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Old 01-31-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
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The perfect pie crust

Now, I have my pie crusts down. They come out so light, tender, and flaky that I'm not sure I can get them to come out any better. Now I'm not bragging. I've just learned what it takes to make a great pie crust, just as there are those who have mastered sauces, like Luka.

But I have a question, and a hypothesis. First, the question; does anyone know a source of good, raw, edible, reasonably priced cocoa butter? Though it has a fair amount of saturated fat, it doesn't create cholesterol in the blood stream as does animal fat. But, it is brittle at room temperature, and doesn't soften until about 98 degrees or so. This would make it difficult to use for pastry, and the resulting pastry might be questionable.

But I wonder, if melting lard and cocoa butter together would make a hybrid fat that would increase the working temperature of the lard, and make the cocoa butter more pliable so that the dough can be handled and still maintain a flaky texture at warmer temperatures than can be done with pure lard. This would free the user from having to chill the flour, and lard, and use ice water, etc, to keep the fat solidififed (the key to a flaky crust).

Anyone comments are welcome.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 01-31-2012, 03:33 PM   #2
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Jedwards International, Inc.. Bulk Cocoa Butter | Organic Cocoa Butter

Well, y ou could start here. Or google cocoa butter.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:56 PM   #3
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I'm not sure if "good quality" and "reasonably priced" should ever be used in the same sentence when talking about cocoa butter? I'll look for it when the Whole Foods opens here, if you like.

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Old 01-31-2012, 04:02 PM   #4
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It made me wonder about mixing two fats. From what I can see, mostly from papers about chocolate where the behaviors of mixed fats is a big deal, it's possible that two fats of different melting temperatures can be mixed and the melting point of the mixture be lower than either. It's not that it happens with all combinations, but the statement turns up in literature multiple times.

For instance, one graph shows that you can mix cocoa butter and 100% milk fat, and the resulting mixture will melt at a temperature lower than either alone. But you had to go to a relatively high volume of milk fat, over 50%, to get that effect. At lower percentages or milk fat, the melting temperature fell between the two. It will never happen, though, that the mix will melt higher than the hardest fat component. So you can't lose. It won't be higher than 98F and might be lower than lard's approximate 86F.

But apparently it's more than just melting point. Fats have other characteristics, like how hard they can get when cold and how suddenly the melt. Lard stays softer when solid, which contributes to the flakiness of crust. Cocoa butter has a fairly sharp melting curve and goes quickly from solid to liquid. I don't have a curve for lard, but because it starts softer, I would think it would work like it has a shallower curve.

What I speculate is that because the lard is always rather soft, it might not be the melting point that mattered. It might be more that you have a workable fat component at lower temperature, and that might work, because when you use a fat in crust dough, part coats the flour, and part stays in flakes to create the layering effect. You might not have to use as much of the lard as you would think, because they would both be operating to do both functions, binding with flour and flaking. Something to play with.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:10 PM   #5
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Since a chocolate bar is mostly cocoa butter, acting as a carrier for the cocoa powder, milk sollids, and sugar, I may be able to get an apporximation of what will happen by melting chocolate chipps and lard together, and testing the consistancy. I can then make an educated guess as to what will happen with the pastry dough, and test the hypothesis by making a dough and baking it.

Should be an interesting, and tasty experiment. I will post the results.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:20 PM   #6
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Mmmmm....Chocolate pie crust...screams for French Vanilla pudding.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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IMO the moisture is more of a problem than the fat. America's Test Kitchen developed a recipe that uses vodka for part of the water in an effort to reduce the impact of the moisture. The science they provided seemed logical.

I myself would drink the vodka and make the crust using the dreaded Crisco like Miss Loretta Lynn and my mom did.

I am very curious to see what you come up with, please share your findings.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:38 PM   #8
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When I can find it, I like to use palm oil as my shortening. No trans fats and forms of vitamin E we don't usually get. It's very light. Substitute by volume for lard. It's solid at room temperature with nothing done to it.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:38 PM   #9
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I'm amazed by some topics on this forum, and particularly (tonight) Longwind's OP and ideas. and GLC's comments about oils and fats and melting points and conjectures. I've greedily subscribed to this topic because I know there'll be good ideas developed here.

Longwind, what do you consider "economical?" My local source for cocoa butter is $65/gallon. (Natural Oils Inc.) I've bought smaller quantities online, for about $13/lb. (don't know if that's food grade). I think fats/oils might be about 6lbs./gal. so the NOI source might be a good deal if you're willing to buy a gallon, and I'm certain their supply is food grade. (You can phone them to verify this.)
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Old 02-01-2012, 01:02 AM   #10
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what the heck do you do with a gallon of non-food grade cocoa butter?

scratch that, i don't want to know...
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