Well, after losing the temper on the milk chocolate, I lost my temper at my previous thermometer. After some research (and appealing to my Caltech alumni mailing list for help in locating one), I now have a thermometer that is accurate to about 0.5 degrees. I used it to temper the milk chocolate, and lo and behold it worked correctly. Hallelujah!
I have now cast all the chocolate molds and infused all the creams. (By infusion I just mean bringing to a boil, and steeping the flavorants – jasmine tea, rose geranium, lemongrass, etc. – in it for awhile. Sometimes as little as 30 seconds, sometimes 10 minutes – all depends on what I’m infusing.) I have also done some calculations on exact ratios of chocolate to cream, based on Frederic Bau’s book Au Coeur des Saveurs, where he recommends 460-490g cocoa butter for every 1000g (roughly 1 liter) cream. Since I now have the cocoa butter percentages for each of the Valrhona lines, I can swap them in and out and know exactly how to adjust the proportions. I feel smug.
After this production run is over, I plan to do a small-scale study of ganaches – varying the percentage of cream, butter, glucose, etc. and seeing how that impacts the texture and the taste. But not until after the festivities are complete.
Tomorrow I will do the ganaches, pipe them into the molds, and finish off the molds. Following which I will need to cut and dip the fruit gels, following which I need to (re)do the chocolate covered macadamia nuts, following which I can collapse into bed and sleep for awhile. Then back up on Sunday to pack and box the chocolates, put together my photographic “key” to the chocolates, write my sponsorship thank-you notes, my “please sponsor me” notes (for those recipients who haven’t sponsored me yet), and my “hi, I know it’s not Thanksgiving yet, but here’s my holiday note anyway” holiday note to friends and family. Monday I will mail the packages. Tuesday I plan to sleep. 🙂