There's quite a bit of trial and error in this business we call Chocolatiering. (Which to begin with is a very awkward word in its own right.) Not only are there new techniques to master, there are also the standard pitfalls of working with chocolate day-to-day: too much humidity, too much heat, fussy chocolate, maker error, the list goes on.
This is why we always experiment when creating a new delight - like our Thai Bird Chili chocolates, coming soon for Valentine's Day. Not only are we working with a new type of cocoa butter for the first time, it's a new chocolate mold and a new type of ganache for inside of the chocolate shell. Lots of firsts with this one!
So Mark got to work painting the inside of the chocolate mold cavities with our colored cocoa butter, layering sunset red first, following up with a dazzling jeweled yellow to create a gorgeous two-tone effect. In theory. In reality the cocoa butter didn't temper quite right and ended up melting into the chocolate once poured into the mold - resulting in a splotchy finish. Which we shan't show you -- but trust us, the end result was not as intended!
We could easily have tossed these shells back into the chocolate tempering machine - the color would have melted right into the brown chocolate and we could have started again from scratch. But we figured it was an excellent chance to try out our Thai Bird Chili ganache - which tasted just right to our palates: not too hot, but with a deep spice finish on the tongue. Magnificent!
The filling of the chocolates with the ganache went as expected - rather easily! As did the 'capping' of the chocolates, when we seal the bottoms with chocolate. (Illustrated here with our Wild Maine Rose and Honey Nougat hearts pictured along with some of our Cherry Ginger Almond chocolate bars.)
BUT we discovered yet another 'maker error' - when blending the chili into the ganache, we didn't account for the extra dark chocolate taste provided by the shell around the ganache. As a result, our chili was somewhat deluded from the original taste. Therefore we adjusted the ganache with a little more punch - and now the resulting chocolate is one we are proud to offer you for Valentine's Day.
We'll unveil the new Thai Bird Chili bonbon in all its splendor this coming weekend, stay tuned!
Growing up in our home, Valentine's Day was a special day. We'd wake up and come downstairs for breakfast, and at our places at the table would be a little basket of Valentine's Day treats and a gift -- just to let us know we were loved on this special day. Mom would get roses, but we never felt left out because we had sweets!
Do *you* have a special sweetie (big or small) on your "Be Mine" Valentine's Day list? Why not show them your love with a Blessing of Unicorns CHC gift basket- two darling sugar cookie unicorns, lovingly hand-decorated and frosted in full-on Valentine's Day splendor, paired with a heart shaped sugar cookie and two of our luscious Wild Maine Rose and Honey Nougat chocolate bonbons -- artfully wrapped in whimsical Valentine's Day packaging. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds! Valentine's Day Blessings arrive just before Valentine's Day so they're fresh as possible upon arrival - all Valentine's Day Blessing orders placed will arrive by Friday, February 13th.
Deadline to reserve your Blessing is Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 -- don't miss out!
Coconut oil. We've been hearing quite a bit about it lately -- from folks whipping it into coffee (no thanks!) to cooking everything in it. We don't know about all that -- but we do use it, in our Mint Meltaways. [WARNING: SCIENCE AHEAD]
Why coconut oil? It's all about being eutectic! Seriously, seriously, eutectic. A eutectic, in chocolate lingo, is a combination of fats that melts at a lower temperature than any one of the fats by itself. Take milk chocolate, for example. Its melting point is lower than that of its individual ingredients, because the milk fat in the chocolate forms
a eutectic with the cocoa butter, thus it is softer than dark chocolate.
The wonder of this scientific phenomenon is fabulously illustrated in the center of our Mint Meltaways, which are made by mixing chocolate and coconut oil (a lauric fat) and some minty goodness. The result is a unique, melt-in-your-mouth experience, due to the fact that the combined melting point is well below both that of chocolate (94 °F) and coconut oil, and both of those are below body temp.
Dang but science is tasty.
This is a remarkable thing this CHC -- over eight years in the making. (You can read all about that in an article publishing in just a few weeks!) We are a delighted to be launching the website after a month of 'soft launch' ramping up. I'm not sure we'll ever be a razor-honed operation -- a little whimsy keeps things fresh! -- but we're very proud of what we've accomplished, in great part thanks to you, in just a few short months. From our grand debut at Roost in Belfast Maine early in December, to our busy flurry of retail and online sales heading into the holidays, things have been fast and furious -- and rather tasty, we must add.
Thank you for a remarkable launch in 2014 -- here's to some even more remarkable things for CHC in 2015!
We'll keep you abreast of all the movings and shakings here on our blog, so please follow along. We'll tweet and update on Facebook when we have new words of wisdom -- or not -- to impart. Thanks again for playing along, and please let us know if you find something that doesn't work quite right on the website -- or if you have a special request. Special requests are our specialty!
Nate Towne and Mark Simpson