To launch of our couture dragees I've spent a great deal of time in our small but perfectly formed panning room overseeing the making of these pastel coloured sugared babies. Although sugared almonds are easily available to buy industrially, we have always refused to do so and have invested time, love and capital to pan in-house. Panning is essentially engrossing or finishing round products with chocolate or sugar. Whereas moulding and centre making are an exact science regulated by viscosity, temperature and water activity, panning is an art and a dying one on an artisan scale. I know very few chocolatiers who still pan with chocolate and hardly any who pan with with sugar too.
Panning dates back to Egyptian time and is, for me, one of the most sensual ways of making chocolates. It's all about watching, hearing and feeling the products. I can tell simply by walking near the pan if its speed needs adjusting, just from the sound that the products revolving inside make. The rate of engrossing will vary with the outside weather both in terms of temperature and humidity. Running your (clean!) hands through the pan is often the best way to decide when to add more chocolate or sugar. Panners are people who love their job and have learnt to interpret the language of the pan. Panning in house gives us the freedom to be creative and luxurious by using the best ingredients.
Our couture dragees drag candied almonds into the modern world of chocolate. We source roasted Italian almonds, pan them one ladle at a time with chocolate flavoured with natural flowers distillate. We rest then for 24 hours to allow the chocolate to crystalise then pop them back in the pan for sugar coating. Sugar coating chocolate products is slow by nature. To dry the sugar faster as much heat as possible needs to be applied. But apply too much heat and you end up with a big melted mess, one giant ball of 50kg of agglomerated chocolate, almonds and sugar. Been there, done it myself! Once the sugar coating is thick enough, natural colours are added to the sugar syrup. The dragees are again left to crystallise for 24 hours in a dry place before polishing. Each of our couture dragees is a work of art and passion. If I could take one chocolate machine on a deserted island, I would take my pan... Assuming there is 3 phase electricity on a deserted island.
Have a sweet sugar-coated chocolatey week. Miss Anne xxx