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Douglas K

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  1. I know, I should have taken an interior shot, but I always forget. To busy eating! I really like my sourdough starter since it rises so well, and isn’t super sour. The interior of these was a good mix of open crumb with areas of tighter. I’m learning and getting better!
  2. Some sourdough focaccia made from the recipe at The Perfect Loaf, though I like to add some whole wheat flour. Topped with olive oil/basil purée, mushrooms, Parmesan, and some San Marzano tomatoes that were super ripe and jammy tasting.
  3. I would think, from others’ experience I’ve read here, that you’d end up more with a potato chip with the flat bars. Or at least a big dish. The best idea I’ve seen is the one above involving spraying a cocoa butter/chocolate mix first. I’m just not in the mood for that kind of work right now, but I have thought of doing some decorated bars in the future.🙂
  4. My experience with this is the bar contracts as it cools/solidifies. Since the back of the bar cools faster, it contracts faster than the top of the bar, and the bar cups. You end up with a last spot that always stays in contact with the mold, which is what leaves the mark. It's always in the center, though sometimes can be offset towards either long side. I just made three batches of chocolate on successive days, so thought I would try a few things. I'm primarily using a Chocolate World mold CW1936, which is a 57 gram bar. I'm making chocolate in a melanger, and the batches this time were around 1600g for a 56% milk chocolate. I also re-tempered a 75% dark chocolate. Since the house is warm, I've been putting the molds into the refrigerator for 15 minutes after filling, then moving to the basement to finish. I tried changing the spot where I pour the chocolate when I start filling each cavity, and I found no difference in where the marks form on the finished bars. Also, since the fridge has glass shelves, I tried raising the molds off the shelf to get better air circulation underneath to no avail. I think unless I can figure out a way to cool the bottom of the mold rapidly first, I will always get these marks. I know I'm not alone since I've purchased bars from bean to bar shops that have worse marks than mine, so I don't feel so bad. I wouldn't be too worried about the piping method. I just did a whole bunch of chocolate letters without issue by piping them to fill. I've done very little of that before, and it went quite well without anything getting lumpy. I just don't think piping is going to make any difference regarding mold marks.
  5. At last some photos. I did the lot in 7 batches. 93 letters, and all of them tempered perfectly. I packaged them carefully and carried them on the plane with me. Got them to their destination without incident thankfully. Was worried that TSA would think 9 lbs of chocolate letters would be a bomb or drug smuggling. The photos with 3 letters are my first test letters done with different chocolate, but give you an idea of the mold marks etc. The wedding party packaged them for distribution, and they did a fantastic job. They looked great in their clear bags, and they put a sticker on the back with a story about the Dutch tradition of getting chocolate letters at Christmas. It was a fun project, if not a lot of work, and it was great to be able to provide some very special chocolate for my nephew and his wife. The Peru Marañon tasted fantastic. It is perhaps my favorite dark chocolate so far.
  6. I wanted to do a follow-up just in case anyone is interested. I am currently in the middle of making 100 chocolate letters for my Nephew’s wedding. I did some tests earlier, and pouring these molds and scraping is a non-starter. First, there’s no good way to get a good scrape, and the tops of the letters are curved, so you end up with a little foot when you do. I’ve been piping these, and I’m not great at it since I’ll have a little trimming to do, but it’s going pretty well. It’s warm in our house as well, so the 15 minutes in the fridge, and then putting them in the 70 degree basement is working well. There are some mold marks, but it looks fine for something an amateur like me made. The chocolate is a 70% bittersweet chocolate ( Peru Maranon) that I made, and I’ve been tempering with tempered cocoa butter. I’ll post some photos later.
  7. Interesting. We will be moving to Puerto Rico in a couple of years, and I was wondering this same thing. Here in Colorado during the summer I can get the house cool enough in the mornings to be able to work until 11 AM or so depending on the day. I do use the fridge, and our basement pretty much keeps below 75 so I can put my molds down there.
  8. These are definitely like the Tomric molds, but more bendy as you say because there’s no rim around the mold to stiffen up the whole thing. The letters themselves don’t seem to flex too much. Piping the chocolate is definitely a good idea. We’ll see how it goes!
  9. Thank you Kerry. All I’ve used are the heavy polycarbonate ones, well except for the one Tomric bar mold that is lighter weight. Here’s hoping this works, and it’s what my family member wants!
  10. I have a one-off project needing chocolate letters. I’m not really finding a lot that fits my needs, and I really don’t want to spend a lot for a one time deal. I’m also not a professional, and I’m doing the project for family. I did come across these Cake Girl letters that are about perfect in terms of size. I was wondering I anyone had experience with these, and if they made a decently finished product.
