Today did not go well. We managed to finish off the fig/cognac and guava white chocolate bonbons, and nearly finished the milk chocolate hazelnut and milk chocolate caramel bonbons (both of which are delicious), and the saffron-dark chocolate bonbons (which are heavenly). However, we were on the slate to get four other flavors done, and patently didn’t manage it. I would have done nearly as well in my home kitchen, on my own. I think it was a combination of an unfamiliar kitchen (for me) and being unfamiliar with the production process (for Michael).
Nonetheless, we soldier on. I have been doing some very fast thinking about how to handle tomorrow. Clearly, a nice collection of molded chocolates is out. It takes far too long to cast a batch of molded chocolates, primarily because we don’t have enough molds to do them in a single batch. This means that we have to cast the shells, let the shells set, make the ganache, pipe the ganache into the shells, let the ganache set a little bit, then retemper the chocolate and seal the shells – twice. With a 2-3 hour break between the cycles, to give the chocolate time to release from the mold.
All this means we’d be lucky to get one batch done in a day. It’s incredibly time consuming, and the only reason I’ve succeeded in doing this before is that I typically cast the shells a week or two beforehand, and can then fill and seal them all at once. I have enough molds to manage 60-70 chocolates in a single batch. I don’t have enough to do 150, which was our target.
However, there are some intriguing other opportunities. For example, the chocolate kitchen has a guitar, a device for cutting chocolate centers into squares for dipping. I’ve never played with a guitar before and think that would be lots of fun. So before I left tonight, I mixed up all the centers for the liquor chocolates (Amaretto, Scotch, Armagnac, Chambord) and poured them into a frame to firm up overnight. When we get in tomorrow morning, we’ll have well-crystallized ganache to cut and dip.
I think (am going to work this out for sure early tomorrow morning) that the plan of attack tomorrow is to get in, make several batches of ganache, and either pour them into frames or let them set for piping into shapes. Then in the afternoon/evening we will have all the centers ready, and can have a frenzied orgy of chocolate-dipping (my, that sounds WAY kinkier than it will actually be- just thinking about it makes my feet hurt!).
In the late afternoon, if we’re still massively behind, we may switch to truffles – very, very fast to produce and always popular. I’m confident that we will muddle through, even if we don’t quite do things the way that we had originally intended.
Sunday morning is going to be a little more crowded than it usually is, because of my two Weavolution conference calls. Normally on Sunday I get up around 5am, photograph the chocolates, spend the next two hours Photoshopping the photo into a photographic chocolate guide, and then run off to Kinko’s to run off enough color copies for every recipient. Then around noon everyone comes over to help pack chocolates. However, this week I have a Weavolution conference call at 7:30am and another at 9:30am, which kind of puts a crimp into my schedule. Still, I have confidence that it will all work out. Usually at this stage of the game things are in pretty serious disarray, but it magically straightens itself out in the end.
Another intriguing idea that I have never attempted before is dipping the centers in chocolate and then putting acetate transfer sheets on top to decorate the newly formed chocolate. I have done stuff like gold and silver leaf in the past, but never acetate sheets…so this is a new opportunity! I am going to cut the transfer sheets into pieces tomorrow morning for use in the afternoon.
Sooo….the next day or two is going to be challenging, but I think it will all work out in the end. And where would be the fun in the saga without the cliff-hanging thriller near the end?