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Spraying Chocolate: Equipment, Materials, and Techniques


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9 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

@SweetSymphonybyM, after you get used to your new system and if you really get into spraying molds (and how could you not after all this research and investment?), you might want to consider a heat source to keep cocoa butter flowing through the airbrush.  There is a lot of info on that, and I think each of us might have his or her own favorite device.  So if you find yourself becoming frustrated by how often you have to heat up the brush, get back in touch. 

I have this melter https://www.tcfsales.com/products/248-chocolate-melter-6kg-mol-dart/ and a heat gun. Would the melter work or would it heat the gun disproportionately on one side? If so, I can always put it on a towel in the oven on proof setting with the air circulating to heat it evenly...

 

I like the idea of using a plastic heat pad, as in one of the Grex videos, but all the ones I've been able to find are covered in cloth.

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8 hours ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

So, not much clean up of the are surrounding, just the booth itself? Having to clean the whole kitchen after spraying a couple of molds seems a bit too much...

 

Wish their last coupon was still active, too impatient to wait for a new one(

The booth catches most of the backspray, but with colors containing a substantial amount of white, some escapes into the surrounding area. As I wrote previously, a fan aimed at the spray booth helps some with this issue.  The amount of cocoa butter getting into the air is substantially less than when I was using just a big box with a filter in the back and a large fan behind it.  I think a fan strong enough to suck up all the ambient cocoa butter would be something more akin to a jet engine.  So I still wouldn't airbrush in my kitchen--that's what basements are for.

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8 hours ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

I have this melter https://www.tcfsales.com/products/248-chocolate-melter-6kg-mol-dart/ and a heat gun. Would the melter work or would it heat the gun disproportionately on one side? If so, I can always put it on a towel in the oven on proof setting with the air circulating to heat it evenly...

 

I like the idea of using a plastic heat pad, as in one of the Grex videos, but all the ones I've been able to find are covered in cloth.

My, for someone who wasn't sure about pursuing the airbrushing of chocolates and who made only a few of them a month, you certainly have some impressive equipment.  A melter is what many chocolatiers use to warm up their spray guns and cocoa butter.  At 7" tall, it will hold Chef Rubber cocoa butter bottles upright.  You can place cocoa butter and airbrush in the melter the night before you work, and all will be ready in the morning.

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I also have Kerry's EZTemper)), but I don't have a basement, so kitchen clean up it is for me.... :)

 

I'd love to do more per month and sell them as a hobby, but I can't do that legally from home as I have two cats which the state considers pests....I've considered renting space in a shared kitchen type of place, but that is a bit too much with my level of knowledge and a full-time job, at this point. 

 

 

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38 minutes ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

I also have Kerry's EZTemper)), but I don't have a basement, so kitchen clean up it is for me.... :)

 

I'd love to do more per month and sell them as a hobby, but I can't do that legally from home as I have two cats which the state considers pests....I've considered renting space in a shared kitchen type of place, but that is a bit too much with my level of knowledge and a full-time job, at this point. 

 

 

Others on eG have dealt with the spray issue in a kitchen and have utilized large sheets of plastic over nearby objects.  Doing this very often will probably impel you to get that rental space sooner!  One suggestion meanwhile is to utilize painting techniques (with brushes, sponges, etc.) in molds so that you minimize airbrushing.  One technique we learned from Andrey Dubovik is to paint several layers of translucent colors in a cavity, then spray an overall covering layer.  It makes a marbled look that can be quite beautiful. You can see examples in the thread on the Dubovik course.

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14 hours ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

I like the idea of using a plastic heat pad, as in one of the Grex videos, but all the ones I've been able to find are covered in cloth.

 

I have a heating pad that fits perfectly in a 2 gallon zip-top bag.

 

A large cardboard box can catch most of the over-spray. 

 

And yes, you can keep your airbrush warm in either your melter or your EZ temper!

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3 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

I have a heating pad that fits perfectly in a 2 gallon zip-top bag.

 

A large cardboard box can catch most of the over-spray. 

 

And yes, you can keep your airbrush warm in either your melter or your EZ temper!

That's what I've been using, a large cardboard box, for spraying entrements with martellato velvet spray in a can so far. 

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On 9/19/2020 at 7:14 PM, Jim D. said:

@SweetSymphonybyM 

Originally I decided the information below was too detailed and esoteric to include on eGullet, but now I'm going ahead, with the idea that it might be helpful to another in the future.

 

The diagram referred to is a drawing Grex tech support sent me; and can be found at this link.  Please note some changes/explanations for the diagram mentioned below.  I must state at the outset that I have very few mechanical/technical skills; I mostly followed directions and read a lot online to get this done. It is a setup for a more or less "permanent" connection for an airbrush; if you want to allow for using a paint gun, there are a few adaptations I could describe if desired.

