Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A label of love???

It has taken two months of tweaking to get this far with labels. Having decided to go with quite a bold font for the cochoco logo, it’s not so easy to pair with an elegant font to tell the eye that these are high quality chocolates.

Quite happy with the ‘thought bubble’ solution but I welcome all comments, feedback and suggestions. I am still firmly in prototype mode so everything is up for evolution :)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Aniseed Truffles

Dark chocolate ganache with aniseed oil, dipped in white chocolate
and rolled in 100% cocoa flakes
Chocolate making only really got going in the run up to Christmas 2011. I started by developing a festive menu of butterscotch, cinnamon, cranberry and tangerine which was lovely and full of festive cheer.

… Until suddenly I found myself obsessing about pairing aniseed with chocolate

The thought of the pungent sweet aroma kept leaping about like Jack Frost until I broke with my festive theme and ordered the first bottle of aniseed essential oil I could get my hands on.

I had smelled notes of liquorice in fresh ground coffee and I had a very strong sense that aniseed and dark chocolate would be a fantastic flavour combination. Opening the essential oil when it arrived was a powerful experience and a good indication that this was a flavour to respect and treat with care.

To me, aniseed tastes incredibly sweet with a slightly metallic menthol quality. It would be a resonating peel of a high pitched church bell (if it made a noise).

I wanted to warm it and earth it. It worked well added to the dark chocolate in the ganache. The final balance was achieved by dipping the aniseed ganache in the warm vanilla tones of white chocolate and then finishing off the truffle by rolling it in the earth dryness of 100% cocoa flakes.

Aniseed Truffles are the first recipe I really ‘have down on paper’ so to speak.

They are also my favourite.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Rain, rain go away...

Where is the sunshine? Please come back, my new air conditioning unit has arrived and the 'Blind man' has measured up for a fitting on Friday.

I'm not one for wishing the sun away but the cold spell did allow the chocolate making to progress to dizzy heights last Sunday. My slippers are wearing quite a bit of it but fortunately most of the chocolate ended up where it is supposed to! This frenzy of chocolate making is due to a wonderful chance meeting in the post office queue. Thank you lovely Tracy for making a 'first ever' come to life by asking me to put a box of chocolates together for a birthday gift.

I wish I had the sense to photograph the finished piece but I think after 10 hours of chocolate making my brain was scrambled! So you'll have to imagine the very pretty square box with two layers of six chocolates and 3 tasting bars with a hand written 'menu' and fancy ribbons.

And on the inside... Vanilla Lime Dark Chocolates, Butterscotch Marbled Chocolates, Chilli Truffles and the lovely Tipsy Raspberry Chocolates.

I have given myself a good talking to and promise to supply photos next time!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tipsy Raspberry Chocolates

White Chocolates with a Raspberry and Vodka
Milk Chocolate Ganache
Raspberries are one of my all time favourite pleasures. Their smell always reminds me of making jam with Dana when she was a little girl. We would buy fresh raspberries at the local market, bring them straight home and tip them straight into the jam pan, add the sugar and watch everything dissolve down into bubbling, bright ruby soup.
So for me, raspberries are one of those miracle foods that contain powerful magic that makes everything better.

Chocolate, of course, is another such food. Putting them together works wonderfully as I've discovered in various guises...
   > Raspberry Liqueur in hot chocolate - prepared with real chocolate of course
   > Pavlova with raspberries and mint chocolate chunks - my Mum's recipe

I've tried making the Tipsy Raspberry Chocolates without the 'Tipsy' bit but the raspberry vodka resuscitates the freeze dried raspberry in a truly marvellous fashion - the warm kick of vodka adds depth to the tartness of the raspberry and compliments the sensual vanilla in the white chocolate.

One of the things I'm trying to achieve with my recipes is a dynamic taste experience. Sounds a bit grand doesn't it but after all the pomp and ceremony of the Diamond Jubilee, I think I can get away with it!

In the case of these chocolates a 'dynamic taste experience' translates into the following:

  • Enjoying the look of the chocolate
  • Hearing the 'crack' of the chocolate as you bite it in half
  • Getting an immediate cool sensation on the tongue from the soft ganache along with that magic raspberry taste and the sharper initial vodka kick.
  • Then the warmth of the vodka coming through in the juicy raspberry pieces.
  • Then the melting, mellow vanilla in the white chocolate.
  • Finishing with a balanced flavour of raspberry and vanilla and the lingering warmth of the vodka.

I think I'll have to go and eat one now - is 09.30am too early for vodka?

Most importantly, the Tipsy Raspberry Chocolates  received a very good review from Aunty Margaret with clear instructions not to change anything in the recipe.

High praise indeed.

Mistakes this time?

Need to improve finishing the bottoms until there is no edge (this batch have a very slight edge if you look closely).

The transfer sheet didn't fully transfer but I suspect this is beyond my control as the chocolate was a good, warm temperature when it hit the mould.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mexican Tasting Bars

Experimenting with ways of presenting origin chocolate for tasting. These are 5g bars. 

Pleased with the shine created by the mould and the effect of the transfer.

Fancy one with a nice single origin coffee? 

Now you're talking :)

I'm happy with this mould - the mirror shine is excellent.
Planning to order four more to increase the batch.
The transfer is good but its sugar base is discernible to a sensitive palate. Nevertheless useful as a way to tell chocolates apart from one another.

The Mistakes...

Despite all the advice I have benefited from, my first attempt at these tasting bars involved me believing that I somehow have a super ability to temper less than half a kilo of chocolate. Well... let me share the outcome of my delusional moment: if you're piping chocolate that's one thing. But if you're trying to fill moulds, however shallow they are, FORGET IT!!!

1. Attempting to temper too small an amount of chocolate.
Needless to say, it wouldn't set!
3. The chocolate was too cool and too thick, setting on contact. This made it impossible to 'run off' the chocolate and make a nice finish.
2. Adding some more callets to try to recover by seeding
the chocolate
4. The outcome... lots of bubbles and missing corners, uneven finish and a transfer that has not 'transferred'.

The good thing with chocolate is... you can melt it back down and start all over again - in this case adding a further 350g. So no waste other than precious time and energy spent feeling annoyed at ones own stupid nuances. 

Second time around, the transfer sheet works beautifully, leaving little to clean off the mould afterwards.

The photographs, as ever, make the work so beautiful thanks to my talented 13-year old daughter.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Electric Blues

Sigh... the newly arrived air conditioning unit has a broken wheely foot which renders it wobbly and warrants a replacement (foot or machine?... I am awaiting the verdict).

The washing machine man has called to let me know that my machine is beyond repair. He is bringing me a new machine today. Clean pants take precedence over holiday fund.

The good news is... it's a cool cloudy day in Manchester so chocolates are being made. Single origin 'mexique' taste bars and a new recipe... not too Chilli Truffles.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cool it!

I have taken receipt of an air conditioning unit. It has been half unpacked in the lounge for three days but tomorrow is its day of reckoning. The manual is imposing. The bits and bobs I've twiddled with so far are like a scaled up form of Lego minus the connecting bumps. I can see the need to put on my gold head band and twirl until cleavage and super powers arrive. But first some super sleep.