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Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )


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16 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

@EsaK it sounds like your recipe is relatively low fat.  As I've mentioned before, adding a bit of alcohol to the mix will make the ice cream softer.  Whether it will make it better or not is another question.

 

My most recent ice cream experiment was to see if I could scale down the volume of my mix for when I was making ice cream only for myself.  I used 600 g of cream, 72 g of sugar, 4 yolks and a pinch of salt.  Prepared as usual in the PHMB for one hour.  I could tell by looking at the mix that the reduction by evaporation was too much but I decided to continue on with the spin and hardening to see what happened.

 

Yes, the one mentioned in the post was relatively low fat even though it was all whole milk and the brittle had fat in it too. Alcohol is one thing I haven't yet tried adding to the ice cream although that has been on the list for a while. I'm still wondering (I think you are but not 100% sure if I can read that from what you wrote :) ) whether you are able to scoop for example those ice creams that have alcohol in them, straight out of the freezer after being there for +1 day? Or is it "normal" that after it has been in the freezer for little longer you need to keep it in room temp for 15mins or so and then scoop?

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Back in the days when all milk was raw, most recipes called for "scalding" it for various reasons, including killing pathogens, denaturing some of the milk proteins that can interfere with gluten development in bread, and who knows what else. Scalding meant bringing it to a simmer. If you wanted to add eggs right away to make a custard, you had to temper them first so they wouldn't scramble. These steps have long outlived their original purpose.

 

Nowadays there's no need to scald the milk in the first place. Even if you were using raw milk, we know that there are benefits to pasteurizing the ice cream mix as a whole, after everything's been mixed, and that this can be combined with the custard-making process. So you might as well just add the eggs when the milk is cold. Easy peasy.

 

mono- and di-glycerides are emulsifiers that you'd have to buy as a specialty ingredient, like from Modernist Pantry. I haven't used them, but some pastry chefs do when they want to avoid using eggs entirely.

 

Here's a stabilizer / emulsifier blend used by Francisco Migoya, who was Thomas Keller's pastry chef and who will be collaborating with the Modernist Cuisine team on their dessert series. This blend is stored and used as a single ingredient. He recommends using it in eggless ice creams at 0.35% by weight.

 

100g Xanthan Gum
175g CP Kelco Unflavored Locust Bean Gum
175g TIC Gums Pretested Flavorless Guar Gum
50g Mono-glycerides
50g Di-glycerides
 

FWIW, I've tried using this stabilizer formula in an ice cream with eggs ( minus the emulsifiers), and did not care for the texture. I've eventually come to believe xanthan gum isn't the best choice in ice cream stabilizer blends. But that's just my opinion ... I'd encourage you to start by taking Migoya's advice over mine.

 

 

 

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Notes from the underbelly

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The most compelling reason to replace eggs is if you don't want the ice cream to taste like eggs. Even then, you can do fine by reducing the number of yolks—which is generally what I do.

 

I wouldn't consider all those ingredients egg replacements, though. Most pastry chefs use some kind of stabilizer blend, even if they're making a French-style ice cream with a ton of egg. Such a blend might contain all those ingredients, or everything except the emulsifiers (the gylcerides).

 

While the stabilizer blend looks like a lot of stuff, its advantage is that it works in minute quantities. By weight you'd use between 1/10 and 1/30 as much as you'd use egg yolk. So you can get the texture modification of egg without the interference in flavor release, or the egg flavor itself.

 

Some people look at modern ingredients like these as "additives." But if an additive is an ingredient that doesn't contribute anything you want toward flavor, I'd consider egg yolks additives in ice cream. Then it becomes a simpler question ... which additive to I prefer? The yolks or the powder? 

Edited by paulraphael (log)

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The other day I made an experimental flavor, inspired by a Ghirardelli bar that someone gave us for the holidays.  Cherry/chocolate/almond. Made dairy-free of course! It came out pretty good, but next time I will cut the almond extract back.

 

200 gm Precision Foods soft-serve mix (vanilla)

16 oz almond milk, unsweetened

1/8 cup Torani cherry syrup

1/8 cup cherry snow cone syrup

3 tbs cocoa powder

2 tbs almond extract

 

The syrups contain propylene glycol and the almond extract has some alcohol, so these kept the ice cream easily scoopable with a normal teaspoon right out of the freezer.

 

cherry-choc-almond.jpg.43d197cf3cf011544

 

 

 

Edited by mgaretz
forgot the cocoa (log)
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For those of you, like me, that are lactose intolerant, I have been experimenting with using lactose-free real dairy products.  I wish I could find lactose-free cream, but no one in the US seems to distribute it.  Closest I can find is Horizon Lactose-free Half and Half.  Working on vanilla for now.  Making a somewhat traditional custard-style, but using the sous-vide process for heating.  Results have been very good so far, but a bit eggy to my taste.  Going to try reducing the eggs and using some Cremodan-30 instead.

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@mgaretz, I'm fortunate enough to be lactose-tolerant, and generally avoid non-dairy products on the assumption that I wouldn't want them. Your cherry/chocolate/almond ice cream puts paid to that idea.  I want that ice cream. NOW. :x Please keep sharing your progress!

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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@mgaretz, I make lactose free ice cream all the time. I've never found lactose-free cream or half and half, but you can make your own by getting those liquid lactose enzyme drops. I generally add the drops a few days before I plan on making ice cream to the cream. My family and I are all lactose intolerant, and haven't had a problem with the ice cream I make so far.

 

For recipes that use skim milk powder, I've thought of adding the drops while the mixture is chilling in the fridge, but haven't tried this out.

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday I made a batch of dairy-free Peanut Butter-Banana.  Came out very good and scoopable with a regular teaspoon.

 

200 gm Precision Foods soft-serve mix (vanilla)

16 oz almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Torani banana syrup

4 tbs peanut butter powder

1 tbs vegetable glycerin

 

pb-banana.jpg.0e40baa1d66af66a235f6bf7c1

 

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Latest batch was double-banana/peanut butter/chocolate.  I wanted more banana flavor than I've been getting, so I doubled it.  So far so good!

 

175 gm Precision Foods soft-serve mix (vanilla)

16 oz almond milk, unsweetened

1/2 cup Torani banana syrup

4 tbs peanut butter powder

4 tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs vegetable glycerin

Mark

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My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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I often make ice cream with alcohol (using the first recipe in this link, under calvados ice cream). This one was made with Buffalo Trace bourbon. It's been fun to try different bourbons (or different alcohols) in this ice cream base and compare the flavor of the ice cream to the bourbon neat (here is the version with Blanton's). I really like it with Buffalo Trace. It's very rich tasting.

 

25868880890_cc26519e3f_h.jpg

Edited by FrogPrincesse
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3 hours ago, FrogPrincesse said:

I often make ice cream with alcohol (using the first recipe in this link, under calvados ice cream). This one was made with Buffalo Trace bourbon. It's been fun to try different bourbons (or different alcohols) in this ice cream base and compare the flavor of the ice cream to the bourbon neat (here is the version with Blanton's). I really like it with Buffalo Trace. It's very rich tasting.

 

25868880890_cc26519e3f_h.jpg

 

The only spirit forward ice cream I've made is Grand Marnier.  Now that the company is being bought out by Campari I expect to see a lot more mention of it here.

 

My serious question is don't you have a lot of problems with overly soft ice cream and melting?  Someday I may have a minus 80 deg C freezer like in grad school.  (It was as an undergraduate I had a walk in freezer room that was great for making ice cream.)

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

My serious question is don't you have a lot of problems with overly soft ice cream and melting?  Someday I may have a minus 80 deg C freezer like in grad school.  (It was as an undergraduate I had a walk in freezer room that was great for making ice cream.)

 

It's on the soft side but I eat it fast enough. :)

Edited by FrogPrincesse
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi,

 

I’ve learned a ton about ice cream making on this forum and wanted to start off by saying thanks to everyone for sharing their considerable expertise!

 

I am hoping someone might be able to shed some light on a few questions…

 

I recently purchased “Frozen Desserts” by Francisco Migoya, and while it seems to represent a wealth of information, I’m also a bit perplexed by some of the formulations. I’ve noticed quite a few typographical errors in the rest of the book, and when the math doesn’t work out, I am not sure if I just don’t get it or if it’s a mistake…

 

I’ve uploaded images of a few of the pages where things are bit confusing. I’ve circled the issues in squares of various colors. Hopefully not too confusing.

 

Here goes...

 

1. It states on page 61 that for a custard-based vanilla recipe, the nonfat solid percentage should be between 15% - 30% (red square).  However, on the next page (page 62) on the example, it seems to indicate that there should only be 8% nonfat solids (blue square). Shouldn’t it be between 15% and 30%, as it states on the previous page?

 

2. Still on page 62, it calculates the amount of milk powder which needs to be added. There is a formula (green square). I understand the math, I just don’t quite understand the “why”. Besides the unknown origin of the 8% figure of .640 kg, I am not sure why the denominator is used. Wouldn’t you just need to subtract the fat solids from the formulation from the required weight of nonfat solids (all in the numerator), which would leave you with what is needed to add? Not sure why you divide by the .878 constant…

 

3. Also on page 62, it lists yolks at 5% of total (orange square), yet the range on page 61 recommends between 7 and 9% (also orange square).

 

4. Another oddity is on page 351 and repeated on page 370 (yellow squares). The total solids don’t seem to add up. For instance, in the Max column, adding the fat solids (11%) plus the nonfat solids (30%) equals 41%. However, in the Min column, adding those figures (2% + 15%) does not equal 25%. Oddly, back on page 61, what seems to be the same calculation appears to be incorrect at 51% (yellow square).

 

Additionally, shouldn’t sugar be counted as a solid in the formulation? If so, that would bring both Min and Max totals well above what is on the chart… (also a yellow square)  

 

A couple of other general questions… What exactly is “serum”? From what I gather, it’s the “non-water” liquid(s) (ie, milk, cream), and would include both the solids and non-solids in that “non-water” liquid. Is this correct?

 

On page 61, it says the total fat includes fat from milk, cream, etc, but also includes fat from yolks (purple square). Wouldn’t the relevant fat only be butterfat? It’s my understanding that the fat in yolks is not butterfat and doesn’t have the same effect on the final product as the fat from cream, etc…

 

On the same line, it recommends a range of fat percentage between 2 and 11% for custard-based ice creams (also a purple square). I don’t think this is a typo because elsewhere in the book, it states that most of the recipes are formulated with low percentages of fat, about 6%. Does that seem a little low?

 

OK, I will stop asking anymore questions, as I have run out of distinct colors to use. ;)

 

FWIW, I only tried one recipe from the book, the Vanilla, and was quite disappointed. It was grainy, icy, and tasted more like ice milk. You can just look at it and see it’s going to be pretty low in butterfat with so little cream… Here is the recipe from the book, scaled down in Excel:

 

Whole milk: 31.56 oz
Heavy cream: 5.58 oz
Sugar: 7.50 oz
Egg yolks: 3.35 oz (6 yolks)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 tsp of vanilla

 

I really like the idea behind this book but I have not been able to figure out what is going on with some of those numbers! I have just received “Ice Cream” (Hoff and Hartel) and am looking forward to diving in.

 

I've had great success with many of the ideas I've found on this forum, including the famous "Ruben Method"!  I'm lucky: my lowest burner seems to be automatically set right at 162 degrees! ;)

 

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

061.jpg

062.jpg

351.jpg

370.jpg

Edited by sweettreateater (log)
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41 minutes ago, sweettreateater said:

I've had great success with many of the ideas I've found on this forum, including the famous "Ruben Method"!  I'm lucky: my lowest burner seems to be automatically set right at 162 degrees! ;)

 

Take out a patent on your stove.

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On 4/17/2016 at 1:33 PM, sweettreateater said:

Hi,

 

I’ve learned a ton about ice cream making on this forum and wanted to start off by saying thanks to everyone for sharing their considerable expertise!

 

I am hoping someone might be able to shed some light on a few questions…

 

I recently purchased “Frozen Desserts” by Francisco Migoya, and while it seems to represent a wealth of information, I’m also a bit perplexed by some of the formulations. I’ve noticed quite a few typographical errors in the rest of the book, and when the math doesn’t work out, I am not sure if I just don’t get it or if it’s a mistake…

 

I’ve uploaded images of a few of the pages where things are bit confusing. I’ve circled the issues in squares of various colors. Hopefully not too confusing.

 

Here goes...

 

1. It states on page 61 that for a custard-based vanilla recipe, the nonfat solid percentage should be between 15% - 30% (red square).  However, on the next page (page 62) on the example, it seems to indicate that there should only be 8% nonfat solids (blue square). Shouldn’t it be between 15% and 30%, as it states on the previous page?

 

2. Still on page 62, it calculates the amount of milk powder which needs to be added. There is a formula (green square). I understand the math, I just don’t quite understand the “why”. Besides the unknown origin of the 8% figure of .640 kg, I am not sure why the denominator is used. Wouldn’t you just need to subtract the fat solids from the formulation from the required weight of nonfat solids (all in the numerator), which would leave you with what is needed to add? Not sure why you divide by the .878 constant…

 

3. Also on page 62, it lists yolks at 5% of total (orange square), yet the range on page 61 recommends between 7 and 9% (also orange square).

 

4. Another oddity is on page 351 and repeated on page 370 (yellow squares). The total solids don’t seem to add up. For instance, in the Max column, adding the fat solids (11%) plus the nonfat solids (30%) equals 41%. However, in the Min column, adding those figures (2% + 15%) does not equal 25%. Oddly, back on page 61, what seems to be the same calculation appears to be incorrect at 51% (yellow square).

 

Additionally, shouldn’t sugar be counted as a solid in the formulation? If so, that would bring both Min and Max totals well above what is on the chart… (also a yellow square)  

 

A couple of other general questions… What exactly is “serum”? From what I gather, it’s the “non-water” liquid(s) (ie, milk, cream), and would include both the solids and non-solids in that “non-water” liquid. Is this correct?

 

On page 61, it says the total fat includes fat from milk, cream, etc, but also includes fat from yolks (purple square). Wouldn’t the relevant fat only be butterfat? It’s my understanding that the fat in yolks is not butterfat and doesn’t have the same effect on the final product as the fat from cream, etc…

 

On the same line, it recommends a range of fat percentage between 2 and 11% for custard-based ice creams (also a purple square). I don’t think this is a typo because elsewhere in the book, it states that most of the recipes are formulated with low percentages of fat, about 6%. Does that seem a little low?

 

OK, I will stop asking anymore questions, as I have run out of distinct colors to use. ;)

 

FWIW, I only tried one recipe from the book, the Vanilla, and was quite disappointed. It was grainy, icy, and tasted more like ice milk. You can just look at it and see it’s going to be pretty low in butterfat with so little cream… Here is the recipe from the book, scaled down in Excel:

 

Whole milk: 31.56 oz
Heavy cream: 5.58 oz
Sugar: 7.50 oz
Egg yolks: 3.35 oz (6 yolks)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 tsp of vanilla

 

I really like the idea behind this book but I have not been able to figure out what is going on with some of those numbers! I have just received “Ice Cream” (Hoff and Hartel) and am looking forward to diving in.

 

I've had great success with many of the ideas I've found on this forum, including the famous "Ruben Method"!  I'm lucky: my lowest burner seems to be automatically set right at 162 degrees! ;)

 

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

Migoya has posted about some errors and offered corrections. Not sure if it ties up directly with your issues above but here's the post:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/14454904/Frozen-Desserts-Corrections

 

Edited by gap (log)
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On April 17, 2016 at 11:33 PM, sweettreateater said:

 

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

I've found the Migoya book interesting, and one of the only non-food-science industry books that tries to get into the nitty gritty. But it seems unreliable on many details. I'm not sure I'm going to keep my copy. The erata link posted by Gap may clear up some issues. Aside from errors, I've found some of his formulas, like his basic stabilizer formulas, to be not very good. I used them as a point of departure, and ended up very from that point when I finally got things working well. 

 

Your two specific questions that I can answer: nonfat solids should generally be between 8 and 10%, and that does not include the sugars (except for the lactose in the milk). Non-lactose sugars are usually above 14%.

Notes from the underbelly

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1 hour ago, paulraphael said:

 I've found some of his formulas, like his basic stabilizer formulas, to be not very good.

