Monday, January 14, 2008
the flavor-making process
I've been holed up in the kitchen for the past week and a half, trying to come up with brilliant new flavors that will cement LØVE chocolate into your hearts and tastebuds forever. Last year, work circumstances prevented me from having a big Valentine's, and I'm hoping to reverse that this year.
Before I get to the big flavor reveal, I thought I'd get a little more in-depth with the process of creating a new flavor. There are a few necessary factors that must be considered - obviously, it needs to taste good, it should be either a classic combination or an innovative one, and it has to have the staying power to last about a month.
Let's start with taste. It's always been my intention to create flavors that are memorable. The first step on that path is good taste. As any good cook will tell you, the easiest way to make a memorable meal is start with high quality ingredients. For me, that means chocolate that revels in its cocoa-ness, the brightest, freshest fruits, and butter and cream from happy, local cows.
After the ingredients are covered, I have to consider the combinations. My main consideration has always been innovation, and unique pairings that work. I don't want an anchovy and lavender truffle... unless it's the most amazing thing you've ever put in your mouth (don't worry, it's not in the works). Instead of being weird just to be weird, I try to think of the flavors that I love, and translate them into chocolate. The easiest example of this is the LØVE Chocolate signature - sea salt caramel. Salty and sweet are satisfying at a primal level - the nuances of fine chocolate and buttery caramel just add to the pleasure.
It's not all about innovation and uniqueness, sometimes the most satisfying taste is the familiar one. When crafting a flavor that has its roots in tradition, it all comes back to the ingredients and the technique. Balancing the individual notes can elevate a classic combination - like chocolate and peanut butter - into something a little more sophisticated, a little more interesting.
The last factor is just as important as the first two. I believe that chocolate candies are the best moments after they're made, and it's my goal to put them in your hands as soon after that as I can. But maybe you have a modicum of self control and don't eat them all as soon as the postman drops them off (I have clients who do, and they may be my favorite people ever). You may also have purchased my chocolate from one of the local retailers who stock it (also on that favorite list). To that end, I'm always considering scientific things like water activity and pH as well as the more creative things. It's not necessary to get into a long explanation - perhaps another day. The easiest thing to remember is that less water = longer shelf life, and more acidic things tend to last longer, too.
All of this is just a big, teasing lead-up to the new flavors...which will be here tomorrow!