  11. I would also add the Cocktail Codex by the same folks who did Death and Co.
  12. So, as a former winemaker, I can tell you that malic acid is just another organic acid. If you’re making chocolate, then I can’t see that because the fruit base contained more malic acid, that it would create any flavor issues for you. Malic acid is a less strong tasting acid, so it won’t be cutting through the chocolate as much. In winemaking we’d do malolactic fermentation for two reasons. First for stability in reds, so it happens in barrel or tank rather than in bottle, second mainly for Chardonnays to get the buttery flavor (which I hate) from diacetyl which is a byproduct depending on what bacteria you used. Long term it isn’t an issue in reds since it breaks down over time in the acid environment. Likely too much information, but there you go. Make on and don’t worry.
  13. Haven’t seen the slofoodsgroup website. Looks good. I’ve been buying my Vanilla beans and Saffron from Vanilla Saffron Imports saffron.com. Originally it was because of saffron (which is great, and I am pretty particular about saffron), but they used to offer a chefs quality vanilla beans which were shorter and not as even in length as first quality, but just as good. I used to use more vanilla beans when I did more home brewing, and had a popular vanilla porter. Now it’s just a few beans here and there, and I was also surprised at the price increase after my last large (for me) order ran out. Anyhow, I’d be interested in trying out their Uganda vanilla beans with the Ugandan nibs I’ve bought to make chocolate. Little known fact about me. My avatar as I guess you’d call it, or my profile picture is of my dog whose name is Saffron. It’s an important spice to me, and she is more precious than the most expensive spice. She’s over 13 years old now and still totally spunky. I’ll never regret giving her that name, nor adopting her as a pound puppy. She’s the best dog, beautiful, sweet, incredibly smart, and just an all around great friend. I wish she could live forever!
  14. @curls I will never discourage anyone from doing something like tabling chocolate to temper it. Full bore ahead if you want to learn it. For many of us it is impractical to say the least. I’m definitely a novice, and I have no desire to be a professional, so doing the easiest possible thing for what is possibly the most daunting task in chocolate is what I’m about. Seeding chocolate, especially since I am taking it from the melanger is the simplest most foolproof (me being the fool) method I’ve done. I realize that there is some honor and tradition in learning the old method, but for me if the end product is the same, I’m all for easy and slightly skilled. This is coming from someone who is generally more of a traditionalist. Ultimately I’m not about screwing up a bunch of batches to learn when I get it right every time with little skill. I guess I’m a bit of an idiot, but proud of it this time.
  15. I find these issues common with the books. They just don’t edit or proofread these well. Like for example using sorbitol should it be powder or liquid? Same with other ingredients. At least with Wybauw he will say Boiron purée, which is not universal. There’s too much assumption about what the reader knows.
  16. @Chuck Avalon I guess I am going to find out since I just bought a lifetime’s worth (for me) of paper lined foil from Alufoil. I do appreciate you confirming that the plastic sleeves just aren’t right. To my mind they just don’t give the impression of a quality product. I am not a pro, and won’t ever be one (unless it’s on a hobby basis out of Puerto Rico) so the margins aren’t an issue. It’s more how what I make looks. What other suppliers are there out there for foil for bars?
  17. @Jim D. Yes, that’s the actual term! The other possibility from the chemistry world is a stainless steel weighing spatula. Anything with the lab name of course is expensive, but there are possibilities like this: https://www.amazon.com/Scoop-Reagent-Stainless-Sampling-Spatulas/dp/B06ZXW9467/ref=pd_lpo_328_img_2/137-3182723-2384069?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06ZXW9467&pd_rd_r=a996aaae-194e-4cdd-911a-71c795187296&pd_rd_w=ZW9UN&pd_rd_wg=fUmXN&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd_r=55C6PFF0MMKXNBNYD623&psc=1&refRID=55C6PFF0MMKXNBNYD623 I’m a big fan of repurposing things for other uses.
  18. @Jim D. If you are thinking of metal, perhaps there’s an artists palette knife in stainless steel that might work. Dick Blick or Jerry’s Artarama are good sources online. I also remember from my chemistry days we used a “rubber policeman” which fit on the end of a stirring rod. They were of varying stiffness depending on the material.
  19. In my defense, I don’t think I’ve used the term “silk” for the solid cocoa butter, it just doesn’t seem right to me. If I have, then it was an honest mistake. However, I am making “silk” in the sous vide. I’ve only timed it right once where I could use it right out of the jar for tempering. My original question still remains which is still about slightly too warm of “silk” in what I’ll call a “milk” phase. If I just lower the temperature a bit would it go back to the “silk” phase? I’ll experiment this weekend and see since I have the same cocoa butter, and my notes on the temperatures. I guess we’ve just defined new phases of matter: solid, silk, milk, liquid, gas. 🤪 Now to make the confectioner’s periodic table.
