I'm currently in the process of developing a new flavor for my truffle business. It's not something I go looking to do, but, the same as it works with musical insights and inspirations, sometimes the idea of a something I haven't tasted before can become as all consuming as something I haven't heard.
Creativity can suck. It can take over your life. I've told a lot of friends that there are levels of musical performance that you simply cannot attain while keeping good mental health. Normal people wouldn't put up with the hours of solitary practice alone, much less the endless indignities and nearly constant job search involved with making a living from music.
Then again, this isn't about music, even though there are many parallels. It's about truffles. If it were up to me, I would concentrate on my personal favorite truffle which is a bittersweet chocolate ganache (that's a French word which means "goddamn that's good!") that is then dipped into tempered chocolate. I would tell people that want another flavor introduced "Look, if you like the idea of a liqueur flavored truffle, get a truffle, pour a glass of your favorite liqueur and enjoy yourself."
There are some things I don't mind adding into the chocolate at all. Things like fresh raspberries, different combinations of spices, and, those liqueurs I was just dissing in the paragraph above.
Chocolate is funny stuff. Say you were thinking about combining the flavor of chocolate with apples. You can find out the same way I did that nothing good happens when you put fresh apple into a ganache, or you can trust me when I tell you that you won't like it. Calvados though, even a very small amount, like around 1/3 cup of it to flavor the ganache to make six dozen truffles will give you a subtle, yet present apple flavor.
I also spent a lot of time developing my recipe for white chocolate truffles. I don't even like white chocolate very much, but, the people that love the stuff love it dearly. I developed my recipe for that because there were people I'm very close to that were finding themselves totally left out of the whole truffle experience.
Around last Christmas, which is when I normally ramp up production at home because if I gave anything but truffles for gifts everybody would be mad at me, a friend on facebook showed me a recipe for eggnog truffles. I looked it over and thought that the recipe he showed me sucked. What I did see was how to adapt my basic white chocolate ganache into something that tastes like eggnog.
So, here we are at the business end of summer, and while I'm making vanilla extract (split and halve a dozen vanilla beans and put them into a litre of good rum, cap it, and wait a couple months) I get this flash, that is suspiciously like a flash I'd get around music (what to play in a song, what instrument to use, that kind of flash) of what it might taste like if at the same time I was infusing the rum with the vanilla flavor I also put in mint, and lime zest.
That was a couple months ago that I started it, and right now the rum infusion is tasting pretty good. I can see clearly how a Mojito flavored truffle might be pretty delightful.
Then, the obsession thing starts. I start to fixate on the fizz, which in a Mojito comes from carbonated water. How can I get that fizz into a truffle? Somebody asked me why the fizz had become so important to me.
I said, "Because without the fizz it's a fucking julep."
Then, finally, another flash. Pop Rocks. Lime flavored Pop Rocks.
Tomorrow or the next day, I'll be writing, and showing with pictures, about making lime flavored pop rocks.
You couldn't expect someone obsessive enough to make his own vanilla extract to settle for stuff off a shelf now could you?