Our synagogue’s fundraiser is tonight and the administrator asked me to provide some of the deserts and something for the auction. To identify my goods I asked Dan to create a logo for me. For those who do not know, DeDe is my granddaughters name for me because they couldn’t pronounce Zayde (Yiddish for grandfather) when they were younger and it just stuck.
Over the last week or so I made and froze choux pastry for the eclairs and shells for the tarts. I made all the fillings yesterday and assembled everything this morning except the pain au chocolat which I made in its entirety this morning. (They don’t take very long.)
I made the chocolate covered caramels a few days ago, wrapped them and set them aside, (after sampling several.)
I had problems with the macaron tower. Being frugal, I used left over almond flour. Mistake! The flour was too coarse, even after running through a fine mesh sieve. The resultant batter was grainy and too thick to pipe properly. However, the taste was fine and they were crisp on the outside, had good legs, and were chewy on the inside.
I thought building the tower on my parchment-lined-styrofoam-cone would be easy if I started with a nice even base, then add macarons in a logical sequence row by row. Let’s just say it failed, not due to any ineptitude on my part but rather from geometrical issues with the cone. (It becomes smaller as you go up. Who knew?) I deconstructed the tower (breaking several macarons in the process) and re-built it by placing a single color in a spiral from bottom to top. (The nice teal one.) This method was better, but next time (and there will be a next time) I need to compensate the spiral with basic Euclidean geometric principles.
The teal macarons are filled with homemade plum jam, the pink with plum/raspberry jam and the white with hazelnut butter. They all taste good, but the hazelnut butter didn’t adhere well and the cookies tended to separate. QC suggests using a tart filling like lime or lemon curd to balance the sweetness of the macaron.
I made three trays of chocolates, each with a different shape. To make them a bit special I piped lines of tempered white chocolate in two of the molds and let it cool before filling with tempered 64% chocolate. For the third, I piped some white chocolate into the bottom of each well and used a toothpick to made a star pattern. It worked reasonably well but led to my major mistake with this treat.
I attended a seminar on working with chocolate in Hawaii last year. The most important takeaway was the use of Mycryo to temper chocolate. I changed how to heat the chocolate and now use the microwave. 200g of dark chocolate requires 90 – 120 seconds with a 1000w microwave. After 60 seconds use small bursts and check the temperature between each one. If the temperature exceeds 104F it’s ok, just don’t go too high.
I failed to allow enough time between my golf round in the morning and our traditional happy hour dinner/drinks at our favorite pizza/bar. I tried to un-mold the chocolates too soon and broke many. In fact only six of the orange jelly confections survived. I should have allowed time to put the in the freezer for a few minutes to help them release. Oh well.
The confection with the faint stripes (left) are filled with fresh orange juice jelly, the hearts with soft caramel and the dome shaped ones (right) with coconut cream (think the inside of a Mounds bar. )
Overall, everything tasted good and that’s the most important!
Pavlovas are a meringue type confection with a crisp exterior and marshmallow like interior. They were named for ballerina Anna Pavlova and are quick and easy to make. They will keep at room temperature for 3-5 days if sealed in an airtight container in low humidity.
I made them for Independence Day and topped them with red (fresh raspberry or strawberry sauce) and blue (fresh blueberries) for the red, white and blue theme, and chocolate because, well….it’s chocolate!
The tartness of the sauces compliments and tempers the sweetness of the pavlova. These are a delicious, light, refreshing dessert.
• 6 (180 g) large egg whites, room temperature • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar • 2 tsp corn starch • ½ tsp cream of tartar • ½ Tbsp lemon juice • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the Oven to (I used 215˚ F as my oven runs hot. Many recipes call for 250˚ F. But my pavlovas were over baked and light brown at this temperature. Because this contains eggs, it should be heated to more than 160˚ F. at a minimum.)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment (or Silpat) paper. Using your stand mixer, beat 6 egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on high, gradually add 1 ½ cups sugar and cream of tartar and beat 10 min on high speed, or until soft peaks form. It will be smooth and glossy.
Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla extract. The mini pavlovas can be formed by piping, or for a more irregular look I used a spoon.
Bake for 30-45 min. If the temperature is too high, or you leave them in the oven to long they will begin to brown. After 30 minutes add 15 additional minutes if necessary for the surface to no longer tacky.
Slide the pavlova with the parchment paper onto the counter or a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature.
Once cool, you can top them with your choice of topping or store in an airtight container for 3-5 days at room temperature (in a low humidity place).
• ½ cup water • 1 tsp corn starch • 1 cup blueberries, raspberries or strawberries • ½ cup granulated sugar • 1 Tbl lemon juice • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine water and cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the cornstarch dissolves
Add the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Crush the berries with a potato masher.
Place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and using an immersion blender blend the sauce for 30 to 60 seconds
Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the berries to extract as much juice as possible. Stir in vanilla extract.
Cover with plastic wrap directly on the sauce to prevent skimming
Chocolate bars do NOT grow on trees. Growing chocolate is labor intensive as most of the harvesting and processing of cocoa and production of chocolate is done by hand. We toured the Lavahola Cocoa farm yesterday (Monday, May 17,) in the rain.
The Lavahola Chocolate Farm maintains a small garden near the visitor center. It contains a variety of native plants, and houses a few ducks.
There are three types of cacao, Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario, all of which are grown at Lavahola.
Forastero is the hardiest, higher yield and most reliable strain. It is therefore the least expensive and most profitable. Unfortunately, it is bland and bitter and requires more additives to make it into a salable product.
Criolo is the connoisseurs go-to chocolate. It is quite rare and accounts for about 3% of the worlds supply, and therefore quite expensive.
The Trinitario bean was the happy result of a disaster in Trinidad. The Criollo plantations were destroyed by a hurricane (or disease) so the farmers replanted with the high yield Forastero to rebuild their industry. The new trees were planted on/near the roots of the Criollo trees and the resultant hybrid, Trinitario, is hardier than Criollo and tastier than Forastero.
Cacao grows on small trees and start producing after about 4 years. It is climate sensitive and this latitude is as far north as cacao will grow. In fact the higher elevation (200’) on one end of the farm is too cool to grow cacao.
The pods are harvested after they turn red and when scraping the outside exposes a yellow interior. They are cut open and the beans are dried for several months before being examined and selected by the chocolatier. The highest quality beans are roasted and puréed in what looks like a peanut butter mill.
If you happen to be in Hilo on the Big Island take a trip up the mountain and visit Lavahola Chocolate Farm. It’s well worth investing the hour. The staff was knowledgeable, friendly and fun.
I attended a fascinating seminar by MOF Chef Stephan Tréand. Chef Tréand earned the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France, or “best craftsman in France,” award in 2004. The seminar was described as “Tempering Chocolate.” Chef Tréand dispensed with that discussion in the first two minutes, then spend the next ninety minutes demonstrating how to make a pure chocolate showpiece.
Rather than try to explain the process here are a few photos from start to finish. He brought some of the pieces with him, but made most of them during the seminar.
I will say I did learn new concepts and methods about tempering and using tempered chocolate.
This morning some radio commentator mentioned St. Valentines Day is Monday. After reviewing my calendar I said to myself, myself I said, “Yikes! Time is running out to make my chocolate candies for friends and family.”
Last year I began using my sous vide to temper chocolate. It is easier to control the temperature of the chocolate than in a double boiler.
Here is the setup I use. A pot of water chosen to fit both the sous vide and small pan holding the chocolate. The pan with the chocolate fits snugly so it wouldn’t fall into the water. The dishcloth is used to wipe and water from the bottom of the pan, if necessary, like when removing hot water from the water bath and adding ice to cool the water. There are two acrylic molds in the background to make the candies and the blue silicone mold to hold any excess chocolate. The excess made some nice solid chocolate hearts. Barely visible at the top of the photo is my morning coffee, an essential part of any kitchen adventure.
Weigh desired amount of chocolate remembering it is easier to control the temperature of larger amounts of chocolate.
