Last spring, I stumbled upon a cocktail recipe for a French Tart. It's a simple drink to make with wonderfully complex flavors. Since then, I've been obsessed with making it into a confection. And I think I've done it!
The drink recipe (found here) has fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup made with fresh rosemary, a splash of fresh lemon juice, vodka and St Germain. When you make the rosemary simple syrup in advance (and it really is very simple to do), throwing together this drink in a shaker is easy and will still be impressive to your friends and family. And what better drink to wish for warmer temperatures (c'mon Reno and/or winter weather)?
So while the drink recipe is surprisingly easy to throw together, the recipe for this confection took me a long time to create. The biggest issue was controlling the amount of water that is naturally in fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Because you are creating a confection that must be shelf stable for a minimum of three weeks, even with dairy products present, the chemistry of the interior is very important. And water is easily the biggest enemy in creating a wonderful chocolate. I toyed with the idea of using a grapefruit essential oil, but that just isn't my style. I like using the ingredients as they're found in nature whenever possible.
This lead me to create something other than my usual truffle made of a ganache base. Instead, this month I present the French Tart jelly. This jelly is made with fresh grapefruit juice, rosemary, lemon juice, vodka, St Germain and pectin, not gelatin. One reason being the natural source of gelatin, but the real reason is the texture. The texture of a pectin jelly is so addictive. You can thank French pâte de fruits for my addiction to that texture!
Right off the bat, let me apologize for the tardiness of this update! 2017 has threw me for a real loop (flooding of my house three times, grandma in/out/in the hospital, temporary second location opened and failed, etc etc). But I've also had loads of good news too!
The biggest one is that the manufacturer is back from holiday in China and so we're moving forward with the final design touches of the 2 piece boxes and they'll be underway soon! This was the work of our Kickstarter campaign that we ran in December. These two piece boxes will allow us to serve the corporate and wedding market better. And I can't wait to get my hands on them!
Our expansion plans are moving along as well. The expansion is into a our own kitchen that will be larger and allow for more types of goodies (drinking chocolate anyone?). And of course, pretty new pieces of equipment as well like this one I've been drooling over for months now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qgCiDNauvI Isn't that pretty? No one else seems to drool as much as me... haha
Did you know that February marks two years in business for Sugar Love? Where does the time go?? Also, when do I get paid? haha
xo Krysta Bea
We're so excited the holiday season that I couldn't just create one flavor for the holidays. And these are traditional favorites with a modern look.
The Peppermint truffle takes a dark chocolate ganache made with our French 56% dark chocolate and we fold in a natural peppermint oil. It may be the perfect ending for too much holiday food since peppermint is known to settle tummies. Or at least that's what heard in the kitchen!
The second flavor is our Eggnog truffle. It's a local eggnog, brandy and a splash of cinnamon. While the peppermint may be a cooling flavor, this one will certainly warm you up! Just in time since it's snowing as I'm writing this.
I'm keeping this short - 'tis the season for me to be working like crazy. And so off I go!
For our next Sugar Love University course, we're exploring New World (Latin) flavors since that's where our chocolate obsession began and that's where some interesting things are now happening in the food world. The jungles of the Central America and the deep forests of the Amazons are beginning to shine again for their interesting ingredients and flavor profiles. Let's discover a small portion of those together at our event that we're pairing with Branded Hearts Distillery (click here for tickets).
So what spices have we chosen for the Spiced Truffle this month? A wonderful and dark, almost raisin-like, sweet and very-long tasting heat. There is a reason why this pepper is often paired with duck, mushrooms and lamb. Then, because most people are expecting a kick from something called a Spiced Truffle, a dash of cayenne pepper is added for that necessary punch.
This is a long flavor profile in your mouth. If you purchase several flavors - make sure to have this last. Not necessarily because it will over-power the others, but because the full flavor takes quite a while to develop on your palate. This is a flavor that rewards, and rewards slowly for those that will wait patiently. Oh and it goes perfectly with a black coffee or a highlands Scotch. Yum!
Oh my goodness!
Fantasies in Chocolate was amazing! This annual chocolate-worshipping event in Reno, Nevada was actually our debut in 2015. So to return was an amazing feeling!
This year’s theme for Fantasies in Chocolate was Diamonds and Pearls, like old Hollywood glitz and glam. As soon as I heard the theme, I immediately knew our booth should be themed as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not only are diamonds and pearls involved, but a retro sense of style and high-fashion pervade the movie and what I wanted our booth to be.
And how do you create flavor for an event of this description? While diamonds and pearls are beautiful decorations, they certainly are not an inspiration for confections. Hard, yet beautiful gems? I was stumped.
But if my inspiration was Holly Golightly, what would she do? Well while she drank bourbon in the movie at her lowest point, she was fabulously in love with the city and borough of Manhattan. What’s also known as a Manhattan? The drink of course!
So I ended up making a dark, sweet cherry jam with orange bitters for the top layer and then made a layer of dark chocolate ganache with Dickel rye whiskey. A Manhattan in a chocolate!
Why the polka dot decorations? Because Holly Golightly said that diamonds only look good on a woman over forty. And well, Sugar Love just turned one - so pearls (or dots) it is!
Pears are one of my favorite fruits, and they are just coming into season! Is there a better time to celebrate them?
Pears come into season in the fall and are available almost all winter. And while the Barlett pear is probably the most common in the produce aisle, there is a wonderful variety of pears available this time of year. But which one to use in our truffle? Time for a tasting!
Did I mention how hard being a chocolatier is?? haha
So which pear was the winner? The tiny little Seckel pear packs the perfect sweet punch with a firm but not grainy texture. Read more about the seckel variety from the Pear Bureau Northwest.
So I pair this fresh pureed pear with a great Spiced Pear Liqueur from St George Spirits in Alameda, California (see a review of the spirit here) within a Belgian milk chocolate ganache. Soft texture, sweet pear and a slight heat from the cinnamon and clove to finish. This truffle makes me ready for fall!
Our flavor of the month is an exploration of texture in chocolate for our upcoming Sugar Love University course: Seminar in Textures. Crème brûlée is traditionally topped with a hard sugar shell that is too fun to crack with your spoon. And then the soft creaminess of the custard below is amazing. So how to recreate it?
I think we've gotten pretty close with this! A white chocolate and Madagascar vanilla make for a creamy ganache center. Then separately, I've torched a vanilla bean sugar for the topping. It gives a wonderful crunch to an otherwise smooth truffle experience. And because a flame melts the sugars for the topping, you get that flavor that a crème brûlée has from the same process.
Being the ever-critic of my own work, I would have liked to get that eggy, custard-like flavor for the center but I couldn't figure out a way to get that without needing to worry about refrigeration. Real crème brûlées are stored in the fridge until they are coated with sugar, torched and served. While my chocolates need to be kept at roughly room temperature (they're happiest from about 55-70 degrees) and need to last for 2-3 weeks from the time you purchase. Hrm... a problem I hope to solve one day! If you have any suggestions on how to potentially make these more custard-like in taste - shoot me an email at krysta (a) sugarlovechocolates.com
Oh and as always - here's a photo of my "research" - this is a crème brûlée from Wild River Grill which is right across the street in downtown Reno, Nevada. Also, they serve some of the best dry-aged steaks in town.
This month’s special flavor is the Rosemary Olive Oil truffle in a dark chocolate ganache made from our French dark chocolate. I’ve enjoyed the reactions that people have had as I told them I’m working on this recipe. There’s a mixture of confusion, distrust but mostly pure excitement at trying something so out-of-the-ordinary.
And in my eyes, this is such a natural flavor combination. The savory oil adds a wonderful balance to the slightly fruit-forward French dark chocolate that I use in most of my confections. To match the sensory expectation when someone hears of oil, I tried out a new (and somewhat old) technique called slab ganache. It’s very similar to my piped ganache recipes, however, because you are not agitating the ganache constantly with your hands as you work, the fat emulsion is allowed to form very long chains. This gives a longer, silkier mouthfeel to the recipe.
The oil that I use is from Calivirgin which exclusively uses olives grown on their own land in Lodi, California. The rosemary is added during the pressing of the olives for oil with bright and consistent rosemary flavor throughout.
This flavor, like all of our monthly special flavors of chocolates, is only available during the calendar month of August 2016. You can ask for it specifically in any box size, just leave a note for us on the order screen. And of course, you can come by and try it out. It will change how you think about chocolates!
Oh and here's a bonus inspiration photo which was of a wonderful organic vanilla soft serve ice cream with olive oil and large flaked sea salt that I had from Old Town Tap in Truckee, California after a long hike about a month ago.
Sugar Love Chocolate's Release Party for the 2016 Artist Collection was this past Tuesday, July 12th. The Artist Collection features the work of five Reno area artist on the top of five unique recipes. Each confection was crafted to match the interpreted mood of the artwork or the tastes of the artist for a truly unique box of chocolates. These limited edition boxes will be available for purchase in the retail location and online until the end of July 2016.
A three-piece jazz band created an amazing atmosphere for the event which was held in the Basement of the Old Post Office. Roughly four dozen attendees mingled with artists while trying the chocolates for the first time and sampling delicious small bites from Blend Catering. Five wines from Southern Wine were paired with each creation (and some Arnold Palmers for those of us spending the night sober).
It was the launch party for the Artist Collection and yet it felt like a celebratory finale for me. This was a major project and expense to take on, especially when I gave myself such little time to get it together (note to future self: take like three or more months, not five weeks, to get this done!). If you are interested in future events like this, make sure to stay in the loop by signing up for our newsletter!
Enjoy some of the photos taken on that day!
Every month, I love to create a new recipe for the store. For June, with Father's Day coming up, I made the Maple Bacon truffle. Because dads love bacon, right? And I know they love chocolate as they tell me all the time - it's helpful having a store next to a great barber.
And yes - it has bacon in it! I use a slightly dehydrated bacon that's in small diced chunks. The maple syrup (which also acts as this recipe's preservative) is boiled for two minutes to reduce the amount of water for a stronger maple flavor. The two are then mixed into a milk chocolate ganache made from the Belgian milk chocolate.
The result is a warm flavor with the taste of maple first and then the last flavor is of the bacon as you chew its texture. It's an interesting one for sure! And only available during June 2016 and by special order after July 1st.