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  1. [Host's note: to ease the load on our servers this topic has been split. The discussion continues from here.] Chocolate nails... And a "How it's made!" video...
  2. I've been making chocolates in my spare time over the past few years, but have taken a few big steps lately towards shifting from pastry chef to chocolatier. I had packaging designed and made, cobbled together a website, rented space in a commissary kitchen, and am almost out the door at the restaurant. Yup, finally quit the day job! I've done two pop-up shops and will be part of another on Saturday, and today I exhibited and sold at the Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon. I'm learning a lot, but one thing I still need to figure out is how to determine shelf life and balance that with production. Products are filled bonbons, ganache truffle squares, bars with fillings or inclusions, caramels, and pate de fruits. My estimate of shelf life is around 2 weeks for bonbons and pdf, 3-4 weeks for truffles, and longer for caramels and bars. I guess I don't have a specific question, more looking for insight on how other confectioners & chocolatiers manage to have efficient production. Do you date your product? Refrigerate/freeze it? How do you determine your sell by date? How many orders/boxes of an item do you usually make at once, and how long does it take to sell? How much of a window before the sell by date do you think people expect? Is it better to have an earlier sell by date and risk people thinking it might be bad when it probably isn't, or have a later date and risk people waiting too long and eating things not at their peak? Your thoughts & experience are appreciated! Andrea
  3. I live in a household of beer snobs - craft beer snobs to be precise. So there's been some pressure here for me to create beer chocolates. I completed experiment #1 yesterday and want to share for feedback and / or thoughts. I based my ganache recipe off how you'd do a fruit puree-based ganache. However, instead of adding a fruit puree, I created a "liquid" beer gel from a liquid port gel recipe I found on a molecular cooking site. Simply, this combined beer and agar agar. The gel was cooled and then pureed with an immersion blender. I had to add about twice as much beer as the recipe called for because upon pureeing, the gel broke into teensy tiny little balls of gelified beer. Not good. I had to heat/reheat and keep blending and adding beer until I got a more or less pudding like beer gel. Not terribly scientific, but the beer retained most of its flavor (I used a Founders barrel aged ale - so very strong and flavorul beer to start with). I added the beer gel to a ganache that had cream and butter and a 38% milk chocolate base. The ganache recipe I was working from also calle for glucose and invert sugar, which I'd rather leave out if using milk chocolate because the gananche turned out too sweet IMO. However, it has a nice beer flavor and is smooth. I think the beer flavor should be stronger. Next version I'll either omit or reduce the sugar and/or use a 58%ish chocolate base. Maybe also add more of the beer gel (then add more butter?). I have another experiment I'll be working on as well this weekend, and it will involve actually infusing the cream with the ingredients we'd normally use to brew a stout (chocolate malt, roasted barley, hops, etc.). It may end up tasting like a delicious bread truffle, since I can't ferment the ganache! :-) Would love to hear others' experiences or ideas. Cheers!
  4. Hey all, I got a question for you who make pate de fruit on a regular basis. I know it's quite simple to pour the finished pate de fruit into a frame, but does anyone here use a confectionery funnel to deposit them into forms? I'm asking because in Notters 'Art of the Chocolatier' it seems his primary way of making the jellies is to deposit the mixture into a flexipan, and his alternate method is to pour it into a frame. I'm wondering simply if anyone does/has done this before. The jellies seem to set quite quickly, and I'm not sure if you just need to be super fast with this or not. I want to try it, but shy away (I need to get appropriate forms first) because I keep feeling like I'll end up with half the mixture deposited and the other half solidified in the funnel. I assume warming the stainless funnel will aid the process, but I also assume that you have one attempt at this, and you cant rewarm the mixture as you would with fondant or gummies. Anyways, just a question I wanted to put out there. Thanks! Host's note: this is the second part of an extended topic that has been split in order to reduce load on our servers. The first part is here: Pâte de Fruits (Fruit Paste/Fruit Jellies) (Part 1)
  5. It's that time again - I'm the group leader for a group of newly minted Ecole Chocolat grads taking a masters course. This one is in Wieze, Belgium. You may recall my last trip as group leader for Ecole when I took a group to Valrhona in France. I got my packing done on Sunday - was all prepared, car was to pick me up at 6 pm to drive me to the airport. Got a little suspicious when the child was late getting off the bus from school - the driver said that the highway wasn't moving well. At about 5:15 I got a call from the limo service to say that the car that was coming to get me had moved 2 car lengths in the last 30 minutes. Apparently a car roll over on the westbound lanes of highway had ejected two people into the eastbound lanes and the entire highway was closed in both directions. So I set out in my own vehicle - which of course had no gas, and needed oil... at least the toll highway got me past the problem. Airport wants $175/week to park - so a quick text to @Alleguede and he came to fetch my car from the airport to park in his driveway until I return. So here I sit in the lounge awaiting my departure. I'm doing the Jet Lag program that I have done several times before that has worked well for me. Overcoming Jet Lag, by Charles F. Ehret and Lynne Waller Scanlon. This involves food and caffeine modification. So for the past 4 days I've been drinking Rooibos Provence throughout the day and between 3 and 4:30 slugging down as much real tea as my bladder can handle! The dietary part consists of alternating days of 'feasting' and 'fasting' with high protein breakfasts and lunches and high carb dinners. I had planned to get the driver to stop at the Tim Horton's at the top of my street to pick up the black coffee that is to be taken at around 6 pm the day of travel - unfortunately as I was driving myself that didn't happen - so when I hit the lounge I drank down two cups of strong black caffeinated coffee - better late than never. I'm not much of a coffee drinker - and particularly not black. Should be good for some palpitations when I start the next part of the program which is to sleep as soon as I get on the plane! This is a 'fasting day', 800 calories suggested - I left my carb meal until I reached the lounge. ] One of the two cups of coffee. These are the "Gentlemen Retire to the Library' chocolates that I posted before that I am taking along - port wine PDF and tobacco ganache. I used Sosa tobacco flavouring this time instead of a cigar so I don't have to concern myself with nicotine poisoning.
