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David J.

My first big chocolate project

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This past Saturday I presented 56 boxes of chocolates to a friend as wedding favors for her reception. My wife has shipped care packages of my truffles as far away as California and Australia, but this was my first time being under the gun to produce a large and varied batch on a deadline.

I of course, drastically underestimated the time it would take and only started my first batch the weekend before. To make matters worse I lost a couple days due to the heat wave and high humidity before I bought a dehumidifier to augment the central air. That lowered the humidity enough to resuming tempering and dipping on Thursday. My wife and I were tying ribbon around the boxes at 2am Friday night with a 6am alarm for the long drive to Toronto.

Still, it all came together. I want to thank all of those here who have provided tips, techniques, and encouragement. I have gotten quite a bit of information from the demonstrations, threads, and individual messages which brought me to the point that I had confidence I could pull this off.

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Here is a single box showing the variety. Thanks to chiantiglace for the demo on praline making and Kerry Beal and others for the tip on how to keep the crunch when it goes into the ganache.

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The box top with a label explaining what each chocolate is. My wife had whole sheets of sticky label and I cut them with a table cutter.

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The finished box all tied up in the brides colors. Special thanks to WhiteTruffleGirl for sharing her find of these great looking Empire boxes!

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And finally the entire batch that made the trip.

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David,

Those look fabulous. I'm glad you were able to pull it all together in time. You must have been just about frantic when the humidity was giving you trouble with the tempering.

So what is your next project?

Kerry

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Wow, that was quite a project! Those look beautiful and sound delicious. I'm having a hard time choosing between geranium-rose and ancho-honey.

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David,

Those look fabulous.  I'm glad you were able to pull it all together in time.  You must have been just about frantic when the humidity was giving you trouble with the tempering. 

So what is your next project?

Kerry

Kerry,

Yes, I was getting rather anxious. I was going to try rolling some in chocolate shavings and others in cocoa if I couldn't lower the humidity enough. Fortunately two straight days of running full out with a hefty dehumidifier dragged it down to 42% and saved the day.

My next project is the home-made ganache cutter. I have to figure out the measurements for a 12" wide cutter and order the metal. I've already got the aluminum brazing rods so I will be learning how to braze cleanly by building a casting frame this weekend. After that I think I will use my new toy to try my hand at a layered ganache with some type of fruit filling. I saw a stacking ganache frame somewhere that I will try to duplicate in a smaller version. I recall it was 14" square and I want to keep my batches smaller. So any tips on creating a tasty layered ganache would come in handy. I am always looking to further my knowlege and technique.

Oh, I will also be attending the advanced chocolate class at the French Pastry School in November, so I think I will try my hand at the hand dipped liquour centers just so I will know what questions to ask.

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ohh, i want to take that class also...i'll be starting a new job, we'll see if i can get the time off.

congratulations on a job well done! your chocolates are beautiful and i'm sure your friend (and the guests) loved them all.

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Beautiful job, David. Very impressive that you got it all together for a huge job, amid technical difficulties as well. Kudos!

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Those look absolutely amazing!

How do you end up making your praline crunch ganache?

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Those look absolutely amazing!

How do you end up making your praline crunch ganache?

I toasted an entire 8 oz. bag of skinned hazelnuts and used them to make the praline as in the demo. I did not make the paste, but rather stopped at the point of grinding it up in the food processor.

I then melted 2 lbs. of milk chocolate and let it cool almost to room temperature when I added 1/2 lbs. of room temperature butter. I had meant to use a 1:2 ratio of butter to chocolate, but in my sleep deprived state I switched that for 1/2 lbs. and ended up with a 1:4 ratio. It worked, but the result was a bit stiffer than I like. I mixed the butter and chocolate slowly with a wooden spoon, then added the ground praline and mixed some more. Even several days latter the ganache still has some crunch to it.

I picked out some of the larger sugar chunks from the ground praline by hand because I didn't have a sifter with the right size grating. I'll probably look for one before I do this again. I wanted some small bits to add crunch so I didn't run the food processor until I had paste, but that left some pieces that I judged too large.

I then toasted a few more nuts and chopped them for the topping. Once again I had trouble getting just the size bits I wanted without leaving some too large or getting nut powder. Does anyone know of a handy way to produce even sized bits?

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David,

Those look fabulous.  I'm glad you were able to pull it all together in time.  You must have been just about frantic when the humidity was giving you trouble with the tempering. 

So what is your next project?

Kerry

Kerry,

Yes, I was getting rather anxious. I was going to try rolling some in chocolate shavings and others in cocoa if I couldn't lower the humidity enough. Fortunately two straight days of running full out with a hefty dehumidifier dragged it down to 42% and saved the day.

My next project is the home-made ganache cutter. I have to figure out the measurements for a 12" wide cutter and order the metal. I've already got the aluminum brazing rods so I will be learning how to braze cleanly by building a casting frame this weekend. After that I think I will use my new toy to try my hand at a layered ganache with some type of fruit filling. I saw a stacking ganache frame somewhere that I will try to duplicate in a smaller version. I recall it was 14" square and I want to keep my batches smaller. So any tips on creating a tasty layered ganache would come in handy. I am always looking to further my knowlege and technique.

Oh, I will also be attending the advanced chocolate class at the French Pastry School in November, so I think I will try my hand at the hand dipped liquour centers just so I will know what questions to ask.

David,

The only layered ganache I have tried recently was just a dark chocolate ganache topped with a milk chocolate ganache, then set to crystalize overnight. I cut it with a chef's knife and dipped in milk. This is a really bad picture of it.

gallery_34671_2649_37328.jpg

I would love to try just a simple dark chocolate ganache, with a thin layer of fruit jelly on top. That might work for your fruit filling.

So what is a stacking ganache frame?

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Those look absolutely amazing!

How do you end up making your praline crunch ganache?

For layered centers, I have found caramel/confectionary bars to be very useful http://pastrychef.com/Catalog/caramel_bar_set_781392.htm .  They are flexible as you can change the size based on how much ganache, pate de fruit, caramel etc. you make.  The stacking frame set looks like it has a static dimension but other than that would work the same.

Also, I typically put the fruit layer down first then cover with ganache after it has cooled.  This is for a couple reasons.  First, the pate de fruit is much hotter than ganache and by the time it cools to a temperature you could pour on the ganache, it will have already set.  In addition, if the first layer is the fruit, it will naturally settle to a more even level as it is more viscous that ganache when first poured.  Also, it is very difficult to try and level out pate de fruit as it cools, it tends to start lumping whereas if you top the cooled pate de fruit with ganache, you can always use a spatula to work the ganache until it is even.  If you want the fruit on top of the finished palet, just flip before enrobing.

I toasted an entire 8 oz. bag of skinned hazelnuts and used them to make the praline as in the demo. I did not make the paste, but rather stopped at the point of grinding it up in the food processor.

I then melted 2 lbs. of milk chocolate and let it cool almost to room temperature when I added 1/2 lbs. of room temperature butter. I had meant to use a 1:2 ratio of butter to chocolate, but in my sleep deprived state I switched that for 1/2 lbs. and ended up with a 1:4 ratio. It worked, but the result was a bit stiffer than I like. I mixed the butter and chocolate slowly with a wooden spoon, then added the ground praline and mixed some more. Even several days latter the ganache still has some crunch to it.

I picked out some of the larger sugar chunks from the ground praline by hand because I didn't have a sifter with the right size grating. I'll probably look for one before I do this again. I wanted some small bits to add crunch so I didn't run the food processor until I had paste, but that left some pieces that I judged too large.

I then toasted a few more nuts and chopped them for the topping. Once again I had trouble getting just the size bits I wanted without leaving some too large or getting nut powder. Does anyone know of a handy way to produce even sized bits?

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David,

Where did you get the boxes?

From Rogier at http://www.kroese-exclusief.com/

You will need to create a free account with the website before you can view the catalog (under the SHOP link).

He has some wonderfull boxes and it was a snap to order from him.

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David,

Those look fantastic. Congratulations on pulling it off and much success in your future endeavours.

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