Chocolate does not like it when it’s hot out. Or when it’s cold… actually, chocolate is quite tempermental, but we’ll leave that for another discussion. Since last summer, we’ve done even more research on how best to protect our chocolates as they traipse across the country and locally in hot, hot weather. Sitting in percolating USPS trucks, which we learned last month from our local postal worker have no air conditioning, and are required (understandably for security purposes) to have the windows and doors locked shut when no one is inside. Being left in a black mailbox in the sun for hours on end despite our “Don’t leave in Sun” “Fragile” labeling. It causes us nightmares.
So our plan for the summer (June – mid September), and we apologize in advance, is to have everything shipped by USPS Express, 24 hours, using a biodegradable heavy duty insulation material and ice. Hardcore. We’ve been trying to avoid this like the plague, as this adds on to the shipping costs in a big way, but now we know the chocolates will arrive looking fine and dandy and solid, and we’ll be able to get some sleep.
This week, Catharine and Elaine took a field trip to visit with Jason McCrae and his crew down in Hyde Park at McCrae’s Caramels. We make very small batches of caramel on our stovetop in big stockpots, and thought it would be great to see how the “big” guys do it. They make batch sizes ranging from stovetop to a 15 lb cooker (a real beauty) to a big old copper cooker that makes at least 30 lbs. But what we really came down to see was the caramel wrapper. We wrap ours by hand, and so did they when they started. But now they have two of these lovely red wrapping machines. Oh my…
In turn, we hosted Macaron Sweeterie this week for a little visit in our kitchen and made a return visit on Friday to their very sweet (in more ways than one) shop in Lexington. Macaron Sweeterie is the only macaron shop in the Boston area that has multiple flavors of freshly made macarons each day. The texture has just the right balance of crunch and chew with a very smooth filling. And look at these amazing colors! Please note, there were at least another 5-7 different macarons in the display that I couldn’t fit in the photo :) . -e
The question that comes up most often when people first see our bonbons is, “How do you get those pretty designs on the chocolates? Do you paint each one by hand? Do you have elves?” Fair question, do we have elves? (what a wonderful thing that would be especially for the holidays).
Actually, the designs that we use are created by using pre-fabricated transfer sheets. We purchase these from a number of vendors, but our favorite company is PCB which is based in France. They use colored cocoa butter as their “paint” to create the designs which are silk screened or digitally printed on to food safe acetate sheets.
We cut these large sheets down to the size we’re using.
We dip (enrobe) our chocolates with melted tempered chocolate and then place the transfer on top.
The tempered chocolate sets up (hardens) and then we lift the transfer sheet off and the colored cocoa butter design is left behind.
Ta-da! Like magic. Maybe we do have elves.
We’ll typically search for quite a while to find just the right pattern that fits into our general color scheme and that suits the flavor we would like to pair with it.
One fun thing that we did this past year was to have our logo custom printed so we can use them on any number of our chocolate bonbons.
We’ll use them in our chef’s choice box, but we particularly like using them when we go to events or make donations.
It’s pretty memorable for the consumer and we’ve gotten great comments each time we’ve used them.
Custom decorated chocolates leave a lasting impression and make a unique item for weddings, businesses, anniversaries and other events.