June 2011 Chocolate of the Month: Saffron and Wild Lime Bonbons

For posterity and record keeping, I’m making a blog post with each Chocolate of the Month as the month ends.

The Facebook photo album with glorious photos of the June chocolates is here, check it out!

June is the one-year anniversary of the Chocolate of the Month Club, and it’s the first new chocolate we’ve made in our soon-to-be-open-to-the-public shop, so I wanted it to be something special.

The cool, freshly renovated shop (a little more than a month ago it was a dank and dusty laundromat!) inspires calm and creativity, and I spent a quiet afternoon recently playing around with different flavor pairings and enjoying working in the kitchen I’d designed and brought to life. This sophisticated bonbon is the result of my experiments, and its freshness is an homage to the exciting newness in the Lagusta’s Luscious world.

A blend of several different permutations of lime—lime extract, ground wild Persian lime, and fresh lime zest—and the deep, mysterious, luxurious, decadent flavor of super high-quality saffron is folded into a vegan milk chocolate ganache filling. The ganache is lighter than the dark chocolate ganache in our truffles, which shows off the light, bright flavors well. This smooth filling is piped into a cacao pod-shaped chocolate shell, reminding us of the specialness of our pal theobroma cacao.

Club members will receive two boxes of Saffron and Wild Lime Bonbons.

We’ve had a fantastic first year of the Chocolate of the Month Club, and look forward to many more. Thanks for your support!

 

May 2011 Chocolate of the Month: A Pair of Barks

For posterity and record keeping, I’m making a blog post with each Chocolate of the Month as the month ends.

Oh, the Facebook photo album with glorious photos of the barks is here, check it out!
May 2011 Chocolate of the Month: A Pair of Chocolate Barks
Strawberries and Cream Bark
and
Fig and Caramelized Fennel Bark

Strawberries and Cream Bark
More white chocolate! Everyone loved the January white chocolate truffles so much that I knew we had to do more. This sweet, easygoing bark is a swirl of non-waxy, delicious housemade white chocolate and our bittersweet dark chocolate, studded with crunchy bits of freeze-dried strawberries.

Fig and Caramelized Fennel Bark is dark and stormy—rich Calimyrna figs with toasted praline fennel seeds.

And there we go! (We were deep into renovation world in May, so no purple prose this month!)

 

 

 

 

June 2010 Chocolate of the Month: Almond-Strawberry Creams

For posterity and record keeping, I’m making a blog post with each Chocolate of the Month as the month ends (or, in this case, a year later.).

The very first chocolate of the month, one year ago this month! It’s been wonderful, how did I ever live without this fun challenge?

And now, on this beautiful summer day, how nice to remember that very first chocolate. The June 2010 chocolate was a real beauty: Strawberry-Almond Creams. Glorious rich almond cream with bright, beautiful, local organic strawberries folded in, encased in a thin bittersweet chocolate shell. Literally farm fresh.

My mouth is watering thinking about these little dudes. I came across a few tablespoons of the almond-strawberry filling in the freezer recently and I just ate it straight up with a spoon. Delicious.

Pete Taliaferro grew the strawberries, and oh my, they were perfect.

Oh, the Facebook photo album with glorious photos of the almond-strawberry creams is here, check it out! There are a million photos, and they’re super fun.

This one might have to be a seasonal special every year…

September 2010 Chocolate of the Month: Summertime Truffles

For posterity and record keeping, I’m making a blog post with each Chocolate of the Month as the month ends.

Here’s September, a super fun month.

First of all, the Facebook photo album with glorious photos of this month’s chocolate is here, check it out!


September is the last gasp of summer, and I wanted to pay homage to it with a special chocolate that was bursting with ripe summery flavors. I decided on a Mediterranean-inspired truffle assortment box of special bittersweet truffles made with olive oil ganache (the silky smooth interior of a truffle) instead of the usual coconut butter ganache. Extra virgin olive oil makes a soft, rich ganache that is super savory, with a luxurious mouthfeel. There are eight truffles in the September truffle box, with two each of four flavors. As usual, all are organic, handmade, fair-trade, and vegan.

