Forum Activity for @Brendan

Brendan
@Brendan
03/18/10 03:31:43PM
21 posts

Cheese and Chocolate -- shelf life?


Posted in: Recipes

I have used triple-creme cheese as if it were butter with great success. If you never use butter in your existing ganaches, try some experimentation. You might end up playing around a little with your formula to get the texture right, but if your regular ganaches are stable, these will be too.
Brendan
@Brendan
03/08/10 07:41:24AM
21 posts

Label ingredients? Nutrition Facts


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

No matter how small you are you have to list your ingredients (and net weight, btw). You also need to specify any of the major allergens of which your product could contain traces. The exemption you mention is for the Nutrition Facts label--you don't have to do this until you sell over a certain amount per year. Which is handy, cause it will cost a few bucks to get that info together. The FDA has a guide dedicated to labeling requirements that goes into serious detail.
Brendan
@Brendan
03/02/10 07:34:46AM
21 posts

Chocolate tours in several cities


Posted in: Travels & Adventures

Boston's chocolate scene has fallen off in recent years, but Aroa isn't bad. They're backed by El Rey and use their chocolate exclusively. Taza in Somerville makes "stone ground" chocolate bean-to-bar; they're worth visiting if you're not familiar with their product.
Brendan
@Brendan
12/02/09 11:46:07AM
21 posts

longevity, how to make your chocolates last longer.


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Finished truffles can also be frozen slowly without risking bloom as long as you are careful (though I daresay flash-freezing is preferable if you have the means). Jean Pierre Wybauw discusses this in one of his books. First you need to seal the chocolates in airtight plastic of some kind, with as little air inside as possible (vaccuum sealing would do nicely). They can then be placed in the fridge, left for 24hrs, then moved into the freezer. When thawing, you again leave them in the fridge for 24 hrs, and allow them to come to room temp for another 24hrs before unsealing them. It's important not to induce sudden temperature change, and not to expose the surface of the chocolates themselves to a markedly different atmosphere. I've done this a number of times with good results, but you can't freeze them indefinitely without losing some flavor/texture. I generally prefer not to freeze.As far as composition, I have used invert sugar and glucose to control water activity. I use some of each to get the flavor and texture I like, but you can play around. In my experience, invert sugar is better than glucose at retaining a consistent texture over time (a ganache using just glucose dries out faster than one with inverted sugar), but it lends a sticky texture and is of course sweeter in taste.
Brendan
@Brendan
11/11/09 07:03:05PM
21 posts

Best Chocolate Book | Best Chocolate Authors


Posted in: Opinion

Peter Greweling's Chocolates and Confections is an outstanding reference for artisan chocolate technique. Clearly written, extra description of certain points if you want it, and great photography.
Brendan
@Brendan
11/18/09 05:06:36PM
21 posts

Alcohol in Chocolates


Posted in: Recipes

You know, if you were to approach your state lawmakers on this you might actually make some progress. In Sam Calagione's Brewing Up a Business he describes petitioning for legal changes in Delaware that allowed him to open the first Dogfish Head brewpub. I work in a bureaucratic environment, and I can testify that a lot of irrational policy is enforced because no one has invested the time and energy to make a change.
Brendan
@Brendan
10/30/09 01:41:03PM
21 posts

Alcohol in Chocolates


Posted in: Recipes

There are laws regulating the use of liquor in confections (as with so many food-related things). Where I am, it was regulated at the state level, and they specified how much alcohol the confection could contain. You have to list the alcohol in the ingredients the same way you would anything else (the FDA has a guide on labeling).
Brendan
@Brendan
10/18/09 10:31:50PM
21 posts

Questions on American Chocolate Mould Table Top Tempering Machine


Posted in: Opinion

I'm a big fan of the ACMC. Mine has seen more use than they were ever intended to, and is still ticking along. The volume sounds about right for your needs, and it holds temperature well. If the chocolate does begin to "over temper" (after long agitation), a quick warm-up will bring it back to proper condition.And for what it's worth, if anything ever breaks on the machine you can get a replacement part from the company in NY at a reasonable price. The ACMC is simple enough to tinker with.
Brendan
@Brendan
09/29/09 05:16:24PM
21 posts

Dried Cocoa Pods


Posted in: Classifieds

L.A. Burdick in NH/MA sells these. I don't know if the price is good, but I'm sure they have plenty on hand. http://www.burdickchocolate.com
Brendan
@Brendan
09/28/09 08:31:47PM
21 posts

Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Sorry, I don't quite follow. Do you mean a walkthrough of the bean-to-bar process?
Brendan
@Brendan
09/28/09 04:03:10PM
21 posts

Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Thanks, Clay. I might take you up on that!And thank you Andre & cheebs. I have a short, non-exhaustive section on decorating bonbons now. Are there any specifics you'd like to see? My focus has been largely on chocolate, but if there's an overwhelming interest in caramels and other confectionery, I might add some material in this area.More feedback, anyone?
Brendan
@Brendan
09/27/09 03:35:42PM
21 posts

Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I'm currently wrapping up a guide to fine chocolate technique. The expected audience is advanced hobbyists and those with professional aspirations. The finished manual will be released as a free e-book. Those of you who are new to chocolate or still actively learning: what would you like to see included in such a book? What have you found to be poorly documented, what has caused you ongoing frustration, what makes you say "wow, how did they do that"? Any feedback (however broad or specific) would be appreciated and will hopefully help others. Here are some of the topics already covered:Characteristics of fine chocolateBlending couverturesPrinciples of tempering chocolateGanache compositionOverview of commonly used ganache ingredientsCommonly used tools and equipmentSlabbing and piping ganacheDipping/enrobing bonbonsMoldingStorage
updated by @Brendan: 04/11/15 10:39:09AM
Brendan
@Brendan
09/22/09 07:06:18AM
21 posts

Chocolate will not release from the mold


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

They are not releasing because the chocolate did not contract, which indicates it did not properly crystallize. One possibility is that the chocolate was well-tempered but allowed to agitate too long and too many stable crystals formed in the machine (the chocolate would become more viscous in this case). The formation of stable cocoa butter crystals is what causes chocolate to contract when cooling, so if the crystals have already formed when the chocolate is poured into the mold, it will not exhibit the expected behaviour as it cools. Since melted chocolate becomes noticeably thicker as the stable crystals multiply, this is an easy issue to spot.More likely is that the chocolate was well-tempered when poured into the molds, but did not cool correctly. The thick polycarbonate of professional molds insulates your chocolate, trapping heat inside. The outer surface may begin to cool, but the warmer chocolate within the mold transfers its heat to the outer surface and interferes with crystal formation. In other words, because some of the chocolate in the mold is exposed to air and some isn't, it cools unevenly and does not set up properly. This problem becomes even worse when molding large masses of chocolate (bars and solid figures). Allow the chocolate to cool to the point where its surface has just gone from wet-looking to slightly matte. At this point it's beginning to crystallize. Ideally it should now be put in a cooler environment, say 10 degrees cooler than your workspace, with lots of air circulation, which is important to disperse the heat. If that's not an option, popping it into the fridge at this point should produce good results, though drastic temperature changes can cause cracking, condensation etc. Leave it in the cooler environment until the chocolate has fully pulled away from the sides of the molds, and allow to gradually return to room temperature before demolding. Lastly, always cool molds with the open side up, otherwise heat will be trapped within the cavity.
Brendan
@Brendan
09/26/09 11:43:43PM
21 posts

Where do I start as an aspiring chocolate seller?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I found a handful of specialty food distributors in my area who supply restaurants and retailers. I ended up getting the best price from a place that sold mainly cheeses. Their minimums were very low and they already had a weekly delivery schedule in place. A little detective work in local food service could turn up a good supplier.I strongly recommend an online store. Some of your customers are really going to like the convenience; others will hear about your product and want to try it, but be unable to come by in person. Even if the volume you see there is minimal, the exposure is worth it.Online stores come pre-packaged, and unless you're a web developer you'll want to work with one to installand customize the store. After that initial (moderate) investment, it's a question of management and coordination: making sure inventory is up to date online, making sure orders are filled promptly, and having a shipping process in place. To keep it simple at first you can offer a limited range of product online.
Brendan
@Brendan
09/20/09 12:17:18AM
21 posts

Where do I start as an aspiring chocolate seller?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

If you're interested in making your own product (as opposed to retailing others'), start by practicing. If you're going to take classes, I think you'll get more out of them when you already have a lot of experience making mistakes at home. Peter Greweling's book "Chocolate & Confections" is a great resource, but with its price tag you might hold off. When I first started out I found Recchiuti's "Chocolate Obsession" bridged the gap between home cook and professional nicely. Once you have something to reference for ingredients and process, play around and develop some recipes.I also highly recommend reading up on basic accounting, and start writing a business plan as soon as you're able. The latter will force you to research parts of the business you're not yet familiar with, and will get you thinking about cash flow and financial planning. Less fun than making chocolate, but crucial.
Brendan
@Brendan
09/24/09 04:28:12PM
21 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

I just came across this thread, and it made me chuckle. I put up a blog post on this very subject a while back, where I articulated my objections (so I'll spare you now). I'm positive Tcho isn't the only place where I've run into this attitude, but they're the ones that sparked my reaction. Sigh...some people.
Brendan
@Brendan
09/23/08 08:57:49PM
21 posts

Hershey on the block.