For dark chocolate, set the sous vide to 126 deg and let the chocolate heat to 122 deg F and hold until it is all at temperature. That’s the beauty of using the sous vide to temper. It will hold indefinitely at any temperature you select.
Remove the sauce pan containing the melted chocolate, wipe the pan dry and set it aside
Replace 6-8 cups of water with 8-10 cups of ice. (Ice takes up more room than water. Add more cold water to the water bath if required.)
Set the sous vide to 75 deg.
When the chocolate cools to 82 deg, set the temperature to 95 to hold the chocolate in temper at 90 deg for over an hour.
NOTE FOR ACRYLIC MOLDS
Paint the inside of each mold with a silicone brush allowing the chocolate to dry before repainting. Leave the brush in the tempered chocolate
Paint three coats of chocolate being sure to examine the sides and corners closely to assure the entire inside of each mold is covered. Hold the coated mold up to the light and see if there are any holes in the coating.
I used different molds, the heart shaped one for the caramel filling and the domed one for the marshmallow. It required about 100 g of caramel to fill the 18 cells of hearts and 50 g of marshmallow to fill each of the domes.
I warmed the caramel to piping consistency, filled a piping bag with the slightly warm caramel. When filling the chocolate shells be sure to leave adequate room to seal the bottoms of the chocolates. Repeat with about the marshmallow.
Pour enough chocolate across the filled molds and spread to assure each cell is covered with chocolate. (NOTE: the chocolate was kept at 90 deg and remained tempered throughout all the steps. Yay sous vide!)
Once the bottom coat of chocolate is fairly cool scrape off the excess with a bench knife. Save the excess for you next adventure.
I saw a technique for making sugar domes on Netflix’s School of Chocolate. Initially, I thought that looked like a fun and easy skill to learn. I soon discovered it was fun. Plus I had the added incentive of wanting to make a snow-globe cake for my granddaughters. I envisioned an evergreen tree and snowman under the dome.
‘Simply’ pour a little (1-2 Tbl depending on ring size) molten (hard crack) sugar/glucose mixture inside a ring mold, resting on 3 layers of plastic wrap stretched (not too tightly) and sealed across a large bowl.
Press down on the outside of the ring and keep increasing the pressure until the sugar reaches the side of the mold and starts to dome up. If the sugar is too hot it can melt the plastic wrap, too cold it won’t spread to the edges of the ring mold. No matter what you do, your fingers will burn. (After this I purchased some heat resistant silicone gloves.)
It was about now that I decided to make the cake an actual snow-globe. There is no way to pick it up and shake it, but a life time of skiing around snow makers gave me an idea. If I could blow the ‘snow’ (or powdered sugar) from inside the dome it would look like it was snowing.
I changed my plan from a small dome on shell tart to a 5” fondant covered cake. Now I had to make the domes bigger and higher.
I saw a method for making the globes (the author was actually making sugar bowls, but inverted would be perfect.) Ann Reardon – How To Cook That has a great tutorial.
Use helium quality balloons so the molten sugar doesn’t melt them. Ann explains using water filled balloons to disperse the heat and keep them from bursting when covering with the sugar.
This technique also required some practice. You need to be sure to use enough molten sugar or the balloon won’t be fully covered. I found covering the balloon in one smooth pour was more successful than trying to go back and filling in places that weren’t covered.
I made some white gum paste and rolled a little into balls for the snowmen. I colored some black to make buttons, eyes etc. I dyed some green and shaped it into cones. Another YouTube video demonstrated how to use cuticle scissors to snip bits to make the boughs of the trees.
Now to the engineering ‘genius’ of the cakes. To make the snow blower I procured some mini funnels (1.5” across at the top.) I connected a piece of flexible tubing (I happened to have the exact correct size and length from my beer making equipment.)
The cake was put on a 5” cake board which I had cut in its center, then it was crumb coated and covered in fondant. The flexible tubing was fed up through the cake board, cake and fondant and the funnel attached. The other end was fed through the checkerboard ‘tablecloth’ and two 5.25” styrofoam disks with holes cut in the center. The bottom disk had a channel cut from the bottom center to the edge to have a place for the tubing to run to the outside.