 

I got all Grex items from Jerry Carter Air Tool, the only business I could find that had everything (Grex does not sell merchandise directly). Jerry himself was very helpful. 

 

TG5    GREX Tritium Top Feed w/ 0.5 mm Needle
TK-7  GREX Nozzle Conversion Kit 0.7mm
CP50-1    GREX Tritium Top Feed Cup 50mL 
GMAC    GREX Quick Connect w. Air Flow Valve 
AD21    GREX Adapter 1/8” M x 1/4” M 
AD24    GREX Adapter 1/4” F x 1/4” F 

GBH-06   GREX 6' airbrush hose

 

As is obvious from the list, I use a 0.7mm needle, but for that, you have to purchase the 0.5mm airbrush and also the upgrade kit. Whether the 0.7 makes a huge difference, I do not know. But I do know that pastrygirl on eGullet is now thinking of upgrading to the 0.7, so she might be able to furnish more information on why she feels that way.

 

The 50mL cup is definitely what you need; otherwise you will go crazy refilling the cup.

 

The quick-connect air flow valve (which is attached between the airbrush hose and the airbrush) is really useful (more info below).

 

The two adapters (AD21 and AD24) are for the "permanent," non-quick-connect setup.

 

Items I bought elsewhere:

The Grex airbrush holder did not work for me at all, so I bought this one from Harbor Freight, for the grand total of $9.99. It works great. It does need attaching to something so that it doesn't tip over, and I found a small piece of tile at Lowe's to which I glued the holder.

 

I also got a moisture trap/filter at Lowe's. I'm not sure it's necessary, but I figured it couldn't hurt and it is recommended by many. Note that in setting up to airbrush, you will need some way to prop up the filter so that air flows from top to bottom.

 

And you will need a roll of plumber's teflon tape. If a connector has an O-ring to seal it tightly, that is sufficient, but there are some connectors that don't, and they need tape for a tight seal.

 

And here are my notes on the hookup of the system. Please excuse me if you already know a lot of this.

 

From the compressor, you need a typical air hose long enough to reach from compressor to close to where you will be airbrushing. Here's an example of such a hose.  If you add a moisture trap, you need two such hoses (one from compressor to moisture trap, another from trap to airbrush, so they will be shorter hoses).  The hose needs (or two hoses need) a male connector to the compressor, female connector on the other end. For this I have a quick-connect connector (1/4" male to connect to compressor, 1/4" female to connect to the air hose).  Here's an example of such a quick-connect fitting.

 

From this hose to the moisture filter/trap,  the diagram provides two options. The Grex AD24 (which is 1/4" female to 1/4" female) is sufficient (I see no reason for a quick-connect connector here since the setup will be "permanent").

 

Then the moisture trap needs to be connected to the airbrush hose. This is the end of the moisture trap that is blue in color in the diagram. Unless you plan to use another spray gun (such as an HVLP one), you don't need the quick-connect options and the AD21 is sufficient (note that the AD12 connector close to the green airbrush hose in the diagram) should have been included within the red rectangle, as it is not needed unless you are using the quick-connect option.

 

Then the airbrush hose needs to be connected to the airbrush. For this I strongly recommend the quick-
connect option (G MAC) as this has a pressure regulating knob that comes in handy. It is also great to be able to disconnect the airbrush quickly to clean out one cocoa butter color and/or place the airbrush in a warmer between brushings. As a side note: The Grex cannot do splattering with cocoa butter, and the pressure regulator will not make that happen, but it does come in quite handy when the viscosity of cocoa butter is causing an issue.

 

If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask. I knew none of this stuff when I started, and I owe practically everything to Grex tech support. Just one example:  Having teflon tape is so taken for granted in the airbrushing/spraying/plumbing worlds that nobody told me I needed it until I spent a lot of time trying to make connections airtight and asked Grex.

 

I paid $300 for a Grex-branded compressor (actually from California Air Tools), but if I had it to do over, I would get something more like the California Air Tools 8010A ($198 on Amazon)--larger air capacity than mine, same (relatively) quiet operation, and less money.  Since Grex no longer sells the compressor I bought, this is the one they recommended to the person I previously helped with these decisions. My entire setup (with the more expensive compressor) cost approximately $850, so this would be around $750.

