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.)

CakeBoss software review

Spousal Unit gave me the CakeBoss software for Christmas 2015, something I’ve been eyeing for a few years. I’ve had 7 months to play around with it, and I love it. CakeBoss software is aimed towards cake bakers who sell from home, and while I’m not a home bakery, I was really interested in learning what was I spending on chocolatiering and baking. The software does a lot, including:

  • ingredient pricing
  • recipe costing
  • inventory management
  • order management
  • vendor management
  • invoicing
  • mileage log

It costs $149 USD for year one, and then $20 per year afterwards. CakeCentral.com users get a 10% discount off the cost of year one. It supports many currencies, and metric and Imperial measurements.

I think the software is great and well worth the price. The developer is responsive to customer suggestions for additions to the software and while I haven’t used their customer service myself for support questions, they get a lot of positive feedback from the Cake Central crowd.

It did exactly what I wanted it to. I was able to get a much more accurate cost of what we were actually spending on the Christmas chocolates. I’ve been using this software to work out the price of all my baked goods too and that’s why on my blog posts after Christmas, the cost per serving has been much more accurate.

ganache cost

You can see from this screen shot that when I make milk chocolate peppermint ganache, the software calculates that the amount of chocolate I’m using costs $4, the amount of cream costs $1.52, and the flavour oil is 2 cents. Neat!

Each year, we make 540 chocolates, which is 60 chocolates of each flavour. Whew!

To produce 540 chocolates and their fillings, I’m going to use:

  • 2.77 kg milk chocolate
  • 2.52 kg semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 kg white chocolate
  • 840 g dark chocolate
  • 840 g Toblerone chocolate
  • 1.4 L heavy cream
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 100 g almonds
  • 76 g unsalted butter
  • 6 g matcha powder
  • 1 g salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 g buttercream flavouring oil
  • 1 g raspberry flavouring oil
  • 1 g orange cream flavouring oil
  • 1 g pepperment flavouring oil
  • 50 boxes and ribbons
  • 50 maps

 

Since I buy chocolate in 5 kg blocks, I already knew the total cost I was spending if I was completely out of ingredients, but CakeBoss breaks it down to what does 2.77 kg of milk chocolate cost me from the 5 kg block which I purchased. It’s a very useful tool.

If I ever make the move to selling at a farmer’s market or something, it’s good to know I already have a handle on what I’m spending on ingredients and supplies thanks to CakeBoss.

The Spice Trader & gravlax

This week my friend Maui and I went to The Spice Trader, an organic spice house in the Queen West neighbourhood to attend a gravlax class, the Nordic way of curing salmon. The class was taught by Donna Ashley of Karelia Kitchen.

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We had a great time!

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This was my first visit to The Spice Trader, Maui and I had planned to visit twice before and that turned into a wash, luckily 3rd time was the charm. It’s located at 877 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1G5 (at Strachan), across from the park. They have both a retail and online spice shop.

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It’s a beautiful store, with wooden shelves and an old-fashioned scale in the window. The shelves are alphabetically organized and have ample room making them easy to find, I appreciated that the shelves were not jam-packed with product, they had just enough bottles out.

Sadly, only one jar of Saigon cinnamon to be found and Maui snagged it first. It smelled so amazing, I can’t wait to get a bottle. They have a sample of each spice and that one just smelled so good.

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At The Spice Trader they offer classes and we learned to make gravlax, or cured salmon. The etymology of gravlax was interesting to learn. Gräva is the Scandinavian word for grave, or “to dig”, and lax/laks means salmon. (Although you can use any fatty fish for this, like trout or halibut). The fishermen used to salt the fish and bury the salmon in the sand to ferment it, and dig it up later to eat it. Due to modern sensibilities we make it slightly different now.

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So how do you make this anyway?

  • Buy the freshest cut of salmon you can find, with the skin on.
  • Make a mixture of equal parts kosher salt and brown sugar. Kosher salt is used specifically because the shape of the salt flakes make it easier to get a good application of salt, the flakes cover more surface area than rounder granules. So ratio is 1:1. You can change this a bit to taste, I prefer sweeter.
  • Place the fish on a platter and pack the mixture around it generously.
  • Get fancy by laying a bunch of fresh herbs and a citrus fruit on top, like dill and lemon. Or make a puree of beets and horseradish. Possibilities are endless!  I’m intrigued by trying with vanilla beans.
  • Cover and refrigerate 5 or 6 days to cure it. The salt dries out the moisture and the fish will firm up. Then slice thinly and serve. Cooked fish without an oven! That easy!

Our instructor Donna was great, she was thorough, funny, and very charismatic. Allison the shop keeper was amazingly good with names. She memorized 12 names on the fly.

I left the shop with Hawaiian black salt, ground white pepper, pink Himalayan salt, lemon oil, and orange oil. I made a delicious chicken dinner with my new spices and can’t wait to try the oils.

This is the gravlax Donna cured in beets and horseradish I believe. Look at how the colour stays near the top, won’t that look stunning done on white fish?

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Here is the dill and lemon gravlax, see the packed sugar and salt?

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They all tasted delicious but the red one was my favourite. I will definitely make another trip to The Spice Trader to acquire that cinnamon.