Cherry Blossoms and Butter Cups
Posted on 15 March 2017
Today we continue our blog series on Ococoa confections by offering some insight into one of the most aesthetically-striking cups in the Butter Cup Collection: the Almond Cherry Cup.
I could spend time during this blog post discussing how delicious this confection is. About how the tartness of the morello cherry jam balances so well with the sweet and saltiness of the almond butter, contrasting both flavors and textures. But mostly I want to talk about the cup's decoration – the eye-catching beauty of cherry blossoms.
In April 2011, I was in Washington DC for a business trip and it happened to coincide with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I had been hoping to attend ever since I first learned about the celebration several years prior. I remember walking toward the park and suddenly finding myself in full view of a vast field of blossomed trees. I gasped, held my breath, and yes, even teared up a bit. It was a stunning, beautiful, and moving sight.
The story behind the festival is just as moving: the trees were a gift from Japan to the United States in 1912. With one small gesture of friendship, the trees have become permanently etched on the shared imagery of the nation's capital in Spring. And each year, the festival commemorates the friendship between the United States and Japan. This year's festival runs from March 15 to April 16, and will be marked by parades, performances, and fireworks. The National Park Service predicts that peak bloom of the trees will be March 19 to 22.
When the time came to choose how to decorate the Almond Cherry Butter Cup, it was an easy decision to adorn the tops with images of these beautiful flowers. People often ask how the gorgeous pattern is added to the chocolates. While I'd like to say that I lovingly hand-paint each one, the truth is that I use transfer sheets. Transfer sheets consist of colored cocoa butter that is printed on thin pieces of acetate (a type of flexible plastic). After we seal the confection with a layer of tempered chocolate, the chocolate is still soft and warm and we can place the transfer sheet on top of it. Once the chocolate cools completely, the transfer sheet is peeled off, leaving behind the decorative pattern of cocoa butter. Liz likes to refer to this technique as "chocolate tattoos." We also use transfer sheets to add honey bees to the Sunflower Honey Butter Cups (discussed here) and other fun patterns to our Truffle and Caramel Bars.
People often say these confections are “too pretty to eat.” So, we say buy two – one for your eyes to admire, the other for your taste buds to admire.