A friend from Maryland came by today and helped in the chocolate test kitchens. Together we made:
- raspberry-orange fruit gels
- Concord grape fruit gels
- strawberry fruit gels
- toasted pecan gianduja
- toasted walnut gianduja (with milk chocolate)
- hazelnut gianduja
- maple fudge
- salted caramels
Most of these are half-flavors, not finished ones in themselves. Tomorrow I will make peanut gianduja and a number of ganaches, and finalize the following flavors:
- raspberry orange fruit gels with hazelnut gianduja
- “peanut butter and jelly” – peanut gianduja with Concord grape fruit jellies
- “peanut butter and jelly redux” – peanut gianduja with strawberry fruit jellies
- maple fudge with pecan gianduja
- caramel ganache with toasted walnut gianduja
If you aren’t sure what gianduja is, it’s a nutty chocolate made by mixing equal parts of nut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and chocolate. Traditionally made with hazelnuts, but I’m trying all sorts of nuts! (Nutella is a kind of gianduja, though not a very good one.)
Deanna asked whether I would consider trying root beer syrup. The answer is no, though not for any logically compelling reason. I guess my main objection is that most root beer syrup is artificially flavored, and as a result isn’t interesting/complex enough to put into chocolates. Whether that’s a valid argument or just nose-in-the-air gourmet-ness, I’m not sure – it’s certainly true that I’ve used flavor extracts before. Mostly I just feel like it would be cheating, somehow. (Don’t ask; it isn’t logical!)
Tomorrow I’m also going to try some ganache flavors: caramel, ginger yuzu, orange/cinnamon/clove/vanilla/honey, and curry with exotic fruits (passionfruit, mango, coconut). (Ganache is a mix of chocolate, cream, and butter, and is used for truffle centers (among other things).)
Favorite flavors for the day:
- Concord grape fruit gels. We boiled down a quart or two of fresh grapes to about a cup and a half of grape juice/puree, and the result is delightfully strong and tart. Definitely a winner, even if it doesn’t “go” with the peanut butter gianduja I’m making tomorrow.
- Pecan gianduja. Oh, is it yummy! And rich – pecans and dark Valrhona chocolate.
- Hazelnut gianduja. Also with dark chocolate – I could eat buckets of it, at least until I collapsed into a sugar-induced coma.
- maple fudge. Nothing special about it, but ohmigod do I love a good maple fudge, especially when made with plenty of rich cream, as this one is.
The only real “loser” was the walnut gianduja, which we made with milk chocolate but is still too mild-flavored to come through clearly, flavor-wise. It’s clearly nut, but except for a walnut flavor in the after-taste, it’s not possible to pick out which kind.
I have yet to taste the strawberry or the raspberry-orange fruit gels, or the salted caramels.
Tomorrow I will make more flavors, and finish off the flavors I started today. I will also dip all the combinations into chocolate, to see what the finished bonbons will be like. If all goes well, I’ll finalize my flavor list tomorrow night, enabling me to start planning ingredients purchases.
Off for date night with Mike! I love him, especially since he puts up with my test-kitchen puttering!