  6. One of the dishes at Alinea this weekend was a shot that included green apple juice or cider inside of a cocoa butter orb dusted with horseradish set in celery juice. The orb was crisp and thin. I've never worked with pure cocoa butter...can you temper it by itself? I didn't taste the sweetness of white chocolate, nor was it billed as white chocolate.
  7. Hi! I've been looking for a refrigerated display case for my chocolate and confections. I've previously had a used Costan Allegro. I can't seem to find any informations as to what is recommended. Also I used to have my chocolate at 17-18 degree Celsius (62-64F), but I've since bought the chocolatiers kitchen book by Callebaut and the keep mentioning 14-16 C (57-60F) as the ideal temperature to have the longest shelf life. I'm at lost, any suggestions? Thanks ❤️😊
  8. As a lot of you already know, Kerry Beal has been working on a device to help the artisan chocolate maker – the EZtemper. I got a chance to see the EZtemper in action this weekend at the eGullet Chocolate and Confection 2015 workshop and it was nothing short of amazing. Dead simple to operate, you basically just load a container with cocoa butter and turn it on. Allow it to work overnight (about 12 hours, I think) and the EZtemper will produce cocoa butter silk i.e. Form V Beta crystals. The cocoa butter is transformed into a mayonnaise-like consistency which can then be used to instantly temper any melted chocolate or ganache. Like Mycryo, you add 1% by weight to melted chocolate at the proper temperature; however, the chocolate silk produced by the EZtemper is superior, in my opinion, because you don’t have to worry about melting out the Mycryo cocoa butter crystals and incorporating it into the melted chocolate. You just have to stir the silk in – much more easy. Not only that, but you can use it to temper your ganaches which we all know produces a product with longer shelf life and better mouthfeel. As if that weren’t enough, it also causes your ganache to set up much much faster. So you can pour out a slab of tempered ganache and move to cutting and enrobing a short while later. I think this device is going to revolutionize the chocolate industry. You should consider it for your confectionery business if you want to save a lot of time and produce a superior product. Take a look at the web site here: http://www.eztemper.com
  9. Does anybody have a source (U.S.) for reasonably priced plastic confectionery frames. I bought a very large one in France for ~12 Euro; here I cannot seem to find them for less than forty bucks or as parts of expensive sets that I do not need. It seems bizarre that something so cheap to produce would cost so much.
  10. Anyone have experience re-melting caramel that has been overcooked in it's first round? I keep getting this advice from people, but it's always heresay. Looking for hands-on experience that someone's had with this. For example: pouring out a slab of simple salted caramel cooked to 121C/250F that is too hard - can it all be melted down to start over? Can I use a portion of it in the next round? Thanks!
  11. Host's note: this topic was split from Pâte de Fruits (Fruit Paste/Fruit Jellies) (Part 2) I took a look. Rather manipulative site: you have no idea what your selection will cost until you have finished choosing chocolates. And the descriptions are a masterpiece of marketing: dulce de leche is "succulent homemade milk jam"--a rather grand description of cooked sweetened condensed milk. Really! But you are so right, they look amazing.
  12. I just saw a video of a caramel made with fruit puree (Great Australian Bake Off season 7-Darren Purchese). It used roasted banana puree added to what looks like a typical caramel. Anyone here ever done this before? I'd be afraid of burning the fruit in the process but the contestants seem to have success.
