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RobertM

REPORT: 2012 Candy and Confection Conference

135 posts in this topic

Had a fabulous time!! It was great being with other people who share your passion. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have people in my life that don't really "get" my passion:-) I arrived on Wednesday so I could do some site seeing. Thanks to Bob and Kerry I had a wonderful time. We arrived for our White House tour that Bob had arranged with one of his friends that work there. Unfortunately, we were at the gate and they moved everyone several blocks away and we had to wait for some unknown reason. After 2 hours, we decided we had other things to do. We did get some pix. Unfortunately, I can't seem to upload them. Maybe someone will help? We then went to wine country and did some touring and checking out some wineries. Bob took us to a unique BBQ place that was very tasty. Dinner in Old Town Alexandria and back to the hotel. Next morning, Curls, Kerry, Mette and me got together for an all day adventure. We started out at Albert Uster, went to DC for lunch at Poste, shopped at Cowgirl Creamery and Co Co Sala. While there, we talked our way into the back room to watch them make their chocolates. None of us had ever seen a shop trim the feet off their chocolates, but they did. Hit a liquor store-Ace Beverage, another confectionary Artisan Confections (where we also got the back room tour). Donna (Curls) is one impressive driver. She drove us around in a huge Excursion and handled it like it was her Porsche TT. We got caught in traffic and didn't make it to the dinner at the Asian restaurant, but we made it to the Meet and Greet. Many, many impressive chocolates. We had also shamed Bob into making caramel corn for us:-) Very delicious! This is one nice community of people. We talked and talked and talked. Saturday, was the big day we had been waiting for. Bob did an amazing job organizing and hauling his entire candy room to Stratford. We had several melters and each got filled quickly. Joe did some fun ganaches and then we got our hands in the chocolate. Rob (Gfron1) showed us how to do a chocolate sculpture with Steve's help. Steve made chocolate granite for the base of the sculpture. Steve also showed us some fun airbrushing techniques. He melts his cocoa butter in a dehydrator and it keeps it warm--brilliant idea. Kerry was doing many demos in the other room as has been previously reported. I watched her make a fluffy pistashio nougat in the Thermomix. I think Kerry can do anything she wants in that nice machine.

I didn't see everything that was happening but what I did see was great. Everyone was helping each other and learning. We had some newbees (Heather) who doesn't own an apron and is more familiar with delivering babies than cooking, but she was here to learn. It was so fun to watch her succeed and have a smile on her face the whole time. For those of you who didn't make it, you should have tried harder:-) Looking forward to next year. I'll try to figure out how to post the photos. It keeps telling me I have failed--not a good thing. Another huge thanks to BOB--love ya.


Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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Shelby, I am a relative newbie (I've made some chocolates and candies before but nothing like what we were doing there) and I learned a ton and feel like I can recreate many of the things we did there (probably not the showpiece though :smile: ). I brought a friend with me (Heather, see Ruth's post above) who has never made chocolates and rarely even cooks (but appreciates good food). She made some really beautiful chocolates, learned a lot, and had a fantastic time, and is interested in going again next year. She told me that I may have to back her up because her boyfriend was not going to believe that she actually made those gorgeous chocolates! There were several people there (Kerry, Chris, Ruth, and Joe, among others) who were very generous with their time and knowledge, and led us through things step by step. So absolutely, you would fit in.

Jess


Edited by tikidoc (log)

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Shelby, I am a relative newbie (I've made some chocolates and candies before but nothing like what we were doing there) and I learned a ton and feel like I can recreate many of the things we did there (probably not the showpiece though :smile: ). I brought a friend with me (Heather, see Ruth's post above) who has never made chocolates and rarely even cooks (but appreciates good food). She made some really beautiful chocolates, learned a lot, and had a fantastic time, and is interested in going again next year. She told me that I may have to back her up because her boyfriend was not going to believe that she actually made those gorgeous chocolates! There were several people there (Kerry, Chris, Ruth, and Joe, among others) who were very generous with their time and knowledge, and led us through things step by step. So absolutely, you would fit in.

