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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Lemon Quest

Ken - Blackberry LemonadePosted by Ken

My blackberry lemonade truffle isn't finished yet. I've got several prototypes and I'm getting very close, but it's been a long confection in the making, and I wanted to share with you one example of the lengths we go to to meet the precise vision we have for the truffles in our collections.

It needs to be sour. It’s got to have the bite of the lemonade I used to drink with my grandfather and that reluctant sweetness you get from ripe blackberries. The flavor concepts I began experimenting with ranged from syrupy sweet to the deepest depths of bitterevil.

I found a blackberry liquor to work with that spanned the breadth of flavors I wanted represented on that side and set forth on my journey for the perfect lemony kick. Staying true to the ideals of the kitchen, my first thought was, “nothing says ‘lemon’ like a lemon.” So I started by zesting a lemon and combining it with the liquor but it was still too subtle to break through the dark chocolate I wanted to sink it in. It wasn’t sour. Lemon juice is sour. So I squeezed the lemon until there was no juice left and combined it with the liquor like a mad scientist , back and forth, hoping to strike the balance I needed, but every time I got enough sour the blackberry was lost. The other problem with juice is all the water that follows it into the chocolate, and water to chocolate is like eggshells to omelets. I tried dried lemon zest. It tastes plenty lemony but still no citrusy bite, and I used so much it got a little gritty, which told me it just wasn’t happening.

Back to the cutting board. Have you ever eaten a dried lemon? You shouldn’t. They kick hard. Just a pinch of the stuff sends your face into a pucker that will sting every gland in your face. Of course, having said that, it sounded to me like just the thing to give the blackberry enough room for expression without overwhelming my concoction with juice. So I soaked a stack of them in blackberry liquor and left them alone to marinate for a week. I came back expecting magic in the fridge, and after a week’s deliberation the verdict was in: no good. The infused liquor tasted like blackberries and fresh lemon… peel.

I just needed to take the peel out of the equation, right? So I cut the peel away from the dried lemons and attempted to cut them into a powder, and although it actually turned out to be a sticky mess, I can work with that, so I pushed ahead. As destiny would have it, the problem with this approach was that the sour came in finely diced chunks that kept mostly to themselves, such that that if you weren’t chewing on one you wouldn’t know it was there, and if you were, you’d quickly forget everything else in your mouth. I proceeded to flood the ganache with blackberry liquor and though the kick would strike whatever part of your mouth housed the dried lemon, but it made rest of ganache too sweet. I created a delicious fruity mess, but I still didn’t achieve blackberry lemonade.

Time to get out of the kitchen. When I returned next week, I came armed with lemon concentrate, lemon crystals, and frozen lemonade. Boiling down the concentrate almost worked, but it didn’t smell like any lemon I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t fresh, and I couldn’t handle adding the preservatives that made it shelf stable. I broke down, and started looking for citric acid, the magical chemical that makes citrus sting and sour candy punch. Those lemon crystals had it front and center. Born from lemons, removed from its liquid and mixed with sugar, that’s the stuff.

At long last, lemon achieved, but that’s only almost half the battle. So I made a ganache using the darkest chocolate we have in the kitchen, confident I could compete with it, and discovered that the ganache was more bitter than rejection. The good news was that since it defines just the center of the truffle, I wasn’t out of options yet. I enrobed it in a lighter chocolate and blasted the wet shell with lemon crystals until they bounced off, and finally got the lemonade I wanted.

Next time I’m going to bring the chocolate in the ganache down a shade, and we’re ordering some quality fresh blackberry ingredients to try, but with the lemonade and chocolate finally settled, I’m already looking forward to the next creation for my collection.

Dark Chocolate Rice Vinegar & Sea Salt Truffle Rolled in Organic Kettle Chips anyone? Hmmm… maybe I should work on the name for that concept first.

 
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