Hello and good day!
We've got an internal debate raging here at Fortunato Chocolate.
The controversy is over sea salt caramel turtles.
If you'd have told me when I was studying to get a Master's Degree in Accounting that someday I would spend hours per week pondering sea salt caramel turtles....I'd have thought that my life ended up turning out much better than I was planning.
We've been making our sea salt caramel turtles for over a year now and besides our 68% dark chocolate, they are our number one seller. They are popular online and in our stores.
We can barely make enough to keep up with demand and we run out in the stores frequently. The upside to that is that you know they are fresh when you buy them.We don't accumulate inventory of the turtles.
To recap how we make them, we use our 47% dark milk chocolate, organic pecans, and caramel that we make from scratch in-house. Our caramel has improved over time and is now better than ever in my humble opinion.
We use honey instead of corn syrup in the caramel and we make the caramel fresh every couple of days.
With that out of the way, allow me to tell you about the principal complaint against our turtles. The main problem folks express with the turtles is that there is not enough caramel.
Before I address that, allow me to say this. Caramel is not an expensive ingredient. It wouldn't impact our finances substantially to triple the quantity of caramel, as some customers have suggested.
I read customer reviews obsessively and I have seen this very specific suggestion several times. Triple the caramel. Tripling is a very precise recommendation.
Pecans and our chocolate are much more expensive than the caramel as ingredients. And it wouldn't add more work either. Putting caramel on top of a turtle is the same motion, regardless of how much caramel you scoop up with your fingers.
I've noticed that the people making this suggestion have been very complimentary about the other ingredients and about the caramel itself. They like the whole thing, but they want more caramel.
As a result of seeing these comments multiple times, I have been conducting research on the issue. I've asked our team members what they think.
I've asked some of our longest-term customers for their opinion.And I've eaten about 50 turtles myself over the last couple of weeks. Internally, it is more or less a split. Some people would like more caramel and others want to leave it the same.
Our long-term customers overwhelmingly think that we should not mess with success. They love the turtles exactly how they are. As for me personally, I like them how they are as well.
Here is why.
Our chocolatier Javier does an excellent job of balancing flavors. He does it intentionally and he does it successfully. Such is the case with the turtles.
Tripling the caramel, or even doubling it, would wash out the chocolate and the pecans. After conscientiously eating 50 turtles I feel certain of that. However, with our current formulation, you run the risk of taking a bite in the center and biting away most of the caramel. You have to bite carefully and distribute the caramel with each bite.
But when you do that, I think that the amount of caramel is just perfect. We could thinly spread the same amount of caramel over the turtle, but then you wouldn't get a gooey bite, which is part of the fun.
Also, let me say this.
We make the turtles by hand. We don't have any machines in our small kitchen other than chocolate melters and a mixer we use to make mint patty filling.
We have 4 people who are trained to make turtles and I admit that each has their own way of doing things. Some lay out a tray of pecans first and then add caramel and then add the chocolate. Some make one at a time.
Some use a spoon to scoop the caramel. Some use their hands (wearing gloves of course). We could force them to all do it the same way, but this individuality is part of why making hand crafted items is fun.
The shape and caramel amount may vary slightly from bag to bag, although the amount of caramel to be used is prescribed according to the recipe, which was created by Javier.
Given all of the above, we are going to keep our recipe the same.
You can't make all the people happy all the time. Sometimes hard decisions must be made.
And I don't take a decision about sea salt caramel turtles lightly. I'm not being facetious when I say that. I want these to be as good as they can be.
Please allow me to offer this tip for enjoying our turtles. Eat them methodically, taking a little bit of the caramel with each bite. If you do that, the three ingredients, the caramel, the chocolate, and the pecans blend perfectly, and you can taste the right amount of each.
Thank you for giving me a moment of your time today and tomorrow we'll be rolling out a new product, which I am very excited about.
Mango, Ginger, Dark Chocolate Nuggets.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!