Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Chocolate Opinions Are Requested

It’s almost that time again. CocoaRoar time, that is. Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?!

I’m remembering the email I sent out a year ago today announcing the launch of CocoaRoar, my little homegrown chocolate truffle company, and you can not even imagine how excited I was about it. For years I had been on a mission to create the truffle of my dreams, one that combined the finest chocolate with exquisite flavors that enhanced the chocolate even moreso. This dream truffle had to have silky texture inside and a shatteringly thin coating of extra bittersweet chocolate which would not detract from the beautifully flavored ganache inside.

Many of you participated in my countless chocolate experiments over the years, in which I tested different truffle-making methods and endless varieties of flavors on enthusiastic friends and musical colleagues. I had years of refining my technique and focusing my flavor profiles, and I was encouraged by so many of you who kept urging me to make these bonbons available as gifts. After a chocolate epiphany or two of my own in 2007, I finally decided that I was ready. I announced myself to you all as CocoaRoar a year ago tonight, and I could not have imagined what an incredible ride I had in store for me!

Twelve months and approximately 6,000 truffles later, I am STILL excited about making truffles for all of you in these coming weeks. I am glad that I have limited myself to doing this seasonally, as I love playing the violin too much to ever go full-time into the chocolate business! By only doing this for isolated weeks around holidays, it allows me to thoroughly enjoy my truffle-making without becoming burned out. My absolute favorite childhood book was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so you can only imagine how CocoaRoar is my childhood fantasy come to life!

Last year’s learning curve was steep, but I am feeling much more calm about production this time around since I have a much better idea of what to expect. I have spent the last few days preparing to turn my 1-bedroom apartment into an honest-to-goodness chocolate factory. I have ordered more of my signature red boxes, as well as a hefty assortment of gorgeous Valrhona chocolate in bulk, and I’ve already begun cutting tissue paper to line the boxes in advance. Flat surface areas have been cleared off, providing plenty of space for trays of freshly-dipped truffles to rest while the chocolate sets. The kitchen will get a most thorough scrubbing in these next days, but the pots and pans which normally live on my stove have already been transferred into the oven, since I probably won’t even have time to turn on the oven once during the entire time of truffle production. (It’s not quite as bad as Carrie Bradshaw storing sweaters inside her oven, but nonetheless, that’s Manhattan kitchen life for you, using whatever storage space you can find!)

The one thing I have NOT done, however, is send out the official email announcing this season’s flavors. I really must do that over the weekend, but the truth of the matter is that I CAN’T DECIDE which flavors to make this time around!!!! With over 40 different truffles in my repertoire, I have so many favorites, and I really struggled last year to narrow it down to ten flavors for my inaugural truffle launch.

I’ve since realized that ten flavors are a lot for me to juggle at one time, but SIX is the perfect number. (A small box has six truffles and a large box has twelve.) I am definitely doing an Extra-Bittersweet truffle, as well as the Raspberry Earl Grey which is one of my long-time favorites. But as for the other four possible flavors??? I’m in a quandary. And this is where you come in.

Would you do me the favor of responding to this post and sharing your chocolate opinions with me? I invite all of you readers to write a comment in the appropriate section and vote for your Favorite FOUR Flavors from the following list of possibilities:

CARAMEL WITH SEA SALT: not a gooey caramel (which has never been my thing anyway), but instead this is a bittersweet ganache deepened with caramel and sea salt, dipped in extra bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt flakes

PEANUT BUTTER WITH SEA SALT: bittersweet/milk chocolate ganache blended with peanut butter and a dash of fine sea salt, dipped in extra bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt flakes

CHILE&CINNAMON: bittersweet ganache heightened with a spicy little kick of ancho chile, chipotle chile, and cinnamon

SAFFRON: deep milk chocolate ganache kissed by imported Spanish saffron threads and a touch of honey

FRESH MINT: bittersweet chocolate ganache infused with fresh spearmint leaves

GINGER: bittersweet ganache steeped with fresh ginger

JASMINE: bittersweet ganache beautifully perfumed with exotic jasmine flower tea

LAVENDER: bittersweet ganache infused with fresh lavender buds

GRAND MARNIER: white chocolate ganache enlivened with Grand Marnier and fresh orange zest, dipped in a thin coating of bittersweet chocolate

LEMON-BASIL: white chocolate ganache infused with fresh lemon and fragrant basil, dipped in bittersweet chocolate

I know, it’s painful to narrow it down to four! You see why I’m in such a dither?! I am grateful to hear your thoughts, and I will take all opinions into consideration! In the meantime, I leave you with promises of beautifully decadent chocolate truffles to come…

A somewhat hilarious photo of me with the MGM lion from 11/17/06 which eventually contributed to the name CocoaRoar on 11/17/07...


Fred said...

Hey Louise,

Here are my four votes:

Caramel with Sea Salt
Peanut Butter with Sea Salt
(basically i'm a sucker for anything with sea salt, apparently)
Chile & Cinnamon (this is the one of yours i ate a few weeks ago and loved)
Grand Marnier

Can't wait to see the results!

Susan said...

OK, Louise, here's my faves:

Caramel with Sea Salt
Peanut Butter with Sea Salt
Grand Marnier

I'm gettin' myself a BIG box this time....can't wait!