We are now at T minus 38 days to Chocopalooza, which starts on Wednesday, October 30 this year. This sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not – especially since my mom is coming to visit for ten days in October. Which I’m looking forward to, but which is likely going to limit my time in the kitchen.
Here is the run-up to Chocopalooza:
Sep 22-29: Trial all chocolate flavors (37 on the current list).
Sep 30 – Oct 9: mom visiting, hold the chocolate!
Oct 10-12: finalize flavor list and construct ingredients spreadsheet. Take care of logistical details – confirm recipient addresses, make sure enough candy boxes, cups, etc. are on hand, etc. Put together preliminary schedule for Chocopalooza. Invite people to the chocolate-packing party.
Oct 13-18: order and pick up ingredients (including about 70-80 lbs of chocolate!)
Oct 19-27: make fudges, caramels, chocolate-dipped citrus peels, and other things that can be made in advance.
Oct 28, 29: pick up remaining ingredients, finalize schedule for Chocopalooza. Stock up on sleep.
Oct 30-Nov 2: Chocopalooza! With one helper, make 60-80 lbs of chocolate bonbons in four marathon days.
Nov 3: Chocolate packing party. Invite 8-10 friends over to help pack 90-100 lbs of chocolates into candy cups, then into boxes, then into shipping boxes. Send friends home with piles of leftover chocolate.
Nov 4: Schlep packages to post office. Collapse. Sleep.
This looks rather daunting, but with decent organization, amazing things become possible. Today I’m creating my first set of test recipes, 10-12 flavor combinations that I expect to trial tomorrow. Those will be the simpler ones, since I don’t have much time to prepare. By next weekend, I should have my full set of test recipes ready, so will trial the 25 remaining flavors.
What flavors, you ask? and from where?
Well, some ideas come from friends, some are inspired from recipe books, and some arise out of my own twisted imagination. A good number of this year’s recipes arise from the new and expanded edition of one of my chocolate bibles, Peter Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections. This is the textbook the Culinary Institute of America uses to teach its students, and is one of the best books around. (My other bibles are Jean-Pierre Wybauw’s three books on chocolate-making – also excellent.)
Some ideas are also opportunistic. I saw elderberries on sale at the farmer’s market, and promptly bought some. Will they work with chocolate? I have no idea, but it might be interesting. The same vendor had truffles (the fungus) available, and I bought a small one for not too much money. Upon finding out that I was planning to make chocolates with them, he told me that some people he knew used truffle-flavored salt in chocolates, and tossed in a small package for free. More fodder for the test kitchen!
So here are a few of the flavors I am contemplating:
- tomato basil
- smoked sundried tomato jelly with chipotle ganache
- tomatillo something
- orange or lemon marmalade + ginger
- ginger, vanilla, rum (from Greweling’s book)
- caramel, brandy (from Greweling’s book)
- habanero mango rum lime (from Greweling’s book)
- gingerbread spices and molasses (from Greweling’s book)
- lavender salt caramels
- truffle salt caramels with black pepper ganache
- chai-orange jelly with rum ganache
- pear jelly with ginger ganache
plus, um, two dozen more.
5 weeks to chocolate insanity. I’m looking forward to it.
(And, lest you think I have forgotten about Phoenix Rising, I dyed twelve yards of fabric yesterday evening, to go into the next muslin. I’m hoping to get that done this weekend, too, though that’s probably overambitious.)