Chocolate season is upon us, so with the greatest reluctance, I am tearing away my focus from Autumn Splendor to focus on chocolatiering. 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. 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). 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). 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. (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. I’ll also be pulling together my chocolates order, from my local gourmet wholesaler, Pacific Gourmet. (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. 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! 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!). This requires organization, so I always make myself a schedule of sorts, outlining which flavors to do in what order. White chocolate first, then milk, then the darks. I’ll have helpers coming by, too, so I need to adjust the “schedule” based on when I’ll have help. 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!