I went by my favorite restaurant wholesaler (Pacific Gourmet) today. Normally they sell to businesses only (in fact it says that on the pricelist page), but if you are ordering more than $75 and are willing to pick up at their warehouse in San Francisco, they’ll sell to individuals. No problem with the minimum order here! I came back with ninety-two pounds (!) of chocolate and cocoa, seventeen pounds of fondant icing, eleven pounds of glucose, five pounds of shredded dried coconut, some Hawaiian pink sea salt (yes, it really is pink), some hazelnut paste, various fruit purees, and a pound of sassafras powder (for my experiments in root beer truffles). I have a car full of chocolate!
While it is still 49 days to chocolate season (not that I’m counting, of course!), I do plan to start my flavor trials in the next two or three weeks. I have eleven new flavors to trial this year, and while some of them will just have to be tested during “the real thing”, I will have to sit down and experiment with recipes for most of them. This, of course, will make my coworkers (and Mike’s) very happy, as they get the leftovers. (Tasting them probably won’t do much for my low-carb diet, but I’ll try to avoid totally pigging out.)
Here are the things I want to experiment with:
- Lychee, possibly combined with white chocolate, but with an off chance that dark chocolate might work. I might add some Meyer lemon juice to give it a bit more zing, but not much as I want the lychee to dominate.
- Maple pecan truffles. I really want to make this flavor combo work, but am not sure of the format yet. Probably dark chocolate, but do I do maple syrup truffles rolled in chopped pecans, or maple ganache (or fudge!) over pecan gianduja (a mix of confectioner’s sugar, chocolate, and finely ground pecans)? Clearly experimentation is in order.
- Curry pralines. This sounds awful, but I have a recipe from a chocolatier I really like, so I have to trial this idea.
- Salted caramels with pink sea salt on top. I will probably make a batch of salted caramels but not actually dip them all into chocolate; instead I’ll test a small amount of caramel dipped in a little bit of melted chocolate, and “donate” the rest of the caramels to coworkers. (It would be a bit untoward of me to describe them as “the coworker disposal unit”, but it’s a pretty good summary of what happens when I put out food.)
- Ginger-yuzu truffles. I adore ginger but have had a lot of trouble getting it to work with dark chocolate (except via the chocolate covered candied ginger slices I do every year). It simply doesn’t have a complex enough flavor to be interesting in bonbons. (According to my tastes, anyway.) I came across a recipe for ginger-yuzu that sounds interesting – the citrus adds a bit of flavor interest without predominating. I’m going to give this a try as soon as yuzu appear at the farmer’s market. Or, in a few weeks, I might crack open one of my jars of home-candied yuzu peel.
- Thyme and lemon truffles. I saw a recipe for this, and I simply can’t imagine what it tastes like! So now I have to give it a try. Good things we have lemons and thyme in the back yard!
- Sassafras, probably with white chocolate and cinnamon. I loved sassafras tea as a kid, and just got hold of some sassafras root powder, so I’m going to try it with chocolate. (Sassafras used to be one of the flavoring compounds in root beer, until a component of sassafras was implicated as a very mild carcinogen – it’s no longer in mass production but fortunately available in small amounts. The amount in a single chocolate is negligible, so I’m not particularly concerned about the health risk of eating a few sassafras chocolates – assuming I can get them to taste good!) I’m thinking that sassafras pairs best with white chocolate and some cinnamon, but need to test my flavors.
- Peanut butter and jelly. I just can’t resist going back to my favorite sandwich from childhood. Two layers: the top layer is a fruit jelly made with Concord grapes, the bottom layer either peanut butter fudge or peanut butter gianduja (peanut butter mixed with dark chocolate and confectioner’s sugar). Dip in chocolate. Yum!
- Hazelnut gianduja with raspberry-orange fruit paste. Nothing particularly complicated about this, except that I haven’t made two-layer chocolates like this before!
- Coconut gianduja with key lime fruit paste. I’d have to make the coconut gianduja from scratch (grinding the coconut myself) for this, but it sounds like it would be quite interesting – I really like the idea of combining dark chocolate, coconut, and key lime juice. (Dare I add some pineapple and white chocolate for a pina colada bonbon?)
- Orange blossom truffles. I love the scent of orange blossoms, and orange blossom water totally fails to capture the heavenly scent of flowering citrus. I found an orange blossom extract for sale – I don’t know if it’s any better than orange blossom water, but I figure it’s worth a try.
I’ll probably trial one or two flavors a week, on weekends, until we hit chocolate season – I’d rather not devote an entire day to chocolatiering when I could be in the studio, or catching up on other stuff that needs doing (zucchini! tomatoes!). But I do think it’s time to start experimenting in the kitchen!