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CanadianBakin'

The wonderful world of minis.

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Wendy DeBord  Yesterday, 07:09 AM Post #11 

I own many books on making mini pastries (which I can review them if you like?).

I've always had to make tons of mini's in every job I've had. (This may not sound helpful at first) But I HONESTLY, honestly I find the best mini's to make are based on regular desserts/tortes/cakes that I make. You can come up with countless mini pastry ideas yourself. I used to think I needed a book to come up with ideas and recipes........until I reached the point where I wasn't finding new recipes that were simple/quick to make. I was buying mini pastry books that were all saying the same thing, same items/ slightly different recipes.....regardless of how much I spent on those books.

If you think about it, you can come up with tons of mini pastry ideas yourself. You can take any recipe you like and adjust it down in size to make it a mini pastry. After all a mini pastry is only different from a large pastry in size, not taste or ingredients.

For instance, take a almond cake bake it in a mini-muffin pan, then add: pineapple section in the center for 1 mini idea. Add raspberry preserves to the center, thats another idea. Add kircsh soaked cherries, that's idea #3. Top with sliced almonds. Top with a crumble. Top with chocolate chunks, etc.........

For tartlets, start with a tart you like...........say a pecan tart. Change the nuts, you can make almond tartlets, pistachio tartlets, macadamia tartlets, hazelnut, walnut, etc... To that nut tart you could put fruit on the bottom of the tartlet, preserves on the bottom of the nut tart, etc......... Once baked you can add a piped on dollop of ganche or whipped cream, mousse, etc.......

So chances are you already own a great list of mini pastries to make..........just taking recipes you know and like and making them smaller. If this interests you at all, I'd be happy to help you develop a list of pastries based on what components you currently have recipes for.

Thanks for the offer Wendy! I don't really even have much of a list of components yet. I mean I have recipes for IMBC, chocolate cake, white cake, etc. lemon cream, tartlet shells , brownies, etc. KWIM? but I think there's probably other basics that I haven't delved into yet even though I've been baking for years. Like I've never made almond cake before. I'm sure it's not hard it's just never come up before.

So I'm not sure what would be most helpful. I'm sure the possible components are endless so a list would be very long.

Are there some basic components that you find you use over and over again? Maybe I could look at that and see what I haven't tried before and give that a go to expand the base of components I have to use.

Something I like about Gale Gand's book is that she offers non-traditional ways of putting things together. Like her Lemon Beehives are a 2"circle of pastry with a small scoop of lemon cream on top, frozen, then with 1/4" tip you pipe on meringue to imitate a beehive and torch or broil it and freeze till serving. They look neat and are something people aren't expecting. I find those ideas hard to come up with and although I might use my own recipes for the components, I have an idea to use as a spring board.

Another question I had was about price. I don't know of any bakeries around me that sell minis and I know the prices will vary across North America but what do some of you charge for minis? I know what my costs are but since they are more labour intensive than many other things, I wouldn't be able to use my normal mark-up.


Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

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I have a pastry shop/ wholesale dessert company. We make minis all the time. For special events, friend's parties, elaborate weddings etc... They resemble plated desserts in that they have a few components.

For example:

A Wedding with a Hawaiin Theme I did:

Coconut rolls with mango

Passionfruit parfaits

Coconut panna cotta with pineapple gelee

Banana Tart tatin

pineapple upside downs

skewered mango, pineapple and banana grilled and brushed with vanilla butter

then I threw in some old staples

mini chocolate bananas foster domes

praline and pistachio creme brulees

strawberry mousse with minted strawberry salad and balsamic drizzle

Keylime stack (bavarian and curd) with poached meringue

S'mores............

You can use all different kinds of disposable cups (JB prince has a whole line of upscale stuff)

Have fun, experiment. But remember they shouldnt be more than 1 or 2 bites. Gale's book has given lots of ideas, so has Flo's.

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just for pricing reference the 2 bite pastries run between $1.25 and $2.75 around here (Sonoma County).

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I have been doing a lot of minis. I bought some really sharp 2oz tinted plastic "cups". I have been doing choc mousse, tiramisu, and chilled lemon soufle in them. They look great by themselves, but they look even better in three varieties on a tray all lined up in flying formation. We are at about $1.50 on them, however my cups may make me raise the price a quarter. We could never produce them and try to retail them one at a time. However we do take orders for them by the dozens and often put them on parties.

They are popular for the same reason that bite-sized brownies and fruit bars are popular. These days most people don't want to eat a whole choc mousse, they like variety, and/or they want to eat sweets in moderation.

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I've been making minis for dessert trios at the restaurant I work for. Any dessert can be a mini, all you need is the right tools and a little imagination. Our sorbet trio is 2 oz popsicles (made with plastic soap molds), a 4 oz root beer float ( 1/2 oz scoop ((J P Prince)) for the vanilla sorbet, and a 3 oz 50/50 bar (made in a 3 oz stainless steel ring mold). I also make panna cottas in unusual shapes using again, soap molds (available at craft sites on the internet). Unusual amuse dishes also make great molds. J.P. Prince carries a large selection of small silicone molds which are great for baking mimi cakes, also candy molds, baba molds, and all the tiny tools that make minis much easier. I am in love with my 1/2 oz scoop, especially for mini ice cream cones and the cutest cookies in the world (which you can decorate with teeny tiny pastry tips) Obviously, I really, really like mini desserts. Over the years I just got tired of always going for high drama with pastry, and as I got older my sense of humor grew. Now I think that dessert should make you smile, if not outright laugh.

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((J P Prince)

Do they have a website that I can't find? :hmmm:

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((J P Prince)

Do they have a website that I can't find? :hmmm:

I think this is the site they were referring to. It looks like they have a $100 US minimum unless I'm reading it wrong, at least for delivery to Canada, so I'll have to do some planning.

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So I'm not sure what would be most helpful. I'm sure the possible components are endless so a list would be very long.

Are there some basic components that you find you use over and over again? Maybe I could look at that and see what I haven't tried before and give that a go to expand the base of components I have to use.

I'd like to address this part of your post.

I definately have a limited list of components I make over and over. Then there's left-over mousses or cakes I have from making something else, that I turn into mini's.........so I have very little waste.

In my mini pastry section of my file here's what I have recipes for that I carry to work everyday: (I'll bring in additional books when I've found a new recipe I want to try. But typically these recipes are the staples of my mini pastry items.

Petite four sponge

Almond opera sponge

Cannoli filling

Dream cheesecake

Pecan nut cups

Herme's pate a choux

Mom's pate a choux

Chocolate pate a choux

Viennese Triangles (a recipe from Sweet Minatures book)

Pineapple Tea Cakes (a recipe from Payards book)

Apricot Tea Cakes (a recipe from Payards book)

Swedish Profiteroles (a recipe from Friebergs book)

Joconde cake

Thats it!!

I then use other recipes/components of whole tortes or items that I like. You said, Canadianbaker that you didn't have very many of these types of recipes, components. I'd be willing to bet you have more then you realize. If you take out every recipe you have that you like you've got at least one and up to many components in each recipe to steal and use in your mini pastry production.

mousse recipes

bavarains

pastry cream recipes

cakes

tart dough

cookie recipes

cheesecake recipes

pie filling recipes

frostings

caramel sauce

So I dare you to take out your whole recipe file and look at each recipe as I do. Heres some examples: I make key lime pie, that recipe gives me a keylime filling I can use in tart shells. I like the exotic orange torte recipe FWED posted here at eG. From it I get 4 great components. I use it's honey cake, orange vanilla bavaroise, vanilla cremeux, passion fruit gelee. And so it goes I can take any good tasting component from any recipe and use it in my own applications.

Then I have a number of basic items that I buy in and have on hand all the time. I buy in:

Mini tart shells

Chocolate mini tart shells

Mini cannoli shells

Chocolate cordial cups

Chocolate assorted shaped cups

Then the one thing that really makes the difference between what a home baker has and what a professional kitchen has, is our pantry items. My pantry items are HUGE time savers and I try to have a large variety of items I can use to flavor other products/recipes/components.

