I realize this is a bit late, but I'm still happy to answer your question.
In order to pan products, you must have some sort of specialized machine for it; the Kitchen Aid attachment is a good beginning option and not overly costly. From there, stand-alone panning machines can range in the $3000 - $6000 USD range, or even above to $16,000 or more. When purchasing equipment, consider how much product you would have to sell in order to pay for that machine. A large reason people do not do the process anymore is because larger companies have made it so incredibly cheap to buy, and a small confectionery shop would have to charge significantly higher prices to make a profit. While many people are happy to pay for a quality product, there are 10 times more who either cannot or will not choose that option.
There is no standard recipe for panning, just as there is no standard recipe for caramel, ganache, etc.; each chocolatier or confectioner employs their own unique process depending on what ingredient they want to coat, what they want to coat it in, how they want to finish their product (some products are given a glazed or shiny appearance, others are given a truffled appearance) and the equipment they have available.
That being said, there is a standard process that most follow in order to get a quality product. In addition, to my knowledge there is not a lot of information or literature available on the panning process, and very few people actually perform it nowadays. It is mostly something reserved for large confectionery companies, i.e. Mars, Nestl, etc.
Basic Technical Process
For sake of example, let's use hazelnuts, however you could use most any nut, or even freeze-dried fruits like bananas, raspberries or blueberries.
- Caramelize your hazelnuts (most people use sugar, we prefer to use honey - both work well).
- Spread them on a non-stick surface and allow them to cool, then proceed to separate them.
- Place them in your panning machine.
- Begin rotating your confectionery drum.
- Add a coating of crystallized chocolate (let's say 100-150 g per addition of chocolate for 500 g of product (in this case hazelnuts).
- Apply cold air to help the product set quickly, or simply wait (some machines come with a built-in fan, or you can use a pressurized can of cold air).
- Once the product begins to set, you may add another layer of chocolate; most often you do not wait until it is fully set and hard.
- At these times, you may also add other products, such as feuilletine, to introduce another texture.
- Once you reach a thickness that you prefer - in this case, the total amount of chocolate you use to coat your product depends on two things: a. the shape of your product; the object of the panning process is to make a round product, so if you start with something such as an almond, which is flatter and has more surface area, rather than a hazelnut, the amount of chocolate you need to add will be much greater, and b. the desired thickness that you prefer in your confection. So you see there is really no standard recipe, as it depends on a number of factors.
- Now you are ready to finish your product. If you would like a truffled appearance: once you have reached your desired thickness, add one final coat of chocolate to your product. Then immediately add cocoa powder, allow your product to complete a few more revolutions in the panning drum and then stop the machine. If you allow the machine to continue too long after adding the cocoa powder, your products will take on a duller appearance. In addition, cocoa powder is an example ingredient; if you were coating with white chocolate, you may want to add a white finish such as confectioner's sugar, coconut powder, etc, or therefore any color you desire by adding food-grade powder. We use alfalfa, hibiscus, blueberry and beet powder to obtain different finishes.
- If you would like a shiny or glossy finish, there are additional steps to take. Once you have reached a final thickness that you prefer, remove your product from the machine and clean your machine thoroughly - there is a large amount of chocolate stuck to the drum, which you may heat and remove, and reserve for another use.
- Once your machine is clean, add your coated product back into the drum. Now you will do a two-step process called glossing and lacquering.
- An example of a glossing recipe is: 350 g water, 570 g maltodextrin, 80 g cocoa butter - Melt the cocoa butter. Warm the water and dissolve the maltodextrin powder. Combine the water into the butter mixture. Keep between 30-35C.
- An example of a lacquer recipe is: 170 g water, 85 g gum arabic powder, 250 g 70 proof liquor - Heat the water and dissolve the gum arabic. Combine in a mixer while gradually adding the liquor.
- Now to proceed with glossing your product. Weigh out 1% of your nuts in glossing solution.
- With your machine running, and your product inside, use a heat gun to VERY slightly warm the outside of your coated product, just enough to make it soft but not melt. At this point, add your 1% of glossing solution all at once.
- Allow your glossing solution to dry. This may take up to 30 minutes, but at this point the nuts should be starting to shine.
- Weigh out 0.5% of lacquer solution in relation to the amount of product you are coating. Once the glossing solution is dry, you may add the lacquer solution. Allow to dry again.
- Remove the products from the machine, and allow them to dry; alternatively, dry them with a fan.
- You may need to repeat the process an additional time in order to achieve the desired level of shine.
That is the basic, and by basic I mean fairly complex and intricate, process. It represents only a small portion of what you may do with panning products, and as always with chocolate, your imagination is the only limit.
A basic quantity recipe you may start with could be:
- 400 g hazelnuts
- 135 g sugar + 45 g water (to caramelize the nuts)
- 1000 g crystallized chocolate
- 100 g cocoa powder
One final note on the panning process: some people prefer to use non-crystallized chocolate (and may advise you to do so), at a temperature of about 40C (104F), however we do not. We have found better results with a crystallized product than not, but you may certainly experiment yourself.
Feel free to ask any other questions; I will be happy to answer as best I can.