Silicone candy mould review

When you’re building your chocolate inventory you come to a fork in the road, silicone moulds or polycarbonate. I went with silicone, mostly since I didn’t know what polycarbonate was, and the merchant had silicone. Zero research went into my purchase. Did I make the right decision?

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I bought my first mould in 2011 at a baking show, and bought the rest from Golda’s Kitchen and Chocolat-chocolat Inc.  The majority of my collection are Fat Daddio’s moulds. I’ve used them for our Christmas chocolates for 5 years so far.

 

What I like about silicone moulds:

They’re durable.

They’re fairly inexpensive, Golda’s sells them for $11.25 each and Chocolat-chocolat has my Christmas mould on sale for $3.95

They’re quiet, no whacking them on the counter to dislodge the chocolate.

They come in a variety of visually interesting shapes.

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What I dislike:

Are you wondering why the moulds are wet? I just washed them. But I washed them before I put them away in January. There is a huge problem with silicone, a powdery white substance forms on it. It looks like dishwater detergent, but it’s not.

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From what I read on Rowley’s Whiskey Forge, it was determined by a silicone manufacturer to be:

We actually did a chemical breakdown test on this white residue from a tray that we received back from a customer and the result of that test is below. The compound associated with the residue is Calcium Sulfate – meaning basically the residue is associated with the chemicals in hard water. Like a mineral deposit.

However, the comments on the article found that even using distilled water didn’t cure the problem, so I am at a loss.

Obviously I can’t have this white substance on my chocolates, so we have to wash and dry them again before using them which is a huge pain in the ass. It wastes a lot of my time.

On the other hand, where I live discourages making loud noises and the noise that polycarbonate moulds make is significant.  (I got to try them at the McCall’s chocolate course I took with Spousal Unit. Very cool but very loud.)

It’s hard to remove air bubbles when using silicone moulds. The mould can warp in your hands if you pull it too tight, so my method is to place the mould on a cookie sheet and whack that on the counter.

Verdict:

Perhaps if I could go back in time I’d choose polycarbonate. On the other hand, all the whacking would upset my cats. So perhaps silicone was the best choice for me in the end.

Update Aug 8, 2016:

I emailed Fat Daddio’s about the residue and they replied:

I’m sorry to hear about your issues, it sounds incredibly frustrating.

It typically is a reaction to hard water, as well as oils that collect from whatever you’re using the molds for (the chocolates, in this case), as well as any other oily products that might be washed in the same sink sometimes.

We recommend putting the molds in boiling water, which should remove much of the accumulated oily build up. After that, washing them gently with a dish soap, like Dawn, should thoroughly clean them. You don’t have to boil them every time you use them, but every now and then it helps deep clean them.

If that doesn’t work, let me know.

 

(Once I try this I’ll update this post.)

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The division of labour

Making chocolates is a many step process and it’s a relief to have someone I can rely on. When I said that I holler at Spousal Unit to take over the chocolate until I’m done being brilliant, I didn’t mean to imply that I do all the work when the chocolate shoppe is in session. Spousal Unit is my equal partner in making chocolate. A typical season is split like so:

Me:

  • research on ingredients and merchant pricing
  • makes the itinerary for which flavours will be done on what days, blocks off the calendar
  • carving the blocks of chocolate up
  • measuring out the chocolate for amounts to be tempered, amount to hold as seed
  • polishing chocolate moulds (SO BORING)
  • maker of ganache for the cream fillings
  • maker of the caramel (because somebody has to do it)
  • primary chocolate filler once the moulds are set, putting flavours into each chocolate
  • official cartographer of the chocolate map

Spousal Unit:

  • assembling new equipment
  • washing and drying the containers and moulds to hold the chocolate (BONE DRY)
  • taster of ganache (this is harder than it sounds, after a few tastes it gets hard to discern flavours)
  • Chief Tempering Officer, he tempers more of the chocolate than I do now
  • secondary chocolate filler once moulds are set
  • smasher of candy canes when bark is on the menu
  • assembler of the boxes (they’re shipped flat)

We do it together:

  • inventory checkers
  • shopping for ingredients
  • pouring the chocolate into moulds, have to work fast!
  • placing the finished chocolates into the boxes (so easy to get this wrong!)
  • putting maps, paper liner, and lids on
  • adding ribbon
  • boxing up for shipping
  • clean up (urgh, the clean up is the WORST)

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A lot of chocolate work is waiting. You’re waiting for the chocolate to reach optimal temperature, you’re waiting for the ganache to set, you’re waiting for the moulds to set, you’re waiting, waiting, waiting.