Everything was stacked, filled and covered with the sugar dome. Imagine my surprise when the girls and I tried it all together the first time, and it worked!
As the holidays approach, the baker often changes his spots from baker to chocolatier. Everyone seems to like my chocolate coated soft caramels dusted with some Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
I ran out of my favorite Barry 64% cacao chocolate. This chocolate is both delicious and has a 4 out of 5 liquidity which makes a nice thin coating. I found some re-packaged bulk Barry Callebaut 70% dark chocolate which did not have a liquidity rating. After using it I would guess it is in the 2-3 range of 5. By not flowing as well yhis resulted in a thicker coating, but it was all that was available. Hopefully, my “go to” 64% will be back in stock soon!
Paying attention to the temperatures while tempering the chocolate really pays off. The chocolates don’t melt in your fingers and have an attractive, shiny appearance.
I hit the maximum temperature of the caramel perfectly. (238 deg) To cut it I put in in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, then cut into about 1” squared. I still had to coat the knife with some baking spray to make cleanish cuts.
I tried something new today. I use my sous vide for many, many things, but never thought of using it for tempering chocolate. I researched online and the sous vide companies described several different techniques. The problem with them is they bag the chocolate, like you would a steak, and heat and cool it in the bag. I wanted to dip my chocolates, so decided to use a pan to hold the chocolate. I had to be careful as any water that splashed into the melted chocolate would seize and ruin it. (I managed to temper 3 batches with no failures.
I made sure the large pot, plus sous vide was just big enough to allow the sauce pan to sit in the water without tipping too much. It also let the water circulate from the sous vide without splashing.
By the third batch I had the timing down. Setting the sous vide temperature a few degrees higher, or lower, than the chocolate required compensated for our ambient room temperature of 64 deg. I was using dark chocolate so set the sous vide to 126 deg and let the chocolate heat to 122 deg F and hold until I was sure it was all at temperature. That’s the beauty of using the sous vide to temper. It will hold indefinitely at any temperature you select. I then removed the sauce pan containing the melted chocolate, wiped the pan dry and set it aside before replacing 5 cups of water with 5 cups of ice, dropping the temperature to 75 deg. Returning the saucepan to the water quickly cooled the chocolate to 80 deg. I then set the temperature to 95 which held the chocolate in temper at 90 deg for over an hour.
After making the centers by pouring the candy filling into a jelly roll pan, cooling and cutting into 1” x 2” pieces, I dipped to coat the Butterfingers candy bars. The resultant center was too thin for the candy bar. I then tried pouring it into a mold, but it was too thick. Nothing I have was “just right.” However, the flavor and texture was spot-on compared to the commercial candy bar.
I used a heart shaped polycarbonate mold to make the vanilla cream and Mounds Bar clone. (It is almost Valentines Day after all.) I made a half recipe although the recipe below is for a full recipe Two coats of tempered chocolate painted into the mold made a shell for the filling.
The vanilla cream readily piped into the mold, but the coconut was too dense and lumpy with the coconut so I greased my hands and rolled small balls of the mixture then pressed them into the shell. (I warmed the coconut mixture for the second batch and was able to pipe it.)
Once filled, a layer of tempered chocolate was poured over the top and the excess was scraped off. Tapping the cooled mold on the table released the finished candies.
INGREDIENTS • 5 oz condensed milk, sweetened • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar • 14 oz coconut, shredded • 4 cups dark (64% cacao) couverture chocolate
Mix the condensed milk and vanilla extract in a bowl.
Add the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, blending until smooth.
Stir in the coconut.
Temper the chocolate and paint the inside of the mold. It will probably take 2 coats to completely cover the mold. Cool the chocolate between coats.
Grease you hands and roll a small quantity of the mixture into a ball and force into the chocolate coated mold.
Pour chocolate over the top and scrape off the excess. Chill until the top is firm.
Scrape any residual chocolate from the mold and tap on the counter to release.
Add the softened butter, meringue powder, light corn syrup, and water to your mixing bowl Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer beat until mixed completely, scraping the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated well.