  13. Cool to see him using the same melanger that many of us have gotten from Premier. Interesting flavors and some information on recipe development. @Kerry Beal while their chocolate looks well tempered, they could probably use an EZ Temper to help with their workflow. 🙂 https://youtu.be/E2g-QZG4Vbg?si=pyK4eF2uxU1LTluj
  14. Hi all! My daughter and I are headed to Belgium this summer, just for a few days, and would love to sample and visit some great spots. Right now we just have Chocolate World in Antwerp on our agenda. I'd love any suggestions on unique (or not unique!) chocolate or pastry experiences. Or places to avoid! Thank you! Jen
  15. I just got back from montreal and stopped by suite 88 a chocolate shop on St. Denis St. They had some really interesting chocolates which were delicious. One category was chocolates filled with different liquors /cocktail combinations. I didn't actually realize this until after I got them and she asked if I knew how to eat them. I said I think so and she then mentioned that I bit a portion and "drink" the liquor and then eat the shell or eat them in one bite. (I had thought they were ganaches). How would one get the liquor into the molded chocolate?
  16. Hello everyone, The truth is that I have not written before in this forum but I do read it daily and I know that there are very experienced people in everything related to chocolate. It is for this reason that I wanted to ask for your help with the following: I'm trying to make liquor-filled bonbons, I've tried coating them with cocoa butter before closing, but almost all leak.If I make the closure only with chocolate, it's a disaster Can anyone share a method for doing this and stop pulling my hair? Thank you in advance.
  17. {The content of various "what is your favorite candy bar" and confection threads--at least ones not devoted to specific products--have been merged into one unified topic. In a few cases, if someone simply gives a one word answer they might simply be answering the question about what their favorite candy bar is... -- Nov 11 2003} While at my local convenience store I spotted the following completely useless, but interesting item: Mint Skittles... It made me think about the fact that I've never outgrown a certain... let's say fascination... with the infinite stream of novelty confections which seem to show up regularly at these stores. I'm very glad I'm not a parent, because I can't comprehend saying "no" to a child when I can't even deny myself buying something as dumb as this at least once. Other recent "acquisitions" include: Reese's "Fast Break"... Listerine CoolMint PocketPacks... Am I sick? That last one isn't even necessarily candy... Any one else with this "problem"?
  18. I don't know if this is the right place to ask this question, but here goes. I have dried cranberries and also dried blueberries in my pantry. I would like to use them (not together) in making some baked goods e.g. scones or muffins. Do I need to re-hydrate them first and if so, in what and for how long or can I use them in a recipe as they are? If the latter, do I need to increase the liquid called for in the recipe?
  19. HelloS I began making bonbons a year ago and use AUI to order the chocolate and fruit purées. Have had great success with Des Alpes Coins using the 63% Dark Garnet, the 37% Milk Topaz, and the White Opal. But I do not see any recommendations for Des Alpes in my (hopefully) thorough search on this forum. Felchin gets high marks frequently. But so many to choose: Any recommendations? I see Sao Palme, Opus, and Elvesia- and others. (I’m still using just coins- haven’t graduated beyond that yet) Many Thanks.
  20. Opened the Washington Post and learned that Chef Roland Mesnier has died. I never met him but have enjoyed baking from and reading two of his cookbooks. RIP. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/roland-mesnier-in-memoriam-1944-2022 https://www.chefrolandmesnier.com/about/history-timeline/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2022/08/27/roland-mesnier-pastry-chef-white-house-dead/
  21. Does anyone here know what the story is with Lumette? I was just at a chocolate event and a local caterer was featuring these chocolates. I doubt that Ewald Notter is working for a caterer in Seattle, so is this a wholesale line he's doing? The website seems to be just a landing page for now. Just curious, it was odd to see the name at a local event.
  22. Just seen this, I'd love your thoughts on a few things: http://www.odditycentral.com/foods/this-japanese-water-cake-looks-and-tastes-unlike-any-sweet-youve-tried-before.html — anyone tasted it? Flavour? Mouth feel? — recipe that's tried n tested? — best to serve with? — honestly, I'm asking... which course would you serve it? As a sweet course? — does it melt 'to a puddle' or just compress and weep? Looks great though
  23. I have two pairs of clear polycarbonate 3-d egg molds that I bought last year. These: http://www.jbprince.com/chocolate-and-sugarwork/egg-12-cavitiesities-1-piece.asp I tried them once as whole eggs, and they worked fine but it seems like a pain to have to puncture then reseal them in order to fill them (which I have not actually tried, it just seems like it would be awkward and ugly). I am considering trying to hack off the nubs that align the halves so I can use them as half egg molds and be able to scrape across the top of the mold, filling and closing as usual. There is also a lip around each egg, but I think if I removed the two pins I could manage the lip. Thoughts or experience? Thanks!
  24. Before I start experimenting, does anyone here have an understanding of how pate de fruits would be affected by fatty ingredients? Boiron has a formula for coconut, but I don't now how fatty their coconut puree is. I recall eating an olive oil pate de fruit somewhere in Australia and wondering how it worked. Is pectin gel formation affected by fat? Would the texture be softer? Greweling does not make any mention of fat in the section on jellies, obviously with most fruit it is not an issue. Berries and cream, pbj, melon with prosciutto... will it work?
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