The bakers chocolate coating we use tends to flake off our eclairs What is the likely cause of the problem

Chocolate coating should be correctly tempered to avoid problems. Generally bakers' compound chocolate should first be heated to 54 °C (130 °F) for plain or 52 °C (125 °F) for milk and then allowed to cool to coating consistency. The necessary temperatures are about 41-43 °C (105-110 °F) for plain and 38-41 °C (100-105 °F) for milk.

If the chocolate is not maintained at a constant temperature, there may be variations in the speed of setting. Very rapid setting, perhaps because cooling has occurred in a draught, may cause shrinkage and subsequent flaking.

If the shells are coated on the base, rather than the top, excessive grease on the baking sheet may be contributing to the fault. The presence of moisture on the surface of the shell before coating could cause lack of adhesion.

12.40 We would like to store our wedding cakes after coating with marzipan for some time before we ice them but find that the marzipan hardens. Why is this and how can we achieve our aims?

Wedding cakes contain many ingredients that are good at holding on to the moisture and collectively cause the cake to have a low water activity value. Marzipan has a higher moisture content and its ingredients are not so powerful at holding on to the moisture and so has a higher ERH. Consequently, moisture will move from the marzipan into the cake, thus causing the marzipan to dry and harden.

An increase in the addition of some glucose, which as well as helping to reduce sugar (sucrose) crystal size, acts as a humectant and thus helps to prevent moisture loss should overcome the problem. We suggest that you use either stock syrup (boil 1 kg sugar, 1 l water, 250 g glucose, allowing it to cool before use), or a mixture of 50% glucose, 50% water, rather than water alone, for softening purposes.

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