Chocolate Festival, 2013

Visitor are greeted by this cheerful sight on the grand piano.

Visitors are greeted by this cheerful sight on the grand piano.

In the small town of Portland, Ct. the first Saturday of February is now well-known as Chocolate Festival day.  We are “the little church that could”, because we accomplish big things.  There is a spirit of togetherness, cooperation, and fun in all that we do.

This was our sixteenth time producing this annual event, and each time it seems to get better and better.  The people come early and stand in line outside in the cold until the doors open, and then swarm inside trying to get to their favorite booth(s) for baked goods or candy or gifts.  Some folks head right to the “Chocolate Moose Cafe” for a choice seat and first dibs on the mouth-watering desserts being served fresh and warm from the kitchen.

Chocolate Moose Cafe

Chocolate Moose Cafe

If you asked me what my favorite part of it is, I wouldn’t be able to choose.  Just walking into the room makes you smile and you feel happy and warm, because everything is so brightly decorated, and the booths are filled with gifts that are unique, and beautifully presented. The colors of red, pink and white are everywhere, even the people working there are dressed in these colors.

Gifts for all ages.

Gifts for all ages.

Grab bags for children.

Grab bags for children.

Greeting Cards

Greeting Cards

The greeting cards are all hand-made from actual photographs;   a bargain at 3/ 5.00,   centers are blank for your own message.

This event is the main fund-raiser of the year put on by the Women’s Fellowship, but many men also join in and contribute their services by helping with setting-up, taking down, clean-up, parking cars, and other services as needed.  So many people pitch in to create this wonderful day,  a lot of work, but so rewarding.

Over view of the candy booth.

Over view of the candy booth.

For my part,  since the very first year, I have made truffles for the candy booth and I help to package them in their hand-made decorative boxes. Below are some pictures of our specialty candies and “pops”.

Ice cream cone pops

Ice cream cone pops

Dump truck  pops

Dump truck pops

Rose bud pops

Rose bud pops

Rosebud bouquets

Rosebud bouquets

I also bake several different items for the baked goods booth.

Cardamom Breads

Cardamom Breads

These cardamom breads are one of the earliest baked items to sell out.  They are baked by a gentleman member, who looks forward to making them for us each year.

George's famous chocolate chip cookies.

George’s famous chocolate chip cookies.

Another gentleman provides us with chocolate chip cookies,  recipe closely guarded,  that are out-of-this-world!

Swedish breads and coffeecakes.

Swedish breads and coffeecakes.

Another of our specialties are the Swedish breads and coffeecakes.  Pies and cakes, brownies, cookies, jams, crunchy snacks, etc, etc.  We never know what we will have, but regardless, it all sells out.

This year I made two kinds of cookies.  The pink sandwich hearts that I posted here yesterday, and some cookies made with Nutella that will be coming up on the blog very soon. So watch for them, they are scrumptious!    Compared to what many others do my part is relatively small, but I enjoy the whole event immensely, especially those chocolate desserts that the kitchen crew creates and serves in the cafe.

Team leader in the kitchen, making hot chocolate sauce.

Team leader in the kitchen, making hot chocolate sauce.

Raspberry ripple cheesecake.

Raspberry ripple cheesecake being cut.

Not everything sold or served is chocolate.  This is a raspberry ripple cheesecake being cut with dental floss.  Did you know that dental floss makes nice clean cuts for perfect servings?

Last, but not least, are the raffle baskets.  Many people take on the task of creating a basket of theme-related items, and these baskets are raffled off at the end of the day.  Here are a few of the baskets that were on display.

Go, UCONN Huskies!

Go, UCONN Huskies!

At this time of year, Huskie fever runs high, so we always have a UCONN Huskies basket.

Cupcake in the Kitchen basket.

What’s up, Cupcake?  basket.

All things "Cat"

The Cat’s Meow, devoted to all things “cat”

Over 20 raffle baskets were on display.

Over 20 raffle baskets were on display.

So many baskets to take a chance on.  Which one would you choose if you could?  At the end of the day I received a phone call telling me that I had won the “Bucket of Books” basket.  I was so happy,  I love to read and a BIG bucket filled with books is just great.

I do hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of a wonderful day, and if you live within driving distance perhaps you can think about coming next year.  Remember:  the first Saturday in February.   Mark you calendar, now!   For further information, please e-mail me.  ( see Contact page, above.)     XOXO

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Funfetti Truffles

Funfetti Truffles for Valentines Day.

Funfetti Truffles for Valentines Day.

