Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going Green-All Natural Green Food Coloring

Today I had a major breakthrough with my hard candy line. Natural flavors and colors are usually less forgiving than their artificial counterparts. When making hard candy with natural ingredients, it often requires patience and skill. This is especially true of colors. If color is added at the wrong time or temperature, it can burn off or turn color. In addition, too much stirring to incorporate into a batch can cause crystallization –a fudge like consistency as opposed to that of clear glass. Artificial colors and flavors are far more heat resistant and require less work when folding into a batch.
I have found that green is especially tough to work into hard candy. The colors we experimented with tended to burn off or turn to a strange looking teal or a murky sea-blue. Although, many natural flavors are heat resistant, they do not work well at a heat in excess of 200 degrees. I was able to overcome this obstacle by creating a method of bringing down the temperature while still incorporating the color. The result was a consistent, pretty green piece that retained its clarity. The first green batch I made into sour apple, which I consider to be my second best flavor to date (second to cinnamon-ancho). Tomorrow, I will test a kiwi with a pretty lime green color. Wish me luck!
There are a lot of great flavors that can be used in a green lollipop, make sure to comment if you have any ideas.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Decadent & Affordable Chocolate Martinis

Just read this article on the joys of chocolate liqours on Fox News. I am a big fan of chocolate drinks and chocolate martinis are loved by the loyal 3rd Thursday artwalk fans of Peterbrooke Chocolatier Atlantic Beach. I Thought I would make sure my followers know that good old fashioned Creme De Cocoa will work great in any chocolate drink at a better price. Make sure to invest in really good chocolate to rim the glass.

Perfect Chocolate Martini Recipe
Mix together and pour over ice
2 parts cold vodka
1 part dark Creme De Cacoa
squirt chocolate syurp

Dip martini glass in chocolate syurp and then in dark chocolate shavings
shake liqour mixture and strain into glass.

Thanks John Wilson for the tweet helping me find the article and thanks to Brooke and Seth in Atlantic Beach for all the help testing Chocolate Martinis

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wild Turkey Balls

Turkey balls
My sister Brooke and her husband own the Atlantic Beach Peterbrooke. Though the store is tiny, it has a huge following. The store enjoys support from locals who often have special requests for custom pieces.
This past week, I was working in my sister’s store when she heard from a customer who had one of the most interesting and fun special requests ever. The customer’s daughter is getting married and the groom is from Kentucky. For wedding favors, they have decided to give each guest a chocolate seashell representing the beach and a bourbon ball representing Kentucky. The customer sent us a basic recipe along with some general information on bourbon balls or “Kentucky Colonels.” She asked if we could make some samples for the groom before they order. After all, Kentuckians are serious about their bourbon and balls.
The bourbon balls were made using all fresh, natural ingredients such as butter, confectioner’s sugar, chopped pecans, dark chocolate, and my favorite ingredient: Wild Turkey 101. We soaked the pecans in Wild Turkey overnight, allowing them to soak up the bourbon. The next morning, we thoroughly mixed the nuts, sugar and butter. The mixture went into the freezer to firm up. Due to the bourbon, the mixture never became completely firm. We then used a small scooper to make approximately ½ inch balls. We then dipped the balls into semi sweet dark chocolate. After coating in chocolate, some of the balls were left plain; some were coated in chopped pecans, while others received a half pecan decorating the top of the candy.
The result of our efforts was a flavorful chocolate piece that packed a serious punch. Eat a few of these and you will have more than a sugar buzz. When the groom came in to sample, he said they were the best bourbon balls he ever tasted. He decided to order the bourbon ball coated in chopped pecans.
Over the weekend, I decided to experiment with the recipe. The basic formula could be altered in a number of interesting ways by using other types of spirits, liquors, etc. In this case, I added more bourbon and used a bittersweet coating made by Barry Callebaut. I took the finished pieces to a party where they were a hit.

Turkey Ball Recipe:
12 oz. pecans
½ cup Wild Turkey
1 lb confectioners sugar
1 stick butter
Dark chocolate to coat
Day 1
Chop 8 oz of nuts and soak overnight in Wild Turkey.
Day 2
Mix together butter, confectioners sugar and soaked nuts. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Using a melon ball scoop out the mixture and form round balls. Place the balls on a sheet of waxed paper.
Dip in tempered chocolate & either place a whole nut on top or coat the entire ball in chopped nuts.
Presentation: Place all of the balls on a platter. The platter looks best when some balls have no nuts, some are entirely coated and some have only a single nut on the top.

Enjoy and do not serve to children!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today I have been experimenting with caramel. My goal is to create 2 different kinds of caramels –one to cover in chocolate and the other a caramel chew. The caramel chew needs to be firmer then the chocolate dipped caramel. The firmness of caramel is largely determined by the temperature the batch is allowed to reach. For each recipe, I use all fresh, natural ingredients. Butter, heavy cream, and sugar were the basic components.
Generally speaking, caramels are variations of boiled sugar enriched with cream. As the solution cooks, the protein in the dairy reacts with the sugar, creating a rich golden brown color. Caramels often call for what is known as an “interfering agent” or syrup solution to prevent graining. Most call for corn syrup. Today I used honey from local bee keeper, Bee Pa on Lem Turner Road. The honey imparts a complex and interesting flavor. It is especially good when it is paired with sea salt.
I’ve had a lot of input from family and friends and none of them seem to agree on what they like the best. Some people like soft caramel, some like it very chewy. Some like sea salt, some like it with a hint of rum or espresso. It looks like I have a lot more caramel making and tasting to do. Please let me know about your favorite caramel so I can incorporate it into our Sweet Pete’s caramel.
I look forward to hearing from you…my son loves all the tasting, his teeth not so much.