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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Don’t those words just make you smile? A whole conference dedicated to chocolate. I know. It was awesome.

Held in the mildly fabulous Addison Conference Center (that would be in Addison, Texas) it was a chocoholic’s dream. Table after table of truffles, toffee, molded chocolates, “enrobed” chocolates (that would be chocolates that have gone through a chocolate shower, not chocolates wearing bathrobes and bunny slippers), even cocoa beans and cocoa butter.

I tried to take photos but only had my phone, and with my hands full of chocolate and all, they didn’t turn out. Let your imagination run wild.

I tried chocolates with blue cheese in them and chocolates infused with chicory and molasses (from Dude, Sweet Chocolate). There were chocolates with bacon and chocolates with lime centers (Chocolate Secrets). I had what just may have been the best brownies of my entire life (Oh Brownie), amazing homemade marshmallows dipped in dark chocolate from Elegantly Chocolate, a delicious taste from Toffee Treats, and the rest all kind of merged together in a chocolate-induced haze.

I also met some fascinating people who turned their passion for chocolate into a business. I’ll introduce some of them in the coming days. (They’re fun, you’re going to like them.) I was amazed at the number of locals who offer chocolate delicacies, many of them with day jobs who do this on the side. As Sandra Boynton’s classic work tells us, chocolate really is a consuming passion.

Chocolate: The Consuming Passion

A much-thumbed volume in my personal library

Until next time, have a lovely piece of chocolate. Unless, of course, you’re one of those odd people who doesn’t like chocolate. In which case, I’m so sorry. Perhaps some day they’ll come up with a medication for that. The rest of you, make note: the Chocolate Conference & Festival is an annual affair. See you there next year?

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Yes, I just put the words “chocolate” and “flower” together and it was neither a mistake nor an edible creation I whipped up in the kitchen. When I saw this packet of seeds at Wildseed Farms it was a no-brainer. I mean, hello.
chocolate flowers This is their second year (they reseed) and they’re still slightly mind-boggling.
They’re not the most beautiful things in the world–a little sloppy, maybe?–but first thing in the morning the smell of chocolate is intense. Not chocolate like Hershey’s, chocolate like cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa powder, at that. Yum.

And I do like the way they look next to my birdbath:

birdbath & chocolate flowers

Blue & yellow--such a happy color combination

Better Homes & Gardens has a whole slideshow of chocolate plants of one kind or another. I already have two of them–my hot cocoa roses will be featured on a future Friday. BH&G claims chocolate flowers get to be 8 inches tall, but mine are easily three times that high. I’m thinking of adding some cute little trellis-y thing, maybe one of the Eiffel Tower variety, to keep them off their neighbors.

Of course, I’m also thinking of where I could put an entire chocolate garden, but that’s another story. Happy Friday!

P.S. Links provided for your convenience, not a sponsored post.

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On the way to the inner sanctum of Food Network, our new best friend Chef Rob told us about two things we should experience. He didn’t exactly have to twist our arms, since the first suggestion was chocolate.

chocolate

Not just any chocolate: luxury chocolate

Jacque Torres chocolate. These are not your basic supermarket sweets, so the deliberation and decision-making took some time…
choosing chocolates

Decisions, decisions....

We ended up with an assortment, including a mystery chocolate. It was a legitimate mystery, too–not even the girls behind the counter knew what was in it. Every batch includes three flavors and the people who make them don’t tell what they are. We detected hazelnut, caramel, and…a mystery. Then there were chocolates with wine, with salt, with lavender, with…well, I’d better stop before revealing how seriously piggy we were.
more chocolate

We snarfed down two before remembering to pull out the camera

Stuffed with chocolate, the only thing to do was walk it off. Fortunately, suggestion number two was this: High Line park sign It’s a rather wonderful park up above the street… High Line Park railing And when you look south, you can see all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
View of Lady Liberty

It's tiny, but it's out there

The other direction is this fun building… twisted building and along the way, many beautiful flowers. tulip It was a lovely walk and we enjoyed it very much. If you find yourself in the area, stop in for a box of chocolates then take yourself for a walk in the park. And if you see Chef Rob, tell him the girls from Texas said, “Hi.”

P.S. This is how New Yorkers park their cars. The mind (the minds of us from wide open spaces, anyway) boggles.

tall, scary parking structure

How do they get them up there?

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Chocolate

Chocolate. Do I really need to say anything else? As my favorite chocolate shop (Wiseman House Chocolates in Hico, TX) says, “Chocolate is proof that God is good. Very good.”

As I write I’m sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet with my cats prowling around me. According to the radio, there’s a whopper of a storm—possibly including tornadoes—just down the road and headed our way. Charlie is taking our self-imposed isolation personally and rarely lets a moment go by without complaining about it. He’s not happy. Henry’s not happy. I’m not particularly thrilled myself. And the worst part is (aside from that whole imminent danger thing) I’m stuck in here without any chocolate.

What WAS I thinking? Still, it might be for the best. As comforting as chocolate can be, it’s also dangerous—and not just to our hips. It’s so tempting to turn to that dark, delicious flavor for comfort in times of crisis. But really, shouldn’t we be looking for comfort from God? Do you think He might get his feelings hurt if we blow Him off and ask a slice of chocolate cake to solve our problems instead of the One who can actually do something about them?

Ah, but when you put God and chocolate together—each in His/its proper place—that’s a beautiful thing. Remember, He invented that wonderful flavor and it’s only right to show our appreciation?

So here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe: it’s moist. It’s delicious. It has just a touch of cherry flavor. It’s fantastic as a sheet cake or in luscious layers. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy—and remember to give credit where credit is due. Tell God how much you love Him today. He already sent you a Valentine; His name is Jesus.

Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
3 eggs
1 can dark sweet cherry pie filling (be sure to get pie filling, not just cherries)
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon butter extract

Mix together the cake mix, eggs, butter, cherry pie filling, and almond and butter extracts. Beat at medium speed for the amount of time indicated on cake mix.

Bake at 350 degrees in greased and floured pans until cake tests done in the middle. For a 9×13 pan it will be about 40 minutes.

Let cake sit about 5 minutes; frost wit Fudge Frosting while cake is still warm.

Fudge Frosting
6 Tablespoons milk
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1-lb box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter; stir in mild and cocoa. Bring to a gentle boil. YOU MUST STIR FREQUENTLY to prevent scorching.

Remove from head and add powdered sugar, vanilla and pecans. Mix well by hand with spoon. Spread carefully on warm cake. (NOTE: If you’ve taken your cake out of the pan this step will be messy—take precautions to avoid frosting spillover onto your counter, floor, etc.)

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