Friday, February 26, 2010

02/22-23/10 - Class - Jellies, Nut Centers and Aerated Confections

This week in class we made more candies: jellies, nut centers, and aerated confections. They were all pretty easy and not terribly interesting. One recipe didn't work out which were pectin jellies. I guess they didn't set or something so not sure what happened, but they tasted good, the bit that I could try.

Our first recipe were gelatin gummies, just like any you'd find in a store. The chef showed us an interesting method of making a cornstarch mold, which is just what it sounds like, a lot of cornstarch formed into a frame. He then indented molds into the cornstarch with a row of gummie bears glued to a skewer to make the mold. It took like 10 boxes of cornstarch to make the one mold so only one group used it. Ours turned out fine, though the recipe was really small so we only got a few.

Our next recipe were Almond Dragees. Basically just almonds caramelized in sugar with some butter. Not very interesting but pretty tasty. We also coated some in chocolate but only because the chef told us to. They're better without the chocolate.

Our other nut recipe was Rochers, which was even less interesting. It was just slivered almonds coated in Jack Daniels, salt, and pepper, toasted, then formed into a mound with tempered chocolate. They tasted good after toasting, not as much after being mixed with chocolate (but that's probably just cuz I'm not much for chocolate).

Our last completed recipe was Nougat Montelimar. It was pretty complex, actually. We made an egg white mixture with sugar, while at the same time cooking honey. We hten began cooking sugar and glucose while the whites whipped, and then pouring the hot honey and then the cooked sugar into the whites, and finally cocoa butter. It is kinda like Italian Buttercream, though more complex. That set into a harder consistency and we mixed in various nuts and dried fruit and then flattened it out and cut it after fully setting. Unfortunately I don't think it tasted good at all.

Our other aerated confection was marshmallows, but we made them on Tuesday and they needed to set overnight, so I can't finish those until next week's class.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

02/18-19/10 - Class - Wedding Cake and Decorations

This week we first finished our wedding cakes that we had sorta been working on for a few weeks of snow. On Thursday we finished them with various decorations including roses, rosettes, rosebuds, swag bordering and pearl bordering. I think mine turned out okay, but I can tell this really isn't my thing.

On Friday we began practice on some more decorations. We worked with modeling chocolate and marzipan. It was kinda interesting. Modeling chocolate is sorta difficult to work with because it is pretty hard and you need to finish your items without finger prints, any remaining sugar, etc. I found that I work pretty quickly but my quality isn't the best. We made roses and bows out of the modeling chocolate.

In addition we also worked with marzipan. That was a good deal easier to work with. It also benefits because you can color it so it can be really realistic. We made some marzipan fruits. I didn't have much time to work on it so I only got a few done but made apples, cherries, and strawberries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

02/15-16/10 - Class - Crystallized Sugar Confections

Nothing really last week. Because of the snow, both my days of Chocolate class was canceled and one day of my Advanced Patisserie class. On Friday in Advanced Patisserie we continued work on our wedding cakes-we cleaned them up and iced them, and we'll finish them this week.

This week in Chocolate and Confectionery we began crystallized sugar confections, which means that instead of avoiding sugar crystallization, we're inducing it through agitation.

Our first product were pecan pralines. They came out well but I needed to scoop them out faster; they began getting grainy by the end of the batch.

After the pralines we made chocolate fudge. It came out decently but was rather soft. I think that may be a result of not agitating it enough but I'm not really sure.

Next we made peanut butter fudge. Pretty similar to the last one. This one turned out better though; it had a good, hard consistency and tasted pretty good.

Last I tried making a batch of fondant. Most of the recipes called for fondant but we used pre-made fondant for them. I wanted to give it a try anyway. It is rather simple, just sugar, glucose, and water, but takes upwards of 20 minutes of agitation so it isn't the easiest to produce. It seemed to turn out pretty well but it was pretty hard so I think I over-agitated it. But I think it is still usable and would just need to be melted some first.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

02/05-06/10 - Class - Cake Decorations

We didn't do a lot in our advanced patisserie class this week. The first day was sort of prep for next week's midterm, where we will be doing a mini-wedding cake. The class was split up into doing three tasks: some baking cake rounds, some making Italian buttercream, and some making "American" buttercream, nasty stuff pleasing to the American palate, which is really only good for practice. We got to do a good amount of piping practice. We learned to do a few borders I had never done before as well as piped roses, which I found that I was really good at.

Friday's class was kinda messed up due to the beginnings of snow. Class was still on but would only last until 2:30, making it half the length and the Chef gave the option to not come if you didn't want to. I went of course but we only had like 7 students there. We were given a choice of what we wanted to do and everyone but me chose to practice decorating a foam cake round. I opted to try remaking the macaroons that failed in our first week. They came out well this time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

02/01-02/10 - Class - Noncrystalline Sugar Confections

This week we moved beyond chocolate onto sugar work, noncrystalline sugar confections to be precise. It was actually pretty fun this week making candy, a whole lot better than working with chocolate. We made a number of various items this week, all fairly similar in concept (cooked sugar), the only variances being the ingredients and the degree to which the sugar is cooked (how soft/hard the product is).

On the first day we made three items. The first was chocolate taffy. It turned out pretty well, though I wasn't a fan of the taste. I don't think chocolate really goes well as taffy, I think a fruit flavor or something would have been much better. It tasted kinda like a tootsie roll.

The second item that we made was peanut brittle. It was pretty simple and also turned out pretty well. Though also I wasn't crazy about the taste; I guess I'm just not a peanut brittle person. The peanuts that were used were really salty so I feared for the product but it turned out pretty mellow. It was salty but balanced, not overpowering.

The final item on Monday were toffee drops. Again, came out fine but I didn't like the taste of them at all, though it's the fact that I just really don't like the taste of toffee to begin with. I guess it's just British thing.

On Tuesday our first recipe was for soft caramels. The product turned out okay, but they ended up being hard as opposed to soft. One group had made them earlier and the product was too soft, so the chef told us to cook our sugar to a higher temperature than what the recipe said, which in turn made hard caramels. They still tasted fine but the hard consistency was a bit off-putting.

Our final product was simple hard candy. Very easy, only three ingredients (2 kinds of sugar and water). It was fun pulling and working with the hot sugar. We colored ours a bright blue yet it was orange flavored-it was originally gonna be peppermint but I put a stop to that. We just made simple candies though they could have been shaped and whatnot while still hot if we had chosen to.

There was one more item that didn't end up working out, which were Leaf Croquants. They were made sorta like croissant dough, in that a layer of ground almonds and glucose were sandwiched by caramel, and then subsequently turned and folded several times to create many leaves of caramel and the filling. I think it would have tasted really good but there must have been something wrong with the recipe-it wasn't working for anyone so the chef told us to scrap it. Regardless, this week was a lot more fun than the previous classes, as I really didn't like doing chocolate work.