 

I was actually going to place an order with modernist pantry this week to get the stuff to make his stabilizer. Should I change my plans? This is the one with glycerin flakes, locust bean gum, and guar gum, correct?

 

They also sell premade stabilizer http://www.modernistpantry.com/perfect-ice-cream.html maybe I'll just get that.

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1 hour ago, rob1234 said:

 

I was actually going to place an order with modernist pantry this week to get the stuff to make his stabilizer. Should I change my plans? This is the one with glycerin flakes, locust bean gum, and guar gum, correct?

 

They also sell premade stabilizer http://www.modernistpantry.com/perfect-ice-cream.html maybe I'll just get that.

 

The one I'm thinking of used xanthan, guar, and locust bean gums. I don't recall one with glycerin. Where did you see it?

 

I used the stabilizer portion of Migoya's blend but not the emulsifier portion. I've started to think that xanthan, in spite of its magical versatility, isn't a great ice cream stabilizing ingredient.

 

Using a pre-made stabilizer mix is fine ... it's what every pastry chef I know does. I like to make my own so I can tweak it and get the exact qualities I like. Also, years of being a photography taught me that mixing your own recipes offers some protection against manufacturers messing you up by discontinuing or "improving" what you've grown to rely on.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

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5 hours ago, paulraphael said:

The one I'm thinking of used xanthan, guar, and locust bean gums. I don't recall one with glycerin. Where did you see it?

 

Yeah and xanthan. It's the ice cream stabilizer mix in Frozen Desserts page 22. Roughly equal amounts of xanthan, locust bean, guar, and 50/50 mono and diglyceride.

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      So now I'm waiting for my pots to set up. Time to do some other stuff, like:

      "Cuiz" my chocolate cookies to make the "dirt" for my pots. And......

      start dusting my flowers and leaves with luster dust to add a little depth and realism to them. For this project I just made "whimsical flowers" in that they really aren't any particular flower....they're just cartoonish and colorful. Well, the roses are, well, roses.....gotta have a few roses. In the background there, you can see sort of how I did the gumpaste umbrella. I happened to have a dessert cup at home that was well suited for it. I filled out the top with gumpaste and added "ribs" with gumpaste, then put some saran on the top of that and put a gumpaste disk on it. I then cut out the rounded parts between the ribs.....and voila....umbrella! This was the first thing I made because I wanted it to have the maximum amount of drying time. Now if I were really smart, I would have made not one, but two or even three umbrellas because stuff always breaks. Always. No matter how careful you are. Especially in a commercial kitchen.....not only do you have to worry about yourself but everyone else too. I make more flowers than I need because I always manage to break quite a few. But, as it was, I only made one umbrella since I was so cocky and sure of myself. Turns out I was lucky......this time! Ok, time to roll out some terra cotta colored fondant!

      Dust the table liberally with cornstarch and roll away. I've done this so much I can just eyeball how much fondant I'll need to cover a certain sized cake. When rolling out fondant, waste no time from the time you're done rolling til you get it on the cake, because it starts drying out right away. Drying out means yukky little cracks, and me no likey little cracks! So I race to walk-in, retrieve cake, and cover it quickly.

      Then I take my trusty little pizza wheel and cut the excess away. This excess will get kneaded back into the remainder of my fondant so that I'll have enough to cover the other pot. So I take the rounded pot out of the walk-in, and, after washing my hands like a surgeon, I use the warmth of my hands to smooth the buttercream out so I have a perfect surface on which to cover with fondant. I tried using latex gloves for doing smoothing, but they are too much of a barrier to my body warmth. I need that warmth to lightly soften the buttercream for the proper smoothing. And here we have a nice smooth surface for the fondant:

      Into the reach-in it goes to set up while I roll out my fondant.......and here it is covered, with the excess trimmed away. Notice that I trimmed off my plastic wrap quite a bit before I covered it. Otherwise I would have gotten into a wrestling match with it and the fondant.

      So back into the walk-in they go to stay firm while I take me a little breaky:

      This is the view out the back door of the kitchen. We look over the Kai-Tai Lagoon and the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately you can't see the Olympics in this picture because it's cloudy. But man, on a clear day......it's outstanding. Off to the right, beyond the trellis thing, is a large garden full of culinary things....a la Chez Panisse. We've got rosemary, bay, basil, fennel, oregano, chervil,onions, squashes (in the fall), thyme, decorative flowers, arugula, and more. Whenever we need herbs....just go out back. We get most of our produce from local farmers who come to our back door. One of the things I LOVE about Tinytown. It really beats the in-city large mass produce vendors. As I look out the back door, I sip on a latte that I made myself from our aging and undependable espresso machine. Luckily, today, I managed to pull a pretty good shot. Ok, break time over! Back to work! My next step is to turn my pots over. I will turn the larger pot over first. I slip my offset spatula underneath the saran wrap and lift the cake off, and set it aside on the table. An important thing to note: If I'd used a mousse, curd, or jam filling, I wouldn't have been able to do this so easily. With a refrigerated buttercream filling, the cake doesn't flex at all as I lift it. I managed to nick a little of my polyfoil covering with my spat when I went to lift the cake. Nuts. Oh well, I'll cover that with a flower later. I melt some white chocolate and smear some in the center of my board. I need to anchor the bottom pot so it doesn't slip around.

      I flip the bottom pot over, place it on top of my melted white chocolate, make sure it's centered, and peel the saran wrap off.

      My next step is to mark where I'm going to place my top pot, then insert straws within that area to support the weight of it. I decided to place the top pot slightly off center, and traced a circle with my paring knife to mark it. For most cake supports I use straws. They're easy to cut to fit, cheap, and they work. The only time I use wooden dowels is when there is an UNGODLY amount of weight or a weird center of gravity involved. I used to use regular heavy duty bar straws, until I discovered.......bubble tea straws! They are super heavy duty and very large.....they have to be for people to suck up that lovely bubble tea. I don't really think that fad is going to catch on here much in the states, but as long as I can get the straws I'm happy. I get them from an asian novelty wholesaler in Seattle. I think it's Viet-Wah, but can't remember for sure.

      Anyway, I insert the straw, mark it with my thumb where it's flush with the top of the cake, then pull the straw out and cut it. I use that straw as a measure to cut the rest of my straws. In this case I will use 5. One in the center and four around.

      Now I'm all ready to place the top pot on......oh, wait, except for a swirl of buttercream on top of the straws to anchor it a bit. Next, I use my melted white chocolate to adhere an appropriately sized round cardboard on the bottom of my top pot.

      Once that's set, I flip over the top pot, and place it on my bottom pot.

      Voila! Now, I really have to make sure that the top pot won't slide around, so I stick a few bamboo skewers down through the middle and through the cardboard til it hits the bottom board. I use the side of my needlenose pliers to pound the skewer down through. Now starts my very favorite part of this whole thing.....details! I figured that using my silicone lace impression molds will make great detailing on the pots. Here's the one I'm going to use to detail the bottom pot:

      I dust the inside of the mold with cornstarch........then roll out a quick piece of fondant, and roughly press it in:

      Then I place the top piece of the silicone impression on top, and roll it like crazy with a rolling pin. With the top part of the impression still in place, I pull off as much of the excess as I can.

      Then I remove the top piece, and pull all the ragged edges back in......

      Then I brush a little water on the back of the piece, and adhere it to the pot. I keep making them until the pattern has gone all the way 'round.

      I use a different lace mold to make a pattern on the top pot. Now it's time to do the rims. When I did the lace impressions around the pots, I used fondant, because I needed the stretchability of it to conform easily to the shape of the pot. A little stretchiness in this case is good. But when it's time to do the rims, I don't want ANY stretching going on whatsoever.....I want uniformly thick and perfectly straight strips, so for this I'm going to use modeling chocolate, which of course has been colored the same color as the fondant. See the neato embossing on my strip? I found that little embossing wheel at Seattle Pottery Supply, believe it or not, and it was cheap too. The embossers are interchangeable and it came with about 10 different patterns! I rolled out my strip, then embossed the pattern twice (one next to the other) then used my pizza wheel to cut nice straight even edges. I made two top strips and two bottom strips....the bottom strips are just plain.

      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
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