Anybody have any requests?

Based on the results of my poll, i'm only going to offer 4 flavors. I've decided on two of them - passion fruit/honey and white chocolate/lime. I have yet to decide if I want to coat the white chocolate lime in white chocolate or dark chocolate. The white will certainly make for a dramatic looking piece, but white chocolate is an incredible pain in the neck to work with. On the other hand, i have 22+ lbs of it, so I should use it. And then there's the flavor balance - the dark chocolate can help balance the sweetness of the white (although that's nicely balanced by the acidity of the lime, which is why i like this center so much). The only real way to tell is going to be to make a mini batch and test it out, so I'll do that soon.

That leaves two flavors up for grabs, thus the call for requests. Could be a flavor i've made before, or a new flavor you'd like to see me try. One flavor will be molded, and the other hand dipped. The hand dipped one is ideal for playing with multiple layers, like the strawberry balsamic I made last year for Valentine's Day, or the peppermint/peppermint marshmallow I made for Christmas. Both will need to be coated in dark chocolate, but centers are more flexible. I already have 50% fruit flavors in the assortment, so I'm biased towards non-fruit options.

Any ideas you give me now will be kept in mind for the upcoming Easter and Mother's Day sales. Easter is right around the corner after Valentine's Day, so i'd love to get a headstart on my decision making for that round.

(For reference purposes - Valentine's Day last year i made passion fruit, strawberry balsalmic, hazelnut praline and salty caramel.)

Poll time!

Dec. 21st, 2007 08:10 am
[Poll #1109620]

If the selection of flavors greatly influences your purchasing decision, I'd appreciate some expansion of that in the comments, particularly in terms of how it interacts with the number of flavors offered.

Ponderings on package size and flavor distribution )
Fifty-one. That's how many different kinds of chocolate I have on hand right now. Most of those are in bar form, recently ordered for tasting and sampling. I try to taste chocolate regularly, keeping my eyes (and tastebuds) open for interesting varieties of chocolate to use for chocolate tastings or in a new filled chocolate.

If you're a little boggled at the idea of 51 kinds of chocolate (and really, so was I when I counted them all up!), it's a sign of how far the world of fine chocolate has come. Those 51 different kinds include offerings from 10 different producers. They include blends at different cocoa percentages, as well as single origin bars (from a particular country) and single plantation bars (from a single grower in a single country). Some features that used to be exclusive to the category of fine chocolate bars - like naming the origin or the type of cocoa bean - are now appearing on supermarket chocolate bars. There's so much variety out there that it's a great time to be a chocolate lover. But it also means that it's even harder to judge a bar by its packaging and more important than ever to taste. Want to learn more? Contact me for information on booking a chocolate tasting event!

If the number 51 still seems like too much, don't worry! How about the number 6? That's the number of special flavors you'll find in my holiday offerings. And another important number is 15 - that's the number of days left to place your order in order to qualify for ground shipping before Christmas!

Wishing you good tastes,
Tammy
Upon looking at my chocolate stash downstairs and realizing that I had not 10 new chocolates left to try, as i had previously wrote, but 23! (and 6 that i've already tried and will want to revisit), i decided i'd better get on it. Even though my nose and palate are probably not at their full capacity because of the cold.

Which is probably for the best really, as I wasn't thrilled with the bunch I tasted tonight... The first four were Dagoba organic single origin bars. All were dry and gritty in texture, and two of the four were really flat in flavor. The next three I tasted were from Chocovic, and they were generally better. Texture was much improved. One of the three I found quite interesting, and the other two were okay.

I will taste them all again in the future, so I can revisit my impressions and see if I pick up anything new. When I taste again, I want to recruit Eric or someone to help me taste blind, so I can compare across my previous notes and see if I can remember which is which. I need to get much better at building up my chocolate vocabulary. I also want to do some same region tastings - all the Madagascars, for example - so I can start to get better at seeing the commonalities across brands within a single region.

I just realized that I probably have at least 35 or 40 different chocolates in my house right now. Let's see if i can figure it out without going looking:
6 Ameidi (single origin dark tasting squares)
6 Domori (single origin dark tasting squares)
3 Chocovic (single origin dark bars)
4 Dagoba (single origin dark bars)
10 Pralus (single origin dark tasting squares)
3 Valrhona (single origin dark bars)
10 Michel Cluizel (6 bars - 5 single origin dark, 1 single origin milk, then 4 in pistoles for chocolate work - 2 strengths of dark, a milk and a white)
1 Scharffenberger (blended dark bar)
1 Vintage Plantations (single origin dark bar)
4 E. Guittard (pistoles for chocolate work - 2 strengths of dark, a milk and a white)

So that's... 51! Wow. Craziness. Most of these I bought recently in a big order from Chocosphere. I want to start buying individually wrapped squares for my chocolate tastings, so I bought (at least) one of everything they have available in that format so that I could figure out which ones to use. Others are leftover from my recent chocolate tasting, or things I have on hand for chocolate work.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are enjoying your long weekend. Instead of heading out to the crowded shops today, why not do your holiday shopping at Tammy's Tastings?

For the creative cook, consider a pre-Christmas gift that will keep giving for years to come! I've still got a few spots available in my December 8th truffle-making workshop. The deadline for registration is December 4th, and space is limited. Participants will leave with at least two dozen truffles and the know-how to make their own.

Your favorite foodie will be thrilled to receive a gift certificate for a customized tasting event. Chocolate, wine, cheese, bacon - the possibilities are endless.

For the coffee lover, I've teamed up with Ann Arbor's own Mighty Good Coffee to create a special truffle that highlights their excellent coffee. The Mighty Good Truffle is available in my holiday assortment, on its own, and in a combo pack with two 12-oz bags of Mighty Good coffee.

U of M alumni and natural history lovers alike will appreciate the Puma Box. It includes two dark chocolate truffle pumas shaped just like those that frame the entrance to the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History. $5 from the purchase of each box will be donated to the museum.

For the kids, or just your inner child, how about a dozen homemade peppermint marshmallows? These don't taste like what comes out of a supermarket bag! Try popping one in a mug of hot chocolate, or toasting it in your fireplace for a s'more Santa would love.

Show your employees or clients how much you appreciate them with a box of chocolates from Tammy's Tastings. Contact me for special pricing on orders of 10 boxes or more.

For everyone else on the your list, visit my holiday order page for large, medium and stocking stuffer sized gift boxes featuring six special flavors (Egg Nog, Intense Orange, Butter Nut Caramel, Mighty Good Coffee, Fresh Ginger and Peppermint Twist).  Shipping is available throughout the US and Canada.  Orders to be shipped must be placed by December 14.

Wishing you good tastes,
Tammy
If you were wanting to order smaller than bulk quantities, now is the time. I will have extras from this weekend's production. There are three flavors - pumpkin pie, cranberry, and salty caramel. Usual prices apply - $20 for 12, $12 for 6, discount if you supply your own box/packaging.

Edited to add: I also have marshmallows - pumpkin pie and apple cider. They are $8 for a dozen or $4 for six.

I got a nice compliment from my friend/colleague Sarah tonight. She said that my chocolates are definitely expensive, but that she always feels like she gets her money's worth. Nice.
90-odd coffee chocolates have been wrapped in cellophane, tied with ribbon, and attached to a little card. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eviljohn and our neighbor Nancy for participating in the assembly line.

200+ other chocolates were made too. Unfortunately, one whole tray of my pumpkin pie chocolates (32 pieces) are "seconds" - the chocolate wasn't quite warm enough, and they have a LOT of surface holes. If anyone wants some seconds, let me know - I'm selling them for $1 each. [livejournal.com profile] tlatoani - these are the same ones you loved from the Halloween set, in case you want some more...

I still have a bunch of things to do to get orders completed and shipped before i leave for Denver on Tuesday. But now, i need to sleep before i fall overs, so those things will just have to wait...
Happy Day after Halloween! I hope you had a night filled with spooky fun. I made up little bags of pumpkin pie and apple cider marshmallows and they were a big hit with the kids, who loved getting something a little different in their bags.

Moving onto our next holiday - have you noticed that Thanksgiving comes early this year? It's just 3 weeks away! Thanksgiving is such a busy day in the kitchen. So this year, why not make dessert easy, with a tray of beautiful and delicious chocolates from Tammy's Tastings? I'm offering a special promotion of bulk chocolates for Thanksgiving in three seasonal flavors:

Pumpkin Pie - Milk chocolate ganache with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices, in milk chocolate.
Salty Caramel - Sea salt makes for a perfectly balanced creamy caramel center that's not too sweet. Covered in dark chocolate.
Cranberry - Dark chocolate cranberry ganache with dried cranberry bits. Covered in dark chocolate

The minimum order of two dozen (mixed or your choice), and they'll be simply packaged in a plain box, perfect for putting out onto a tray for an after dinner treat.

Prices: 2 dozen: $35 (compare to $40 for my usual offerings) each additional dozen: $15

And remember those marshmallows that I mentioned in the first paragraph? They're on sale too! Just $8 for a dozen homemade, handcut marshmallows, in two flavors - spiced apple cider and pumpkin pie.

As usual, you can place your order by emailing me at tammylc@tammystastings.com or calling 734-276-3215. If you need your order shipped outside of the Ann Arbor/Metro Detroit area, I'll need to receive your order by 5 pm on November 9 to be sure you'll receive them on time. For local pickup and delivery, please place your order by November 15. Chocolates will be available for pickup on Monday, November 19.
I just made a batch of pumpkin marshmallows, flavored with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices. Tomorrow i'm going to make a batch of vanilla. I'm going to cut the pumpkin ones into pumpkin shapes and the vanilla ones into ghost shapes. Assuming all goes well, the plan is that I'll package them up in plastic bags and include them with Halloween orders as a preview for future potential marshmallow offerings...

The pumpkin ones taste good. I'll probably include some extra pumpkin pie spice in the dusting powder to kick it up a notch.
And my Thanksgiving and Christmas ones too...

I ordered a random ten pack of transfer sheets from ChefRubber with some other things i needed to order, and it came in today. My random pack turned out very well - i got ghosts and jack o'lanterns and fall leaves and snowflakes and Santa Claus! I also got some shamrocks, and several other nice colorful and not occasion specific patterns.

Now I have to decide if this changes my plans at all for the chocolates. The only piece I have planned that's suitable for a transfer sheet is the PB&J - I was planning to top that with a half peanut, but now I'll use the ghost transfer sheet instead. It would make sense to do the pumpkin pie one with the jack o' lanterns, but I'd need to modify the recipe to work as a slabbed ganache instead of a filling for molded chocolates. And do i really want to dip 3 different kinds of chocolates (i'm also dipping the coconut, but those will get rolled in coconut and thus don't qualify for a transfer sheet)? Not really. So i think i'll just hang onto that sheet until next year.

Depending on how orders go, i might use the fall leaves for Thanksgiving.

I also got some texture sheets, and i need to learn more about different ways of using those.
I need to finalize my line ups for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please tell me what you think of the flavors I've picked, and suggest others to fill in the gaps.

Edited to add: Flavors do *not* need to be seasonal. Some seasonality is good, but I'm more interested in things that taste good instead of being contrived. They also don't need to be new. If I've made a flavor before that you really liked and think I should offer again, let me know.

Thanksgiving
For sure - Salty Caramel (dark) - probably my most popular flavor
Maybe - Pumpkin Pie (milk) - I'm doing it for Halloween, so i'm hesitant to do it again at Thanksgiving. But it would be seasonally appropriate
?? - one more flavor TBD - any suggestions or requests?

Christmas
Egg Nog (white)
Champagne (dark) - champagne truffles are actually flavored with Cognac, not champagne
Butter Nut Caramel (dark or milk?) - chunks of toasted almonds in a buttery caramel
Intense Orange (dark)
Coffee (dark) - on the assumption that my partnership with Mighty Good is going to happen
?? - one more flavors TBD. Probably a milk, especially if the butter nut gets dipped in dark. Suggestion or requests?
Here's my little e-newsletter I sent out to my mailing list this week. Note the reminder of Halloween orders, as well as my announcement of the December truffle workshop. Let me know if you'd like to order truffles or sign up for the workshop!

***

After a week of record-breaking heat earlier this month, fall has finally come to Michigan! One my favorite things about fall is the return of all my favorite fall flavors - like pumpkin pie, apple cider and donuts, and Halloween tricks and treats. I hope you'll enjoy some of my favorite fall flavors with my annual Halloween Candy for Grownups sale. Email me by Sunday, October 21 to place your order.

After Halloween, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to cook your Thanksgiving turkey this year, and whether to use your Aunt's cornbread stuffing or your Grandmother's classic bread stuffing. With so many things to figure out for Thanksgiving, why not make dessert easy? Look for my email in early November announcing a sale on bulk chocolates for Thanksgiving. No pretty packaging, just pretty chocolates, ready to put out on a tray for an after dinner treat your family and friends will be sure to enjoy!

In December I'll begin taking orders for chocolates to meet all of your holiday gift giving needs. Think of Tammy's Tastings for family, friends, and employee or customer appreciation gifts too!

If you prefer to create your own care packages, or just want to leave something special out for Santa on Christmas Eve, I've got something planned just for you! On the afternoon of Saturday, December 8th, I'll be offering a truffle making workshop. Attendees will:

- learn to make ganache (the creamy center of a truffle)
- learn to form truffle centers
- learn to temper chocolate
- practice dipping and decorating centers I've prepared in advance

Registration is $50 per person for this two-hour hands-on workshop, and you will leave with at least 24 finished truffles, the ganache you made (suitable for rolling or dipping the next day), plus detailed instructions and recipes for doing it again at home. Email me today for more information or to reserve your spot - there are only 8 spaces available, so sign up early!

Wishing you good tastes,
Tammy
Thanks to everyone for all the feedback and suggestions. My Halloween order page is up on my website now, please visit http://tammystastings.com/halloween2007.aspx if you'd like to place an order!
When i did that chocolate tasting for the small group of women a few weeks ago, i pitched them on the idea of doing a chocolate truffle making workshop in December. I sent them a proposal, and just heard back from them that they do, in fact, want to do it.

So that's very cool. Now I just need to figure out what dates i can offer them in December.

