The last few days have been spent puzzling over a dilemma. I was having trouble with my two-color transfer sheets – only one color was adhering well, so the finished chocolates looked pretty awful:
I finally called the manufacturer and was told that my melted chocolate was too cold when dipping the chocolates. With two colors, it needs a slightly higher temperature to bond, so keeping the chocolate at the highest possible temperature would help. Also, refrigerating the chocolates for 5-10 minutes before removing the transfer sheets would also help.
The problem, of course, is that I didn’t know whether I’d be able to refine my method in time for Chocopalooza, and it would be disastrous if several batches failed because of the transfer sheets. If I couldn’t get my method refined, I’d have to fall back on single-color transfer sheets. But I didn’t have enough single-color sheets to do all the chocolates – I’d have to order another batch of sheets. And I would need to order them almost immediately if I wanted them to arrive in time for Chocopalooza.
So I quickly designed a new plate of transfer sheets, using ten designs from the Chinese zodiac (purchased on shutterstock.com and then modified to suit my needs). Here’s what they would look like on white and dark chocolate:
Obviously they show better on white chocolate, but they’re also pretty nice on dark chocolate. I will definitely use them for the white chocolate flavors – I’ll have to experiment with the dark chocolate ones.
I’ve also started reading my way through Peter Greweling’s book Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner. I recently purchased the second edition of the book, primarily because it had more recipes than the first version. However, last night, while looking up an answer to someone’s question about glucose, I realized there is considerably more technical information in the new edition, so I’m reading through it cover to cover. A little daunting considering it has 534 pages and is larger than most coffee table books – but many of those pages are recipes, so I should be able to get through it in a couple of days.
The next few days will be less intense, chocolatiering-wise – I need to do some more flavor trials with various nut flavors (marzipan, gianduja, etc.), but the flavor trials are mostly done. Now comes some tedious spreadsheet work – finalizing the flavor list, figuring how much I need of each filling, and creating a spreadsheet of ingredients so I know exactly how much of each ingredient to purchase. Also going over address lists, printing labels, etc.
The other big project for the next few days will be kittenproofing the house. They’ve been kept in the master bedroom the last two weeks, partly to give them a “home base” before letting them into the rest of the house, and partly because the house is not (yet) kittenproof. Trash cans need to have lids, wires and cables need to be protected from chewing (they’ve already eaten through my iPhone power cable and Mike’s headphone cord), and any piles of stuff lying about need to be put away. Considering the state of my studio to date, this is no small matter.
But well worth it for this adorability:
(Those photos are a week or so old; they’re bigger now. It’s amazing how fast they grow – I really must take more photos soon!)