I’ve been feeling singularly un-weaverly today, so have been puttering around cleaning up the studio and browsing food porn, um, I mean reading through some technical books on chocolate-making. In particular, I’ve been reading through Jean-Pierre Wybauw’s Fine Chocolates 2: Great Ganache Experience. While the photos are indeed mouthwatering, this book is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of chocolate theory (precrystallization of ganache, water activity, fourteen different types of sugar and uses for each one) in it, which I’m going to have to go through and add to my careful calculations. Also lots of inspiring flavor combinations which I will have to try…
Simultaneously, I have been reading through the Pacific Gourmet (gourmet wholesaler) catalog, and deciding what I want to buy. Some things are essential and yummy (chocolate!), some are technical (invert sugar, glucose), some are intensely flavorful (passionfruit puree!), and some are just plain off-the-wall (pine bud syrup?).
So now I am dreaming of flavors.
The first number to keep in mind is 28. That’s the maximum number of pieces I can cram into the boxes I use, which are meant to be 1-pound assortments but which, practically speaking, typically weigh about 14 oz, crammed to the gills. That sounds like a LOT of chocolates, but because I have favorite flavors that I repeat from year to year, only about half are new in any given year.
This year’s selection will include the “classics”:
- chocolate macadamia fudge
- white chocolate, lavender, Meyer lemon fudge
- coconut tequila lime fudge (Mike’s favorite)
- chocolate covered coconut almond fudge (Mike’s second favorite)
- chocolate covered bergamot peel
- English toffee
- chocolate dipped jasmine-vanilla-orange-blossom-honey caramels
- chocolate covered candied ginger
- chocolate covered dried apricots
- Fig/cognac/white chocolate
- Guava/white chocolate
- Irish coffee (Scotch whisky, dusted with espresso powder, with crunchy sugar on top)
- Jasmine tea
- Scotch whisky
- Strawberry jam with balsamic vinegar buttercream
And some new taste treats:
- chocolate covered Meyer lemon peel
- chocolate fudge (using the Cook’s Magazine recipe, that the creator made 1000 pounds of fudge to find)
- coffee, white chocolate, buttercream ganache, dipped in dark chocolate
- Orange and lime zests, vanilla, cognac, honey in a milk chocolate base, dipped in dark chocolate
- Chestnut, honey, rum in dark chocolate
- Orange zest, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and honey in dark chocolate
- Passionfruit caramel in milk or dark chocolate, dipped in dark chocolate
- Ginger lime dark chocolate
- Prune, port, cinnamon, honey in white chocolate
- Krispies – rice krispies, coffee, hazelnut paste in dark chocolate
- Lavender anise in dark chocolate
These are mostly recipes from Wybauw’s book, but the season is still early – I’m churning through various combinations in my head and will probably test-drive some of the flavor combos in Wybauw’s book early in the month. It’s going to be brutal getting down to just 28 flavors, as the competition is intense – it’s possible that old favorites, like the chocolate covered candied ginger and the chocolate covered dried apricots, may not make it in this year. We’ll just have to see how things go.
I tell people that chocolate-making isn’t really that complicated. But it’s like weaving, eh? You can weave a simple plainweave scarf on a rigid-heddle loom in a few hours, or you can spend months weaving an elaborate wedding dress on lots of shafts. Making delicious chocolates is the easiest thing imaginable – boil cream, pour over chopped chocolate, stir. Making chocolates that look and taste terrific AND keep well for about three weeks – now, THAT is an art.
Which I’m still learning, but getting a little better every year.