In other news, I need to finalize my Halloween flavors. Because of my decision to simplify my boxes - offering 6 or 12 instead of 4, 8 and 12 - I need to have either 3 flavors or 6 flavors. So far I know i'll be making caramel apple (apple flavored caramel in dark chocolate), coconut ghosts (dark chocolate coconut ganache dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in coconut), and pumpkin pie (milk chocolate with pumpkin puree and spices in milk chocolate). 3 seems like too few, so I'm trying to think of 6. I had been thinking about doing PB&J (milk chocolate peanut butter ganache and raspberry jam). And I've been pondering some sort of double layer piece with marshmallow and ganache. And then there are my many previous flavors that could get rotated into the mix.

As my potential buyers, do any of you have opinions or requests? Flavors do not need to be tied into the occasion (Halloween) - it's nice to have some seasonal flavors, but i don't need all of them to be.

Thanks for the feedback!

Chocolates

Sep. 10th, 2007 12:54 am
Nine flavors = too many.

I worked at home for an hour or two last night. Then headed into the kitchen this morning for 5.5 hours. Then back after Liam went to bed for another 4 hours. I have everything done except for the white chocolate lime bonbons - I have the shells made for those, but I still need to make the ganache, fill them and back them off.

The lemongrass-coconut ones didn't work out so well. The milk chocolate hazelnut cinnamon ones don't look great - i used copper luster dust, which looks great against dark chocolate but kind of strange against milk. My new passionfruit filling (with honey) is amazing.

Now, sleep. Liam is going to wake me up in 6 hours - if I'm lucky.

Yum.

Sep. 3rd, 2007 10:33 pm
Espresso marshmallows make the best smores.

The first words I said upon tasting the espresso marshmallow goo was "these will be really good dipped in chocolate." I didn't get around to dipping marshmallows today, but I did make some homemade graham crackers and took those and my marshmallows and some good dark chocolate over to the common house for a little potluck dinner. We toasted the marshmallows over the flame of the gas stove - homemade marshmallows get wonderfully melty. And as I suspected, the chocolate made the espresso marshmallows that much better. I wasn't thrilled with how my graham crackers turned out, but they were okay for a first attempt.

Now my brain is awash with marshmallow combinations for chocolate. My two favorite ideas right now are Cappucino - milk chocolate coffee ganache with espresso marshmallow, dipped in milk chocolate and Raspberry - raspberry pate de fruit and raspberry marshmallow, dipped in dark chocolate. I don't want to go too crazy, though, since marshmallows aren't vegetarian and that's a problem.

I haven't gotten into the kitchen to play in far too long, so it was a nice way to spend the weekend.
I'm working on what flavors to make for my upcoming event. While i'm going to still mostly focus on dark chocolate, because that's my preference, i'm planning to make at least one milk chocolate and one white chocolate piece. For people who like milk chocolate and white chocolate, what truffle/bonbon flavors do you especially like with those?

Thanks!

Chocolate!

Aug. 27th, 2007 01:01 pm
I just ordered my 88 lbs worth of chocolate. Still waiting to hear what the total will be with shipping, but it shouldn't be more than $700, which is less than $8/lb. For a very high quality chocolate (Michel Cluizel). 44 lbs of 72%, 22 lbs of 60%, 11 lbs of milk, and 11 lbs of white.

That should last me for quite a while, unless i get a sudden rush of fall special orders. Which wouldn't be a bad problem to have.
I haven't been offering any chocolate sales in the summer, but I have a special order coming up so I thought I'd do a little one, in case you've been craving some chocolates from Tammy's Tastings.

There are three flavors, all dark chocolate:
Raspberry (organic raspberries in a luscious butter based ganache)
Amaretto (amaretto liqueur)
Thai Basil-Chile (infused with Thai basil and just a little hint of Thai chiles)

Boxes of 6 (two of each flavor) are $12.
Boxes of 12 (four of each flavor) are $20.
Substitutions available by request.

Please email me to place an order. I need to have your orders by Friday, July 27 at noon. Feel free to forward this offer to friends and relatives. Unfortunately, due to weather restrictions, I am unable to ship at this time - just local pickup or delivery.

Thanks!
But I'm just too tired. So I'll go with my original plan and go in tomorrow during the day. I was planning to get some done tonight, because it's supposed to be really hot tomorrow - up to 90 degrees! Although you couldn't guess that from now, when it's downright brisk outside! I only have about 100 pieces to make, so shouldn't be that big a deal. And as always, I need to decide how I'm decorating the damn things. Most of these are one-off flavors for a party, so I can do pretty much anything I want, even use a dedicated design from another chocolate. The buyer wants some with gold luster dust, but I want to get some color in there too. I'm thinking Amaretto with colored cocoa butter, Sambuca with luster dust, and Frangelico topped with a half hazelnut.

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