It’s that time of year again when the church we belong to hosts a Chocolate Festival.  This will be our 16th. year doing this, and over the years it has grown and become known and looked forward to by many people.  In fact we get visitors from out of state who come every year.  Of course a chocolate festival would not be complete without a candy booth.

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Since the very first year, a group of us makes truffles that we package in pretty boxes.  They sell “like hotcakes”.  Since I first began making truffles I have made quite a few different kinds, and this year I found this recipe for Funfetti Truffles.  They were different from anything we’ve had before and I thought that with their white chocolate coating they would look really pretty in amongst the dark chocolate ones.

This is another of those recipes that starts with a cake mix, and turns into something else.  In this case, candy.  They were very easy to make, and lend themselves to different holidays by changing the sprinkle colors that you use.  This recipe makes about 24 truffles.  I doubled everything and got a total of 54 truffles.  One box of white cake mix is enough to make a double recipe and still have some cake mix left over.   Here’s what you do:

FUNFETTI TRUFFLES

YIELD:   about 24

Just a few ingredients needed.

Just a few ingredients needed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sprinkles (match color to holiday or occasion )
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or vanilla almond bark for coating

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, flour, and sugar.  Stir in the melted butter, vanilla, milk, and sprinkles.  Mix well so all the dry ingredients are moistened.  It should stick together and hold its shape when formed.  If necessary, add milk in small amounts until this is achieved.

A dough that  sticks together.

A dough that sticks together.

Use a small cookie scoop or teaspoon to form even balls.  Roll between hands to shape.  Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes.

Roll  into balls and place on lined baking sheet.

Roll into balls and place on lined baking sheet.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate or almond bark, in a double boiler.  Drop each truffle into the chocolate and roll around to coat.  Tap off the excess.  Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.  Top with a few sprinkles,  the same ones used in the dough.

Dip into melted white chocolate, decorate with sprinkles.

Dip into melted white chocolate or almond bark, decorate with sprinkles.

Place in a cool place to harden.  These will keep for a long time if kept cool.  Makes a nice addition to a plate of cookies or by themselves in a candy dish for Valentines Day.

Pretzels dipped into white chocolate and decorated.

Pretzels dipped into white chocolate and decorated.

I had enough melted white coating left after dipping the truffles, so I also dipped some pretzels and decorated them with sprinkles and M & M’s.

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Sweets for your sweetie!

Sweets for your sweetie!

SOURCE:      laurenslatest.com

Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes

The occasion—-High School Graduation.   The graduate—- my Granddaughter.  Future Plans—-Culinary school!   YEAH!   someone who loves to bake as much as I do.   I wanted to make something special,  yet cool and refreshing looking.  My  idea grew out of my finding a bag of marshmallowy, chewy candies in pastel colors that I thought would look cute as cupcake toppers.  So then I went on the hunt for a recipe for the base cupcake and its frosting, to tie the whole thing together into a theme.

I started with a yellow cake recipe to which I add chopped pineapple and a little pineapple juice.  The frosting is a butter cream with added lemon zest and lemon juice, tinted pale yellow.  The candies are pale green, peach and pale yellow.  So that is the color scheme I worked with,  and it was light, delicate and cool looking.

TROPICAL PINEAPPLE CUPCAKES

Yield:  I got 15 cupcakes, probably could have made each a tad smaller, and gotten 16.

Ingredients

  • 4 canned pineapple rings, finely chopped.  (or  1/2 cup crushed pineapple, well drained)
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 12 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup self rising flour***
***To use all-purpose flour, add  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and  1/2 teaspoon salt to the flour measurement.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Drain the pineapple, and reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice.  Finely chop the pineapple, or use crushed.

Place the butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Remove from mixer.  Sift in the flour, and using a large spoon (wooden?), fold into the batter.  Fold in the pineapple and the reserved 2 tablespoons juice.

Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling about 2/3s full.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until risen, golden, and test done with a toothpick.  Cool in pan a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • about 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • tiny dot of  yellow gel food coloring

Put butter and cream cheese in a beater bowl and beat together until smooth.  Add the lemon zest.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the mixture, then beat  until well mixed.  Gradually add the lemon juice until the frosting is of spreading consistency. Add the dot of gel food color, and beat for consistency of color.   Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.  Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar in yellow and/or green.  Top with a marshmallow candy.  ( The candy I found at the grocery store is called “Mallo-Licious”).   I also think tiny palm trees would make a great topping too.—–next time!

SOURCE:   Adapted from a recipe in The Cupcake, by Angela Drake