Jess

Thanks for your response, Tiki :)

I'd LOVE to attend some time...but , every year I look at the pictures and it seems SO over my head. I'm afraid I'd be the class dunce lol.

Edited to add : Plus, I don't have one of those cool cooking coats like Chris H. has, either lol


Edited by Shelby (log)

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At this point we split up and the more hands-on stuff began. I'll begin with Steve's work on the Mint Patties. These are basically fondant, mint, and invertase, enrobed in dark chocolate. Absolutely fantastic mint flavor. Steve heated the concoction up to 160°F (I think that was the temp, right Steve?):

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Then into a double-pastry-bag for piping into circle forms:

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However, since Steve has "pastry hands" and that bag was hot, the job got handed off to Rob (who has "grill hands") to finish while the rest of us critiqued his form:

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These set up for a few hours:

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And then get dipped the same day, before the invertase has a chance to liquify them too much to handle:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Meanwhile, in the other room (yes, they let us make gigantic messes in not just one, but two of their kitchens), Kerry Beal did a basic tempering demo/workshop covering the major methods that you will come across for tempering chocolate (perfect for newbies, I might add!)

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Of course, once they had a vat of tempered chocolate, they had to do something with it:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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And at yet another station, Rob continued with showpiece work, including making some chocolate flowers, and carving the lyre:

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And Joe showed us how to make modeling chocolate roses:

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Some specimens:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I was unfortunately unable to be in more than two places at once with the camera, so I know I missed a bunch of other demos, workshops, and just general cooking events going on (plus of course I did some cooking of my own): hopefully others will fill in the missing pieces while I skip to our St. Patrick's day-themed dinner...

Scallion and leek mashed potatoes (Robuchon method):

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Smoked Wagyu corned beef with cabbage and carrots:

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Potato-leek crusted salmon:

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Chocolate crème bar with pistachio anglaise:

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The group:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Ok, I don't want to duplicate people's photos, plus I'm not very good at photography, so consider mine "action shots"!

I missed the fun on Friday, but got there bright and early on Saturday. Everyone was saying Hi and getting ready.

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Others have posted pics of Joe and his demo. I just wanted to post one to show how cleanly he was able to cap his molds! no chocolate down the sides, no mess, nothing!!

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Rob also showed us how to do piped flower petals. Some of us did quite well (not me :sad: )

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After Rob's demo one of the chefs at the school demonstrated making a hazelnut feuilletine torte. She was in and out all day as well, peeking at what we were doing, and helping.

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Meanwhile, Steve made some mint fondants, and then dipped them with a setup I thought was particularly clever. In case you're wondering, the technical term for the method used to remove the excess chocolate, according to Erica, is "bouncy bouncy scrape"

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Edited to insert better pictures


Edited by Viktoria (log)

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So some people picked one thing or other, but I ended up bouncing back and forth between everything, since it was all so interesting.

At some point, Ruth began showing Sarah and others how to make a cream fondant.

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Then we made about 4 different flavors, rolled them and let them sit

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On the other side of the room people were making flowers out of modeling chocolate (which is chocolate and corn syrup, I believe) which Joe made for us to play with. Joe had one method, which involved pressing small balls of chocolate between parchment paper and flattening into petal shape with an offset spatula.

Patti had a different technique, in which she used the end of a dipping fork to push an oval of chocolate into shape.

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Her roses were lovely (as were everyone else's). I took lots of photos while she was doing it. I am sure I was really annoying! :laugh:

Then it was time for dinner! Chris already posted photos. All I can say was that the corned beef and potatoes were especially amazing (I would never have said I loved corned beef before this). Most people at our table had seconds of the potatoes, and would have had more if we could have fit it in!

