I used to be a vanilla person. Until Sunday. Now, I am a chocolate convert.
This past weekend, Nov. 20, on our day off and our nature walk rained out, we ended up at the Festival of Chocolate at the Palm Beach Convention Center, “working.” Ha!
The last afternoon of that two-day event found us at the stage of the Chocolate Game Show Experience, where a member of the audience, Adam Blow of Stuart, volunteered to try chocolate-covered alligator gerky. He was shaking his head while chewing with that faraway look in his eye, thinking about what he was eating (my guess). Leaving the stage, he took a long swig from his water bottle.
“Wasn’t bad,” he commented…
You could get your own gator at Chateau Confections’ booth, Double Dare You, where Donna Moore’s unusual items dipped in chocolate had already sold out (except for the alligator gerky, $2 a piece). Those popular items were chocolate covered crickets ($1 a piece), chocolate-covered bacon ($28 per pound) and chocolate-covered potato chips (a bag of potato chips, 8 to 12 ounces, $8). If you want these items, email Moore at donnamoore@chateauEIEIO.com
And speaking of lips, nearby was a lip-balm-making booth. Here’s the recipe says, Elizabeth Guillermo of West Palm Beach. You need to get your hands on some cosmetic oil, she said, because that’s the base. Then, for a very small container worth, you add ¼ tsp. of vitamin E, ¼ tsp. of vegetable oil and ½ tsp. of powdered chocolate. Refrigerate. Dab on lips. Yum! Chocolate!
Cute as a Cupcake is based out of Lake Worth and its owner is Stacey McCollum. She makes cupcakes, obviously, and for more than a dozen, she’ll deliver from Broward to Martin Counties. Her adorable and delicious cupcakes start at $2.75 for one and $25 a dozen. Right now, pumpkin-and-spice cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting are the rage.
We all know Sloan’s – there are several local locations in Palm Beach County. Sloan’s will also deliver holiday baskets locally, said Ilaria Tagariello. The baskets contain two quarts and two pints of ice cream. Some other sweets she suggests for the holidays are dipped chocolate strawberries or apples. Chocolate is sold by the weight starting at $3 a pound, and the baskets of ice cream start at $50. Sloan’s Palm Beach Gardens is at Downtown at the Gardens, Suite 1106, 11700 Lake Victoria Gardens Avenue. The phone number is (561) 627-4301.
Over at Rocky Mountain Chocolate, owner Brian Almon gave us a taste of his pralines, $19.95 a pound. Buy one pound and get a half-pound free. Here’s how he suggests eating it: microwave some for 10 to 15 seconds and then serve it over your favorite ice cream. He likes Blue Bell vanilla. You can reach Almon at email@example.com or (407) 465-1002.
Over at the Dove booth were sweet and savory items. For a taster, Dove had a dip made from its Sweet N Spice Cocoa Rub, $10. You make it with 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup sour cream and season it with 2 to 3 teaspoons of the cocoa.
Also featured were Sweet n Smoky Chocolate BBQ, $12; Chocolate Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, $12; and Chocolate Chipotle Spiced Nut Clusters, $25. For these, call Stephanie Weinberger at (856) 465-4080 or http:/mydcdsite.com/thesweetlife.
Mary Lou Atkinson, of A Slice of Heaven and Cake & Candy Designs, was packing up when we got to her. She had taken part in the cake decorating competition. She and the other bakers were given two hours to decorate, she said. And, Wow! What a job she did! Her cake was chocolate hazelnut (chocolate hazelnut liquor was mixed in the cake batter), with a chocolate hazelnut ganache between the layers, with a chocolate butter-cream icing and chocolate ganache swirls (I think I have that straight. I was busy eating, while she was talking). Two of her costumers’ favorites: French strawberry mouse and her amaretto cheesecake, the six-inch size is $13.99.
Atkinson’s cakes and candies can be found at Antonio’s Deli, 14137 US Highway One, Juno Beach. Here’s her Website: http://www.cakeandcandydesignsbymarylou.com/
Chocolate deserves to be celebrated, say Aileen Mand, ex Disney producer, and her husband, third-generation chocolatier Edgar Schaked. Looks like others agree. Presale tickets for the West Palm Beach event numbered more than 6,000. So, that weekend, festival visitors (the proverbial kids in the candy shop) bought little chocolate-chip coins for $1 each as currency in exchange for chocolate goodies offered by festival exhibitors. The goal was to promote local businesses, Mand said.
Photography by Carol Korpi-McKinley