Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Pumpkin Patch

The  Pumpkin Patch

 Fall Holidays always feature pumpkins, so why not go all the way out with a chocolate pumpkin that is filled with seasonal candied fruit?  That was the thought behind the small pumpkin patch that we created this year.  

The pumpkin mold was first painted, then filled with chocolate to make a shell:

and finally stuffed with fruit dipped in chocolate:  candied orange slice, candied ginger, candied grapefruit rinds, cranberries, apricots and stroopwafels. 

After the two sides of the pumpkin were gently melted and glued together with the treats inside, they were decorated with a marzipan leaf, glued on with chocolate.  The mold for the leaves was one of the antique marzipan molds that came out of a warehouse in Belgium that was found when it was cleaned out.  

Not all pumpkins are created equal.  Diversity comes in all colors!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Easter Parade

Well, that time of year is rolling around.  The time when we get out all the Easter Molds and go to town.  Sin Confections has a fair amount of antique Easter Molds, made for molding chocolates, marzipan, and ice cream.

Going into the stash of molds that came from Belgium for the marzipan, a few Easter themed figures were made up in almond marzipan.  Since marzipan is so rich, the molds are small.  The exception to that was the nest, which is quite heavy.  No problem.  We all want to eat marzipan around here.

These little lambs are in bright pink and a luster pink for Easter.

These rabbits are about 2 1/2 inches high.

Here's a closer look.

These chicks just hatched!  About 2 inches high.

These singing birds are under an inch tall.

To be fair, the ice cream mold isn't specific for Easter, but it worked well as a nest for the little chicks molded up in the marzipan.  Next week we'll start posting some of the Easter chocolates.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Nuts about Marzipan

People ask "How do you stay so thin working with chocolate?"  Well, other than going to the pool and swimming laps most weekdays, I try to refrain from sampling what I make.  Actually it's easier than it sounds after a while.  That's not the case for me with marzipan.

Antique metal marzipan mold for walnuts

I'm nuts about marzipan.  Not the sickly sweet creamy smooth paste that can enrobe cakes or what you buy at the grocery.  No, I'm talking about homemade marzipan that I grind up myself, often to the consternation of the food processor that frequently smokes and shuts off.  I have to wait for it to cool down and then start grinding over again.  Someday I'll get a professional processor or in my dreams a melanger, but that day is not here yet.  Unless people start appreciating marzipan in this country and I start selling lots of it and have to make many batches.  I'm hoping!

The final walnut from mold above, once painted.

I like to make my own because I like it not to be too sweet.  It also has a little texture.  A processor will never get it perfectly smooth (that's where the melanger comes in).  But I'm OK with that.  And you should be too.  Why settle for mass produced commercial marzipan when you can have something better?  OK, I'll get off the soapbox now.

I lucked into some antique marzipan molds in Belgium, and am having a great time putting them to use.  I got about 40 of them, so you'll see them pop up from time to time.  Quite a few are Easter themed (a future post), a bunch are pigs (a future post and some shown in the 1/1/18 post).  But beyond the traditional fruits there are some that are rather eclectic (crayfish, feathers) and quite a few animals.  I molded up some animals this past weekend when I made the Easter selections.  So I thought I'd share them.

This little bear is just about 2 inches high.  Not so easy to mold, his little feet didn't want to release from the mold.  So I just made one.  All that fur, and the detailed pads on his paws are part of the mold, not just painted on.    I've named him Gary, in honor of my friend who has "Bear" as his nickname.

Here is another small mold, this time an owl.  Her name is Yvette.  She has a very nice backside, too. 

While she is modest, Yvette did agree to turn around so you can see the detail of her wings and feathers, again part of the mold, not just painted on.

Most folks that buy these little marzipan figures don't eat them.  They put them on the shelf!  While they do last a good long time, and I am happy to think of them as art, I certainly don't have the discipline to resist biting off their heads and munching down.  I can always make more...

I hope you give marzipan a try!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Handpainted Transfer Sheets

Port Ganache Praline with hand painted transfer sheet design

For those of you not familiar with the term "transfer sheet", it's nothing more than a piece of acetate that has pigmented cocoa butter covering one side of it.  I say "nothing more" but the transfer sheets one can buy vary in quality and colors and there are a multitude of designs for almost any idea, holiday or whim.  Check out Chef Rubber and Chocotransfersheets for two sources of beautiful sheets.  Basically, they make their sheets with a specialized silk screen process that uses pigmented cocoa butter as the "ink".

Custom Painted Transfer Sheet designed for Valentines Day

Some times I want a specific design that I can't get from either place, and I only want one or two sheets.  Since I'm a long way from being a big production house pumping out zillions of chocolates, I make my own.  I find painting a transfer sheet can be very meditative.  I guess we all have our thing.  Some days painting transfer sheets is mine.

These lemon-mint pralines used the transfer sheet shown in the  next two photos below.