Add fondant sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then, beat on medium speed for about 1 minute until it all creams together.
Add invertase, and food coloring and mix well. This was my first recipe using invertase. It is a natural enzyme used to break down the sugar and change it from grainy to smooth.
Scoop the cream filling into a disposable pastry bag and twist the end tightly, securing with a clip or a rubber band.
INGREDIENTS • 1/3 cup light corn syrup • 1/3 cup water • 1 cup granulated sugar • 1 cup peanut butter • Spray Vegetable Oil (Pam, etc.) for keeping the knife lubricated in scoring • 1 Pound of Tempered Semi-Sweet Chocolate for dipping
First begin by greasing a 12-by-17-inch jelly roll pan (with 1-inch sides) with safflower, vegetable or canola oil. Place the pan into a slightly warm oven to warm the pan while making the candy. (Don’t allow the pan to become hot, only barely warm to give you more time to spread and score the candy later.)
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the corn syrup and water, stirring well to combine. Place over medium-low heat and add the sugar. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it is clear and then stirring often until it reaches a full boil. Clip on your calibrated candy thermometer, raise the heat to medium-high and continue to cook – without stirring – until the mixture reaches 310 degrees (F). During this cooking period, should sugar crystals form above the boiling line, carefully wipe away using a damp pastry brush, but be careful not to touch the boiling mixture. Rinse the pastry brush well – and make certain to blot-dry the brush well – between each swipe.
Remove your pan from the warming oven and place on your work surface.
Remove the candy from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring to blend completely using a clean wooden spoon. Working quickly, pour the mixture onto your well-greased jelly roll pan, and spread as evenly as possible. Score the mass with an oiled, heavy chef’s knife into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces, cutting at least half way through the candy. (The more quickly you do this, the easier and deeper your scoring will be.) It is helpful to spray the knife with cooking oil occasionally to aide the knife in scoring.
Allow the scored mixture to cool at room temperature about 2 hours. When cool and hard, complete cutting the scored pieces using a sharp, heavy knife (I like to use my Chinese cleaver here) and break into individual pieces.
Place the cut candies into the refrigerator while you temper your dipping chocolate and allow to chill for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the candies from the fridge and dip each piece into the chocolate, then place on parchment paper to allow the chocolate to harden completely (About 3 hours).
Note: You can add a certain flair to the candy by taking a clean dinner fork and touching the tops of each freshly dipped piece raising lines of “peaks” (akin to meringue peaks). Just use the back of the fork laid parallel to the chocolate cops, touch, lift and slightly pull to one side. Looks pretty snazzy….
Store on waxed-paper sheets in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
I figured there must be something I could do while my Rye Bread Part 2a a loaves were proofing. I also figured there must be something I could do with the 4 Tbl of seedless raspberry coulis I had in the fridge. Also, if you remember I want to use more of the 11 lbs of bittersweet chocolate I have, so I decided some nice raspberry fondant filled bonbons would be a good way to kill a couple of hours this morning.
I tempered a cup of chocolate and poured it into one of my molds before draining the extra back into the bowl of liquid chocolate.
While the tempered chocolate was setting I mixed the raspberry fondant. I only made a half recipe but doubled the amount of raspberry coulis and halved the amount of sugar. I wanted the filling to be very soft. The recipe below does NOT reflect my modifications.
Once complete, I piped each chocolate coated well about 2/3rds full and let it set. Once set, I re-tempered the chocolate, poured it over the filled chocolate and let it almost set before scraping the bottom clean. It’s always a challenge to bang the finished chocolates out of the mold, but just keep banging them and eventually they will release.
Raspberry (or any) fondant center
INGREDIENTS • 2½ tablespoons butter, softened • 2½ tablespoons light corn syrup • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract • ¼ teaspoon salt • ¼ cup seedless raspberry coulis, (but you can use your favorite.) • 3 cups powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter, corn syrup, jam, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
Add the powdered sugar and mix on slow until completely combined. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat the mixture until smooth.
Use the filling right away, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. (I have it in a piping bag, sealed on both ends.)