Tomato balsamic: a sweet balsamic vinegar syrup infused with olive oil ganache, enrobed in chocolate and dusted with homemade heirloom tomato powder.
Corn: Yes, there was corn in one of the August Chocolates of the Month, but my corn + chocolate thirst was not quite slaked, so here is a basil-infused olive oil ganache enrobed in chocolate and dusted with homemade corn powder.
Classic: The classic, original truffle: just ultra-smooth ganache enrobed in chocolate and rolled in cocoa powder.
Cilantro: Yep. We did it: a cilantro truffle!! One of my tasters called it “not like chocolate, but like something else entirely. Something AMAZING.” It has faint licorice notes, and an herbal vibe. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, just let me know when placing your order (write a note in the “notes” field of your PayPal order, or email me if you’re in the Chocolate of the Month Club) and we can give you two of another truffle. But unless you have that gene that causes you to dislike cilantro, I’d really encourage you to give this one a try. It’s wonderful in a most weird way. This is garnished with a small chunk of Cyprus black lava flake salt.

March 2011 Chocolate of the Month: Mint Matcha Creams

For posterity and record keeping, I’m making a blog post with each Chocolate of the Month as the month ends.   Here’s March!

First of all, the Facebook photo album with glorious photos of this month’s chocolate is here, check it out!

March! It’s still pretty early for little green things to begin poking their way up out of the ground, but I’m so eager for spring that I decided to make a springy chocolate in March anyway. I wanted something to awaken the senses after what’s been a ludicrously wet and icy winter here in upstate New York. Mint is one of the first plants to come back to life in the garden, and it also really wakes up the taste buds, so I fiddled around with a few types of mint. I use chocolate mint in the Peppermint Patties, so I decided to use peppermint in this bonbon—it’s an entirely different flavor, more zesty and sharp than chocolate mint. I paired it with super high-quality matcha powdered green tea, for a light green color and a wake-up call of another sort. The pairing works really well—the top notes of bright mint and the earthiness and almost grassiness of the matcha, a pale green interior flecked with tea encased in a thin chocolate shell. (If you’re so inclined, it also works for St. Patrick’s Day!) And the English major in me is in love with the alliteration: mint, matcha, March! Mmmmm!

Sooooo…..that’s all true.

But what’s also true is that a few weeks ago a long-time customer emailed me with the idea for this exact chocolate. I wrote back and said thanks for the idea, and I scribbled it down in my little ideas notebook (right next to “scallion ganache???” — not so sure about that one…), and when it came time to test out March chocolates I made about six different things, including the mint/matcha mix, and offered them to friends to taste. It was the clear winner. (Someone is certainly getting a free thanks-for-the-idea box in the mail!). So, this chocolate is perfect for spring, and also celebrates how wonderful all you Bonbons lovers are. I hope you like it!

 

packaging solutions (FREE CHOCOLATE)

Chocolates are a great thing to sell if you’re an out-of-control OCD freak.

They really lend themselves to that sensibility, what with their myriad needs: meltiness, fragility, perishability, tininess.

However, they are not such a great thing to sell if you are a hardcore environmental activist who worries endlessly about the huge amount of packaging materials needed to solve the above problems filling up landfills until the end of time.

I happen to be a combination of both, which means that I worry about packaging pretty much non-stop.

Here are some random thoughts on the Lagusta’s Luscious packaging world. If you slog your way through this, there is a free gift for you at the end!

OK, you have to do more than read, you have to take photos of your orders and send them to me, but…just keep reading. FREE CHOCOLATE!

So here’s the deal.

The bonbons are packaged in GLORIOUS custom boxes that, I think, fit them pretty snugly. We measured everything like a zillion times to make sure they would pack nice and tight. The boxes are also insanely eco-friendly—they’re biodegradable, because they are printed with soy inks and recycled paper. I put one in my compost last fall and it had disappeared in two months. They’re tied with vegetable-cellulose ribbon that’s also compostable. Super rad.

(Oh, and the gift wrap [seen in the photo at the top] is also made of recycled paper and tied with a vegetable cellulose black grosgrain ribbon!)

