Of the flavors I trialed over the weekend, my favorites so far are the passionfruit caramel with ginger-rum-white chocolate ganache, and the cherry jelly with white chocolate kirsch ganache. The lavender caramels (with and without salt) were good as well, and will likely go into this year’s boxes. Runners-up included the bergamot marmalade/ginger/dark chocolate (and lemon marmalade/ginger, and orange marmalade/ginger) – not interesting enough, and not strongly flavored enough. Also, the salted truffle caramels with black pepper ganache, while pretty good, were more conceptually interesting than overwhelmingly yummy.
But there are more flavors yet to try! I made three variations of tomato jelly: fresh tomato, sundried tomato, and smoked sundried tomato. Each of those were paired with the following four ganaches: white chocolate with thyme, white chocolate with Thai basil, dark chocolate with raisins and mole spices, and dark chocolate with chipotle pepper. I have high hopes that at least one of those will work out – the raisin-mole ganache is particularly wonderful, and worthy of inclusion just by itself – but I haven’t tasted them yet. I tasted seven kinds of chocolate bonbon yesterday, so was a bit burned out on chocolate, and since I don’t believe in starting my day with tons of sugar, I’ll wait until lunchtime or after dinner tonight to taste the tomato ones.
I also tested out the new confectionery guitar, and am happy to say that it works beautifully! Here are some pix of it in action:
As you can see, it cuts nice neat squares.
The only downside to this particular guitar is that the resulting candies don’t pack neatly into boxes. They are just a hair too large to fit neat, tight rows inside the candy boxes – I can fit 10 in each layer, but the remainder will need to be slightly smaller chocolates, meaning I can’t use the guitar to cut them. No big deal, though – my chocolates perpetually include some flavors that are too firm to cut with a guitar (it only handles soft centers), and I’ll simply cut those a little smaller, to fill space in the boxes. The fudges can be cut slightly narrower, too.
Now comes time for some tedious-but-necessary work: documenting all the recipes I tried, writing down the number of chocolates each recipe makes, and recording my impressions of each flavor. This sounds tedious (and it is!) but is essential so I can remember what happened with each flavor trial, and calculate the size of the recipe for the number of ingredients I want. I’ll do that during the mornings this week, when nobody else is awake yet.
This weekend I’ll be trialing another twenty or so flavors, if I have time – fortunately my mom (who arrived yesterday) is interested in making chocolates, so we’ll be able to do it together.
And, of course, the obligatory cute-kitten photos, also taken by my friend Lieven: