This summer I’ve committed to attending a cornucopia of food festivals and farmers’ markets. No more wishing I had gone to the event a week after the date on the flyer. I’m in it this year! And for the 2012 season opener, I went to the king of all mangia events- the chocolate festival.
This chocolate festival scooped me up in the generous arms of a baker and fed me like a growing child. So much so that I believe I grew at least three inches wide while there. Our hour and twenty minute drive felt like a third of that laughing about all the things we hoped would be cocoa-dipped and poised for noshing upon our arrival.
Once securely parked, we came bounding from our car taunting the gloomy weather with boisterous spirits and hungry bellies. We had barely targeted our first row of alluring sampling tents when hubris served us a whopping can of whoop-ass and rain came pouring down.
Luckily, the innkeeper at the nearest tent frantically waived us in offering shelter until the droplets slowed. As I turned to collect myself, I noticed a large brass cauldron hoisted on a table, a portable, cement-rimmed gas fire blazing in the center and a giant paddle leaned gently against the corner tent stake. Yep. Nature herself had summoned me to this holy place of fudge making.
The kind fudge man seemed eager for the company given the low turnout for a rainy afternoon and was ecstatic to feel useful by offering to construct trash bag ponchos to assist us on our hungry travels. We graciously accepted, and hence forth were armed to leave both our wet worries and self-respect behind. At least they could enjoy the fudge lessons until we returned.
(Oh, and I bet you’re wondering why we were the only ones out of a hundred that day to be sporting black plastic moo moos instead of being shielded by fashionable umbrellas. That would be because our fearless leader had assured us she had an umbrella in the wings, primed for action. She failed to mention however that said umbrella was the size of a Twinkie. It struggled to even cover the dainty brick of fudge we now had in tow, and definitely wouldn’t have stood a chance protecting four swooshing chocolate huntresses.)
We bopped tent to tent and shop to shop sampling and gorging. There were retro candies, new tasty creations and even unique techniques presented. I had to cover my mouth as protection from lawn mower fumes as I leaned in fascinated at the engine-powered ice cream machine at one display. Exhausted from our efforts, we stopped to recline at a darling little coffee house to rest our weary…umm…mouths?
A charming bearded man serenaded us with upbeat blue-sy tunes while we carefully unveiled all of our purchases. Everyone deciding they walked away with the best loot, I leaned back and pulled my arms free of the torn slits in my plastic dress to enjoy a fabulous meal of hot chocolate, a softball-sized turtle and a chocolate covered strawberry.
Refueling completed, we shopped the boutiques for souvenirs. I was thrilled when I found this perfectly adorable keepsake, but after a brief argument with the owner, her case- “just because it is chocolate colored doesn’t make it a part of the festival merchandise“ -ended up winning out.
A cup of chocolate covered grapes, 4 chocolate dipped donuts and an equal number of soaked pairs of shoes later, we headed back for the car. I made sure to pause at the fudge tent to comment in the volume of a shout how this is the best fudge I’d ever eaten- my thank you for the hospitality of the owner. I lured two people excitedly to his line and received a smile and a wink in return from Mr. Fudge himself.
I will most definitely be returning next year, but this time with a patio umbrella, a cat carrier and a second stomach.
One would think I would have been feasting on my purchases for the next week, but I ended up devouring everything that night. As all sweet eaters know, after such a sugary meal, the urge for more follows in suit.
I think nothing could be better to follow such a day of chocolate as my Coconut Maple Candy. I created them gradually over the last year starting with the coconut maple filling and then building until they inevitably ended up infused with vanilla and draped in silky milk chocolate- as most good things are.
Oh, and did I mention they are easy breezy? That’s always nice…
One almond cap.
One chocolate bath.
One perfect mouthful.
Coconut Maple Candy
Quality vanilla bean extract is essential for these decadent sweet treats. There is a soft and moist coconut center imparted with maple syrup and vanilla. The crunch of the toasted almond adds nice texture against the smooth filing. With a satisfying snap as you bite through the creamy milk chocolate coating, these are a perfect dessert for any fancy event.
- 1 C. shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 C. pure maple syrup
- 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. good quality pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 T. almond flour
- 1 C milk chocolate wafers
- toasted almonds, about 20
- Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or a silpat mat.
- In a bowl mix coconut, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and almond flour.
- Ball into teaspoon size rounds and gently push one almond into the top of each ball, just until it sits comfortably on top. Place on the prepared cookie sheet or mat.
- Complete this process until the coconut mixture runs out. Place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 20 minutes until the balls are completely firm.
- Melt wafers over a double boiler. Dip each coconut ball in the chocolate and return them to the sheet and then back into the fridge for 1 hour.