February 24, 2011

The use of the Goose: Creating the Perfect Butter Cream

by Barry C. Dobil Jr.

Picture this: it's the 1930's, the nation is in the grips of the Great Depression, and budgets are tight. The depression has hit the candy industry particularly hard, as families pinch every penny for the basics. Yet, despite this, my great-grandfather, Josh Early IV, is working tirelessly over a copper kettle, determined to produce a new product for his fledgling candy company: the perfect butter cream.

Josh Early IV and his wife Millie.

Creating the perfect butter cream, you see, is a delicate combination of art and science. The mark of a good vanilla butter cream lies within its taste, texture and how it is paired with chocolate. A butter cream center should have rich characteristics and a distinct butter flavor with more subtle hints of fresh vanilla. The texture should have an appealing mouth feel that is smooth and never gritty or grainy. See what I mean? Art and science...

So, mixing and matching and trying new techniques, my great-grandfather worked with his son to create this perfect pairing of taste and texture. They didn't have the massive machinery that some other chocolate companies of the time had access to...but this ended up being an advantage, as they had to create small batches using fresh ingredients and proper cooking techniques to achieve the perfect butter cream.

Now, flash forward to today, and we are still making the same perfect butter cream here at Josh Early that my great-grandfather worked so hard to create back then. His commitment to perfection has stood the test of time, and all these years later we still use the same methods and ingredients that he used, and still in small batches so that we can ensure freshness and quality control.

Want to know how Josh Early IV finally made the perfect butter cream that he’d refer to as a goose? Because the final weight of a finished batch of butter cream is approximately that of a goose. Read on to see the process that has made our butter cream a hallmark product here at Josh Early.

My Great-Grandfather’s Process for a Perfect Butter Cream: Same Then as it is Now

1. When developing his recipes, Josh Early IV cooked each batch in copper kettles over gas fired stoves, and we still use this same process today.  Copper is the perfect cooking vessel as it ensures even and efficient heat distribution.

2. Cooking confections requires exact temperatures.  A variation of a few degrees can make a big difference in the final product.  When final temperatures are reached, copper provides the assurance that cooking temperatures won't rise after the heat is turned off.  This may happen if cooking on heavier vessel like steel or cast iron as they would continue to cook the batch causing the final temperature to rise even after the heat was turned off. 

3. The “syrup” is poured into a stainless steel cream beater and left to cool.

4. Once cooled and mixed, the batch of butter cream, often referred to as a “goose,” is run through a “friend machine”.  This machine was developed in the 1930’s, was used by my great grandfather and is the same one we use today.  This is how a 35 lb “goose” is extruded into bite size pieces.

5. By letting the batch cool to room temperature after extruding, and letting the heat fully dissipate from the inside of the butter cream,  a crust is formed that protects the freshness and texture of the butter cream’s center.

6. Once the center is fully cooled, the pieces are placed one by one on an enrober that coats the piece with perfectly tempered milk or dark chocolate.

7. Before the chocolate is set, each piece is hand marked with its signature “dot” marking.

8. As she’s been doing since 1971, Joan packs our butter creams off the belt, ready for the shop.