Anyway.  Just how does a transfer sheet work, you ask?  Well, you place the acetate sheet paint side down on liquid chocolate.  And the heat of the liquid chocolate acts like a sort of solvent that melts the cocoa butter.  As the chocolate and the cocoa butter cool, they become one (see, that zen thing going on here?).  Once the chocolate has set, the acetate sheet is peeled off of the chocolate, and the cocoa butter design that was once on the acetate has now magically transferred to the chocolate.

Mold seen from Back with transfer sheet and magnets

There are some special mold that have a removable bottom into which one places the transfer sheet, and then places the bottom back into the mold.

Mold seen from Front with Cavities

The mold and the bottom have magnets that hold them fast together, and keep the transfer sheet in place.  If the sheet moved, then the transfer would get all muddy looking and of course you would have to feed all those chocolates to your partner and kids...

Filled Mold (can't see transfer sheet)

That's only one way to use transfer sheets.  You can also just cut pieces of the sheet and place it on top of liquid chocolate, and make sure it doesn't move.  That's the process used here.  I made some wasabi-lime truffles, and made up a transfer sheet in greens.  I wanted to give the impression of sushi.

It's also a great way for people to decorate their own chocolates.  My friend Judi, a beautiful fine arts painter, came over the other day and we played around in the studio.  She painted up her own transfer sheet, then we made up a box of chocolates with them for her to take home.  Edible art!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Playing with Tape

Instagram is great.  So much inspiration and great energy from people we might never get to know otherwise.  I discovered Hiba Chocolates  and in this post she really got me thinking about what I wanted to accomplish with my chocolates this year.  I've decided it was the year to experiment and perfect my craft.  So with a big thanks to Hiba, I've started working away at it.  My friends are thankful to her as well, they get to eat all the rejects as I experiment.

I started with something simple, playing with tape.  I used both vinyl and paper, and have had much cleaner edges with vinyl tape.  Some of the tape is very thin, about 1mm.  Here's the output from playing with tape a bit.

Tape down the middle, and a toothpick to scrape away the paint for X&O

Criss Cross Tape, two different widths, and three dots using different width "dotters".

Criss-Cross tape, same width.

Thank you Hiba!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Challenging Koi

I am a sucker for pretty molds, even though they are often way beyond my ability to use them properly.  Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.  I got the koi mold, and promptly set about to mold them.  And curse them.  And mold them.  And curse them.  And mold them.  And curse them.  You get the idea.

Besides having a ton of detail, the molds also have some very shallow spots and some very narrow deep spots.  This makes getting chocolate in them and paint in them very hard.  The paint stuck, the air bubbles got trapped no matter what, and the fins, whiskers and tails broke off.

I suppose that I could have gone the easier route and just made solid chocolate shapes that were not filled.  But what's the fun in that?  I put the mold away but didn't stop thinking about it.  I now saw this mold as a learning challenge.  If I could master this mold, the fussiest one in my collection (not extensive by any means, but I'm not suffering for lack of molds, either) then I figured that I'd be on my way to being a better chocolate maker.

This mold requires carefully painting with the finest brush, using toothpick and paintbrush, splattering well, and thinning down the chocolate with cocoa butter quite a bit for the shelling.  And very carefully unmold, using a backing sheet (piece of cardboard or the like) so that the pieces gently fall out of the mold, no smacking like we see in those fancy YouTube videos.  Otherwise the whiskers, fins and tail break.

So while I'm not quite there yet, I think I'm getting close.  White chocolate with orange butter ganache koi.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rolla49 Potholders and Caramel Sauce

A while back I posted about the airbrush booth that my friend Jim made.  He is an uber talented carpenter, and it is thanks to him that I have a beautiful kitchen with hand carved teak counters and custom made cabinets to make my 1903 kitchen look original.  But lets face it.  Behind every talented person is an equally talented partner, and Jim's wife Maria is an inspiration beyond compare.  She is a woman after my own heart.  One day we were talking about "toys" that we wanted, and she wanted a plasma cutter to do metalwork with.  Gotta love her.  You can check out her work here.

Anyway, what does that have to do with chocolate?  Well, Jim came over to see about doing some custom repair work around the house (everything on this house is custom when it's over 100 years old, there's no running to a big box store).  While he was there I foisted some of my chocolates off on him, and he being the good husband that he is, saved some for Maria and shared them.

When we got back from Winter break there was a box from Maria waiting for us, and in it were (among other things) these beautiful potholders!  Maria knows we have a 1920's Magic Chef stove in our kitchen, but the potholders have wound up out in the carriage house so I can use them with the new induction plate when I make caramels.  Here was the maiden run for the induction plate and potholders.  I'm not sure what I liked better about making the caramel, the fact that it smelled so good, or that I got to use Maria's potholders.

This caramel is the more fluid kind that I use to fill molded shells.  It takes a day or so for it to form enough of a skin to cap the molds.  But the lovely, runny liquid sensation in the mouth is worth it.  This batch got flavored with rose oil.

I think the colors go well for Valentine's Day.  One thing's for sure.  Maria's creations and mine are both made with a lot of love.

Pumpkin Patch

The  Pumpkin Patch  Fall Holidays always feature pumpkins, so why not go all the way out with a chocolate pumpkin that is filled...

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