Apologies for the radio silence! It has been a busy time in the chocolate factory. I’ve been chocolatiering twelve to fourteen hours a day for the last four days, so had no time to blog. But all came out wonderfully!
Schedule-wise, we wound up pretty far behind on Wednesday and Thursday, due to a miscalculation on my part. But six friends showed up on Friday and pitched in to help! which got things back on track, so we finished up handily on Saturday around five. Special thanks to Susan and Harold, who helped out all four days (and without whom I could not have finished in time!).
As usual, I was too busy making chocolates to take a lot of photos, but here are a few:
Here is my friend Harold dipping chocolates; in the foreground is an empty frame, soon to be filled with a slab of chocolate centers that my friend Susan was mixing up.
And here are two slabs of centers, ready to be cut on the confectionery guitar:
We generated a lot of dishes, of course. Here’s a fairly typical view of the sink at any given point during the chocolatiering:
Once we were done making all the chocolates, of course, we still had a lot of melted chocolate left in the tempering machines. I call these leftovers “chocolate slag” – it loses its temper and becomes streaky while cooling, but is still delicious for all sorts of cooking applications (chocolate chip cookies, etc.). I pour the slag out into a giant sheet tray so it doesn’t harden in the machine – that would be a huge mess!
We dipped the last chocolate around 5:30 on Saturday. Sunday morning I got up early and put all the chocolates into containers, sorting out a few “beauty queens” for the photographic inserts and also pulling out all the ugly “seconds”. I wound up with 100.5 lbs of first-quality chocolate and 15.5 pounds of “seconds” – a total of 116 pounds! A bumper crop for the year.
Here’s what a hundred and sixteen pounds of chocolates looks like:
The picture is a bit disingenuous, though – the containers are actually stacked two deep, and there are several layers of chocolates in each box. Sadly, I’ve never come up with a way to communicate the sheer mass of the chocolates produced – I don’t have enough room in the house to show them all at once! But if you consider that each chocolate weighs almost exactly 1/2 ounce, 116 lbs comes out to about 3700 candies. Probably closer to 4,000 as some of the flavors are much smaller than that – but far too many to count, either way!
In the afternoon, some friends arrived for the chocolate-packing party. Here they are, confronting a giant collection of chocolates:
I had packed a sample box to make sure everything would fit. Here’s the entire contents of this year’s box:
After putting all the chocolates into candy cups, the packers split the containers of chocolates onto two tables – one for the bottom layer and one for the top layer. Here they are, laying out the containers and consulting the reference box to figure out what should be packed where:
Here is a finished box:
Finally, after the boxes were packed, it was time to pillage. I instructed the packing-party attendees to cart off as many of the leftover chocolates as they wanted, and they gleefully did so:
But even after the locusts swarmed, there was plenty of chocolate left. My coworkers will be happy tomorrow!