Friday, May 21, 2010

Syrup Service

Velvety smooth and ready for service.

It's milk delivery day at Spro and time to make more chocolate syrup. As I meet people in the industry who ask: "what syrups should I buy?" I always wonder why they just don't make it themselves.

True, it's not easy to make your own syrups. Simple, but not easy. However, it's not a monumental task and when you use really great ingredients, the flavors shine through in a stellar fashion.

But using great ingredients also means increased costs. I don't know how much it is to buy commercial syrups but I know that our ingredients are some of the best we can find. It also helps that we only offer chocolate and vanilla syrups, and not the plethora of flavors that so many coffee shops across America offer.

Gotta have nice labels. Scissor cut, of course.

Chocolate syrup is really quite simple. Just take two cups of heavy cream and heat it in a pan with one cup simple syrup until it starts to simmer.

Perhaps I should note that the simplest way to make simple syrup is to take any container, fill it halfway with sugar, top off with hot water and stir until dissolved. This will give you a roughly 43% sugar simple syrup and can be used as a base syrup for just about anything.

Once the cream and syrup mixture has come to temperature, pour it over 16z of your favorite chocolate (the darker, the better - I think) and whisk it together until smooth. Note: it's going to be easier if you chop a block of chocolate into pieces or use couverture: little round discs or chips.

Whisk until smooth and use as necessary. Refrigerate overnight and use within seven days. Longer term storage is possible via freezing. If you do refrigerate, be sure to place container in a bain marie (hot water bath) to re-liquify the chocolate sauce so it passes easily through a squeeze bottle.

As a side benefit, you can cool the sauce, allow it to solidify, scoop out little ganache balls, bathe in chocolate, allow to harden and voila!, you've made your own chocolate truffles.

This week I'm also trying a little different approach to our vanilla syrup. Utilizing four whole vanilla beans, ends cut and split in half, in a half gallon of simple syrup. I'll allow it to steep in the fridge for about a week before using for service.

Otherwise, I'm just dying to get out into the warm weather again.

Strawberry Affo-Paco

Strawberry Ice cream straight from the Paco Jet.

Opening a new shop and trying to find the time to cram everything that you want to do into it is proving to be a challenge. Coffees need to be cupped, selected and approved for service. New baristas need to be sorted, interviewed, trailed and trained. Signature drinks are begging for development. Alternative beverages are screaming for attention. Makes me wonder how one is supposed to develop a menu?

It's summer and ice cream is on the mind. We have PacoJet. We have a hardening freezer. What we don't have is a service freezer. Turns out that I over-estimated one undercounter space and underestimated the depth of another refrigerator, leaving us with a space that's too small to fit the intended freezer. Screwed.

In-between scouring the internet for suitable workaround freezers, it's time to do something with the stacks of strawberry flats sitting in the lab. Strawberry ice cream and strawberry lemonade come to mind. Heck, come to think of it, how about strawberry lemon sorbet???

But first with the ice cream. Found a good starting point from The Cooking of Joy. No additives or stabilizers, just simple and natural ingredients.

One of the problems with doing multiple tasks is that you get distracted and instead of macerating the one pound of strawberries with 1/4 cup of sugar, I ended up macerating it with 395 grams of sugar - a bit too much...

Strawberry Affogato.

In the end, the mix was a bit on the sugary side and I think the excess sugar gave it what Ilenia describes as a "yogurt like" texture. For the next batch, I'll have to pay closer attention to the sugar.

As an affogato, the strawberry performed very well. It lended notes of butterscotch and candy to the Hines espresso. Burnt caramel and other pleasant notes rounded out the finish. That one might actually make the menu when we get the service freezer in place.