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Mistakes in the Chocolate/Candy Lab


Anna N
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So I'll start.

A couple of days ago I had an unexpected house guest and got an order for some white chocolate bark. My daughter dropped by and I was busy trying to keep everyone happy and entertained while whipping off some bark.

I grabbed a hunk of white chocolate and began chopping it to put in the m/w. In the far reaches of my mind a little voice was warning me that this chocolate was not behaving as it should. But I soldiered on and stuck the chopped up chocolate in the microwave. Still talking away to my daughter and our house-guest, the same voice in the depths of my mind warned that it was taking a long time to melt but I wasn't listening. Eventually it did melt and looked very, very strange. I thought the emulsion has somehow broken as there seemed to be a layer of oil on the top of the mass and the chocolate seemed surprisingly smooth and liquid. The voice again warned that something was not quite right but I carried on exulting that I had lovely smooth white chocolate instead of the sludge I generally have. I added seed chocolate to it and waited for it to reach temperature. I tested for temper and it passed just fine so I quickly mixed it with some chopped almonds and congratulated myself on finishing up the order.

The next morning, sitting on my back step with a coffee and a smoke it hit me - oh my lord, that wasn't white chocolate -that was cocoa butter - all I the supply I had and very expensive at that!

(You'll be pleased to know I was able to intercept the order before it reached the customer.)

Why wasn't it labelled... that is a whole nother story.

So 'fess up - not recipes that didn't work but real mind-boggling boo boos. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I think I may have mentioned this one before.

I'll dip everything in chocolate - once! I found some nice plump packaged chestnuts in the asian store - and being a big fan of maron glace I picked up a package and dipped them.

About a week later I noticed the little fungal elements working their way out between the cracks the gas had blown in the dipped chestnuts.

Realized at that point the chestnuts weren't actually candied.

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As a rank beginner, I have had so many 'learning experiences' that it's hard to know which one to relate.

Still I guess the dumbest one was when I was making a peanut brittle and I had the syrup cooking on the stove. I had to take it to 300 F and there I was cooking it and cooking it and it wasn't getting anywhere near 300 degrees and then it started to burn and blacken and I finally realized that my thermometer was set on Celcius and not Fahrenheit, and I had this blackened mass stuck to my pot to wash out.

...but that's only one story... :raz:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I am beginning to feel SOOOO much better after reading this thread. Thank you all. :biggrin::biggrin:

I have had one disaster after another since working at this in Moab, but then my plan was to try all the basic candies I had never made, and which my confectionary partner, Barb, has been making since being a little girl at her Mother's knee yadda yadda.

I think it's called schadenfreude when you get pleasure from others' distress! :raz: Not my nicer side....

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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You know, it does make us feel better knowing that others have these disasters as well. Here we have a saying that translates something like this:

"Finding comfort in sorrows that are common to many, is only a half comfort"

and the meaner saying, which moms always use:

"Finding comfort in sorrows that are common to many, is a fool's comfort."

("Everyone did badly on the test, mom!")

Nonetheless, it is comforting!! :smile:

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I haven't done enough candymaking to have had many disasters... yet. I'm sure they'll come. The only thing I've done so far is try to heat some sugar to a certain temperature... and wait... and wait... and wait... and then realize that it's not registering because the tip of the digital probe thermometer isn't submerged enough. I didn't burn it, but what should have been a soft caramel was almost a hard candy. Whoops.

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Still early on to have any great stories, but I was making the malt honeycomb brittle truffle (or whatever it’s called) from Chocolate Obsession – and I poured the hot sugar on to wax paper instead of parchment paper…needless to say that when I went to break up the honeycomb brittle there was a wax backing to it.

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One of the things I remember from my first year was when I purchased my first really big order of chocolate. I don't remember what kind it was but I purchased it from a company I later figured out really didn't specialize in 'nice' chocolate just 'ok' stuff.

For my first summer, every batch had lumps that I couldn't get out or the temper didn't hold for very long. I agonized about my choice of business and seriously had doubts about my future of my business. The chocolate was temper-mental!!

Finally I took a course, got some decent chocolate and discovered I was pretty good at chocolate making. My regret was not figuring out that I must have been using very old chocolate and should have gone to a professional chocolate supplier in the first place.

Convenience and price are not always to your benefit if you are getting substandard product. Of course this was my first order so how was I to know?

It was a whole summer of mistakes!

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got some chocolate dried on my spatula.

Tried to use a knife to chop the chocolate off the spatula back into the melter.

Realized after I finished the batch (of 350) that I had chopped off a whole bunch of rubber off the spatula into the melter.

Said forget it and ate them/gave them away anyway.

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Obviously I have offended the chocolate gods!

Today I made a couple of dozen fluted chocolate cups to fill with chocolate coated nuts (rochers). I took the cups out of the molds without a problem and lined them all up on a baking sheet on my work surface. This is the same surface I have worked on hundreds of times. I filled the first cup and then tried to lift it and move it over to a clean tray. Hmm... the sides lifted leaving the bottom firmly glued to the baking sheet!

What had changed?

Well we just installed a new dishwasher under that work surface and apparently it gives off a great deal more heat than the old dishwasher! My chocolate cups had all melted and welded themselves to the baking sheet. :angry:

Duh!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Obviously I have offended the chocolate gods!

Today I made a couple of dozen fluted chocolate cups to fill with chocolate coated nuts (rochers).  I took the cups out of the molds without a problem and lined them all up on a baking sheet on my work surface.  This is the same surface I have worked on hundreds of times.  I filled the first cup and then tried to lift it and move it over to a clean tray.  Hmm... the sides lifted leaving the bottom firmly glued to the baking sheet!

What had changed?

Well we just installed a new dishwasher under that work surface and apparently it gives off a great deal more heat than the old dishwasher!  My chocolate cups had all melted and welded themselves to the baking sheet. :angry:

Duh!

Yikes!

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Well, just about an hour ago I tried a fudge recipe from my fancy new Greweling book and it crystalized into a giant blob right in my hands. I don't make fudge often, and tried it using his tabling technique (also new to me). I assume it cooled too fast on my granite countertop, thereby blobbing on me.

There was a time many, many years ago when I first started making candy that I tried to make nougat. I didn't have a thermometer, so I 'eyed' it and obviously overestimated the temperature. I poured it onto a flat baking sheet (all I had at the time) and rushed it into the freezer once I realized it wasn't setting. I opened the freezer about an hour later to find the nougat had continued to flow off the sheet and all over the freezer. That was a lot of fun to clean up.

Edited by CurlySue (log)
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Well, just about an hour ago I tried a fudge recipe from my fancy new Greweling book and it crystalized into a giant blob right in my hands.  I don't make fudge often, and tried it using his tabling technique (also new to me).  I assume it cooled too fast on my granite countertop, thereby blobbing on me. 

There was a time many, many years ago when I first started making candy that I tried to make nougat.  I didn't have a thermometer, so I 'eyed' it and obviously underestimated the temperature.  I poured it onto a flat baking sheet (all I had at the time) and rushed it into the freezer once I realized it wasn't setting.  I opened the freezer about an hour later to find the nougat had continued to flow off the sheet and all over the freezer.  That was a lot of fun to clean up.

You have my sympathy on both accounts but that freezer clean up might have discouraged me from ever making candy again. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I've probably mentioned this one before.

I was making turkish delight - without a clue what the sheeting off the spoon was supposed to look like that indicated it was done. Anyway - I decided it must have reached that point, poured it into my candy rulers, with lots of confectioners sugar/cornstarch dusting the base. Then left the house.

When I arrived home I found it had flowed under the rulers, across the countertop, down the side of the cabinet and across the floor. Nice sticky mess.

These days I put it in a well sprinkled pan. No more rulers.

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Last week I tried Andie's recipe for candying orange peel in the microwave. DH, Ed helped me with the peel cutting process and into the microwave they went.

They didn't seem to be ‘quite’ done enough in the alloted cookings and so I cooked them a few extra times, as Andie suggests.

All went well, until a visitor came and I stopped paying strict attention to what I was doing. I forgot to check and stir them before the last cooking. All the water had evaporated and I was left with a hardened sticky mass and orange peels with the texture of car tires.

They tasted wonderful... but I broke an already damaged and much 'babied' bicuspid testing a piece and had to have emergency dental surgery the next day with a dentist I had never even met before. And I won't describe it. My jaw still aches...but I am getting much better.

I made a second batch of microwave candied orange peel this week. It turned out just fine, thank you. :blink:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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