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Automating the Truffle Making Process
November 17, 2006
3:46 am
GrandCru
New Jersey, USA
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Hi all,
My wife is an accomplished Pastry Chef and has had her own shop for 14 years. We recently built her a new shop that's about 4 times bigger and things are going well. I am an ex-Chef and decided when we opened the new shop to make hand made truffles (a new item). I have a real job and figured I'd come in and make truffles for her twice a month. The problem, albeit a good one, is that truffle sales are really taking off and I can't keep up. Its becoming a full-time job. Of course, part of the reason is that they are all hand made (make the ganache, hand scoop, hand form and hand dip). I need to automate.

Any suggestions where to start?

November 17, 2006
3:21 pm
rrmc55
hayward, USA
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Hi GrandCru, I don't have any suggestions but I just want to say thank you and that's great that the truffles are selling well. It just solidfies my hopes of opening my own place soon. My biggest concern was that nobody would buy the Truffles but from what you said sounds like the need is strong. I wish I could help you out on the automation question but I'm sure someone on this board will suggest some things..Good Luck and have fun at it!!
Happy Holidays!
Rena

November 18, 2006
4:32 pm
GrandCru
New Jersey, USA
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Rena,
I was in business for myself for 20 years with 3 successful restaurants. It's difficult under the best of circumstances.
As to our expanding truffle business, remember that its very profitable for us because we are making them under the umbrella of our existing Pastry Shop. Also, I can get premium prices here ($2 per truffle). Therefore, no extra rent, electric, etc. We would definately NOT be making money if we were dependent on the truffles on their own.
My advice to you, and everyone contemplating going into business, is that don't let your love for your product win out over common business sense. Do your homework diligently. Its not impossible, and a healthy attitude like yours goes a long way.
Good luck!!

November 18, 2006
8:04 pm
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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July 5, 2006
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Well first thing that comes to mind is an enrober. So that you can make a ton of truffles and then get the enrober going and send them all through on one pass...I don't know of many manufacurers but I think Hilliards makes a small one...

-Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
November 19, 2006
11:12 pm
erikos
New York, USA
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July 13, 2006
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Aside from using an enrober, you can always use a molds to make your truffles. There are spherical molds that you can fill with your choice of ganache. This avoids the hand form and dip aspect as well as makes perfectly round truffles.
Another trend that I notice in New York is to make the ganache, slice it with a guitar then enrobe the squares/rectangles and place a transfer sheet on top for decoration.
Both have been called truffles though I would use that wording loosely. The public doesn't seem to care.

November 20, 2006
3:25 am
GrandCru
New Jersey, USA
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Erikos,
Thanks for taking the time to answer.
I have just begun experimenting with molds. I picked up a 25mm magnetic mold, lined it with chocolate and filled with ganache. Works perfect. Of course, they were dipped a final time too. Despite having the extra step of lining the molds, I don't have to scoop or roll. Also, uniformity concerns have been adequately addressed. The only problem I have is that 25mm is too small. I need 30mm magnetic molds but I am having difficulty finding them. Once I do, I will buy a dispenser so I can mold 400+/- at a shot.
Just a word about hard shell truffles vs "dusted" truffles. Hard shell truffles are so superior for many reasons. The ganache can be made much softer and theres a nice "bite" before the "pop" and creamy center. Dusted need to be made so much tighter to hold up. To me, there is no comparison. The extra work is well worth it.

quote:


Originally posted by erikos

Aside from using an enrober, you can always use a molds to make your truffles. There are spherical molds that you can fill with your choice of ganache. This avoids the hand form and dip aspect as well as makes perfectly round truffles.
Another trend that I notice in New York is to make the ganache, slice it with a guitar then enrobe the squares/rectangles and place a transfer sheet on top for decoration.
Both have been called truffles though I would use that wording loosely. The public doesn't seem to care.


November 20, 2006
2:40 pm
patsikes
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
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November 17, 2005
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I have also seen many companies use preformed shells that look like a round truffle with a little hole in the top. You fill the shell with a very soft ganache and then "cap" the hole with tempered chocolate. You can either pack as is (hole down) or dip them, or I have seen some pan them in more chocolate to hide the hole.

Molding lines are very expensive, so that was always out for me. We have always done our truffles in molds, however I am toying with the idea of doing a cut ganache center when we re-open our business here in Florida.

Patrick Sikes
P.S. I Love You Fine Chocolates
http://www.psiloveyouchocolates.com

Patrick Sikes www.MyChocolateJournal.com
November 21, 2006
1:48 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by GrandCru

...
Just a word about hard shell truffles vs "dusted" truffles. Hard shell truffles are so superior for many reasons. The ganache can be made much softer and theres a nice "bite" before the "pop" and creamy center. Dusted need to be made so much tighter to hold up. To me, there is no comparison. The extra work is well worth it.


On that one point I'll chime in and say that I have to disagree on the sensory experience. For me, at least, there's a degree to which the hard shell interferes with the pure experience of smoothness made by the dusted truffle variety. I've found that many if not indeed most people, upon trying the pure dusted variety (a rarity for a reason - see below) actually like them better - it's like a revelation. When you add the hard shell it becomes in some senses, just "another" chocolate (referring in this case to the singular of "chocolates" as in boxed)

Now *I* personally like the firm ganache (2:1) best, because it has the greatest intensity of flavour and the ganache doesn't instantly dissolve, resulting in a creamier release. However, it does seem to be true that *most people* prefer the softer 3:2 or even 1:1 ganaches, possibly because the firm style is too powerful in flavour, possibly because the texture they seek is that which most closely approximates e.g. butter or ice cream in terms of melt - a texture that isn't hard to understand is explicitly the result of the butterfat content. In that specific context, yes, the hard shell is the only way to go.

However, probably the main reason that most chocolatiers go with a hard shell format is because the truffle's keeping properties are thereby dramatically improved. A good pure ganache rolled truffle keeps in decent condition at most a week, before its flavour and texture start to suffer dramatically. Thus for all but a few chocolatiers who can guarantee turnover making rolled truffles as a standard item isn't economically feasible - there'd be too much end-of-life waste.

Oh, on automation - I've found that it's in the grating/chopping process of the chocolate that one actually consumes the most time in manual labour. A cooled chopper/grater would be the first thing I'd get. The second piece I'd get is an extruder for shaping the truffles - the next most time-consuming step. However I've not produced on a mass scale, nor do I have any plans to do so, so my opinions are somewhat subjective!

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 29, 2006
6:28 pm
wrks4choc
Hopewell Junction, USA
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Alex;
I have one word for you...pistoles!! Once I discovered companies with the chocolate discs instead of the blocks, I fell in love and haven't looked back. The only reason I ever buy blocked chocolate is to scrape out chocolate shavings, curls, etc. The pistoles, discs, drops, etc. depending on the company, come in most of the premium companies, so by all means do yourself a favor and try them out, you'll never chop chocolate again!!

Keep it Sweet!

Keep it Sweet!
November 29, 2006
7:36 pm
GrandCru
New Jersey, USA
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Yes, I have been using discs since day 1. I only use block for seed at times. That's the easy part.
I have been searching for 30mm magnetic molds all over the world to no avail. Can someone help? I have orders for over 4,000 truffles over the next 2 weeks and am destined to do them by hand......which sucks!

November 29, 2006
9:16 pm
rrmc55
hayward, USA
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Hi GrandCru, I'm looking at the back of my Sweet Celabrations catalog and they have magnetic molds although I don't know if they are 30mm. Oval dims are 13/16in x3/4inx13/16 deep 28 cavities, round is 1inx 5/8 deep 28 cavities, tear drop is 1 1/8in x 7/8in x 5/8in deep 28 cavities, square 13/16in x 13/16x 5/8 deep 28 cavities, rectanglar is 1 3/8in x 1/18inx 5/8 deep 15 cavities, heart is 1 1/8in x 1 1/8 in x 5/8 deep 15 cavites. Don't know if this is what youi are looking for but there website is http://www.sweetc.com if you want to check it out.....

November 30, 2006
1:07 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by wrks4choc

Alex;
I have one word for you...pistoles!! Once I discovered companies with the chocolate discs instead of the blocks, I fell in love and haven't looked back... you'll never chop chocolate again!!


No, the problem about pistoles or discs or any other such format, even chopping, is that the chocolate is not yet in fine enough form to melt *instantly* when the hot cream is poured in. This has a tremendous impact on final texture because the stirring necessary to melt even chopped chocolate thoroughly reduces the emulsification and leads to a slightly grainier final result. A good truffle should have no discernible grain and be perfectly smooth. Grating chocolate, I've found, is the way to go for this. I experimented with 3 formats, grated, chopped, and discs in some side-by-side trials. The grated truffles were perfect. The chopped had a slight solidity to them. And the discs were quite grainy. So from my results grating really does seem to work best.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 30, 2006
1:21 am
GrandCru
New Jersey, USA
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???????????????

That doesn't make any sense and I have never seen any difference at all doing the same tests. It all depends on the chocolate. If you are using a quality chocolate that is reduced to a 15 micron or less size during conching, there is no discernable difference on the palate. At least none that 99.9% of the population would ever notice.

November 30, 2006
11:34 am
Sebastian
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He's not talking about particle size graining, it's more of a 'globbing' of the fat. Alex - try this. Melt your chocolate, but keep it in temper. After heating your cream, allow it to cool to 95-100F. Then mix the two.

November 30, 2006
8:23 pm
wrks4choc
Hopewell Junction, USA
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Alex,
For magnetic molds also try: http://www.tomric.com they have an extensive variety of molds including the magnetic. There is also a few other companies I can look up their info and get back to you on that. Good Luck!

Keep it Sweet!

Keep it Sweet!
December 1, 2006
1:01 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by Sebastian

He's not talking about particle size graining, it's more of a 'globbing' of the fat. Alex - try this. Melt your chocolate, but keep it in temper. After heating your cream, allow it to cool to 95-100F. Then mix the two.


The problem about that, though, is that it still creates the same problem - that you have to stir to get things melted. With the grated- chocolate method, you can get by with truly minimal mixing - a few foldings and you're done as the small dry particles quickly distribute through the liquid while melting. The melted-chocolate stir-in has what I've seen the reputation for being the most finicky and of creating the greatest risk of actually breaking the ganache.

It *is* a personal preference. The reason that I brought it up as a candidate for automation is that it is actually automatable (such machines are used, for example, to create "drinking chocolate" mixes) and the results are that incrementally better.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
December 1, 2006
2:15 am
Sebastian
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I must be incredibly lucky - I've been at it professionally for over a decade and I've yet to have one break on me (i've seen plenty of others break, mind you...). You're never going to get a method that doesn't involve stirring..i'd maintain that having all component fluid would require the least mixing, for even tho your ground particles are relatively small, they're still solid and need to be moved around to ensure they're all melted and your batch is isothermal.

c'est la vie..

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