Heres some catagories of my pantry items that give me TONS of possiblities when I'm working:

nut pastes: praline (hazelnut) pistchio paste, peanut butter, nutella

oils: peppermint, speriment, orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, anise, almond

extracts: almond, lemon, vanilla, coconut

emulsions: (they make dozens of flavors, I feel lucky to have a dozen on hand at any time) I like Driopple brand the best so far. I have raspberry, strawberry, lemon, orange, mango, banana, coconut, kirsch, tirimisu, amaretto, mixed berry, coffee

Another part of my pantry goods are items like: nuts (as may different types as I can afford), chocolate curls, white chocolate curls, chocolate jimmies, coarse sanding sugar, coconut bits, coconut, mini chocolate chips, mini butterscotch chips, rolled purchased chocolate cigarettes in plain white chocolate, dark chocolate and duo striped, chocolate coffee beans, frozen fruit purees (as many different flavors as I can afford), sea salt, vanilla powder, vanilla bean paste, cocoa paste, fueatine, oreo crumbs, graham cracker crumbs

So now I've given you lists of my components/recipes in my files and the pantry items I keep in stock. You can do the same excercise and write down what you have in your pantry. I highly suggest you do. From there we can make just about anything.

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I think this is the site they were referring to. It looks like they have a $100 US minimum unless I'm reading it wrong, at least for delivery to Canada, so I'll have to do some planning.

Thanks.. all I was getting was info on J P prince = a basketball player :wink:

So now I've given you lists of my components/recipes in my files and the pantry items I keep in stock. You can do the same excercise and write down what you have in your pantry. I highly suggest you do. From there we can make just about anything.

Wow... you have inspired me. I'm still interested in getting a couple of the books, but I will rethink things. I have the added issue of having to find kosher products - but I already had on my list of things to do that I had to find a new supplier for chocolate cups and decorations.

I'm itching to get back in the kitchen - for now I'll have to make do with going through all of my recipes and seeing what I've got.

Thanks Wendy.


Edited by Pam R (log)

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O.k...............so I know this probably still isn't meaning alot to you. Lets see if I can explain this further.

In Brians example he posted mini pastries that he probably made up in his head (didn't find specific written recipes for those items) based on what he had in his shop. This is what I'm trying to suggest to everyone. How to make up your own mini pastries with-out a recipe designed to make a "mini" pastry.

So I'm going to take the pastries that Brian wrote out and make them myself with-out knowing what Brians recipes sources were.

#1. Coconut rolls with mango. I can take my petite four sponge recipe and add some coconut extract into the cake before I bake it off in a sheet pan to get a coconut flavor. I could also have added some shredded coconut to the batter in place of the extract..........but I won't because that might make my roll rip or break as I roll them. But I could chop it finer and then add it to my cake before baking it. Then for the mango filling, I could search for a mango mousse recipe. I could take a plain/vanilla mousse recipe and add some of my mango emulsion to it to flavor it mango. I could make a white chocolate ganche and add mango emulsion or puree to flavor it and use that as my fllling.

I choose the petite four sponge recipe, accent it with coconut extract and bake it off. I then make some vanilla bavarian which I flavor with mango emulsion and spread a thin layer of that over my cake. I cut my cake into sections, aprox. 1 " tall by 2 " long and roll those up inserting a toothpick to help them hold shape until the gelatin sets. I then dip one end of my coconut roll in melted white chocolate, then dip/roll it in toasted coconut..........stand the roll up so it's sitting on the chocolate bottom, pipe a dollop of whipped cream on the top surface of my roll. Place a thin slice of mango on it for garnish and perhaps a chocolate curl too. Done.

#2. Passionfruit Parfaits. First thought, I need a container to hold this. It will have to be edible and cheap. I could make "cups" out of my joconde cake and fill that as a parfait. I could make chocolate cups for this. I could use something I've purchased to contain this too. I could make a cup out of other tart making materials, like crushed cookies. I'm going to make this easy and use up somethings I have on hand. I'll use some petite chocolate cups I've purchased. To that I'm going to make a passionfruit mousse recipe I have from a recipe in my "mousse" file. A passionfruit curd would be good too, but I don't have a tried recipe for that yet. So into my chocolate cup I pipe some mousse, place a small chunk of left-over cake I've got in my freezer (kept from something else I've made, remember no waste!), add another layer of mousse. Top with whipped cream dollop and garnish.

