After a few days spent frantically writing specs and weaving obsessively when not writing specs, I decided to take the evening “off” and finish reading my new chocolate books. There’s lots of cool stuff here!
One idea that I think is particularly cool goes like this: You take a supersaturated sugar syrup, mix in some strong spirits (say, Armagnac), and pour it into starch molds. (Starch molds are just what they sound like: spread a couple boxes of cornstarch (or other starch, but cornstarch is easiest to get) into a pan, smooth out the top, press a form into the starch, it leaves a cavity in the starch, and hey presto! you’ve got your starch mold.)
You fill the mold cavities, dump more starch on top and leave it there for a few hours, during which the starch provides seed crystals for the supersaturated solution, and the outside forms a crunchy layer of sugar crystals. So now you have a no-longer-supersaturated syrup inside a thin sugar casing, which you then take out of the starch, dust off VERY lightly, and dip in chocolate.
And now you have a liqueur cordial! Smooth chocolate on the outside, a thin layer of crunchy sugar, then some wonderfully boozy liquor/liqueur syrup inside.
I think this is such a cool idea (especially the starch molds) that I simply HAVE to try it. However, I may not try it this year…I am already trying a new technique in making the brandied cherries, and experimenting while trying to do a production run of 120+ of each kind of chocolate is probably not the way to go here. Next year I will probably do a more modest 30-odd boxes of chocolates, and that will make it easier to manage radically new techniques.
But you never know. If I find myself with some free time, I’ll definitely seize the chance to make them.
I’m glad to have had an evening “off”; I’ve been running full bore the last week or so and was starting to feel exhausted. And the next two weeks are going to be pretty hairy, since I’m way behind on chocolatiering. So a nice quiet evening with a book about chocolate was just the thing.
Tomorrow is “date night” and Mike and I are going off to see a movie. Saturday I’m meeting with a group of people about redesigning the website for CNCH (you may recall that, in a fit of weakness, I volunteered to redo the website for them), and following that Mike and I are probably going for a bike ride. After we get back, I’ll probably work on making silkscreens and doing some test runs, silkscreening cocoa butter first on paper (to get it right) and then on acetate sheets for transferring to chocolate. If it works right I should be able to produce chocolates with any image I want printed on them! This is going to be tricky and I would not be at all surprised if I wound up working on it Sunday as well.
Saturday I also have slated to make caramels and start the candied bergamot peel drying. (You may recall that the candied bergamot peel was my favorite from last year. It almost didn’t make it into the boxes because I seriously considered keeping it all for myself!)
Sunday the chocolate madness begins…with dipping the caramels, dried fruits, bergamot peel, and slices of dried ginger in dark chocolate. These are the ones that will keep for a long time, so I do them two weeks ahead of time to get them out of the way early. I will also work on silkscreening the acetates if I haven’t finished them yet.
The following weekend the REAL madness starts…with six giant batches of fudge, brandied cherry cordials, and English toffee. Monday I’m working, Tuesday kicks off five straight days of chocolatiering. I haven’t yet worked out a schedule for that week but I am usually pretty busy. 🙂
I’m really looking forward to this – a big burst of creativity followed by a VERY long trip to the post office. This year, I may just do everything Priority Mail using print-your-own postage and then have the mailman pick up the packages. It would certainly be a whole lot easier than staggering into the post office under (literally!) a hundred parcels.