I went into chocolatiering up to my elbows today, almost literally. I had a helper, Susan, and together we dipped candied Meyer lemon peel and candied lime peel, and a fresh batch of jasmine caramels. We made English toffee, using transfer sheets to imprint patterns on the chocolate coating. We made a batch of coffee-hazelnut ganache centers, and we cast about 3/4 of the shells for the molded milk chocolates.
And now I have chocolate under my fingernails, between my toes, on my face, in my hair.
This is one of the loveliest things about chocolate: it’s messy, sticky, and goes everywhere! Working with chocolate has the visceral satisfaction of playing with mud – except the mud is tasty and delicious and wonderful candies result at the end! You get to dip things into mud, mix up mudpies (aka ganache centers), slosh and spread mud all over things (English toffee, chocolate molds!), and at the end you’re thoroughly muddy and very, very happy. Then you have to take a shower to get the mud out of your hair, or you’ll have chocolate on your pillow! (Sweet dreams!)
Anyway, we had fun, and Susan is coming back next weekend to help me out with the big extravaganza.
Karen asked why I was doing the milk chocolates first, instead of white chocolate. The answer is that, while the white chocolate truffles are all dipped, the milk chocolates are cast in polycarbonate chocolate molds. This is time-consuming, and best started in advance – so I cast 3/4 of the molds today. This makes it desirable to start with the milk chocolate centers, so the shells don’t sit around empty too long – also for a variety of other scheduling reasons it just makes more sense to have the milk chocolates come first.
I have now put together the full sequence of events for the Thanksgiving extravanza. The recipes naturally fall into four sessions of chocolatiering: one for the milk chocolates, one for the molded dark chocolates, one for the white chocolates, and one for the dipped dark chocolates. I have sorted the recipes in the order they will be used, with each session’s worth of recipes paperclipped together. Next step will be premeasuring the ingredients and bagging them up. Not all of the ingredients can be premeasured, of course; but every little bit helps.
You might argue that this is overplanning, and it may well be, but I’ve found in past years that the more prep work I do beforehand, the less I stress out during the actual production. Churning out 22 kinds of chocolates in 3 days (with a break for Thanksgiving dinner) is not trivial! so I like to prep everything out in advance. And, of course, I’m a project manager: I like this kind of planning, it makes me feel all happy inside. 🙂