Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Fun Custom Chocolate Project for Deb's Delectables

Recently, I had the pleasure of gaining a new client as well as a pretty cool custom chocolate project. Brittany Allyn, currently on tour with George Jones, had been watching the Deb's Delectables site for signs of life while we were re-doing the kitchen and working on the site's redesign. She sent me a very nice email asking if I would consider making my special butterflies to help promote her new CD. (If you look in the upper right corner of this blog, you'll see one of the butterflies.)

I responded that I'd be happy to take on the project. It's been a while since I've had some fun custom work, and I really enjoy creating and mixing colors.

Brittany sent me a copy of her CD (you should buy it, the music is lovely!) so I could match the color of the butterflies "stained glass" parts to the cover.

Matching the color was quite a challenge for a number of reasons. First, there are many shades of blue on the cover. To account for the range of shades and hues, I matched many of them in white chocolate and made demos against the dark chocolate.

One of the biggest challenges was being able to achieve a true blue, not a blue-green. The main issue there is that most of the really nice food colors are made with water, which you cannot use with chocolate. Chocolate needs an oil-based or powder color. Since I didn't have a lot of time on my hands (more on that below), I drove to Candyland Crafts, to find a powder or a close blue color.

I bought two kinds. One turned out to be more of a green-blue, albeit marked "Blue." The other was a bright blue powder that did the trick when I mixed it with a light violet colored white chocolate I had colored earlier.

Another challenge I encountered while matching the colors was the issue of brightness against the dark chocolate. I really wanted these butterflies to POP! However, all the colors that were closest to the hues on her color really didn't stand out against the dark chocolate. I chose a very close color to the butterfly on Brittany's cover, then I lightened it a bit to stand out against the chocolate. That seemed to work the best.

Then, I made a short movie describing a few choices and sent it to Brittany for her thoughts. She got a big kick out of the use of a video to communicate with customers, and shared the same opinion I had on the brightness factor.

When I'd gotten the go-ahead, I made a large batch of the winning color, so I'd have extra in case of broken butterflies and/or future orders. Then, I carefully painted the interior depressions of the butterfly molds, set the blue, then filled each mold with the dark chocolate. Half of the chocolates were on lollipop sticks, while the others were not.

These butterflies were super-fragile, and some broke during the making (one broke during delivery, but I included extras just in case -- I've been through this before). You can watch a short movie I made about it here.

Earlier that week, my father called to say that my elderly and quite ill grandfather was fading fast, so I knew I was under the gun to get the chocolates done and out the door. The day after I'd finished the chocolates and shipped them to Brittany, my birthday -- March 15, my grandfather passed away. As John and I flew to Florida for the funeral, I prayed that the fragile butterflies would arrive safe and sound in Nashville for Brittany.

When I checked my email this morning (we arrived home last night), she said only one broke, but she happily ate it. "They taste as wonderful as they look," she said. It was nice to hear it. Most of the time, I get, "They're too pretty to eat!"

I hope to make many more butterflies for Brittany, and I hope her album flies to the top of the charts.

If you'd like to see my Picasa Web Album of the project, just click here.


Arfi Binsted said...

You must have a strong will to make such a beautiful butterfly!!

Deb Schiff said...

An iron will, Arfi. ;) Thanks for stopping by!