Lemon has always been one of my favorite flavors, and from day one, I knew that I wanted to offer a lemon chocolate of some sort. I just didn’t know that coming up with one would be so difficult.
I started with the obvious, a lemon truffle. There was no doubt that the base of the lemon ganache would consist of white chocolate, but the question was what ratio of lemon juice to chocolate? Too much lemon juice and the mixture of chocolate and juice wouldn’t blend properly. Also, too much juice would raise the moisture content of my candy to potentially dangerous levels and render it more susceptible to bacterial growth. Nothing a refrigerator wouldn’t address, but working under a Cottage Food permit, I didn’t have the option of offering products that required refrigeration. On the other hand, too little lemon juice and it wouldn’t be “lemony” enough. I wanted a confection that proclaimed, “I am Lemon!”
Nothing I tried gave me the lemon kick that I wanted. The lemon ganache itself was properly lemony. But by the time I dipped the ganache in chocolate, the confection didn’t so much proclaim “I am Lemon!” as it mumbled, “My name is…um…um…um…lemon.” Neither a dark, nor milk, nor white chocolate coating worked. Not even fit for giving away to friends or random strangers, my test batches ended up in the trash bin, along with any hopes for a lemon truffle.
Next idea was a lemon marshmallow confection. No such luck, either. The problem wasn’t the marshmallow. Actually, the marshmallow was delicious. Nice and billowy, and best of all, tart. But once I dipped the thing in chocolate—again, I tried dark, milk, and white—the lemon was barely detectable.
Other ideas came, but just as quickly, they went. It seemed I just couldn’t get a lemon candy that would survive a chocolate-dunking without losing most of its lemon identity. Not dipping the candy wasn’t really an option, since I was set on offering box sets of chocolates. Regretfully, I let go of the lemon and moved onto its citrus cousin, the orange.
Again, I started with the obvious, a truffle. My enthusiasm was soured somewhat by my struggles with the lemon and I approached the orange ready for a fight. Surprisingly, there was none. It only took a couple of minor tweaks to come up with a finalized version: an orange milk chocolate ganache surrounding a whole hazelnut, dipped in milk chocolate. I now had the first of my Summer seasonal item, an orange truffle.
Buoyed by this change of luck, I gave lemon another shot. My strategy at that point had become, “When all else fails, make a caramel.” Or, in slightly altered form, “When life refuses to give you lemon truffles, make lemon caramels.” It sounded slightly weird, and I wasn’t sure what would come of it, but that’s what I did. I cooked the lemon caramel to the desired consistency, poured it into a pan, let it cool, and then I cut a piece for a taste. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook that day, January 21, 2017: “Results: Flavor—GOOD! Nice + tart.”
Of course, the caramel had to pass the dipping test. This time, the lemon came out alive and kicking. I did a blind taste test on my ever-willing husband, Chris, having him sample bits of lemon caramels dipped in dark, milk, and white chocolates. I thought for sure the white would be the winner, since lemon and white chocolate are known to be good friends. Chris thought the dark tasted best. I had to agree with him. The white was good but made the confection overly sweet, a quality I’ve never cared for. Milk chocolate was okay, but dark was even better. I finally had my lemon confection.
And that, in 700 or so words, is how my two Summer Seasonal items came about: the Orange Truffle and the Fresh Squeezed Lemonade Caramel. (Like the name?)