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Dan K

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  1. Oh wow, that is pretty astounding. I definitely need to leave some of my practice ones for some shelf life tests. I’ve never seen that in a chocolate before!
  2. Yes, I understand the issue. In my last attempt, I did just as you said (or thought I did, anyway), and let it sit for a bit after melting, added some seed and stirred by hand to cool it the rest of the way, and it was just not tempered at 90F. Warming it up above 90F did the trick, which I know should not be the case. I'll try it again in a few days (I'm traveling at the moment) to see if I can nail down the process. And again, just to reiterate, using the seeding method in the machine (using the KA paddles to stir, even) worked perfectly 6 months ago. I do understand that it's not ideal, and there are all these other possible complications that I'm now trying to resolve. What I don't understand is why the chocolate is behaving so differently now. I think another test I need to do is with better chocolate. I'm very suspicious of the product now.
  3. Oooohhhh... that is quite possible. As @JoNorvelleWalker suggested, I should consider not using the mixer at all. I'll try that next time. I was indeed using the mixer on its lowest setting and leaving it to stir. For the luster dust, I was just playing around. I tried to splatter in some purple cocoa butter first and then brush in the dust so the color would be visible after filling with chocolate. Literally my very first attempt at all of this (cocoa butter, luster dust, and molding), so I plan on messing around some more. It's great having a hobby that's edible! Ha! Duly noted. I will try that next time. I also saw someone take the bowl out of the heating element to help it cool down faster. It seems like it takes forever to cool. Thanks again for all the help. I appreciate the tips. I'm still frustrated that it was so easy 6 months ago and is now behaving so differently. The reason I even considered making some extra to sell was how easy it was. This experience has made me question whether I might be in over my head and should reconsidering my plans. Hopefully I can figure out what's going on and find a consistent way to make this work. I'm suspecting that a contributing factor is my ignorance and I just happened to get lucky last year and have it go smoothly. At least what I made is delicious. I especially like the caramels, and I also learned how to make orange-infused ganache by simmering some zest in the cream. Boy, was that good!
  4. Ok, I have a bit of an update. First, some photos of the frustrating part: This was my temper test. It cooled quickly (within a couple minutes), but did not have a nice sheen and remained kind of soft - no snap. Here are some molds I tried: Ugh. Gross! It was so thick that they’re essentially solid chocolate. I could not get any to pour out of the molds. Just garbage. You can see that no amount of banging or tapping on the sides would get the air bubbles out, either. So then this morning, I tried actually warming above 90F as @Jim D. suggested - eventually up to 93F, and it finally seemed to work. I don’t have a great photo, but here are the 4 test products I made (boxed to give to friends to try): The left was my first attempt at colored cocoa butter and lustre dust (thanks @pastrygirl!), the second was my “sort of tempered” from yesterday, third was a warmer temp (maybe 92F) from this morning, and last was 93F, which was super easy to mold and pretty much exactly what I remember. I don’t know if you can tell (I’m doing this from my phone), but the sheen is really nice on that last one, and they really snap when you bite into them. (They’re filled with my first attempt at a wet caramel - soooo good!) Now, I know what you’re thinking - calibrate! But I did! I have an electronic thermometer that I tested in boiling water (it read 212F) and that agreed with the the PHMB reading. So my guess is maybe humidity? The kitchen temp is comparable to what it was in Nov/Dec, but it has been raining quite a bit lately, so I bet the humidity was higher. I haven’t tested it, but I do know it wasn’t high enough to trigger the basement dehumidifier. It seems to me that this chocolate is in temper starting at 93F, not 90F, at least given the current weather conditions. I’m very skeptical, since I haven’t seen that high of a value before. Does this seem like a reasonable explanation, though?
  5. This is interesting. I will definitely take another stab at it. I feel like I did have some unmelted seed in there at the end, but I'm not 100% certain. Ah, good to know. I don't have any yet, but I was wondering about this possibility. I'll pick some up and try that before resorting to a different chocolate (since I have 25 pounds of this stuff...) I did test by spreading a sample on parchment paper. I can try again and take a picture, but it didn't seem as glossy as I remember it being last year. It did firm up within a couple of minutes (maybe too soon, which is part of my problem), so I felt like it was... "sort of tempered"? Thank you @Jim D. and @pastrygirl for graciously continuing to answer my questions!
