't believe that it's just me -- everyone and his grandmother is out there tempering, dipping, and molding, so why am I having such issues? I find it all rather bizarre. Would the fact that it has been raining here in Providence for the last ten days have anything to do with it? Or must I truly accept all the blame? I ran around trying to control the temp in every room before I started this morning, but I can only do so much -- the chocolate needs to meet me half way. I have not given up, but I honestly don't know what else to do at this point. I have gotten so much great info from this thread that I'm not sure there is anything else that anyone can add. I would just really love an explanation for the behavior of my chocolate, especially when molding. Plus, even BTW, of course I realize that seeing and reading are two different things. The scary part of all this is that I actually was trained by a real live person in Italy (but apparently not well). He's an Italian who has spent his 45-year career in Switzerland working almost exclusively with chocolate. The man knows what he's doing but, unfortunately, was not so great at imparting that knowledge to a class of neophytes. We were all a bit in the air about the technical stuff, and he never actually let us temper ourselves, if you can believe it! I even persuaded him to walk me through it personally, but the man was just full of good intentions and no talent for teaching. Most of the course was spent watching him prepare ganaches and fillings and harping about good practice (he was crazy for keeping that bowl clean!) and the virtues of Gran Cru, so I came away with a lopsided education, which I just knew would be a problem. And that's the back story to my failure as a temperer. But he would be proud of my clean bowls and naked ganache... If there is further help for me, great. If not, I completely understand and I'll just keep trying all the stuff I already know about until I am successful. Something's gotta give!
  8. Tempering Chocolate

    Thanks for the quick reply. Also glad to hear seawakim has had success -- how inspirational! To answer your first questions: 1. I'm using Callebaut milk chocolate couverture and it's brand spankin' new. (BTW, from a pro's POV, is this a decent choc or no? Should I go Valrhona?) 2. I have NOT managed to successfully temper it manually. In today's attempt I used the bain marie approach, melted it to 41ish just fine, then attempted to cool simply by removing from heat and seeding the chocolate (using a mixture of new chocolate chunks and the previously melted lumps from other attempts). After 30 or 40 more minutes and continuous stirring and seeding, I had only managed to get down to 28ish. I admit to some impatience, and brought it up to 30-31 a bit too early, and of course it was too thick. So I poured it back in it's bowl and had a cup of coffee. I will say that somewhere during the cooling period, around 30 C, the chocolate had a lovely gloss and seemed to be at the right viscosity for molding or dipping. But I was so intent on temperature readings and the conviction that it simply HAD to cool to 26 C first, I just ignored what may have been a correct temper. Is it possible that it is not always necessary to cool then warm again? Some of the advice in this thread led me to believe that some folks were doing only two steps (melt to 40, cool to 30), rather than three (melt, cool, warm), which has confused me a bit. 3. I am using a Taylor digital thermometer, which seems fairly useless as the temp goes up and down, up and down. (I saw the suggestion to swirl it around a bit, which I will try next time). BTW, when I put that therm in the machine the other day, it showed 1ish degree less than the machine temp. My tempering machine is supposedly one of the better ones and it does allow me to set my own temperatures, at least for the melting. (And I do believe the preset is for dark choc). But it seems to me that if it says "beginning tempering process", that includes both cooling and rewarming, not just cooling. But I will call the manufacturer on that point...now I'm more concerned with being able to do this manually in under two hours! Thanks SO much. At least I can say that my raspberry ganache, while topless, is incredibly tasty...
  9. Tempering Chocolate

    Hi all -- I've just finished reading all the info on chocolate tempering and decided I must join this forum immediately! Please forgive the length of this, my first foray into the forum world, but I'm full of questions and frustration... What prompted my visit in the first place was the delivery of my new Chocovision Revolation 10lb tempering machine, which was supposed to make my job easier. Two days later, and I still have no tempered chocolate. Of course, it's the weekend so I can't get support from Chocovision, and time is a-wastin'. I know someone on the board also owns this machine, and I would LOVE some help. The problem: I loaded 3lbs of milk choc and let the machine go through its default settings, just to see what would happen. The first thing I noticed was that it heated the choc in the melt cycle to 42.2 C, which I don't think is correct. Then I put in the seed chocolate and hit the temper button, expecting the temp to automatically drop to 27-28 C, then go up to 31-32 C. Instead, it just dropped to 32.2, beeped to tell me to remove seed choc, then leveled out at 32.2 until it beeped again to tell me it was ready to go. It never dropped below the 30s. Am I crazy, or did the machine miss a step somewhere? Then I tried to manually enter the temps to melt up to 45 C, cool to 27 C, then warm to 32 C. It didn't seem to make any difference, as the machine just went about it's business, beeping indiscriminately, demanding I remove seed choc when there was none, refusing to melt ALL of the choc, etc. The resulting chocolate which was supposedly ready was impossible to use in both cases. I did the spatula test, and the chocolate refused to harden. I tried using it for both dipping and molding, failures all. The chocolate is thick, dull, will not harden no matter what I do, will not come out of the mold, and hangs off my truffles like glue. Can someone explain this behavior? I can certainly temper with the microwave, but then why did I buy this expensive machine?! And now I have bowls of ganache with nowhere to go. Other questions about tempering with the machine and otherwise: --what do I do when I have lots of leftover melted choc that may or may not have been tempered correctly? Can I just let it harden then pop it back into the machine and start all over? --how do I temper already melted chocolate that has been sitting around for awhile? Do I need to add seed choc and bring it up to melting temp again, or what? --how many times can I put the same chocolate through the tempering process? --I found molding and dipping with the machine extremely uncomfortable and messy as the opening is too small. Should I transfer the choc to another bowl? Any suggestions to make the process faster and more comfy? I was expecting to be able to take this machine out of the box and actually use it immediately, with minor manual adjustments. I am a chocolate novice, yes, but a trained one who thought she knew what she was doing until this beast arrived. But now I'm about to hoist it out the window. I am at wit's end, and would greatly appreciate any and all advice. Thanks a lot!
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