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Need Ideas for an Advanced Chocolate Course - what would people want to learn?

Brian Donaghy - pastry chef at Tomric - and I have been discussing running an advanced chocolate course aimed at artisan chocolate makers who need to improve their talents and their product.

I would assume that most people would love to look at some equipment with an eye to increasing production - but beyond that what would you think that people would want to learn if they knew the basics but wanted to improve?

I guess it begs the question - what are basic chocolate techniques and what are advanced techniques? What do most people who are producing feel they are weak at and want to improve?

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I find that I get questions in three groups:

Artisan production: "How do I avoid getting bubbles in complex molds" and techniques for "How do I get the best bottoms (no cracks, separation, weeping, being thin, etc) on molded chocolates with different filling types?"

Understanding tempering beyond what the box says: "What is the tempering curve for chocolate X?" It seems like there should be a simple formula for this, but I never ever touch milk chocolate, so I have no idea what that formula may be.

Finally, shelf-life: "I have a truffle that tastes great for about a week, but then it goes down hill and after two weeks there is always mold between the filling and the lining... what can I do to increase the shelf-life to a month... three months... six months with as small an impact as possible to the flavor and texture."

Oh an lastly... "What is the guard schedule at Tomric? I'd love an X, but there is no way that I can afford that without either having a ton of cash to start or being too big as to have lost that artisan touch." ;)
"What is the guard schedule at Tomric?

I don't understand the question?

It was a joke about, badly, planning a heist of tomeric, since so much of that equipment is so darned expensive. Plus the fact that everyone knows most chocolatiers are no good, common theives. ;)
Sorry I didn't get it, my sense of humor needs a reboot. LOL
Do you need an X mould, I think we have a stock item that wouldn't be too expensive. The cost goes up if it is a custom size.
Lemmie know.

Brian, the day I get over my horrible inability to make sales calls, I can assure you that countless thousands of my dollars will be going your way.

Sorry I re-read what I wrote before, I did not mean that you were expensive, just that you have some very high end equipment, that is both dreamy and costly.
I got that without explanation -- guess we bakers are a pretty sorry lot, too :)
I have a small production that supplies 3 retail outlets and numerous hotel and wholesale accounts. I have a great tempering unit, a SELMI Plus, but can't afford to add a $3000 guitar or $1400 Thermomix or Robocoupe( everything cost double here after you add shipping) or lots of other goodies that cost a bundle. ( Actually I bought an $1800 guitar and the plastic base warped so that was a costly error and I'm back to low tech cutting)
I love molding and am fast and consistent at it but also like the efficiency of slab ganaches that you can decorate.The combination of techniques makes the case more interesting.
So a challenge for me is getting consistent results with low tech equipment-cutting ganaches with drywall tools or paint shields etc. I 'd like to do more complex ganaches with layers of texture but when you start adding ingredients like that all kinds of new problems occur and they are also challenging to cut into somewhat perfect consistent pieces. So understanding more about how different things react with each other and at what point to add them to maximize their crunch or flavor etc....building more complex ganaches.Also knowing what the effect of various additives is whether its glucose, trimoline, sorbitol or other shelf life extenders.
I see people put salt on top of chocolate ...well in my tropical climate you can't do that, it melts almost instantly. So does sugar. I made a creme brulee ganache and caramelized sugar, then smashed it up and added it to the cooled ganache. It was heavenly for several hours.. But in the time the pieces sat overnight, even in my 65 degree cool room to dry out a little to enrobe the next day the sugar "melted" and lost its crunchy edge due to humidity most likely. You can't leave cough drops out here , they get soft in a few days.Peppermint bark would never work, the candy canes go liquid in their wrappers.
I guess the "artisan" part of the chocolate is that they are not all perfect mirrors of one another but in striving for better perfection I'd just like to find solutions for having a little more consistency.
That really sucks with the guitar!

Isomalt works pretty well in high humidity, about half as sweet as sucrose, but it has a clean flavor.

Also, for flake salt, you can coat it with a very small amount of cocoa butter to seal it. A spray gun and a wide, shallow bowl allows for a basic panning process to be quick and easy (did this for a beach wedding).
thanks for the sugesstion Robert. I don't have a spray gun but I did recently buy some food lacquer to play with. I solve my problem by putting the salt inside. I do Kiawe smoked salt caramels- tastes smoky like bacon wood but no meat (yuk) . Kiawe is like mesquite. I use a variety of Hawaiian salts that we have here-red, black, green.
Putting the salt inside works too...

Strange, I have a caramel that tastes just like Kiawe smoked salt, made from rendered bacon fat and bacon distillate (yeah, I distill bacon, fear me). ;)
Bacon distilled in booze?

I just got a new still - I'm getting it cleaned up now, but I'm anxious to see what all I can distill. Of course - not alcohol, that would be illegal!
bacon + distilled water + vacuum + low heat or you can do the cheap method of bacon + water + heat + gelatin + freeze + filter

The latter yields more protein in the final liquid, which may or may not be desired.

You have a still?! Where is my invite to your "legal" still warming party? I'll bring my famous bathtub 12 year old scotch.


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