#3 Coconut Panna Cotta with a pineapple gelee. First thought< how am I going to serve this, I need a container to hold this. I either use a purchased tart shell, chocolate shell or a small disposable cup. I only have access to tart shells so that's what I'm going to use to contain this. I don't want my shell to get soggie so I coat the inside of it with melted white chocolate, thinnly. I've made a recipe from Michael L. for buttermilk panna cotta that I thought was excellent. So I'm going to use that recipe as my base. Now I have to flavor it with coconut. I coud add a little coconut emulsion to it. I could have infused my buttermilk with coconut and let it sit over night in the cooler to draw out some coconut flavor, then strained it and proceeded with the recipe. I could sub. out a percentage of the buttermilk and use coconut milk in it's place......or all of it. I choose to sub. out a percentage of the buttermilk for coconut milk and then make the recipe as written and put some in my tart shell to set.

For my pineapple gelee...........this will depend upon what recipes and or ingredients I have at hand. I could cheat and use pineapple preserves as my gelee. I could take a can of crushed pineapple and thicken it with gelatin. I could take fresh pineapple and puree it and thicken that. I might have some pineapple puree the freezer I could gelatinize. I'll choose to make a pineapple gelee from a recipe card I just got from Boirion purees (online) using fresh pineapple I puree. I pour a thin layer over my panna cotta, let it set, then garnish. I want it too look different then my last pastry so I think I'll make dried pineapple slices. The recipe and instructions for that were recently posted in our forum.

O.k. so lets see if anyone follows along with what I've been trying to say. Someone else make the next item from what you have in your recipe file right this second (it must be a recipe you've already made before) and use items from your pantry too. NO running out to the store. NO searching for recipes you haven't made before.

#4. Banana Tart Tatin. Tell me how your going to make this? Many people can post how they'd make this...........perhaps it will spark ideas. Or post how you would have made one of the previous items I made from Brians list in my mind.

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Sorry, my bad. It is J B Prince, not JP (basket ball player eh?). It is a bit pricey if you in the far north (it's a bit pricey down here in the southwest too, but so precise). Wendy's advice has the goods. You most likely do have all the goods to keep you going for quite a while, it just takes some 'newthink'. Pretend like you are cooking for a slightly large doll, or just think small, but in a expansive way.

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From Wendy:

"#4. Banana Tart Tatin. Tell me how your going to make this? Many people can post how they'd make this...........perhaps it will spark ideas. Or post how you would have made one of the previous items I made from Brians list in my mind. "

One way for bitelets

Start with Choux balls

dip in caramel & stick to a banana chip

Cut off the non-dipped top so you have a little caramel choux cup

pop slice of banana into each cup

top with caramel sauce

finish with swirl of lightrened pastry cream

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Ok, I'm so totally NOT a pastry chef, but I'd like to take a stab at this!

Banana Tart Tatin

I suppose one way you could do it would be to slice bananas and add them to a warm caramel sauce....perhaps with some banana rum added. Place one or two slices in the bottom of mini muffin tins, then top with rounds of (ready made) puff pastry. Sprinkle the top (soon to be bottom) of the pastry with some sugar, and bake. Invert, and voila.

Ok - looking at this again maybe I'm way off base....is this too simplistic for what we're supposed to be doing?

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Ok - looking at this again maybe I'm way off base....is this too simplistic for what we're supposed to be doing?

sounds good to me.

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We are really talking about component cooking, which is very prevalent on the hot side. Many a sous cannot write a grocery list or write a dish down from begining to end before they make it. The pantry is the major advantage a professional has.

There are always several things going on in the bakery. Sometimes it is as simple as using the left-overs so they don't get tossed. Left over mousse layered in betwene a sheet of choc torte cut with rings. The waste from the cut-out gets turned into petite fours. The left-over ganach gets poured into the batch of choc mousse. The creme anglaise gets put into the ice cream mixer with god knows what.

It is very time consuming to do one project at a time from begining to end. It works when projects feed off each other and become starters for the next project.

I have made assortments of mini cheese cakes in muffin tins. I also made a realy rich choc cake like (almost molten nuttella like) in muffin tins lined with crepes. The bottom of the crepe was sort of chewy, the tops were brown and crunchy and the choc was sin.

I think that one of the keys to petites is to have the proper richness for the size. Choc, flans, caremel, ....these all are rich enough for small portions. My chilled lemon petite had to be tuned-up a little to make it work small.

I hope to ad joconde to my repetoir this week. For the hot chef, I sure spend a lot of time doing pastery. It is fun for now.

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Ok, I'm so totally NOT a pastry chef, but I'd like to take a stab at this!

Banana Tart Tatin

I suppose one way you could do it would be to slice bananas and add them to a warm caramel sauce....perhaps with some banana rum added. Place one or two slices in the bottom of mini muffin tins, then top with rounds of (ready made) puff pastry.  Sprinkle the top (soon to be bottom) of the pastry with some sugar, and bake.  Invert, and voila.

Ok - looking at this again maybe I'm way off base....is this too simplistic for what we're supposed to be doing?

You've totally got it. You can make things as simplistic or as complicated as you want. You can add other flavors in there too, if you choose........and still keep it a banana tatin.

With most ideas you'll always have some details you need to "work out". A small trial run at times can be important if you haven't got a ton of experience behind you. Your going to run into a small glitch with what you've written, in that your banana will be over cooked by the time your puff pastry is done.........as you have this written. Can you think of a way to alter your recipe to avoid that?

Anyone else? Feel free to tackle any of the items Brian listed, or to ask any questions.

The pantry really makes a big difference. I forgot to add liquours. I run to the bar and grab whatever I need, all the time. My job really does work out alot as Retrevr explained. When I'm working I do my best to never run short of a component. If I need chocolate mousse to fill 10 cakes I'll make enough mousse to fill 15 cakes. Because stopping and having to go back and make something you've run short on......is a horrible waste of time (and time is money) and having left over components is a real time saver and sometimes a life saver. So just like it was mentioned earilier, I too need some different tastes happening in my mini's because they may be served on the same table with my large tortes (where I got my left-over to make my mini's from). SOoooooo I'd fill my chocolate mousse cakes then with my remaining mousse I'd evaluate what else I have laying around as extras and I'd try to use everything. Now even though that was a plain chocolate moussse, that doesn't mean it has to remain plain. I can add some orange oil and make it an orange/chocolate mousse, I can add some ground nuts or nut paste and make it a praline chocolate mousse, I can add some coconut emulsion and some toasted coconut making it a choc. coconut mousse. I could add some marshmellows and toasted pecans and call it a rocky road mousse, etc...

I hope this makes sense and your catching on............?

So I have this mousse I've turned into a orange chocolate mousse and I've got some left over chocolate cake too from when I made those chocolate mousse cakes. Now what can I do with them? I have some small chocolate cups (I bought in)........I could pipe some mousse into it, set a thin layer of cake on it, give it another dollop of mousse (maybe a different flavored mousse I have left-over too) or maybe some ganche I have left over, or some caramel sauce I have hanging around in my cooler.

I have some chocolate choux paste piped into eclairs shapes. I can fill my eclairs with the flavored mousse. Dip the top of them in ganche (maybe flavor the ganche too). Then I could place a purchased chocolate cigarette ontop to decorate it. I could pipe on swirls with fondant. I could drizzle white chocolate over the ganche........

Are you ready for this? Am I explaining things well enough?

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Let me put it this way.

If you've ever been a housewife who has the challenge of making last night's leftovers look

appealing to a fussy family, then you too can master minis!

One thing I really love about being a PC is the pride I take in the fact that there is virtually NO WASTE in whatever I make! Even mistakes (like overbaked cookies) can be turned into something (like crumbs for cheesecake crusts). All the stuff I save from other projects (leftover mousse, cake trimmings from sculpting, extra buttercreams, leftover tart shells, eclair shells, ganache, etc etc etc) eventually gets incorporated into minis. It's a great thing.

Fun too, because you get to be creative and imaginative with a palette of ingredients.....one of my favorite things!

I think some people get thrown if there isn't an actual recipe to look at. It's like some folks need paint by number kits, and some of us just like to throw paint at a canvas. I'm the latter.

My advice is, think of what would sound good to you.......a nice flavor/texture combo, and use what you have to make it happen! Recipes......you don't need 'em! Really!

Some of the best stuff happens when you throw paint at the canvas.....! :wub:

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With most  ideas you'll always have some details you need to "work out". A small trial run at times can be important if you haven't got a ton of experience behind you. Your going to run into a small glitch with what you've written, in that your banana will be over cooked by the time your puff pastry is done.........as you have this written. Can you think of a way to alter your recipe to avoid that?

Ok - this is fun! I'm learning so much from threads like these!