  6. I'm sure the answers to my questions are already in the forum, but my search so far has been fruitless. My apologies for the likely repetition. First, a disclaimer - I am a total novice (as will be made evident by the content of this post). So here's my issue. In the past, I've enrobed truffles and candied orange peels in an enrobing compound that my friends really liked, but I did not (for obvious reasons). Last year, I upped my game by purchasing this Kitchenaid temperature-controlled bowl: https://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KSM1CBT-Precise-Mixing-Tilt-Head/dp/B00U0VTDRU/ and buying some (what seemed high quality at the time) Ghiradelli chocolate wafers: https://www.webstaurantstore.com/ghirardelli-25-lb-queen-dark-chocolate-wafers/40863127.html. (I apologize for the low quality ingredients... I imagine I'm probably causing some cringing right now. Anyway, plowing on...) My tempering method is to set the temperature to 120F, let the chocolate start to melt, start the paddle when a good amount of it was melted, and then wait for it all to melt. After it was nice and smooth, I set the temperature to 90F and seed with fresh chocolate (about 1/2 of what was in there already) and leave it stirring until the temperature was down at 90F and all the chocolate was melted. This seemed to work great last year, as it gave a nice finish for everything I made: https://photos.app.goo.gl/tL6eciLwgWxcrtrJ6. In fact, everyone loved it so much that I was planning on trying to sell some at our fall indoor farmers' market this year. So in preparation and to test out some new ideas, I bought some more of that exact same chocolate, and I'm having two significant issues. First, the chocolate just does not seem to be behaving the same, as it isn't giving a nice glossy sheen. I don't have any pictures, but the stuff I've tried to make just isn't looking as nice. I'm really frustrated, because it seemed to work so well last year and I was planning on using this same method for all of my chocolates to sell. Could it be inconsistency in production? Is there some other obvious thing I'm missing? Here's what I've tried: Heating to only 115F (mentioned on the Ghiradelli site) Heating to 120F, seeding to cool to 85F, then warming back to 90F Everything yields the same results. And my second issue is that I had hoped to use some molds, but this was completely hopeless. This chocolate was just waaay too thick. So I'm assuming the answer to this one is easy - there is just no way to use cheap chocolate like this for molding. Is that assumption correct? Thanks again for any tips, and again my apologies for asking what is likely a frequent question. ~Dan
  7. I have to admit, this is a possibility I hadn’t considered. My only plan for now is to sell at the local indoor farmers’ market in November and December of this year, and then take it from there. I have a good full-time job that I like, so there are natural limitations to how much I’ll be able to make, and I just plan on selling what I can, and if I sell out, I sell out. It’s a small farmers’ market designed to support endeavors like mine, so I think customers will understand. There are also 3 excellent full blown candy shops in the next town, so I don’t think it’s practical to plan on ever opening a shop. (I do think there is a market for what I make, as many of my items are as good or better than what I have tasted from the high end shops.) But long term, I don’t think I can financially justify any thought of doing anything larger unless sales are such that it can’t be ignored.
  8. Yeah, I'm very worried as well. So maybe I should do my test, but start at 4 weeks. All I have to go on so far is my own tasting experience and feedback from friends in the past, and I have never had anything go bad. I do plan on putting something like a "best by" date on the label. I hope that people recognize that hand made fresh chocolates aren't going to last months in the cupboard! I guess I need to get on that and make some truffles so the testing can begin. In the name of science!
  9. OK, this is super helpful. I think I'll be set. We have a nice kitchen, but I'll have to get approval from management before assuming I can store things there. LOL!
  10. Great suggestion on those containers. That was essentially my plan - have a bunch packed and ready to go for the market and then have a supply as backup. I've been researching packaging and I've settled on two choices: * Boxes of 4 truffles using these: https://www.nashvillewraps.com/boxes/truffle-boxes/p-918/tc4kr * Larger boxes of 9, with a mix of truffles, creams (bon bons? I'm still not sure what the distinction is), and maybe a caramel and mini chocolate covered graham in there in one of these: https://www.nashvillewraps.com/boxes/truffle-box/p-907/tbr4ek I am not sure on the shelf life, to be honest. I have never had an issue, and I usually store mine in the fridge or the garage (probably won't do that anymore - ha!) and they get eaten within 3 or 4 weeks. I've been in contact with the county health department to check their regulations, and they want me to test anything that might be "potentially hazardous", so I hope to make some truffles and send in ones that are one week, two weeks, three weeks, and four weeks old to see what they can find. I suspect that they'll all be fine.