Posted in: News & New Product Press

Hershey is apparently in talks to sell a 25% stake to Nestle, with the option to buy the other 75% within two years. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aCK0RzrA7RaU Not exactly a surprise, given the company's history in the past couple years: weak new brand extensions that wither and disappear from shelves, moving production to Mexico, contracting with Callebaut, and poor performance overseas. And rising commodity prices are a difficult reality. But will it be the same Hershey's if it falls into the pocket of the giant Nestle?
updated by @Brendan: 04/10/15 08:32:46AM
Brendan
@Brendan
03/14/08 02:48:24AM
21 posts

Reclassification of cacao varieties?


Posted in: Opinion

I think that's a good point about potentially causing more confusion. A little digging certainly indicates that the actual strains of tree in cultivation represent a variety of strains. Anyone who is in a position to choose which trees to plant, or is involved in bean sourcing, surely understands this reality. Attempting to identify and catalog distinct strains would be interesting, particularly in terms of genetic preservation and tracking the evolution of the species. It would be acolossal taxanomic effort, though, and would involve a lot of international grassroots info-gathering. Even once you had the data together, people love to fight over what constitutes a distinct group and what doesn't. It's probably more than the average chocophile cares to know, and would it be relevant to chocolate makers? If you're sourcing beans, there are a lot of practical concerns that will determine which crops you potentially have access to; and a bean by any other name...

The view that Forastero/Criollo/Trinitario/Nacional is a thumbnail sketch seems to be gaining prevalence in chocolate literature (though not, admittedly, on chocolate wrappers). That's a step in the right direction.
Brendan
@Brendan
03/14/08 03:17:14AM
21 posts

Inside Rating Systems


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Lots of good points! I have *definitely* found that tasting the same chocolate at different times of day, in different surroundings, etc. affects the sense perceptions. Expectations also play a big part; I don't care much for the tasting notes I find on wrappers, and I usually get different results. Wybauw (in Fine Chocolates) makes the point that there is no such thing as an objective tasting. When your environment is positive, and your mood is good, you are more likely to enjoy something, and vice versa. In this sense, I think a chocolate's finish, snap, etc. are relevant, though secondary. Even package design. Intellectually they seem separate, but they definitely come into play in creating the impressions you get when you taste. One point I haven't seen brought up much (ok, I haven't exactly looked) is the thickness of a molded bar. Snapping a piece of a thin lil' Amedei bar and tasting it is a very different experience for me than..say, Dagoba? You know, one of the thicker, squatter bars.

The great subjectivity involved makes me shy away from a numerical rating system. Such a small snapshot can't convey much information, and complexity is the watchword of fine chocolate. I used to be more good/bad oriented, but as I worked with chocolate more my viewpoint changed. A chocolate I love to eat can be useless in a ganache. So is that a 5 or a 10? Some chocolate tastes like old leather, but that might be just what you want for a certain application. I prefer the flavor wheel that Felchlin uses (Chloe Doutre-Roussel has one like it in her book, as well). It gives you an idea what you're in for, and lets you decide for yourself how you feel about it. I guess I would add a section for Bland, though, to allow for the many chocolates that are.
Brendan
@Brendan
02/16/08 10:32:15PM
21 posts

Where to Buy Tools for Working with Chocolate


Posted in: Classifieds

I can suggest a few for starters:J.B. Prince, http://www.jbprince.com/ Good selection, good service, prices are ok (but not cheap).Tomric, http://www.tomric.com/ Mainly molds and custom work, but if you get to the equipment part of their (somewhat clunky) site, some very cool stuff. I just got their printed catalog, and it's much more user-friendly than the website.Chef Rubber, http://www.chefrubber.com/ Specializing in mold-making supplies, but has lots of stuff you won't find elsewhere.Kerekes, http://www.bakedeco.com/ Like J.B. Prince, a professional supplier with a great selection.Design et Realisation, http://www.dr.ca/ Canadian company with some harder-to-find utensils and rulers.
Brendan
@Brendan
02/16/08 10:42:18PM
21 posts

What Makes an Artisan Chocolate Artisan?


Posted in: Opinion

I think the one thing that's really out if you call yourself an artisan is automation. I'd say that some level of tradition--recognized or deliberately disregarded or whatever--is also a factor. Whatever craft you do and whatever approach you take, it's bound to be informed by someone who came before you. And an artisanal product should reflect the character of the artisan. If you really wanted to, you could make a Twinkie by hand in your own kitchen, but it would still be a Twinkie. To me, the personal investment factor is a biggie.