  20. Thanks @GRiker. I should have been more clear. I do exactly what you do with micro planing, and dumping it all in at once. My first batches everything was moving so fast for me that I just didn’t wait long enough for it to melt completely and do its job. I re-tempered that batch with the more traditional lower and raise temperature method, which taught me some patience. I did completely melt the cocoa butter this time and let it solidify. When I let this batch which was over melted, and yet still milky, solidify, it made a nice uniform solid in the jar. Lowering the temperature .4 degrees F the second time around made a perfect batch.
  21. Funny that this became a thing. 8 years ago I went with my wife to Europe, and we spent a week in Amsterdam so she could learn where my family came from. One day we stopped in a bar/cafe and my wife wanted hot chocolate, and they came out with a hot cup of milk with a solid chocolate on a stick to stir in it. It was great, so I made hot chocolate on a stick for Christmas gifts that year for family, and it was amazingly well received. Fast forward to now, and it’s all about bombs. Go figure. The neat thing with the stick is you made it as strong as you wanted.
  22. So, I don’t have an EZ Temper, but this seemed to be the best place to ask this since it’s the same process. I’m making silk in a sous vide bath. An EZ Temper is out of the question right now for me since I’m not a professional, and will not ever be one. If I were, it would definitely be a high priority item since I like the method of tempering, and the EZ temper way is such an easy way to do it with instant results. My failures with tempering has been not being patient with my stirring in of the grated solid “silk”. I’ll never have a chocolate business, so my emphasis is buying equipment to do my tree to bar business at home in Puerto Rico. So I hope you understand I am focusing on roasting and fermentation for now. Perhaps it will be in my distant future. My question is regarding temperatures. My latest batch of “silk”. Was with some natural cocoa butter, and at 93 after 24 hours it wasn’t totally melted, but was definitely not mayonnaise. It was definitely translucent, but also very liquid. I let it solidify in the jar, and it made a nice solid “cake” for better word, which seemed to me to be a good type 5 structure. I’ve put it back into the water bath now at a lower temperature, but I was wondering if something that was as translucent as it was might have solidified to the mayonnaise thickness at a lower temperature without letting it crystallize and then melting it again. I totally understand why the EZ temper is so great, but just asking how someone with one would handle this.
  23. What are people using for a wrap for bars. I’m new to this, and the one business I know that does bean to bar wraps in plastic sleeves, which I don’t want to do. I see foil wraps, and various paper lined wraps. I’m looking at Alufoil foil on 15# tissue. Is this a normal inner wrap for bars?
  24. This weekend I made my largest batch of chocolate so far. 2500 grams. A mix of nibs I had left over from other batches, but the predominant is from Fiji. A 56% milk chocolate which I tweaked my previous recipe on to make it a bit darker. The idea is to use it for shells for bonbons, but man it tastes pretty good on it’s own. I decided to practice decorating the bars for the first time. I’ve not done this before, so I piped some white chocolate I made last weekend into a couple of the molds, and this is the result. Definitely a learning experience because the other mold didn’t turn out so well. I think mainly because I jumped the gun unmolding it. Next step, using color and the airbrush.
  25. Those are all interesting answers. I realize it was a somewhat generic question, but my specific examples kind of shocked me. @teonzo I worked in California winemaking (winemaking and beer brewing were my formal education), and I am certainly aware of differing tastes between Europe and the USA 😉. A major part of winemaking is having a good idea of what a wine is going to do so you can get it where you want at bottling, so I was curious how chocolatiers looked it. So many different permutations to be aware of! @Jim D. My lavender flowers were freshly purchased from a local and reliable spice shop: Savory Spice. They have spread to other locations in the country as well as providing online shopping. I don’t know what their source is, but it is indeed strong. With the difference in taste between Europeans and Americans, do you see that in the recipe approach between Greweling and Wybauw? I just got Wybauw’s “Fine Chocolates: Gold”, but haven’t had the chance to make anything from it yet. Was hoping to today, but life got in the way, and only got to finish up my batch of white chocolate. @Kerry Beal I like your approach. Now I just need to get experience and figure that out! We’re ( or I am) making bonbons and bars for Christmas gifts this year for friends and family, and I’ll have to do it over a period of weeks. It will be important for me to get the order of operations right. My salted caramel seems to be pretty steady so that can be early. It will be a big learning experience for sure! Thanks for all your insight.
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