Adding my 2 cents for @SweetSymphonybyM as Jim recently helped me a ton with this :)

 

Here is the setup I got that works like a charm:

TG5    GREX Tritium Top Feed w/ 0.5 mm Needle
TK-7  GREX Nozzle Conversion Kit 0.7mm (I switched to the 0.7 needle straight away, but I think there was someone using the 0.5 needle and said it was ok)
CP50-1    GREX Tritium Top Feed Cup 50mL  (I actually don't need the large cup yet- I prefer several small cups as I switch colors quite a bit so far)
GMAC    GREX Quick Connect w. Air Flow Valve  (this is genius- allows you to control the air pressure easily from the airbrush)
AD12    GREX Adapter 1/8” M x 1/4” F (the 1/4" F is what my compressor required- that will depend on your compressor)

GBH-10   GREX 10' airbrush hose (I got the 10' so I could move a little more)

1/4" NPT quick connector- the hose goes into AD12, which then needs a quick connect to connect to the compressor. Apparently there isn't much of a standard for quick connect, so I went to our local hardware store, they gave me 3 different types of 1/4" NPT quick connector, and told me to return whatever didn't work (and they said that if none of them would have worked I should get a set of coupler + plug kit to replace the coupler that is already part of the compressor).

California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor, 8 gal, Silver - this is the compressor I got that was recommended to me by grex support. It is quiet, large tank, and has enough power to get everything out. 

Master Airbrush® Brand Universal Clamp-on Airbrush Holder- for putting the airbrush down without the paint spilling from the cup.

 

Hopefully this is helpful- took a little bit of work to figure out, but everything is working like a charm.

I do also recommend purchasing from https://jerrycarterairtool.com/ who are the nicest guys ever and have amazing customer support, and not chef rubber (who don't have all the pieces, and also have consistently terrible customer support).

 

Regarding the natural cocoa butters - I tried 2 types:

1. Pomegranate infused cocoa butter- it keeps clogging my airbrush, and the little that does come out is so dull you can barely see it on the chocolate.

2. The zen series (which I think they claim is also natural)- much better than the infused, but still not as bright as the artisan or jewel which is my favorite. 

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, lironp said:

Adding my 2 cents for @SweetSymphonybyM as Jim recently helped me a ton with this :)

 

Here is the setup I got that works like a charm:

TG5    GREX Tritium Top Feed w/ 0.5 mm Needle
TK-7  GREX Nozzle Conversion Kit 0.7mm (I switched to the 0.7 needle straight away, but I think there was someone using the 0.5 needle and said it was ok)
CP50-1    GREX Tritium Top Feed Cup 50mL  (I actually don't need the large cup yet- I prefer several small cups as I switch colors quite a bit so far)
GMAC    GREX Quick Connect w. Air Flow Valve  (this is genius- allows you to control the air pressure easily from the airbrush)
AD12    GREX Adapter 1/8” M x 1/4” F (the 1/4" F is what my compressor required- that will depend on your compressor)

GBH-10   GREX 10' airbrush hose (I got the 10' so I could move a little more)

1/4" NPT quick connector- the hose goes into AD12, which then needs a quick connect to connect to the compressor. Apparently there isn't much of a standard for quick connect, so I went to our local hardware store, they gave me 3 different types of 1/4" NPT quick connector, and told me to return whatever didn't work (and they said that if none of them would have worked I should get a set of coupler + plug kit to replace the coupler that is already part of the compressor).

California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor, 8 gal, Silver - this is the compressor I got that was recommended to me by grex support. It is quiet, large tank, and has enough power to get everything out. 

Master Airbrush® Brand Universal Clamp-on Airbrush Holder- for putting the airbrush down without the paint spilling from the cup.

 

Hopefully this is helpful- took a little bit of work to figure out, but everything is working like a charm.

I do also recommend purchasing from https://jerrycarterairtool.com/ who are the nicest guys ever and have amazing customer support, and not chef rubber (who don't have all the pieces, and also have consistently terrible customer support).

 

Regarding the natural cocoa butters - I tried 2 types:

1. Pomegranate infused cocoa butter- it keeps clogging my airbrush, and the little that does come out is so dull you can barely see it on the chocolate.

2. The zen series (which I think they claim is also natural)- much better than the infused, but still not as bright as the artisan or jewel which is my favorite. 

 

 

 

oh, and my "spray booth" is a big cardboard box :) Because it is very easy to control the pressure with the GMAC regulator, I don't get much overspray so nothing outside of the box gets color on it (and I did just spray around 20 molds at once)

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11 minutes ago, lironp said:

Adding my 2 cents for @SweetSymphonybyM as Jim recently helped me a ton with this :)

 

Here is the setup I got that works like a charm:

TG5    GREX Tritium Top Feed w/ 0.5 mm Needle
TK-7  GREX Nozzle Conversion Kit 0.7mm (I switched to the 0.7 needle straight away, but I think there was someone using the 0.5 needle and said it was ok)
CP50-1    GREX Tritium Top Feed Cup 50mL  (I actually don't need the large cup yet- I prefer several small cups as I switch colors quite a bit so far)
GMAC    GREX Quick Connect w. Air Flow Valve  (this is genius- allows you to control the air pressure easily from the airbrush)
AD12    GREX Adapter 1/8” M x 1/4” F (the 1/4" F is what my compressor required- that will depend on your compressor)

