Getting ready to chocolatier today! First on the slate are four batches of fudge: chocolate macadamia fudge, white chocolate – lavender – Meyer lemon fudge, coconut tequila lime fudge, and coconut almond fudge. These are all perennials, mostly because they’re favorites either of mine or people close to me. Mike really likes the coconut fudges, and my mother and I are both fond of the lavender-lemon-white chocolate fudge. I’m not as fond of the chocolate fudge – it’s excellent, but not quite as wonderful as the other three flavors – but I include some variant of chocolate fudge every year because I feel the box wouldn’t be complete without it. (I mean, fudge, you know? It’s supposed to have chocolate in it!)
Second on the slate is two kinds of caramels: jasmine tea- orange blossom honey – vanilla caramels, and ginger chile lime peanut caramels. The jasmine tea caramels are my own invention (based on the recipe for Vanilla Cream Caramels in Carole Bloom’s Truffles, Candies, and Confections, but tweaked considerably), and I’m very proud of them – they have appeared in every box for at least a decade, and are my favorites of all the chocolates I make. The ginger chile lime peanut caramel flavor combination comes from a chocolatier I encountered at the Chocolate Expo a year or two back – I wish I could remember their name! I made it last year and it is excellent.
The earlier part of this week got spent doing unsexy things like entering this year’s recipes into my master spreadsheet of ingredients, generating a spreadsheet for this year’s flavors, and creating a shopping list from there. Tedious but necessary – otherwise I’d never know what to buy and how much! Now I know I’ll need two gallons of cream, 18 pounds of sugar, 7 lbs of dark chocolate, 11 lbs of white chocolate, and, uh, quite a bit of other stuff in order to make my centers. I’ve also done some measurement and discovered that I’ll need about 12 ounces of chocolate to dip every batch of centers. Multiplied by 20-25 flavors, that comes out to about 18 lbs of chocolate. Since I have about 60 lbs of dark chocolate and 20 lbs of white chocolate on hand, that should be fine.
(If you’re wondering why milk chocolate is not on the list, it’s because most of my centers are either white or dark chocolate. I think I’m only doing two milk chocolate flavors this year.)
I have also been hard at work doing my chocolate transfer sheets, dabbing them with green cocoa butter (which will later be backed with white cocoa butter so the green shows clear and bright even against dark chocolate). This is tedious and time-consuming, but the resulting chocolates are bright and cheerful. Here’s what it looks like at the moment:
One batch of animals will be gold on green, the other will be red on gold.
I’m a bit worried about temperature for the production run – the temperature has been in the low 80’s during the day, which turns out to be disastrous for getting the transfer sheets to transfer successfully. It’s still too early for weather forecasts, but the next week is going to be quite warm – not a good sign. The only workaround I can think of is to store the finished chocolates into the master bedroom, which is the only air conditioned room in the house, and crank the temperature down as much as possible. Of course that means carrying chocolate-laden trays down the entire length of the house, leaving open possibilities for all sorts of hilarity (chocolate on walls, tripping over kamikaze kittens, etc.). Here’s hoping it won’t be necessary!
And, finally, your kittens for the week:
Tigress caught and ate her first prey (a giant cockroach – ugh!) last week. She is shaping up to be quite the huntress, though her most frequent prey seems to be Fritz, anything moving under a blanket, and ankles. Still, she is adorable as she scampers around the house, and it’s nice to know that she’s keeping us safe from giant bugs. All hail the Mighty Huntress!
(The cats are indoor-only, so no worries about songbirds!)