So what do we do with all this downtime between the work?

Play video games and eat take out. It’s difficult to use the kitchen for cooking since any heat or steam will affect the chocolate, and the tempering equipment takes up a lot of room so we’re pretty much eating sandwiches and take out for days. 😉

How long does this take?

Now that we have all the equipment we need, it’s a lot less time, but I still allocate 4 weekends. You never know when bloom might strike. The major hold-up in the past was not having enough moulds; having to pour, wait, wash and dry, and repeat. Now we can pour 60 of each shape and be done with it. Hallelujah!

We do an inventory check in October, and will place our order for chocolate by Halloween if we’re short. Pro-tip: you don’t want to be ordering Belgian chocolate in November unless delays don’t stress you out.

The bulk of the actual work is done in November on weekends, it’s easiest to assign one weekend to working with one type of chocolate and we always do the milk chocolates first because fillings have a shelf life. (Solid milk chocolates and the almonds will be fine for months.) Next up are the caramels. Depending how this goes, it may take an extra weekend.

The cream fillings are tricky and take the longest. I will make the ganache the night before and divide it by 5, adding each flavouring agent and let it chill overnight. If all goes well and it firmed up, we start pouring the chocolate the next morning. This takes at least 2 days since a lot of chocolate is needed. At this point there is practically no room in the fridge.

Once all the semi-sweet chocolates are made, we finish with the dark chocolate and the white chocolate and the Toblerones (ensuring the Toblerones are fresh). Now the fridge is at max capacity and we are dying to ship them and get some space back.

This year I will be shipping them earlier since Via Rail no longer accepts parcels, and Canada Post can be unreliable at best, so you will definitely be enjoying your Christmas chocolates before Christmas.

Confessions of a chocolatier

Today I’m mentally regrouping my thoughts on chocolate; the experiments I’m going to do once the heat stops, my stock of supplies, what to order by mid-November, and what I’m making next Christmas. Yes, I was getting tired of muffin posts too.

I shall show you my chocolate book! While I’m immersed in chocolate this book is never far, and most of the pages are stained with my work. If I have a particularly brilliant thought, I holler at Spousal Unit to come take over the chocolate for a minute while I jot down my ideas.

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This page was from the day I was doing course work for my École chocolat class.  I had an assignment to temper chocolate using the tabliering method, then the seeding method, and what that lesson taught me is that while knowing how to temper by hand is a solid skill to have, I love having a machine do it for me!

Once I’ve got enough notes on a particular topic, I summarize what I’ve learned. It’s an easy way to give myself a refresher when it’s time to roll my sleeves up; when making matcha ganache you should be generous with the matcha powder or the flavour is weak, to cut the caramel recipe in half for the Christmas chocolates, (actually caramel has an entire page devoted to its complexities), don’t buy the Toblerone in advance or you’re buying last year’s stale stock, how many drops of flavouring oil is needed to get the right flavour to the ganache, things like that.

It’s also where I draw out my ideas for new chocolates and flavour pairings. Rooibos tea-infused ganache? Yes please.

In case of a computer problem, it’s good to have my important information on hand, such as the actual product codes of my preferred chocolate (online invoices don’t always specify and it’s rather critical when trying to source your favourite cacao percentages!), the quantity of each chocolate I actually need, the product codes of the boxes I buy, which merchants have the best prices, their shipping and sale times, the costs of my past orders, everything I need to go forward if my computer explodes.