The only thing I can think of offhand would be to prebake the puff pastry rounds, and top them with the warm banana and caramel - they wouldn't actually BAKE like a tatin, but would still BE a tatin...am I on the right path here?

In this case, would you make the tatins the size of a single slice of banana, to keep the presentation nice and tidy?

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Am I explaining things well enough?

Yes!! It's wonderful "hearing" your thought process. Now I have pantry envy... :wink:

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The only thing I can think of offhand would be to prebake the puff pastry rounds, and top them with the warm banana and caramel - they wouldn't actually BAKE like a tatin, but would still BE a tatin...am I on the right path here?

In this case, would you make the tatins the size of a single slice of banana, to keep the presentation nice and tidy?

Yes, Auesome, you've got it!

Just so you know.........I truely was a paint by numbers type of baker for MANY years. I had to have a recipe where the person put all the pieces together for me. It took me a while to figure I didn't need them. It's really o.k. to be at whatever level your at. I'm just trying to explain what the next step is.........and it's this 'doing your own thing' that you'll eventually get to.

I'm not saying you don't need recipes. You still need recipes to know how to bake a cake, make a bavarian. I'm just saying you can mix and match a mousse recipe from this author, a cake recipe from that author, etc....

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Wendy, thank-you so much for all the time you've taken to explain this. I'm amazed! It does make sense and I can see how having a full pantry would make it easier. As it is, I don't, but that's ok as the principles still apply. My jobs don't come as often but I can still freeze leftovers.

I'll take a try too...

Pineapple Upside-downs - I'm imagining it's exactly the same as the real thing except small, so that would be a small chunk of pineapple in the bottom of a mini-muffin pan with caramel and yellow cake over top but not filled too high so that you'll be able to flip them over. Or I guess you could just trim the tops. They usually have marachino cherries too so maybe when you flip them out you could put a small whipping cream rosette and a whole marachino cherry on top. Would that work?

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Ok, now what about freezing mini's. Wendy, I know from your blog that you freeze a number of them. I'm sure others do too. Most books say you can freeze many of the components but not the assembled dessert. Is this really true or are there some things that can handle a couple days in the freezer assembled? I'm especially referring to things that aren't served straight out of the freezer. Many of my jobs have to travel anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes so they also need to hold ok for that time.

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The answer to you previous post Canadianbaking is: YES, that would work great. You've got it! Feel free to try some other ones from Brians list, if you want. I was hoping to see more people particpate in that interaction. It could be fun/interesting/educational.

As to having that pantry. Collect ingredients one at a time if you need to. I promise it will make your job easier if you work with them as I've described. You can get small bottles of extract at your grocery store..........but they turn out to be more expensive then other sources. See if you can find the Borion (hope I spelled that right) oils, a little goes a long way and the prices are very reasonable.

Freezing............yes I freeze 99% of my mini pasties completed. That's not ideal! My eclairs (choux puffs) do soften from the fillings. So will tart shells. I do my best to compensate for what the freezer takes away from my items.

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When choosing what you can or cannot freeze you can think of mini's like you would cookies. If you combine a crisp cookie with a soft one, what happens: they both turn soft. And the process of freezing a crisp object.........does soften it, typically. In the case of mini pastries, there are none that I've done that will remain crisp once they've been made, frozen and defrosted. BUT I combat that as much as I can. So as I said earilier freezing isn't ideal, but you can make it work.

When I have a mini tart, I try to line my shell with a thin coat of chocolate. Using the chocolate as a barrier between the shell and soft filling. Unforunately my shells do lose some snap anyway. But having that layer of chocolate gives you items some crunch and fools you alittle. If I'm making pecan tarts or a tart where the filling is baked into the shell.......I don't know of a way to retain any crunch unless after you've baked it you dip it in chocolate to seal it. You hope your tartlet is good tasting enough that it still holds it's own. Or you make your tart shells and line them with chocolate, store them empty in the freezer and fill them to order. Which really is easy...........but my job won't tolerate that last minute filling.

How good your freezer is means alot. I've had freezers that freezer burn my items in a couple days. I've also had freezers that worked so nice I didn't even have to cover each individual tray to seal them. I put them in a cart that closed well, and that held my items just fine. So there will be a little trial and error for each freezer you use.

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