Chocolate season is upon us, so with the greatest reluctance, I am tearing away my focus from Autumn Splendor to focus on chocolatiering. Â Because there is a lot to do!
This weekend is all about prep work. Because I have other commitments today and tomorrow, and am also working this weekend (team is trying to get a critical demo ready), I won’t be able to do much flavor testing. Â But I am checking my address list, ordering packaging materials, ordering holiday cards, and designing the my logo stickers (which will go on the white boxes). Â I have also made a list of the things I need to trial flavors next weekend: exotic things like calamondins and pink peppercorns, more conventional things like oranges and pears.
Next weekend I will “audition” flavors and make fudges: chocolate macadamia, white chocolate/lavender/lemon, coconut tequila lime, and coconut almond (to be dipped in chocolate later). Â Once I know what flavors I’ll be using, it will be time to write up the new recipes and create my spreadsheet of ingredients, so I know exactly what I need to buy and in what quantities. Â (Last year I used over 5 lbs of butter, 4.5 quarts of cream, 11 lbs of sugar, and over 60 pounds of chocolate!)
The following weekend I will start making chocolate covered candies: cider caramels with mulling spices, jasmine-honey-vanilla caramels, English toffee, chocolate-dipped citrus peels. Â I’ll also be pulling together my chocolates order, from my local gourmet wholesaler, Pacific Gourmet. Â (They sell mostly to industry but will sell to individuals if the order is big enough.)
The weekend after that is the weekend before Chocopalooza, so I will be buying stuff in earnest. Â I’ll also be doing prep work like casting chocolate molds, prepping up the mixes for the various truffle centers in advance (as much as possible, that is – weighing out chocolate and butter into little baggies, grouping all the flavorings for each flavor in a single spot, etc.), and dipping chocolate covered apricots and candied ginger.
And then, Nov 16-19, the fun begins! Â I’ll be making about 20 kinds of chocolate bonbon, about 80 pieces of each flavor, over four days (which is a luxury; normally I do it in only three!). Â This requires organization, so I always make myself a schedule of sorts, outlining which flavors to do in what order. Â White chocolate first, then milk, then the darks. Â I’ll have helpers coming by, too, so I need to adjust the “schedule” based on when I’ll have help. Â It’s like a little chocolate factory!
But first, I need to finish the muslin for Autumn Splendor, so if you’ll excuse me, it’s off to the sewing machine!