Hello and good day!
At the beginning of this year, I set a goal of putting one new product online per week. We have completely failed in achieving that goal and it is my fault.
The problem is that it was a bad goal in the first place. I set us up for failure.
If you've been following along for a while, you may recall that we didn't manufacture any products until November 2021. For more than a decade we sold nothing but boxes filled with 1.1 pound blocks of chocolate to high end restaurants and chocolatiers.
In November 2021, we rented a small kitchen and our chocolatier Javier came on board and we decided to start making our own confections. From November 2021 until today, our production team has come up with several dozen products that we make regularly for our retail locations.
I really want our website to have most of the products we make for our in-shop customers, but we just don't have the production capacity. We make all of our products by hand and our space is pretty small.I should have realized that before setting the goal, but we all make mistakes.
The only option is to lick your wounds, swallow the embarrassment of being wrong, and keep doing your best. We've been wrong a lot and made a lot of mistakes over our years in business. And we've gotten pretty good at persevering in spite of our errors.
As the heat approaches, we've been wracking our brains trying to come up with a product that we could potentially ship during hot months.
We have purchased a couple of soft serve machines for our shops. We are going to start manufacturing soft serve, using our current products as flavors. We've toyed with the idea of selling soft serve mix online.
If the chocolate were to melt in transit, it wouldn't matter too much because you need to liquify it anyhow. But there are problems with this, the most prominent being that customers need a soft serve machine in their house to use the mix. So we've bailed on that idea--so far. The soft serve will only be available in the shops.
My wife came up with the idea of a cake mix. We've looked at this from every angle and a cake mix seems like it could work. If you want some Fortunato Chocolate in your life during the summer, you could make a chocolate cake.
If some of the chocolate melts in transit, you are just going to mix it into the batter anyhow. Most cake mixes are made with cocoa powder, not whole chocolate. Cocoa powder is made by squeezing cocoa butter out of a cacao bean using a powerful press.
What is left over is called cocoa mass. Cocoa mass is then processed chemically and ground into a fine powder. This blends nicely with flour and gives your cake a nice chocolate color.
Usually though, cake mixes have a very, very generic chocolate flavor. And you end up having to add oil because all of the natural fat has been squeezed out of the cacao bean. to ship a Fortunato Chocolate cake mix would mean separating out the dry ingredients from the chocolate.
We wouldn't want the chocolate to melt into the dry ingredients in transit. Beyond it becoming a soupy mess, there are other problems affecting the chemical reactions in the batter.
So if we sell a cake mix, we'd have to require the extra step of having customers melt the chocolate separately, before mixing it into the batter. Most cake mixes just require you to add eggs and oil and liquid, mix and bake. Ours would be more challenging.
The result would be much better because you are using real, delicious chocolate with cocoa butter instead of vegetable oil or butter as the fat. But it is still extra work.
Javier has been experimenting and it looks like we are going to make some cakes to sell in our shops to see if people like them before we go any further.However, the cakes for the shop are going to be ganache cakes.
A chocolate cake with a layer of ganache in the middle.When I heard that, it got me to thinking that maybe a good product for the summer would be a ganache cake kit. Since it would be a little extra work anyhow to make a better and fancier cake, why not take it one step further and help you make something truly spectacular.
I asked Javier how hard it is to make ganache and he said that it is very easy. My goal is to have a finalized ganache cake kit made with our 68% dark chocolate ready in one month's time.
The dry ingredients for the cake will be in one pouch. The chocolate for the cake and the ganache will be in separate pouches.Customers will have to bring their own eggs and heavy cream to the party.
And we'll include a sheet and some videos to watch with very clear instructions for preparation. Watch out summer parties. There are going to be some impressive cakes on the tables.
On a separate note, yesterday I received some photos and videos from our operations manager, Oscar, out in the northern Peruvian jungle. They had their first sunny day after a week of torrential rains. The dirt roads running out to farms are totally shot.
When it rains heavy for a week like that, the water penetrates the roads so thoroughly that your foot sinks in and the mud grabs your shoes when you walk along them.
This has happened to me many times. You step into the mud, your foot sinks in and gets stuck. You pull and pull until your foot comes out of your shoe. Then you have to look for a place to stand while you bend down and try to dig out your shoe. Of course, the shoe is covered with mud and that has to be managed.
That is just to walk on the roads. Never mind riding a horse or driving a vehicle down the road. This is happening during the heart of harvest season when the fruit on the trees needs to be harvested, bought, and transported.
Here is something to keep in mind about chocolate. A ganache cake is delicious and luxurious. But chocolate is only delicious and luxurious at the very end of the process.
The rest of the time, for seven months or more, the work of bringing chocolate into the world is straight blue collar work.It is physical and grueling work that requires overcoming many logistical obstacles.Only right at the very end do you get to eat it and enjoy it.
And that is why I deeply do not like the idea of fine chocolate being so expensive as to be inaccessible for everyday enjoyment and consumption. Nor do I like the idea of good chocolate only being available in a hoity toity, delicate, snooty environment.
If your shoes get stuck in deep mud on the roads out to cacao farms, then you should be able to enjoy a delicious, high end ganache cake at a summer BBQ without breaking the bank.
So that is what we are working on in preparation for the summer.
Hopefully we can pull it off!I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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