The truffles, most Chocolates of the Month, and the anatomical hearts (as of yet not online, but—secret trick!—if you want to order a box, just order a box of truffles, {they’re the same price} and in the “instructions to sender” box write that you want the hearts instead!) are packed in bleached white boxes. Sigh. They are recyclable, but that’s about it. My goal is to get custom boxes printed up for them, but these days all my extra business income is being funneled into a GIANT HUGE PROJECT I might be able to announce next week or so (!!!!!!), and this means that we’ll have to live with the regular white boxes for, realistically, probably a year or so, considering how long it takes to get custom boxes designed, printed and…um…saved-up for.

Perhaps needless to say, a printed-out sticker for those heart boxes is coming soon, because MY HANDS CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE.

I think the white boxes take pretty good care of their contents, however. We pack them with a lot of these little cushiony quilted paper pads (OK, they are called “candy pads.” Go ahead and laugh, it’s OK). They mean that we don’t have to do what every other chocolate company I’ve ever seen does and put one of those plastic divider trays into the box. (It also means we can fit more chocos in a smaller box!). The candy pads work pretty well, but if any of you geniuses out there have other ideas on how to pack eco-friendly, food-safe, shipping-safe boxes, I’d love to hear them.

The Big Assortment boxes are packed in larger white boxes, and these are somewhat of a fiasco. Because they are assortments and thus contain chocolates of different heights, they are hard to pack. I think I’ve come up with a good solution, but it involves three big giant candy pads, which adds up to a lot of bleached white padding stuff.

Still, it’s much, much less waste than if we used plastic trays.

Now, one solution to this would be to make chocolates that are not so fragile.

Most other dark chocolate peanut butter cups I’ve ever seen have super thick shells that mean you can basically toss them against a wall and they won’t break (they might break your teeth if they are cold, however. Also, it’s not very sanitary to be eating chocolate you’ve thrown against a wall.). (Or the chocolate shells are “chocolate” made with so many preservatives that they have no snap to them at all, and contain precious little actual chocolate.) Ours have (or, at least, strive to have) gossamer thin shells that instantly yield to your warm mouth. I prefer this gustatory experience—impossibly thin shells are the ne plus ultra of a bonbon to me, and I won’t settle for anything less.

That’s fine, but it means we’re stuck wrapping them like glass.

The other solution we use, in addition to candy pads, is to use a lot of padding in the outer box. Sometimes people complain about it, even though it’s all either reused (upcycled, if you prefer) or completely eco-friendly (seriously, you can eat those cornstarch packing peanuts. I ate one last week. [it was a dare, OK?]).

In my mind, everyone can always use packaging materials (hey and if you live locally, you’re more than welcome to bring them back to me. Then again, if you live locally, why are we shipping your chocolates?), but no one wants to pay for broken and smashed and smooshed chocolates. Whenever I decide we’re overpacking and decide to take a chance with shipping in smaller boxes with less packaging materials, like this smallish box:

this happens:

The physical pain this photo causes me is intense and awful, and truly, I would do almost anything to not have this pain ever again.

(Here is what they are supposed to look like.)

The Post Office is a mean mistress, chocolate lovers! She often does not listen to fragile stickers! (Or….sometimes we forget to put them on because we’re rushing like maniacs because it’s 4:50 and the PO closes in 10 minutes and it’s a 3 minute drive away and WHY WON’T THE PRINTER PRINT THE LABELS? COME ON, PRINTER!)

So until you can all move to New Paltz and buy chocolates from us directly, we’re going to be trying to find a balance between eco-friendliness and chocolate intact-ness. In the next few weeks we’re going to be tinkering around with our packaging solutions, and you, being the one receiving the packaging, can help us tremendously in this.

Here’s the deal (it involves FREE CHOCOLATE):

If you take nice good photos of your chocolate order, then send them to me at chef@lagustasluscious.com, I’ll make a note to either (your choice):

  • Slip two chocolate bars into a padded envelope to send to you ASAP as a thank-you

OR

  • Send you a free box ($12 or $15 box of your choice) with your next chocolate order, as long as you order within six months or so, because otherwise the paperwork to remember the freebies would get annoying.

Sound like a plan? Crowd-sourcing, here we go! And needless to say, if your chocolates arrive looking like those above, we’ll definitely make it right.

Thank you!!!

xoxo

Lagusta