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Sunday was a pure production day: there were a number of impromptu demos along the way, plus a whole ton of chocolate-making. Here are some highlights:

Making tulips on balloons:

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Decorating a chocolate shoe:

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There's hand dipped, and then there is hand dipped:

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Teamwork:

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Assembling the showpiece:

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Piping strings for the lyre: Rob developed a technique for piping them into grooves laid down into a bed of sugar so they ended up straight, and with a neat sugar coating

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Donna flocking a bunny:

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More showpiece teamwork (lots of people had their hands in this piece):

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Dipping:

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Rob demonstrating molding technique to a few people from the school:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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On the next day people just jumped right in. Someone had the brilliant idea of having Ruth sign our copies of her cookbook!

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Steve did his airbrushing and decorating demo.

This is Steve's dehydrator setup.

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I've always admired the splatter patterns

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The finished mold ready for filling

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Keri took over the 2nd kitchen and began her demos. When I caught up they were making pate de fruit. I believe it started out port with a base of pear puree. But there wasn't quite enough of the port, so we found some more booze! Something with hibiscus and some tasty warm spices.

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In the other room Ruth was showing how to make tulip bowls and such.

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And finally, we come to the show table at the end. Every year it seems to get more elaborate: having a showpiece this year was awesome.

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Once it's all been laid out, we admire it for a few seconds, and then tear in:

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It looks like Bob's relieved it's over:

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A couple examples of the booty people went home with:

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Haha. This has got to be confusing with so many photos going up!

Chris posted a photo of the hand dipping with hands of all things. That was kind of fun. Ruth has some great stories!

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Not long after lunch there was a mad scramble to finish filling all of the shells, capping them, plating them etc.

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Then clean up began.

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Chris posted some awesome photos of the lovely finished chocolates. I won't duplicate, but here is a closeup of the bonbons on the showpiece

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Several of the students and staff hung around to look at the chocolates and took pictures. Here's a shot of the Dean of the school taste testing and chatting. He said later that while they were expecting people who were passionate, they didn't expect the level of expertise they saw.

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Oh, and I took a really crummy thumb-occluded cell phone video of Rob moving the showpiece, so we can pretend we're watching Food Network Challenge:


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Finally, here's what's left of my take home stash after my children got done with it.

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That's Han Solo in carbonate from Star Wars, for the geek-crowd. I made it for my husband as a thank you for taking care of the kiddies and letting me play chocolate!

For those of you who were at the conference, this is the mold I have (works for ice or chocolate) I think you can also find it on amazon.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/e845/?srp=4

I can't thank Bob and everyone else for such an amazing time. I can't wait till next year. It was so wonderful to meet you all in person. :wub:

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Posting these for Chocolot:

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And more from Chocolot:

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Wow, Wow, Wow!

It has been a while since I worked with chocolate and your photos made me want to get out the tools and start up a batch or two.

What a lovely display of your class results, they get better and better every year! Thanks for sharing!

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I am finally able to post.

Kerry

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Kerry and Bob

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Bob Kerry and Ruth

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BBQ joint

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Steve making chocolate granite

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Mette piping shamrocks

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Meet and Greet

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Rob working on sculpture

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Joe's cool frame thing-he just adds more sheets to make it taller

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Edited by Chocolot (log)

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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Bob, thank you so much for organizing this event. You did a fabulous job and I had a great time. So much fun to play in a kitchen full of such knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. It was great to see so many new faces this year and to catch up with those from previous events. Every day I learned a few new things!

I thought that I had many more pictures from our Friday event but it appears that I only took photos at Artisan Confections. Hopefully Kerry, Ruth, and Mette will be able to fill in the blanks. In chronological order, Friday included visits to Albert Uster, Poste, Cowgirl Creamery, Co Co Sala, Ace Beverage, and Artisan Confections.

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Looks like everyone had a great time. The various areas of making chocolates you all seem to cover each year just grows and grows!!

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Thanks for posting all of these fabulous pictures! It looks like it was a great success, and I'm sorry that we had to miss it this year (those darned students insisting that I teach instead...)

So, Niagara 2013??

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Thanks for posting all of these fabulous pictures! It looks like it was a great success, and I'm sorry that we had to miss it this year (those darned students insisting that I teach instead...)

So, Niagara 2013??

Yup!

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