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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

New Spring Truffle Collection

Spring CollectionSpring has arrived, which means that at Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, it’s time for our Spring truffle collection! This year, we decided to retire the Spring Teas and redesign the collection from the ground up. For inspiration, I looked to our gardens, to the flavors and aromas that come with the re-greening of the world. I wanted the collection to showcase a wide range of flavors – fruity, herbal, floral and savory – and techniques, including some things we’ve never done before.  The five flavors I developed are: Strawberry Rhubarb, Earl Grey Caramel, Porcini Thyme, Tarragon Carrot and Rosewater Cardamom.

Strawberry_RhubarbRhubarb was a frequent response when I asked friends and family for flavors that meant Spring to them. This red celery look-alike is inextricably linked to strawberries in classic American cooking, and I think the combination is one of the most nostalgia-inducing flavors out there. (Rhubarb and vanilla bean is also a fantastic combo – go home and try it!) For this confection, I separated the rhubarb and the strawberry to give the rhubarb a chance to shine on its own. This is the first layered confection we’ve made here at Hedonist: a rhubarb pâte de fruit (a slightly stiffer jelly) sits on top of a white chocolate strawberry ganache. Rhubarb is surprisingly mild on its own, and it balances nicely with the sweeter ganache below. We like to use local ingredients whenever we can, and the pâte de fruit has a 100% rhubarb wine made by Montezuma Wineries.

Earl_Gray_CarmelEarl Grey was perhaps the flavor I was most sad to leave behind when we retired the Tea Collection. I love the smell of oil of bergamot (a small citrus fruit), and floral-earthy flavor of the tea makes me think of relaxing on a patio amidst a garden in full bloom. This time around, however, I infused the tea into a soft and chewy caramel. The Salted Caramels we make here are a customer (and personal) favorite, and I was excited to riff on that theme. It’s easy to make an infused caramel – simply make tea with the cream before you start, and cook as you would for a plain caramel. I ground the dry leaves to a powder before steeping and left them in the caramel, resulting in a more intense flavor and a slightly unexpected texture. A touch of coarse grain fleur de sel sea salt and a garnish of tea leaves bring everything together in the end.

Porcini ThymeI love using savory flavors and foods from other parts of the meal when making chocolate. After nearly twenty years of assuming that I didn’t like mushrooms, I’m now more or less obsessed with them, and leapt at the chance to work them into a confection. Porcinis are one of my favorites for their versatile, earthy, and quintessentially mushroomy flavor. Sprinkle a little bit of thyme over sautéing porcinis, stick your head in the steam above the pan, and you’ll experience the very aroma I am trying to evoke here. For this ganache, I infused local cream with fistfuls of dried porcinis and a touch of thyme (with a heavy hand, thyme can easily overwhelm other flavors), and blended it Valrhona 55% chocolate and a pinch of fleur de sel. After rolling and enrobing the ganache, I bury the truffles in cocoa powder, which both deepens the flavor and suggests the earth clinging to freshly harvested mushrooms.

Tarragon_CarrotA lot of the flavors we associate with spring – asparagus, green onions, fiddleheads, baby greens – we love because they are fresh and crisp: full of water and bright, raw, green flavors. These aren’t qualities that translate well to ganache, though – we have to carefully control the water content of the centers, and cooking takes the edge off of those fresh veggies. However, it wouldn’t be a proper celebration of spring without vegetables and green flavors! Infusing a semi-sweet ganache with tarragon lends a green flavor with anise undertones that withstands cooking, and carrot contributes a subtle sweetness without too much water. I finish the ganache with a splash of tarragon-infused white wine vinegar, which reinforces the flavors and makes everything brighter. A sprinkle of dried carrot over the finished truffle adds color and texture.

Cardamom_RosewaterFlowers are the sine qua non of spring, and chocolate is an excellent medium for those flavors. The Rosewater Cardamom truffle takes its inspiration from the Indian dessert gulab jamun, in which fritters of condensed milk are soaked in a rosewater- and cardamom-infused syrup. Here, milk chocolate and cream provide the dairy notes, and local orange blossom honey from Doan’s Honey Farm takes the place of the syrup and intensifies the floral aromas. This ganache is highly aromatic, very smooth and gets a little bit of tingle from the cardamom. A filigree of pink-tinted white chocolate evokes rose petals scattered over the truffles.

The Spring collection is available for purchase online or in our Rochester shop.

 
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