Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unsolicited Testimonial

This was sent to me today by a friend... names have been taken out... not much to say - just made me feel good!

*...I am willing to provide the truffles, if you are still interested. However, I feel an obligation to point you to [a friend of a] friend, who's card I can't seem to locate and name I can't recall, who actually is a chocolatier, has a more refined, professional product, and is much more established as a business, ... I can do a fine job, but honestly, this woman I would love to learn from. Her product is impeccable and I'm embarrassed I can't find her card.*

That's all for now!

Oh! And my online store is now up and running... has been for a couple of months!

Tell your friends!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Truffles and Art!

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I've been busy making truffles! I found a recipe that I am quite fond of, as well as a chocolate that is quality. It's not organic, like I had originally planned, but I figure I can upgrade once my chocolates are making some moola. The flavor oils I found, however, are organic - and they are both tasty and efficient! I only used one drop of the oil in each batch I made and they were plenty flavorful.

Here are some pics of my latest works. As well as playing with more of the colors of pearl dust for the artwork on the squares of chocolate, I coated the truffles in it. I'm not sure that it shows up on the pictures very well, but it gives it a really neat shine.

This is a closeup of the coconut design for the squares. I'm pretty pleased with the way it came out. And you can sort of see the gleam of red on the truffle beside it. It's an orange-cinnamon truffle, hence the red pearl dust!

And this is a closeup of the cinnamon design. The pictures came out a little better this time around. The white plate in the background really makes them pop. And I was a little more patient with letting the chocolate set before poking it... so there are less fingerprints this time too!

And here's a line-up of the truffles... I also tried some milk chocolate coating this time. It turned out to be a really great combo. The red dust is a little bit harder to see on the dark chocolate than on the milk, but it really does look better in person.

So... I already have a few orders coming in, from friends, of course... but it's still exciting! And I've come up with some make-shift business cards for now. I wanted to wait until the Etsy store is up and running so I can have that address on it as well.

That's all for now!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The First Success!

So after going back and forth trying to decide if I could have pride in chocolate that I hadn't made from scratch I decided that it was worth a shot. So I found some dark chocolate that did not already have vanilla in it (since I would like that to be Amabella's signature flavor), and made up a batch! The chocolate that I found melted really well, it was already tempered, so that was one less step I had to worry about, and the vanilla added into just fine!

I still haven't been able to find molds that I'm happy with, so I bought some cheap-o ones just to test out the chocolate and the artwork. I bought some pearl dust to paint onto the pieces, and I'm pretty happy with the way it looks. It's very shimmery, so it's a little hard to see in pictures, but I did my best to photograph them. I also only started out with the gold pearl dust, just to test it out. I need to get better at the pearl dust/lemon juice ratio, but by the end of the first batch I was already getting better. I also bought more colors so I can try them out not too!

Here's some of the stencils I have done already... don't mind the bubbly chocolate, or the fingerprints... I got a little anxious to start with the stenciling, so I kept poking the chocolate to see if it was solid yet.

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and the signature, Vanilla:
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Soo the other exciting news is I may already have a supplier lined up! One of my very good friends hooked me up with a theatre in town that would like to talk to me about an opportunity to sell my chocolates! Now, obviously, I won't be ready this month or next, but I'm hoping by January to have enough things

Friday, November 7, 2008

Try, try again... and again...

So I had a couple of major failures last night. Trial and error is really hard, especially when your materials aren't cheap. These were my first attempts at making chocolate from chocolate liquor. It is a solid liquor, so it melted easily, but it is unsweetened. Usually the sugar and other flavors are added in the grinding process. Or during the conching process. But since I'm not a factory, I can't do that. So I added the sugar in slowly, hoping that it would dissolve nicely into the melted cocoa. It wasn't too bad. It was still a little grainy, but the chocolate had a beautiful shine to it.

Then I added the vanilla - an alcohol based substance - to a very hot oil based substance. Big mistake.

Needless to say, this is not a chocolate I can mold into lovely little perfect squares. The hot vanilla turned it into a charred mess of really delicious-smelling goop.

So, round 2! I decided that, since it was still grainy, and all of the sugar hadn't dissolved, I was going to melt the sugar first - with the vanilla - and then add it to the melted chocolate. Liquid added to liquid should be good, right? Wrong.

As you can see, the sugar was much hotter than the chocolate. So when I added it to the chocolate it instantly cooled, and turned into an amoeba of rock candy.

Needless to say I was a bit discouraged. And by a bit, I mean there were tears. I ended up emailing a friend of my sister who is an accomplished choclatier. He was very obliging, and tried to answer all of my questions. He too is interested in working with flavors. Apparently, though, he does not make his chocolate from scratch. He says, that's what the chocolate production companies and factories are for. They make the good chocolate with the the large machinery, and we add the flair.

I didn't want to do this originally. I wanted to have complete control over every aspect of the chocolate. But I have to admit, it's looking more and more appealing every day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Progress....or lack there of...

Hmmm... well I haven't done too much since last week, sadly. Partly because I was fighting some sort of exhaustion/cold, and partly because of my theatre company's show closing this weekend, as well as having callbacks for our Spring show. So, needless to say, I had my plate full.

I did, however, finish three more stencils for the chocolate! I'm quite excited, as they were giving me some trouble in the beginning. But I seem to have figured out a technique that works well for cutting curves into the plastic and I'm quite happy with how they've turned out. I'll have to load some pictures of them on here sometime soon.

I was also getting a little discouraged because my first chocolate-making attempt seemed to have bombed. But I moped for a few days, and received some encouraging words from my sister today, and that seems to have put me back in the "I can do this" train of thought. I may not be able to save the first batch, but I'll try again.... (It tasted great, but didn't turn into something I could melt down on the stove, and now it's a big lump of hard hard chocolate in my fridge.)

So, bottom line, now that I have the time again, I'll give it another shot, and another after that, and another...until I make my chocolate! *sigh*

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Attempt

Okay, so I've started my first attempt at making the chocolate from cacao nibs. I'm not sure that I ground them enough. It was still a little grainy, and not quite liquid when I took it out of the grinder. I also used xylitol instead of sugar. It's a natural sweetener that's actually good for your teeth, and it's supposed to have the same consistency as sugar, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

So the batch I made last night was an 80% cacao mix. So it was delish, but probably a little too bitter to be the signature. Oh! I also added a little of this vanilla that my friend, Rachel, brought back from Mexico, and it is soo good.

Instead of wasting the batch, I labeled it and stuck it in the fridge. I think I can grind it down a little more, and then maybe it will be ready for tempering. I took it straight from the grinder to the double boiler last night, but it didn't seem to want to act like chocolate yet. So we'll see.

I also have found a supplier that produces the liquor/paste. I contacted them to ask if it's already been sweetened in that form when they supply it, but I haven't heard back from them yet. I'm going to be a real stickler about the sweetener. I want it to be my own concoction, so I really don't want to buy a product that I just have to melt down into molds. I really want to make the chocolate myself. But if I can do that without having to grind the nibs it would save me a lot of time and energy. *Fingers crossed*

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In The Works

When I decided that I was going to become an at-home chocolatier, I knew it was going to be a long, involved process. I knew that not only learning how to make chocolate from scratch, but also creating artwork to be put on the chocolate was probably biting off more than I could chew - especially when I have a full-time day job and a theatre career nights and weekends. So when I originally came up with upwards of 20 different themes for chocolate boxes, and 30 different flavors that I want to work with, I knew there was going to have to be some scaling back.

Boy, has there been! I have been running around for the past two months gathering supplies, researching (since I've worked with chocolate plenty, but never made it from scratch), and learning how to make stencils for the art that I want to place on the chocolate. I wanted to experiment with flower essences...but I have had to make myself narrow it down to just one until after I have perfected my chocolate recipe. My signature flavor will be vanilla - hence the vanilla flower in the logo.

So, I finally have one, count it, ONE stencil done. And I will start experimenting with chocolate tomorrow! I can't wait to finally be playing with the chocolate. While the art has been great fun, as well as completely frustrating (ask anyone who was around while I was trying to draw), I have always had a love for working with ganaches and chocolates. So I can't wait to dig in!