Yesterday I was too busy running around to get anything done, but today I had a nice quiet day and promptly took advantage of it. (Mike has an injured ankle and decided not to go riding, and I’m behind enough that I decided to skip riding as well.) I made a batch of brandied cherry cordials, a batch of chocolate covered candied bergamot (orange) peel, and a batch of chocolate covered apricots.
The bergamot peel and the apricot I’ve done before (the apricots have been in the box practically from year one); the brandied cherries, as you may recall, were a new thing, and this particular batch failed. The chocolate didn’t seal correctly, meaning the syrup is leaking out onto the parchment paper. I think the problem was that I didn’t dip the cordials in chocolate until about half an hour after I dipped them in fondant, by which point the fondant coating was already starting to dissolve, producing stickiness. Next weekend I have a friend coming by to help me, and I may try another batch of brandied cherries with his help – me dipping in fondant and he dipping in chocolate (or vice versa). if that doesn’t work either, I’ll call it quits for this year.
But that does mean I need to make another batch of brandied cherries to use in the next run. Fortunately I have discovered that canned cherries in a jar make great brandied cherries as well, so I can pick up two jars from Trader Joe’s over the weekend and add some more Armagnac and a little vodka to soak them in. I think for this next round I will probably use chocolate molds and pipe the fondant in, then add the brandy-soaked cherry – this has less risk than dipping, though it probably involves more fondant in the shell.
I also tried a lavender-bergamot caramel, but that didn’t work either – the lavender flavor was barely discernible after cooking and the bergamot vanished completely, leaving me with a pleasant but not exceptional vanilla caramel. I did verify that the recipe I was using made an appropriate amount and that the base recipe is sound, though, so that’s something. I am not dissatisfied; it was a good experiment and I have a better understanding of caramel now. I may try it again with more lavender flavor, added at the end. I really did like the lavender scent of it.
And I got to use my chocolate tempering machine for the first time! OMG! I have NO idea how I got along without that machine. It makes working with chocolate simple, and an absolute joy – no more messing around on a marble slab, working fast to do the dipping before the chocolate cools, sticking it in the microwave to reheat it – it brings the chocolate to temperature quickly and holds it there indefinitely. It’s fantastic. I love it.
Tonight, after my Weavolution conference call, I’ll fire up the range again and cook my vanilla bean – orange blossom honey – jasmine tea caramels, which is my absolute favorite of all the confections I’ve made. It’s intensely floral, sweet, rich, and stands up to dark chocolate very nicely. I may also do another batch of lavender caramels, in hopes of getting it right this time. Tomorrow, after the caramel has a chance to “set”, I’ll cut them in pieces and dip them in chocolate.