Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tip #273: Don’t Skip This Step When Roasting Nuts



Not only do roasted nuts add satisfying crunch and crave-worthy sweet and salty flavors to chocolate confections, the pungent aroma of freshly roasted nuts, alone, can lure nearby shoppers into your candy store. This week’s brief tip, shared during RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp®, is a must for candy makers who roast their own nuts.

REDUCE THE RISK OF BLOOM
To reduce the risk of fat bloom, due to fat migration, wait at least 48 hours to coat roasted nuts with chocolate. This practice allows the oils to reabsorb into the nuts. Keep in mind, dry roasted and whole nuts will have less free fat than those that are oil roasted.

STOP CRACKS IN THEIR TRACKS
Waiting to enrobe roasted nuts will also help lessen the chances of unwanted cracks in these chocolate-covered morsels. Quick and easy tips like these will help ensure your nutty delights look and taste as good as they smell!

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Throwback Tip #82: Add RCI’s Classifieds Page to Your Web Favorites



Looking to buy or sell used confectionery equipment, post a confectionery job or purchase or sell a confectionery business? Start by adding the Classified Ads page on the Retail Confectioners International website to your website browser favorites as a quick reference.

The Classified Ads page is consistently one of the most viewed pages on RCI’s website. Both RCI members and non-members are invited to post an ad, in any of the following categories:
  • For Sale
  • Wanted
  • Job Postings

Updates are made to the page on a regular basis and you’ll find a variety of used equipment and supplies available for purchase at any given time.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a moment to visit the Classified Ads page and add it to your web browser’s favorites. Then, when you have equipment to buy or sell or a job to post, be sure to post it with RCI.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tip #272: Why Dry? Learn Why Dry Cleaning & Sanitation Methods May Be Best


Did you know limiting the use of water is one of the primary means of controlling pathogens in low moisture food establishments (foodprotection.org)? If when cleaning, your workstation is always filled with enough soaps and suds to check your reflection, it may be time to consider practicing dry sanitation methods.

via Gfycat


Keep reading to better understand the difference between wet and dry cleaning methods and why dry cleaning is best, when possible.

Wet Cleaning & Sanitation
You are probably already using wet cleaning and sanitation methods which utilizes water and/or detergents to remove residue. When wet cleaning, it is extremely important that even the nooks and crannies of machinery is dry, because it is in these hard-to-reach places where bacteria can be difficult to remove and when water is present bacteria can grow.

Dry Cleaning & Sanitation
The benefit to employing dry cleaning and sanitation methods, is that it allows you to remove food residue with little or no water application, significantly reducing the opportunity for bacterial growth. 
Dry cleaning can be as simple as surface cleaning with a vacuum or alcohol-based wipes. More detailed cleaning may be performed with a steam cleaner or dry ice cleaner.

Assess Level of Risk
When determining which method of cleaning is best, it is important to assess the risk level of the area in need of cleaning. Different areas of your facility may have a different level of risk, just as different ingredients would. It is important to understand what you are trying to remove when cleaning or sanitizing different work stations. According to Quality Assurance Magazine, it is essential to ensure all products used to clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces are approved by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in addition to being verified and validated.

Before dragging out the bucket of soapy water to clean and sanitize equipment and work stations, consider if you can incorporate dry cleaning and sanitation methods into your regular cleaning routine.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tip #271: Ship Gift Baskets Like A Boss



Who doesn't love a great gift basket? Not only are they fun and interactive for the recipient, as they discover each different element carefully tucked inside, but for the retailer they encourage increased customer spending. Have you ever thought about shipping gift baskets? Follow these basic instructions, curated from RCI’s past Merchandising Essentials course and Rebecca Craig of Marie’s Candies, to ensure your gift basket arrives intact.

Directions
  1. First, shrink wrap the gift basket to keep items in place. For aesthetic purposes, wrap gift basket in cello next.
  2. Next, get a box appropriately sized for the basket, which should be approximately three to four inches larger than the basket to protect both the product and basket during shipping. Fold down any additional cello at the top of the basket to decrease the size of the box needed for shipping.
  3. Place the basket into the center of the box and begin filling with packing materials until the basket fits securely in the box. Fold the lid closed and secure with tape.
  4. If you are shipping chocolate during warm weather or to a warmer climate, include an ice pack of some sort. Always place ice packs in a resealable plastic bag to ensure nothing will leak onto your product if it would happen to break in the shipping process. Place ice pack as close to the product as possible. Secure the box with packaging tape box and it's ready for shipping.

An eye-catching gift basket may look great on a shelf or display table, but if you don't package your gift basket properly, it is likely to transform into a jumbled mess after it's been shipped across the country or even across town. Before offering this service to paying customers, try testing it out on a friend or family member first.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tip #270: Make Bacon Fans Squeal for International Bacon Day



Now that fireworks from the 4th of July have fizzled, it’s time to look forward to the next major holiday! Many Americans have already started making arrangements for Labor Day on September 3, while our Canadian friends may be counting down until Civic Day on August 6, however, any bacon fan worth their salt is already salivating for International Bacon Day(otherwise known as “IBD” by bacon fanatics) on September 2.

