Yesterday I cut and dipped most of my test flavors, doing about 20-30 of each flavor plus some extras at the end to use up the dipping chocolate. Here’s a couple shots from the process:
And here are my tasting notes:
Maple fudge with pecan gianduja: The maple flavor is overwhelming and overpowers the pecan flavor (which is more subtle than I would like). You do get a little pecan, but it comes out as an under-taste. It might be worthwhile to try this with a stronger-flavored nut, hazelnut for example.
For the fudge, I’d recommend a batch size of 1000-1500g for a full recipe – 1000g if you want a very thin layer of fudge (which might be a good idea as the flavor is so intense) or 1500g if you want a full 1/4″ high frame.
Fleur de sel caramels: This one was a flop. It tastes like a good vanilla caramel, but the salt dissolved and the flavor was not noticeable, even with more salt sprinkled on top.
Raspberry-orange fruit pate with hazelnut gianduja: Came out excellent. Raspberry is intense (orange note not particularly noticeable though – next time add more orange zest? but tastes fine with just raspberry, so maybe not) and hazelnut gianduja is just right – set nicely and was easily cut, but holds its shape. Definitely a “keeper”.
Note that the raspberry pate quantity should be tripled at least, probably 1500-2000 g (if you want to be safe). Hazelnut gianduja quantity might be increased to 900g, but is probably fine at 600-750.
- Peanut butter and jelly (Concord grape, strawberry variations):
Both strawberry and Concord grape jellies came out wonderful – intensely flavored and quite compatible with the peanut butter gianduja and dark chocolate coating. Jellies are a bit soft – double the amount of pectin? – but quite dippable.Peanut gianduja came out perfect, though the amount of chocolate was not precise. I mixed up the gianduja (very thick) and then tempered it in the chocolate tempering machine, throwing in about 100-150g of chocolate to “seed” the mixture.
Increase quantity of fruit pate to 1500-2000g and 750-900g for the gianduja, for a full recipe.
- Curry with exotic fruits (passionfruit, mango, coconut):
These came out great – a little soft, but still cuttable. Tastes mostly of passionfruit, but with a distinct curry undertone. Very tasty. Might want to up the quantity of milk chocolate to 600g?
Orange, cinnamon, honey, clove, vanilla. Pleasant flavor but not distinctive. The orange is not dominant – double (or more) the amount of orange zest? Cinnamon is evident and honey comes out in the aftertaste.
Might be a nice flavor, but marginal for the boxes – not especially interesting or intense.
On the whole, this taste test went well – of the seven flavors I trialed, five are excellent, one (the fleur de sel) was a flop, and one (the orange/cinnamon/etc.) needs tweaking. I will include four of the five excellent ones (I’m only including one of the peanut butter/jelly combinations), omit the flop, and think about the orange/cinnamon/etc. one. I’m thinking I may redo it as orange marmalade and clove – the orange marmalade being my homemade version made with mandarin oranges, which has a clear, bright orange flavor as opposed to the more bitter classic marmalade (made with Seville oranges). Or I may leave it out entirely and substitute a “classic” flavor from years gone by.
The question for today is, “Peanut butter and grape jelly”? vs “Peanut butter and strawberry jam”? Both flavors are excellent, but because they are so similar I can really only include one. So which flavor, grape or strawberry, would you prefer? And which do you think makes a more iconic peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich?