I am the happiest girl in the world right now. Why?
Well, for starters, I have this in my living room:
That’s 48 kilos (105 lbs) of Valrhona chocolate. In my living room. What else could a girl possibly want?
Well, maybe this:
(Photo credit goes to Mike, who has gotten more time with them than I have (and is also a better photographer).)
I’ve been greatly enjoying them. They’re a time sink! I’ll go in just to check on them, and then I suddenly realize I’ve been watching them play for the last twenty minutes and now I’m late for work. But what an awesome reason for being late!
As you may have gathered, we have more-or-less named the kittens. We haven’t engraved their name tags yet, so it’s not 100% final, but the black one is “Fritz” and the tabby/tortie is “Tigress”. The black boy’s shelter name was “Fritz”, and Mike fell in love with that name, so “Fritz” he is. The female kitten was much harder, and went through several iterations before we settled on “Tigress”. Why? Well, she has tigerish markings on her face, including a bit of orange, she likes to play at being fierce (she growls while dragging around her “prey” – very cute), and of course I’m partial to tigers, as they’re my totem animal. (Up until a few years ago, the URL for my website was “travelingtiger.com”.)
I really liked some of the suggested names – thank you for sending in the suggestions! – but unfortunately Mike vetoed some of the ones I most liked, like “Warp” and “Weft”. (What awesome names for a pair of cats!) So that’s what we settled on.
I have a bunch more wonderful kitten photos that were taken by a friend yesterday – as soon as I get permission, I’ll post them. Because the world needs more cute cat photos, right? 🙂
Meanwhile, this arrived yesterday:
It’s for slicing slabs of ganache into nice neat square centers, and will produce more professional-looking chocolates than cutting by hand. (It will also be way faster.) It needs some wires replaced and a few other minor repairs before I can use it for production, but I’m hoping to get most of those repairs done by the weekend. Then I can use it in the test kitchen.
(A big THANK YOU to my in-laws, who bought it for me as a combined birthday/Xmas gift. How wonderful of them!)
The next day or two is busy with other things, but Saturday and Sunday will be spent testing chocolate flavors. Some of them will be as simple as just stirring a flavorant into a puddle of ganache and tasting the result. (Ganache is a mix of chocolate, cream, and butter, and forms the basis for most chocolate bonbons.) Many, however, are more elaborate, like the truffle salt caramels with black pepper ganache. Those are done by pouring one layer, letting it harden, and then pouring the second layer on top. For the caramels, I will also have to do a thin layer of chocolate or cocoa butter in between the two layers, to keep the water in the ganache from melting the caramel. The plan is to do the more complicated flavors over the weekend, and test the easier flavors during the weekdays next week. I’m scaling down all the recipes to 1/3 to 1/4 normal batch size – which will still leave quite a bit of chocolate, but is about as reduced as I can make it and still measure all ingredients accurately. No matter; we’re about to celebrate a new software release at work, which is a great excuse to bring in chocolate! I’m sure my coworkers will dispose of any leftovers in short order.