GBH-10   GREX 10' airbrush hose (I got the 10' so I could move a little more)

1/4" NPT quick connector- the hose goes into AD12, which then needs a quick connect to connect to the compressor. Apparently there isn't much of a standard for quick connect, so I went to our local hardware store, they gave me 3 different types of 1/4" NPT quick connector, and told me to return whatever didn't work (and they said that if none of them would have worked I should get a set of coupler + plug kit to replace the coupler that is already part of the compressor).

California Air Tools 8010 Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp Steel Tank Air Compressor, 8 gal, Silver - this is the compressor I got that was recommended to me by grex support. It is quiet, large tank, and has enough power to get everything out. 

Master Airbrush® Brand Universal Clamp-on Airbrush Holder- for putting the airbrush down without the paint spilling from the cup.

 

Hopefully this is helpful- took a little bit of work to figure out, but everything is working like a charm.

I do also recommend purchasing from https://jerrycarterairtool.com/ who are the nicest guys ever and have amazing customer support, and not chef rubber (who don't have all the pieces, and also have consistently terrible customer support).

 

Regarding the natural cocoa butters - I tried 2 types:

1. Pomegranate infused cocoa butter- it keeps clogging my airbrush, and the little that does come out is so dull you can barely see it on the chocolate.

2. The zen series (which I think they claim is also natural)- much better than the infused, but still not as bright as the artisan or jewel which is my favorite. 

 

 

 

Very close to what I ended up getting:

I got a set that came with the .7mm needle, hose, air regulator, and a 125ml cup (although with the amounts I do, I would have preferred the 50 ml cup) https://spraygunner.com/grex-tritium-tg-micro-spray-gun-set-with-0-7mm-nozzle/ , this compressor https://www.homedepot.com/p/California-Air-Tools-10-Gal-2-0-HP-Ultra-Quiet-and-Oil-Free-Electric-Air-Compressor-10020C/206644539 (in case I ever buy a spray gun, might not be quiet large enough, but will do), a moisture trap, and a set of natural cocoa butters from ChefRubber (not flavored - same as zen, but without the shimmer)

 

I'm going to start with a cardboard box for spraying, but hope to upgrade to the CakeSafe booth by Christmas (if I like spraying things)) - mostly for the sake of all the super expensive appliances in my kitchen and my cats))

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9 hours ago, lironp said:

oh, and my "spray booth" is a big cardboard box :) Because it is very easy to control the pressure with the GMAC regulator, I don't get much overspray so nothing outside of the box gets color on it (and I did just spray around 20 molds at once)

At what psi do you have the compressor set?  And approximately how much do you lower the pressure with the GMAC (I know that is difficult to tell because there is no gauge)?  I lowered the pressure to 30 psi at the compressor control and had the GMAC completely open, and the spraying was incredibly slow, so I had to reset at 60 and lower it a small amount at the GMAC valve.  I was going to post previously that setting the pressure lower will result in less backspray but in slower spraying.  It all depends, I suppose, on your patience.  I use the term "backspray," by the way, for the cocoa butter that bounces off the spray booth/box and back to the person spraying.  It isn't really the same as "overspray," which usually refers (for most people, I think) to what lands on the molds outside the targeted cavities.  Some regulator valves have gauges that provide the psi numbers at the airbrush, but the ones I have seen or used add quite a bit of weight to the whole setup.

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On 9/22/2020 at 8:33 AM, Jim D. said:

At what psi do you have the compressor set?  And approximately how much do you lower the pressure with the GMAC (I know that is difficult to tell because there is no gauge)?  I lowered the pressure to 30 psi at the compressor control and had the GMAC completely open, and the spraying was incredibly slow, so I had to reset at 60 and lower it a small amount at the GMAC valve.  I was going to post previously that setting the pressure lower will result in less backspray but in slower spraying.  It all depends, I suppose, on your patience.  I use the term "backspray," by the way, for the cocoa butter that bounces off the spray booth/box and back to the person spraying.  It isn't really the same as "overspray," which usually refers (for most people, I think) to what lands on the molds outside the targeted cavities.  Some regulator valves have gauges that provide the psi numbers at the airbrush, but the ones I have seen or used add quite a bit of weight to the whole setup.

I haven't actually figured out how to set the psi in the compressor, so don't actually know- whatever it was set to when I bought it?
It seems pretty strong when I open the GMAC till the end- when I spray the GMAC is open just a little bit, and I can finish a mold very quickly

 

no backspray at all, I do have some overspray but also because I am not experienced yet with aiming the airbrush to the right place

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Chef Rubber cocoa butters-

 

After going back and forth with their support (hey, at least I got them to eventually respond which is a win), I am even more confused around the different lines they have- artisan, decor, jewel, natural, infused, zen.

 

Here is what I have gathered so far:

artisan- regular colors. natural- same type of colors made from natural ingredients (whatever that means)

jewel- artisan with added luster dust. zen- natural with added luster dust.

infused- infused with real flavors. I bought one which clogged my airbrush (and the color barely comes through on the chocolate). However, 1 customer representative assured me that it is intended for airbrushing, and another one told me that it isn't because the particles are too big. Sounded like a good idea, but I will not buy again.

Decor- again, conflicting information- 1 representative assured me it is good for airbrushing, another told me it is only intended for decor (not suer what that means- isn't airbrushing considered decor?) 

 

So, my questions are: 

1. Is the decor line suitable for airbrushing?

2. Does anyone have any idea what color is used to get this result?

image.png.72e58a307430eb78f7471a95188d81f6.png

 

 

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Picked up my california air compressor from home depot today, connected everything, and was ready to play around with settings, only to discover that the air filter is severely dented and the compressor is leaking air non-stop (outside box was perfectly fine, so not sure about their quality control) - shipped it to store just to avoid it being damaged in transit only to pick it up damaged(. Going to return it to store tomorrow and pick up a Husky (one of the more prevalent choices available for pick up in my area). 

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8 hours ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

Picked up my california air compressor from home depot today, connected everything, and was ready to play around with settings, only to discover that the air filter is severely dented and the compressor is leaking air non-stop (outside box was perfectly fine, so not sure about their quality control) - shipped it to store just to avoid it being damaged in transit only to pick it up damaged(. Going to return it to store tomorrow and pick up a Husky (one of the more prevalent choices available for pick up in my area). 

Is the compressor damaged visibly?  I ask because an air leak can be from incorrectly installed connections.  Some connections require plumber's teflon tape.

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On 9/23/2020 at 10:19 AM, lironp said:

Decor- again, conflicting information- 1 representative assured me it is good for airbrushing, another told me it is only intended for decor (not suer what that means- isn't airbrushing considered decor?) 


with their powder colors, the ‘decor’ are not approved for human consumption by the FDA  but the ‘pearl’ powders are, so maybe it’s the same with decor cb and you can airbrush it all over things not meant to be eaten, like showpieces. Or eat it anyway at your own risk!

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5 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Is the compressor damaged visibly?  I ask because an air leak can be from incorrectly installed connections.  Some connections require plumber's teflon tape.

The air filter was badly dented, and there was air coming out of one spot (before any attachments were connected) - husband tightened it up and it became better, but still leaked...Btw, Husky is huge and LOUD...I got the 27 g one, and it's supposed to be only 5 decibels louder, but it is LOUD...hoping that because of its size it won't turn on often. 

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1 hour ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

The air filter was badly dented, and there was air coming out of one spot (before any attachments were connected) - husband tightened it up and it became better, but still leaked...Btw, Husky is huge and LOUD...I got the 27 g one, and it's supposed to be only 5 decibels louder, but it is LOUD...hoping that because of its size it won't turn on often. 

With 27 gal. it shouldn't turn on often at all.  Maybe once a week.  😄

 

When Kerry took a class with Luis Amado, I think he had his compressor in an adjoining room/space.  But I know you are working in your kitchen, so that probably doesn't help.  You do get used to the noise after a while of doing this.

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2 hours ago, SweetSymphonybyM said:

The air filter was badly dented, and there was air coming out of one spot (before any attachments were connected) - husband tightened it up and it became better, but still leaked...Btw, Husky is huge and LOUD...I got the 27 g one, and it's supposed to be only 5 decibels louder, but it is LOUD...hoping that because of its size it won't turn on often. 

I just got my california air compressor after thankfully being stopped by jim at the last minute before buying a husky.

 

The husky is much louder, and weighs twice as much- i covered all the connections with painters tape per jim's recommendation, and it barely turns on while working. I highly recommend getting it replaced vs getting the husky

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19 minutes ago, lironp said:

I just got my california air compressor after thankfully being stopped by jim at the last minute before buying a husky.

 

The husky is much louder, and weighs twice as much- i covered all the connections with painters tape per jim's recommendation, and it barely turns on while working. I highly recommend getting it replaced vs getting the husky

Actually plumber's tape.  Painter's tape may also work, might eventually peel off.  Plumber's teflon tape sort of "melts" into the connection (you can tell by my mastery of technical terminology that I hold a master plumber's license).

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If I really wanted to keep the california air one, I'm sure my husband would have figured out how to fix it/replace it (he bough the compressor tape in case any of the connections would be loose), but I don't have much trust in products that have more than one issue wrong right out of the box. At this point I don't want to ask him to make a third trip to home depot with a heavy compressor in tow, but I might change my mind after trying it for a week). 

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4 hours ago, Jim D. said:

When Kerry took a class with Luis Amado, I think he had his compressor in an adjoining room/space.  But I know you are working in your kitchen, so that probably doesn't help.


I do my chocolate work from home too but that's my eventual plan. I haven't done it yet because I haven't completely settled on exactly where everything is going permanently but once I do, I want to put my compressor in the basement and run the hose up through the floor into my work area. That's assuming I can figure out a not-too-complicated and not-too-expensive way to be able to switch it on and off without having to go to the basement every time.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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45 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:


I do my chocolate work from home too but that's my eventual plan. I haven't done it yet because I haven't completely settled on exactly where everything is going permanently but once I do, I want to put my compressor in the basement and run the hose up through the floor into my work area. That's assuming I can figure out a not-too-complicated and not-too-expensive way to be able to switch it on and off without having to go to the basement every time.

The compressor, of course, shuts itself off when you stop calling for it to produce air (that is, disconnect the airbrush from its hose).  When I am finished airbrushing for a chocolate batch, then I turn mine off with its switch.  At that point I also disconnect it from the power source.  Totally unnecessary, I am sure, but it's my "Proctor Silex" moment.  Once I had a practically brand-new Proctor Silex toaster oven.  It was sitting quietly on the counter, not turned on, no toast in it, nothing to provoke it, and suddenly the heating elements came on.  Fortunately I was at home and near it, and probably nothing serious would have happened if I had been away, but I have never forgotten that moment--and have never fully trusted anything electrical ever since.

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      MILLET GROATS CHOCOLATE CREME WITH CRANBERRY MOUSSE
       
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for the best chocolate crème I have ever eaten. It is thick, smooth and very chocolaty in flavour and colour. Despite the chocolate, the dessert isn't too sweet. But if somebody thinks that it is, I recommend serving it with slightly sour fruit mousse. You can use cherries, currants or cranberries. You will make an unusually yummy arrangement and your dessert will look beautiful.

      My children were delighted with this dessert. I told them about the fact it had been made with millet groats after they had eaten it, and ... they didn't believe me. Next time I will prepare the millet groats crème with a double portion of ingredients.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      chocolate crème
      100g of millet groats
      200g of dark chocolate
      1 tablespoon of dark cocoa
      250ml of almond milk
      fruit mousse
      250g of fresh cranberries
      juice and peel of one orange
      half a teaspoon of grated ginger
      4 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Boil the millet groats in salty water and drain them. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Blend the millet groats, chocolate, cocoa and milk very thoroughly until you have very smooth crème. Pour the milk in gradually to make the right consistency of your desert. Prepare the fruit mousse. Put the washed cranberries, ginger, juice orange peel and sugar into a pot. Boil until the fruits are soft. Blend. Put the chocolate crème into some small bowls. Put the fruit mousse on top. Decorate with peppermint leaves. Serve at once or chilled.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By Lisa Shock
      The basic formula for these cakes was developed by the wife of a mayonnaise salesman in an effort to help him out. I did a bit of research, and have found many variations. Early variants generally involve using less cocoa, which I cannot recommend. Later variants involve using cold water instead of boiling, adding salt, and additional leaveners. I personally do not feel that any additional salt is needed, as mayonnaise and that famous, tangy brand of salad dressing (sometimes the label just says 'Dressing') both contain a fair amount of salt. If you are using homemade mayonnaise or a low sodium product, an eighth teaspoon of salt may boost the flavor a bit. And, of course, somewhere along the way fans who prefer a certain salad dressing over mayonnaise started using it to make this cake. Nowadays, the Hellman's website has a different formula -one with added eggs and baking powder. I have not tried this newer formulation.
       
      Some versions of this recipe specify sifted cake flour. This will result in a very light cake with virtually no structural integrity, due to the paucity of eggs in this recipe compared to a regular cake. Cupcakes made this way give beautifully light results. However, every time I try to make a traditional 8" double layer cake with cake flour, I experience collapse. I recommend AP flour or at least a mix of cake and pastry flour.
       
      I have never made this with a gluten-free flour replacer. This recipe does not have very much structural integrity and as such does not make a good candidate for a gluten-free cake.
       
      I have made this cake many times, the type of sandwich spread you choose will affect the outcome. Made with mayonnaise, the cake has a good chocolate flavor and moistness. Made with that famous, tangy, off-white salad dressing that gets used as a sandwich spread, the cake has a subtle bit of extra brightness to the flavor. If one chooses to use a vegan mayonnaise, the result is tasty but lacking a little in structure; I would bake this in a square pan and frost and serve from the pan.
       
      The cocoa you use will also affect the flavor.  For a classic, homey flavor use a supermarket brand of cocoa. To add a little sophistication, use better, artisan type cocoa and use chocolate extract instead of the vanilla extract.
       
      Supposedly, the traditional frosting for this cake should have a caramel flavor. Look for one where you actually caramelize some sugar first. Modern recipes for the icing seem like weak imitations to me; using brown sugar as the main flavor instead of true caramel.
       
      Chocolate Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing Cake
      makes enough for two 8" round pans, or a 9" square (about 7 cups of batter)
       
      2 ounces/56g unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa
      1 cup/236g boiling water
      1 teaspoon/4g regular strength vanilla extract
      3/4 cup/162g mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise, or salad dressing (the tangy, off-white, sandwich spread type dressing)
      10.5ounces/300g all-purpose flour
      7 ounces/200g sugar
      0.35ounce/10g baking soda
       
      Preheat your oven to 350°.
      Grease or spray two 8" round pans or an equivalent volume square or rectangle.
      Place the cocoa in a medium (4-5 cup) bowl. Add the hot water and stir with a fork to break up any clumps. Allow to cool down a little,  then add the vanilla extract and the mayonnaise or salad dressing spread. Beat well to eliminate lumps. In the bowl of an electric mixer or larger regular bowl if making by hand, sift in the flour and add the sugar and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients to distribute evenly. Slowly beat in the cocoa mixture. Mix until the batter has an even color. Pour immediately into the pans. If making two 8" rounds, weigh them to ensure they contain equal amounts.
      Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the center of the top springs back when touched lightly. (The toothpick test does NOT work well on this moist cake!) Allow the cake to cool a little and shrink from the sides of the pan before removing. Removal is easier while still a little warm.
      Good with or without frosting.
      Good beginner cake for kids to make.
       
       
       
    • By Kasia
      I prepared two versions: the first one with desiccated coconut and blueberries and the second with dark chocolate and strawberries. Choose your favorite dessert or go crazy and make your own version.

      Bright dessert

      Ingredients (for 2 people)
      200g of white chocolate
      100g of blueberries
      200ml of 30% sweet cream
      200ml of mascarpone cheese
      2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut

      Melt 150g of the white chocolate in a bain-marie. Draw six 8 cm circles on a sheet of baking paper. Put 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate on each of them and smear it around to cover the whole circle. Leave them at room temperature to congeal and then put them in the fridge for 2 hours. Melt the rest of the white chocolate in a bain-marie. Whisk the cream. Add the mascarpone cheese after whisking. Add the white chocolate and the desiccated coconut and stir thoroughly. Wash the blueberries and drain them. Put the first chocolate circles onto a plate, then a layer of the cream and a couple of blueberries and once again chocolate, cream and blueberries. Put the last chocolate circle on the top. 
      Decorate with the rest of the cream, fruit and peppermint leaves. Serve chilled.

      Dark dessert

      Ingredients (for 2 people)
      200g of dark chocolate
      1 tablespoon of cocoa
      a couple of strawberries
      200ml of 30% sweet cream
      200ml of mascarpone cheese

      Melt 150g of the dark chocolate in a bain-marie. Draw six 8cm circles on a sheet of baking paper. Put 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate on each of them and smear it around to cover the whole circle. Leave them at room temperature to congeal and then put them in the fridge for 2 hours. Melt the rest of the dark chocolate in a bain-marie. Whisk the cream. Add the mascarpone cheese after whisking. Add the dark chocolate and the cocoa and stir thoroughly. Wash the strawberries and remove the shanks. Leave 3-4 nice bits of fruit for decoration, and cut the rest into small pieces. Put the first chocolate circles on a plate, then a layer of the cream and a couple of strawberry pieces and then once again chocolate, cream and strawberries. Put the last chocolate circle on the top. Decorate with the rest of the cream, fruit and peppermint leaves. Serve chilled.


    • By Kasia
      Chocolate cake with plums
       
      The first cake I ever dared to bake by myself was a chocolate cake. I have since baked it many times, always using the same recipe, and many times I have spoiled it at the beginning of preparation. It is necessary to cool down the chocolate mixture before adding the rest of the ingredients. On a hot summer day this process is very long, so I accelerated it by putting the pot with the mixture into some cold water in the kitchen sink. Many times, by mistake, I turned on the tap and poured water onto the cooling mixture. In hindsight these situations were amusing, but at the time it wasn't funny.