  11. Thanks! This is encouraging to hear, because the cheap ones worked so well last year! This is probably silly, but do you just keep them on the counter? Stored in a pantry cabinet? I’m trying to think about how everything will fit in my kitchen!
  12. OK, I have another question that I hope someone can help with.... storage! So I will be making these chocolates out of my home, and I'm wondering about storage, particularly of truffles and bon bons. I've done some searching in the forums, and haven't found answers for my particular situation, but it may already be out there. I have a couple of ideas, and I'm wondering if you have some feedback. Idea 1: Buy a wine fridge and store on trays like this with lids: https://www.webstaurantstore.com/1-2-size-bun-pan-cover-18-x-13/407PLSP1813C.html Idea 2: Get a sheet pan rack and find a safe spot in the basement for it, and again, use some trays with lids. Something like this: https://www.webstaurantstore.com/regency-7-pan-aluminum-end-load-sheet-bun-pan-rack-for-reach-ins-unassembled/600RIR7KD.html Any other ideas? Last year when I made a few hundred for my friends, I put them in cheap aluminum pans with plastic covers in the fridge until they were ready to box. I know there are strong feelings about refrigeration, but I had no issues with condensation or sugar bloom (at least none that I noticed or that anyone told me about). Thanks!
  13. Thanks so much for the replies! Thanks for the nudge on this one. I've become enamored with Amy Levin on YouTube, which is why I asked. She has a couple videos about making shells that look easy, but of course she's a professional! I think I'll stick to truffles and bon bons for now, but the spheres look amazing! Great tips on everything else as well. Thanks for the link to those molds, Jim. I will definitely take a look. Just to clarify regarding my situation - our city actually has an indoor farmers' market, so none of the usual temperature concerns. It seems like a nice way for me to dabble on the side. They let you go for as few or as many weekends as you want, which is nice.
  14. This is my first post here - I've been lurking and learning quite a bit, but I have a few specific questions I'm hoping someone will be willing to answer. First, my situation - I've been making candies for the last decade or so for friends around the holidays. I started with maple candied pecans (I also make maple syrup as a hobby), then added candied orange peels, then dipped them in chocolate, then truffles, caramels, turtles, and I dabbled a bit in creams last year (but didn't really like the recipes I tried). My friends have been hounding me for years to sell, and the situation in Illinois is such that I can be classified as a "cottage food operation" to sell at farmers' markets. After reading some of the threads here, I've realized that the typical farmers' market is just a bad idea for chocolates - BUT - our city recently added an indoor farmer's market that runs November through May. AND you can pick which weeks you want to be there, so I could focus on just the weeks before the holidays and maybe Valentine's Day. I mean, that seems perfect, right? Anyway, I've learned a lot from the forums, but I have a few outstanding questions that I'm hoping you might be willing to answer. 1. I want to get some hemisphere molds, but I just can't decide what size to go with. I'd like to dabble in making cream filled spheres, but I also want to make some that are just hemispheres. Does anyone have specific dimensions for these that you think customers like? 2. I'm also interested in trying some basic mold decorating, mostly just to differentiate flavors. One easy way seems to be colored cocoa butter drizzled in before adding the shell. I get a little overwhelmed with the choices online. Is this a reasonable method? And if so, do you have a specific product you use? 3. For the truffles and creams, I've been putting them in little mini baking cups, and then packaging in a box. But I've also seen them just put loosely into the box without the extra cups. Does anyone feel strongly about this? Worth noting - due to my situation, I will have to have all of mine pre-packaged to bring to the market. I cannot have customers select individual candies to purchase. 4. Another packing question - I like to sprinkle the hand-rolled and dipped truffles with decorations that can be a little delicate (i.e. chocolate curls). Obviously, this is fine if you're putting them in a box and handing the box to your friends. When you're selling at a market, that box might be put in a bag and jostled around. Is this still safe to do? Or should I skip that kind of decoration? 5. More packaging question - for the candied nuts, orange peels, and turtles I've been using cellophane bags and twist ties. This doesn't seem appropriate for selling. Any suggestions for packaging items like these? OK, I think that's it for now. Last night I had more questions in mind, but they're not coming to me now. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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