Even if you don’t regularly observe IBD, you can agree the salty flavor and crunchy texture of bacon, paired with sweet chocolate is a match made in hog heaven (okay, maybe just heaven). There’s a seemingly endless array of ways to pair bacon with chocolate. Whether you’re working with bits, chunks, strips or not-so-delicate bacon roses, this little piggy may bring with it different requirements from your local health department that you should be aware of before you grab that skillet.

Here’s some ideas, if you decide to go whole hog:




Bacon Chocolate Covered Popcorn, from whitelightsonwednesday.com


Maple-Bacon Marshmallows, from Epicurious


If you don’t want to take the risk of using real bacon in your recipes, consider using bacon flavoring or smoked bacon sea salt for a more subtle flavor. Make your bacon confections sizzle by sprinkling with Sizzling Bacon Candy. Check out this past post about how to preserve the pop when incorporate popping candy into a truffle center.

If you really want to make your local bacon fans squeal, ask your fans to share ideas for bacon-related confections they’d like to see at your shop or let them vote for their favorite once you’ve narrowed down some realistic options. Not only is this sure to create some excitement amongst your fans, it will help identify if you have enough of an audience to really bring home the bacon!

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Throwback Tip #50: Swab Test for Cleanliness


Most candy makers would probably agree it’s easier to keep a super-clean facility when the bows and boxes aren’t flying during the holiday season. However, we all know food safety is just as important during your off season as it is during the peak of the holidays.

One way to stay on top of this anytime of the year is to regularly swab test the cleanliness of your facility. We don’t mean a visual test where you look to see if the area appears clean, but an actual scientific test for allergens, sanitation and etc.

Sample test kits are available to perform on-site tests of a variety of areas in your production zone. Neogen Corporation is an example of a member-recommended company that supplies sample test kits. Using their food allergen tests you can do on-site tests to detect a target allergen (see list of allergens here) in ingredients, liquids, clean-in-place rinses, finished foods and on environmental surfaces. They also have sanitation tests to detect the amount of food residue and other organic matter, such as bacteria, yeast and mold, that may remain after cleaning.

Neogen is just one example of the many organizations that offer this type of product, however, through more online research you may find another source that better suits your needs. Another option would be to send swabs to a lab to be more thoroughly tested. Along with many others that provide this service Merieux NutriSciences, formerly Silliker Labs who presented at a past RCI conference, provides food testing and sanitation information for confectioners and food facilities.

Ensuring the treats created at your facility are not only delicious, but also safe for consumption is an essential part of good manufacturing processes. RCI Members: Access additional materials on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) by logging in to the member side of the RCI website. 

Do you have other tips for maintaining a clean food facility in the midst of your busiest production schedules? Please share with our blog community in the comments below!

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tip #269: Celebrate National Almond Buttercrunch Day on June 29



With National Almond Buttercrunch Day at the end of the month, now is the time to make plans to perfect your recipe or introduce this popular confection into your product line. Keep reading for expert tips on how to achieve the signature crunch as well as a formulation worthy of a national holiday.

ALL ABOUT THAT CRUNCH

According to Walter Richmond, author of Choice Confections, this buttery and crunchy treat is “one of the finest confections made.” So how do you get the perfect crunch? This confection’s signature crunch comes from a high cook temperature and the right formulation of ingredients, namely butter and sugar. Typically made by caramelizing sugar with butterfat at a high temperature of 290-300° F. Equally important, the ratio of butter and sugar will have an effect of the grain of the crunch. Richmond recommends 37-42 percent butter and 63-58 percent sugar (nuts excluded) for the confection to gradually become softer and melt in your mouth when eating.

Use the following formulation to adapt this classic recipe in your own candy kitchen.
Click here to download formulation

Maybe it’s the crunch or rich buttery goodness, consumers love buttercrunch enough to honor it with a national holiday. If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of how to make great buttercrunch (or toffee) with consistency or how to make corrections when issues arise, make plans to attends RCI’s upcoming Caramels, Toffees & Brittles course August 15-17, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Caramels, Toffees & Brittles offers students optimal hands-on learning experience while benefiting from the knowledge and skills presented by confectionery and chocolate experts.

Caramels, Toffees & Brittles is open to both RCI members and non-members. Event organizers encourage those interested to register now, as the course is limited to the first 24 registrants. For detailed course information, visit www.retailconfectioners.org/caramels.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tip #266: Save with Special Offers from Exhibitors at RCI Industry Expo



RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo is right around the corner! If you haven’t done so already, there's still time to join RCI in Cleveland from June 18-22, 2018. Click here to see who’s exhibiting by viewing the expo floor plan which includes exhibiting company descriptions and contact information. Visit retailconfectioners.org/annual for more information and to register to attend.

Not only are industry tradeshows a great opportunity to see new product innovations and connect with suppliers and fellow confectioners, you can also save money on items such as packaging, equipment and ingredients. Many exhibitors will provide show specials just for those who take advantage of placing orders while at the show. For example, you could secure a reduced shipping rate or discounts on the same orders you may place a couple months from now, when the need arises. Keep in mind, most suppliers will allow you to place an order and arrange for later shipping dates so you could even place your Christmas order and know it will arrive at a later arranged date.


As an added incentive, every order placed during RCI’s Industry Expo is entered into a drawing for great prizes provided by exhibitors.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.