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Balancing bonbon recipes


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What you say is true--about not analyzing every recipe--but I have to start somewhere. So I am beginning with Greweling's absinthe recipe. It contains just the basics. And in practice I do develop new recipes by starting with known, working ones--unless, of course, it is an entirely new idea with no precedent in my repertoire.

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And that's totally fine.
What I wanted to say is that there isn't a definitive theory out there, all the formulas are just approximations based on (very) limited research. All professionals that are selling classes, consultings, programs and so on will keep saying they have the be-all end-all solution for balancing recipes. That's just marketing, there's no final answer for this. The same Bourdeaux and Cestari say that you won't get the real results with their program (it's been discussed in this thread).


When you are developing a new recipe that you are not able to base on another one you already have and trust, then the chances that you'll find reliable help in formulas and books are minimal. Most probably you are dealing with something that has not been tried and "studied" yet. If it's not been tried then there is no approximated formula for that, and even if there was one then it would be approximated. When jumping in the dark in these cases, you need an overall understanding of the effect of the various ingredients, then a trusted method to check the results. The most trusted method for the shelf life is the Aw meter, which you are smart and lucky to have in your operation. The second one is taste, where customers reign supreme and this is unpredictable. There aren't formulas out there that can give the perfect balance for every case you need (where you write X% of this, Y% of that and so on, then get the correct result). Especially for the cases where you would really need such a formula, which are the ones out of the lines, so out of the generalization. People who sell "perfect formulas" are just selling smoke to make money.

 

 


Teo

 

Teo

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I am having some success in working on an app that will analyze my ganache recipes. Gathering the data on ingredients was the difficult part. The video from Chocolate Academy Online was very helpful in providing, for example, the makeup of glucose syrup and cream (% of sugar and water). Information on chocolates can sometimes be deduced from nutrition or ingredient labels, or when available, from manufacturers' spec sheets. I am concentrating on the four categories that the video as well as the Morato information originally posted on eGullet and some from Melissa Coppel emphasize: water, sugar, cocoa butter, other fats. I am at this point ignoring other solids that might be in a ganache (cacao solids, spices, etc.), as they do not seem to be so determinative of whether a ganache is balanced or not. I had to guess at the composition of many ingredients I use, fruit purées being a prime example. Many contain 10% sugar, so that much is  known. But the rest is not all water as there are fruit solids as well. Dried fruits present a similar problem:  Obviously there is some water in them (highly variable) and solids (the fruit), but there is also some sugar, again varying greatly from fruit to fruit, even depending perhaps on how long the fruit has been in storage. So I just did my best to guess at those.

 

My first recipe to be run through the app is Greweling's absinthe (Green Faeries, he calls it). It came out close to the recommended percentages, except that it was a little high in water--which corresponds to my experience that it remains a soft ganache. I derived the percentage guidelines from a combination of Chocolate Academy Online, Melissa Coppel, and Ramon Morato (interestingly, Greweling does not speak in terms of percentages but speaks more broadly about increasing/decreasing fat or liquefiers when dealing with ganache problems).  Next I will look at an Andrew Shotts recipe that often produces a broken ganache and see if I can figure out what the issue is (aside from operator error, of course!).

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If you want to make something reliable then you are not going to end up with a system of linear equations, but with something much much more complex (logarithms and worse). Each ingredient interplays with the others, when you change the amount of an ingredient then the difference is not linear. Combine all this together and the result is a nightmare. If you structure this study with linear equations (which is what is done by everyone) then you get a decent approximation in the area very near to the experiments you are using for this; but it's still an approximation, so you need to make a trial and then fine tuning. The farther you go from the "trusted zone", the less reliable the approximation is; in this case your first trial will give something far from desired, so you need to do a raw tuning then fine tuning.
What's the procedure without this kind of programs? If you want something in the trusted zone, then you just need to pick a trusted recipe then fine tuning (same exact thing as when you use those programs). If you want something out of the trusted zone, then you try a new recipe blindly, then raw tuning and fine tuning (again, same exact thing as when you use those programs).
At the end of the day, these programs do not make any difference, you are going to make the same efforts when trying a new recipe.


You are not basing your formulas on cocoa solids. Which is a major mistake. Cocoa solids affect aW (they absorb water) and texture. You can't estimate these effects with only the cocoa solids % in the chocolate, it varies with other factors, like the particle size: if the solids are ground to 15 microns or 20 microns average, then there will be a sensible difference in the aW and texture.
Sugars interplay with each other, so the effect of 3% glucose and 3% fructose in the same recipe won't be the same as the sum of them taken alone.
Different fats affect emulsions in a different way. Each class of fats (cocoa butter, milk fats, nut fats, so on) is composed of many different fats altogether, you are not going to find the same composition of cocoa butter in each chocolate. Or the same balance of fats in milk. So on.
Fruits contain sugar. Purees usually have 10% added sucrose for many reasons, but that 10% is the value of the added sucrose, not the total value in the puree. Try googling "nutritional facts strawberry" (or whatever fruit you fancy) and you'll get the average sugars content. Which is average (can vary a lot) and is the overall class (including sucrose, fructose, glucose). There are fruits containing sorbitol (like plums), this will affect all the features of ganache in a sensible way.
Dried fruits are packed with sugars, hard to know their balance.
So, following the linear way will take a good amount of work for something that won't be reliable for when you'll need it. Taking the deep way is a herculean task that has no sense to be undertaken.


I totally understand the will to learn these things and the "fun" in creating these formulas. But I'm more of the idea that time and energies should be spent for something useful.
I think there are much more useful areas to study.
Considering this peculiar moment in history, I would give the priority to get informed on psychological studies about marketing and so on, when this mess will end up people will be in an emotive state much much different than usual. Being able to re-start with the proper marketing campaign will make more difference than anything else.
Taste is another side that most people neglect. Reading cocktail books will give many clues on the use of the bitter taste and how to balance it (mixologists are the masters of the bitter taste), this is something totally overlooked by chocolatiers, which is puzzling since chocolate is bitter. There is umami, another overlooked thing, it can give surprising results, to know how to deal with it you need to go out of the pastry zone (the dedicated books by Mouritsen and Anthony, many restaurant books). There is the pairing theory, a bonbon based on a well balanced pair of flavors will give more interesting results than a single flavor bonbon. And many others.
If you spend your time and energies on these things then you'll get a better payoff.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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  • 9 months later...

First of all ... thanks a lot for all these informative posts.

 

I have a question about determining the amounts of the added sugars ... especially for glucose syrup, invert sugar and sorbitol.

Is there any approximate guidelines about the ratios of these different sugar types which should be added to the recipe?

Wybauw example in the "Gold" book goes something like this ... let's add 50 gr glucose syrup and look at the aW value and then let's add 50 gr invert sugar as well and look at the aW one more time ... and finally let's add 50 gr sorbitol and look at the value of aW again.

As far as I can see from the book, there is no clue why, where and in what ratios these different types of sugar should be used.

 

Is there any source, rules or formulas for being able to say that ... for example ... hmmm I need to add 43 gr of glucose syrup, 37 gr invert sugar and 7 gr of sorbitol for this recipe.

 

Thanks a lot.

 

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10 hours ago, Altay.Oro said:

Wybauw example in the "Gold" book goes something like this ... let's add 50 gr glucose syrup and look at the aW value and then let's add 50 gr invert sugar as well and look at the aW one more time ... and finally let's add 50 gr sorbitol and look at the value of aW again.

 

Does he give the resulting aW after each change?

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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Read the book again it's there. It's like 5-10% of sorbitol to the amount of water in the recipe and so on. I don't remember it all by heart. :D It's in the part that discuss sugar. But maybe it's in one of the books before Gold? I might mix things up.

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Yes, there are some percentages ... like replace % xx sugar content with glucose ... or use % xx sorbitol of the total amount of water (I can not remember the exact percentages now).

But, those are not answering my question here exactly.

Thanks anyway ... I will look through again some chapters of his books.

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Thanks and one more question,

 

For ganache balancing, which ratio of water should be assumed to be absorbed and bonded by the cocoa powder in chocolate?

I take it as 1/4 ... I mean 10 gr of non.fat cocoa solids absorb 2,5 gr of water which therefore not take part in the emulsion ... maybe not so correct.

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:48 PM, teonzo said:

Reading cocktail books will give many clues on the use of the bitter taste and how to balance it (mixologists are the masters of the bitter taste), this is something totally overlooked by chocolatiers, which is puzzling since chocolate is bitter.

 

Any suggestions for cocktail books?

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