Dragees. Dragees or panned products have been made popular for the past couple of years. Pastry chefs around the world are trying to enrobe, tumble, anything and everything. No longer will your chocolate covered just almonds, peanuts, and raisins and come in small confectionery packages called Glosettes. Nowadays, pastry chefs and chocolatier will try to pan cereal, puffed grains, toffee, gummies with various flavour combinations and finishing them with different colours making them very attractive and appealing. In many instances, taking something that is done in the commercial world and trying to refine it usually have a few issues:
1) Public perception. Why would I pay $12/ jar for chocolate covered raisins when I Glosettes
2) Time. There are limitations to the batch size since we are using small tabletop panners
3) Money. Nuts are expensive, and unless you’re buying hundreds of kilos
4) Lack of knowledge. We are still missing some trade secrets to get the ultimate shine.
5) Exposure to resources. Glazes and polish are sold by the 10s of gallons.
6) Co-packing. But there lies an issues of – is it artisan any more?
How did Megan and I learn? There are many places that you can find classes: Montreal, Las Vegas, Chicago, Paris…, so you can buy a plane ticket, book a hotel, and enroll in a class that usually runs in the area of $800-1000. Never mind the tuition, hotel and plane ticket for 2, if we are going to these gourmet food cities, do we really want to spend 8+ hours a day, for a few days, listening to the sounds of chocolate tumbling in a drum banging into each other, or would we rather spend all day exploring pastry shop and seeing what food it has to offer. So Megan and I opted out for a more budget friendly solution, to stay in the city and learn from someone we knew, Kerry Beal, aka The Chocolate Doctor and also a MD in real life, and owner of EZ temper – we’ll save that for another post). With a quick facebook message, we made our way to Kerry’s workshop just a small drive out of GTA.
Let’s get started! To get started, you would need a panner, they come in various sizes, the bigger the panner, the more product you can make. The issue of getting a small panner (one that I got the students of my high school to machine), is that you are limited to the size of the cavity, and depending on the volume of what you are enrobing, the end results may vary. For hobbyist like us, we bought one from Design and Realisation, and along with a stand mixer, a spatula, some roasted nuts, and chocolates, we were ready to tumble!
Enrobing. To begin you will have to decide what you would like to cover in chocolate. When choosing your centres, depending on the shape and composition, there are some considerations. From our experience, it’s much easier to enrobe something that is round then rectangular, hazelnuts over orange peels. And if you are covering nuts, you would have to seal the centres with a gum arabic solution to avoid any fat migration. To start: Place things to be enrobed in cavity and start the machine on the lowest setting. Once the cent res are sealed, add chocolate at 40°C, one ladle at at time. Gradually add more warmed chocolate as the enrobed items are creating a loud noise in the drum caused by friction. So Listen! Throughout the stage of adding more chocolate to your panned item, if at any point, the cavity becomes to hot, you can cool it down a bit. Stop once you get to a desired size (usually 3:1 for almond, malts balls 4:1, rise crisp 6:1, coffee beans 10:1), it is time to round the panned items – heat is applied so that the outer chocolate layer softens and the panned items start to round by the friction, circular motion, themselves and drum wall. Cool and let it rest on a tray for at least a few hours or overnight.
Cooling. Set up: the other end of this tube is attached to an hair blower on cool setting and a cooler filled with dry ice. Alternatively, you can use a small air conditioner or dry ice directly.
Finishing. Once you have covered your panned items and it has its time to rest, you simply have two choices – to polish or not to polish. If you are looking for an artisan appearance, simply leave it as is or spray with alcohol then add a powder finished. In a powder finish, the panned items are unpolished, and tossed in cocoa powder, icing sugar, spices, freeze dried fruits and starch.
Plain finished with freeze dried fruits, starch and icing sugar
But if you like the bells and whistles, you need can work on a natural gloss by heading and cooling or polish and schellac. When polishing, multiple dosages of polish is applied at different intervals with and without air. If the environment is too warm, it won’t shine; if it’s too cold, it will crack. Aside from that, the ambient temperature inside the cavity, relative humidity and the speed of rotation of the panner will also affect the final result.
This has got to be one of my longest and most technical post I have ever done. It’s taken me quite some time to gather all the relevant information. There’s more information that we left out, so if you are any questions, just ask.