Whew! What a week it’s been. I made 103 pounds, 12 ounces of chocolates, in thirty flavors, most of it in just four days. (That’s 47 kg of chocolate, for non-US folks.) I used about sixty-six pounds (30 kg) of dark chocolate, thirteen pounds of white chocolate, and about three pounds of milk chocolate. Plus about twenty-five pounds of sugar, two gallons of heavy cream, and five pounds of butter. (If you’re wondering why the numbers don’t add up, it’s because a few batches went bad and had to be redone, and I fed some of the leftovers to coworkers before I weighed everything.)
Here is this year’s pictorial index (click to enlarge):
This year’s chocolates are somewhat different from last year’s. Instead of using single-color chocolate transfer sheets, as I did last year, I took the same transfer sheets and dabbed on colored cocoa butter with a sponge, then painted white cocoa butter on the back to brighten the colors. The result was this:
as opposed to this:
Which you like better is a matter of taste (the “black and white” version is pretty elegant), but the colored version is undeniably brighter and more cheerful. Also, I really like the texturing in the background. I love this effect and may try it again next year. It does require considerably more work (and is much messier!), though, so it’s not a sure thing.
This year I also introduced two new types of chocolate: the fruit paté and the gianduja. Fruit patés are basically a very concentrated jelly with extra pectin to make them firm enough to cut. I’d never used them before because I didn’t consider them very interesting, but this year I thought of pairing them with flavored chocolate, and a new idea was born. I paired a raspberry-orange paté with hazelnut gianduja (a mix of hazelnut paste, dark chocolate, and powdered sugar) and a Concord grape paté with peanut gianduja for a “peanut butter and jelly” truffle. And, I paired a cinnamon ganache with walnut gianduja.
I liked all these flavor blends and will continue using both types of chocolate in the future. The fruit patés are great for providing a concentrated, “clear” fruit flavor unmuddied by chocolate. I have never liked raspberry ganaches (raspberry puree, chocolate, cream, butter) because I felt it was difficult to identify the raspberry flavor over the chocolate – it definitely tastes of fruit, but not clearly raspberry. With the raspberry paté, I finally got the “pure” raspberry I was looking for, and combined with hazelnut and chocolate, it’s wonderful.
Here is a photo of the chocolate carnage:
Yes, I made almost all of the chocolates on that table plus the kitchen stove! It’s astonishing how little space you need to work with chocolate.
I did have help from two friends, Susan and Caleen, who helped chocolatier on multiple days. (My friend Harold also came by on Saturday afternoon.) And ten friends came over to help pack chocolates on Sunday – whew! What awesome friends, I couldn’t have done it without them.
Here is a photo of all 103 lbs, 12 ounces:
And here is a pic of me picking out the best-looking chocolates for the photographic inserts (my friend Carolyn is in the foreground):
By and large, I’m pleased with this year’s production, though it did involve some very long days (and sore feet!). Chocopalooza is complete! All that’s left is to mail the boxes, and feed the leftovers (about 10-15 lb) to coworkers.
A big thank you to all the wonderful friends who helped. I could not have done this without you!