      This chocolate cake is excellent without any additives. You can enrich it with your favourite nuts or butter icing. Today I added some plums to the top of the cake. It was great and its sweet chocolate-plum aroma lingered long in my home.

      Ingredients (25cm cake tin):
      200g of flour
      150g of butter
      3 tablespoons of cocoa
      120g of brown sugar
      15ml of almond milk
      100g of dark chocolate
      1 egg
      1 teaspoon of baking powder
      plums

      Heat the oven up to 180C. Smooth the cake tin with the butter and sprinkle with dark cocoa.
      Put the butter, milk, sugar, cocoa and chocolate into the pan. Heat it until the chocolate is melted and all the ingredients have blended together well. Leave the mixture to cool down. Add the egg, flour and baking soda and mix them in. Put the dough into the cake tin. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones. Arrange the plum halves skin side down on top of the cake. Bake for 50 minutes. Sprinkle with caster sugar before serving.

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Lisa2k
      Lisa's Copycat recipe for Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter chip cookies
      Serves 12 as Dessert.
      After a few attempts, I think I finally cracked, or came close to cracking the Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter chip cookies. Mind you, I doubt I nailed their exact measurements, and maybe they use a flour other than AP (cake, pastry, or combos of flours), but they sure look, taste and 'feel' just like them. Enjoy!
      Lisa's Levain Bakery copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (**Yields 1 dozen cookies)
      <center>
      <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1206886386/gallery_59301_5864_40960.jpg">
      </center>
      Ingredients
      2 sticks 'cold and cubed' unsalted butter
      3/4 cup granulated sugar
      3/4 cup brown sugar
      2 eggs
      3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour (feel the dough, it should be moist, kind of like cold cookie dough in a tube.. but not super sticky, so you can portion the cookies with your hands)
      3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
      3/4-1 teaspoon baking powder ( I don't fill the tsp fully, hence the 3/4 tsp)
      1/4 tsp baking soda
      2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used half semisweet and half milk chocolate)
      1 cup walnuts (I used macadamia since I was out of walnuts) Toast the nuts for more flavor, if desired.
      Directions
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.. and beat until well incorporated, then add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chunks and nuts. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Divide into 12 equal portions, **about 4 oz each.. Place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven 16-23 minutes depending on how gooey and raw'ish you like the middles (I bake mine at 375 for 18-20 minutes, as I prefer a less raw interior), until very lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store what you don't immediately eat, in an airtight container. To freshen them after a few days (if they last that long), give them a quick nuke in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
      ***Lisa's Levain Copycat Dark Chocolate Peanut butter Chip Cookies (**Yields 1 dozen cookies)
      <center>
      <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1206903687/gallery_59301_5864_14712.jpg">
      </center>
      Ingredients
      2 sticks cold and cubed unsalted butter
      1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
      2 eggs
      1/4 to 1/2 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
      2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      1/4 tsp Kosher salt
      3/4 to 1 teaspoon baking powder
      1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
      2 cups peanut butter chips
      Directions
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated, then beat in cocoa powder. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder until just combined. Gently fold in remaining ingredients. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Divide into 12 equal portions, **about 4 oz each, and place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven 16-20 minutes depending on how gooey and raw'ish you like the middles (I bake mine at 375 for 18 minutes, as I prefer a less raw'ish' interior), taking care not to overbake. . Let cool on a rack and store what you don't immediately eat, in an airtight container. To freshen them after a few days (if they last that long), give them a quick nuke in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
      ** - The Levain Bakery uses 6 oz of cookie dough per cookie.. If you want 12 cookies out of the above recipes, a little over 4 oz per cookie (4.1 to 4.2 oz. Use a kitchen scale) will get you that. If you want to use 6 oz of cookie dough per cookie, you'll probably get only 6-8 cookies. However, a little over 4 oz makes a cookie just as thick and huge, so you don't even notice the difference.
      *** - Regarding the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. I used Dutch-process cocoa. If you use basic, natural unsweetened cocoa (you know, your basic Hershey's in the brown can or whatever), add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the dry ingredients. Also, if they're too 'chocolatey' and rich for you, use only 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and add 1/4 cup extra flour.
      Note1 - The Levain Bakery doesn't use vanilla extract in their cookies, as they feel it's unecessary. However, some feel you need it. You can add 1 tsp to each recipe if desired. Just add it after each egg is incorporated.
      Note2 - If you like a more 'brown sugary' chocolate chip cookie, increase the brown sugar and decrease the white sugar, so you still have a total of 1 1/2 cups sugar total.
      Keywords: Dessert, Cookie, Easy, American, Chocolate, Snack
      ( RG2116 )
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