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October 7 1998
Candy is Dandy/But Liquor is Quicker
These are both

The task of the day:


Confectionery work is, of all of the pastry work I've done so far, the most like traditional cooking. That's something of a shock, but sort of interesting. There's lots of preparation, but then very careful cooking and once the cooking is done, assembly is more rushed and time critial. It's not like bread baking where times are measured in hours.

* * *

So far, we've made:

  • Coffee Truffles
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Jack Daniels Pralinés
  • Candied Orange Peel
  • Three Layer Gianduja

* * *

The Peanut Brittle was a test recipe from another instructor. It wasn't very well written, and we weren't too happy with parts of the final product. It certainly needs more salt in it. But, it was interesting to make and then discuss with the Chef.

The Gianduja is interesting stuff. It's equal parts of sugar and nuts, ground very very fine. So fine, that in doing it, we burnt out one of the RoboCoupes today! Once the nuts are ground, an equal part of melted chocolate is added, and grinding continues until there are no visible nut particles. The resulting mass (or "mess" to use the technical term) is poured onto a marble slabe and "tabled" with a palette knife until it begins to set. It's then used to make centers for candies. In our case, we made three different giandujas (gianduji?) and layered them. Tomorrow we'll finish them off with some decoration.

Ever wonder about those candies with a liquid center? Well that's what we made yesterday and today. In our case, the inside was made with Jack Daniels (we were going to use Maker's Mark, but they were out of it). The center is basically a very carefully cooked sugar syrup plus the liquor. The result is poured into what's called a starch mold, and then set overnight. A very very thin skin of sugar crystals forms on the outside, with liquid left in the middle. You then dip these in chocolate, and decorate. Let me tell you, making three perfect dots of milk chocolate on the top of each one takes forever, especially when the chocolate keeps trying to cool down on you while you are working.

A starch mold is sort of what it sounds like. It's an open frame, filled with some kind of powdered starch (in our case, rice flour and corn starch) that's been dried in an oven for three days, fluffed up using a whisk, and then leveled off link a sandbox. You then make little dents in the starch, which you then fill with the candy. More starch is sifted over the top. By the way, this is how that Gummi Bears are made.

A Pralinés, by the way, is French for what we'd just refer to as a finished "chocolate."

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On Friday, we're setting out candy displays. The class has so far produced over 20 entire trays of chocolates! Should be really neat looking come Friday.

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy