Monday, December 15, 2008

Hail to the Chocolate!

That’s right Hail to the Chocolate. I have a deep love for chocolate. Not just any kind but the really good stuff. Any chance I can get some really good chocolate I am so there. My love for chocolate began I am sure in my mothers womb. As a child I could only order the chocolate milkshake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate chip cookies. Anything sweet had to have chocolate in it or I would not eat it. As far as I was concerned it was waist of a good cookie if there was not chocolate in it. Then when I was 10 years old I was diagnosed with being allergic to chocolate. My world turned upside down. How can anyone be allergic to this sinful treat? So my chocolate ordering days turned to vanilla shake and carob. Carob, all I have to say is yuck! I still can’t bring myself to eat it. So I would rather go without. As the years passes I snuck the chocolate back into my life. I lived with the consequences of eating this treat. Which were a stuffy nose and a rash on my arms. But that didn’t keep me from the indulgence. As I grew older I think I gained a tolerance to chocolate and it didn’t affect me as much anymore. My favorite candy bar growing up was a Snickers and thus my nickname growing up was “snickers or snicker doodles” If you use this knowledge against me, I will need to retaliate. I still have to watch my chocolate intake and have to keep the amounts small. My love of chocolate will never subside no matter what the consequences are! Rock on Chocolate!
As a family tradition we hand make chocolates and box them up and tie a ribbon around the box and give it away as a Christmas gifts. I remember growing up with tins filled with chocolates at Christmas time. I would sneak into them and eat one and then go back an hour later and eat another one. I would hear my mom saying. “stay out of the chocolates” Yes we would take turns creeping into the dining room and carefully removing the lids as to not make a sound and grab some chocolates, you had to pop one in your mouth and then what you could carry in your hands. Then carefully put the lid back on and the container exactly back where you found it. With 5 kids doing this the loot would go down pretty fast and my Mom would know we had been in there. We would have all sorts of flavors, including orange, cherry, mint, coconut and the Olympian cream. Some years we get creative and produce new flavors. But we seem to go back to our favorites.

Last Wednesday I started to prep for the grand chocolate dipping event. I hoped the stars in the sky would be in alignment and the weather would stay cold and my filling would not turn to sugar. And so I begin with my beautiful red cast iron pot and begin the tradition of making our family chocolates. One batch takes about a solid 2 hour process. If the filling doesn’t turn to sugar than you are jumping up and down with joy. It is a natural high to see it come together and it turn into a creamy wonder. So Wednesday night I made two batches and a batch of toffee, then Thursday night I was able to get another batch made. Friday I was prepared to make the caramels and dip the chocolates. This year I made Olympian cream, you know this one because we always put a piece of a pecan on the top of the chocolate. I also made orange, mint, coconut and cherry. Friday I got off work early and headed home to begin the task. I figured I would do what I could do and then have Adam help me when he got home. So I began with cutting the chocolate. You see I am serious about this; I get my chocolate in a 10lbs brick. So with a sharp knife and a lot of strength I begin cutting the chocolate to be able to melt it for dipping. After the chocolate is cut, or until I am tired, I pulled out the filling and began rolling the balls. This was the first year I did the whole process alone. I would dip with one hand in chocolate and the other hand was free to add the nut on top or the sprinkles. I love to dip chocolates. There is this sense of peace I have when I am sitting at the table, listening to music and you just get in a flow with the chocolate. It is very relaxing. The only relaxing part of the whole process I think. It took me 5 hours to dip about 300 chocolates, make caramels and clean up the kitchen. When Adam got home from work the kitchen and dining area had trays of goodness all over the room. Later that night we decided to go ahead and box them and get ahead of the game. We usually wait a day to box, but they were settled and ready. So we began. With our list we made the night before we produced about 60 boxes to hand out to friends this year. And Saturday and Sunday were the days for deliveries. I think that is the fun part is giving a box of homemade treats. It is the love that is made with each chocolate, the care that is given to each one. With the making of the filling, then the time for it to sit before you can roll. Then each one is hand rolled and then the dipped, and carefully placing on the paper and last the special pinch of whatever is put on the top of the chocolate to mark its identity. I am not sure if those who receive know the love that is behind the generations of this family tradition? It has been passed down and I can proudly say I am a four generation candy maker. I hope that I have the same love given in eat bite that has been passed down with each generation and I want to pass down to my children. I hope they will have the love of sneaking in to grab the treat and enjoy it as I did. I hope they will find the love of making them with me and then eventually when they are old enough to be trusted with the family secret. I hope my children will then pass it on to their children and the tradition remains forever in our families.

I realized after we had boxed them all up there was none left for Adam and me. So Saturday night and Sunday I made a batch each night. And for our family home evening tonight Adam and I will be dipping our own chocolates to eat for the holidays. These will not be boxed, they will be stored in our Christmas tins and when ever a visitor comes to our home for a visit or stops in, we always offer a chocolate to them.

I have to say it’s nice to be the adult and I don’t have to go an sneak a chocolate, I can now just go get one or two or three.


Anonymous said...

Hooray for chocolate!! That's quite the operation you have going on there. That is amazing!

Annie Carie said...

Wow! what a wonderful fulfilling tradition! I LOVE making and giving treats! Your choclates are SO yummy! Did you happen to send some in the mail to me? :)

Merry Christmas

Marion in Colorado said...

I really did not know that you do them on your own from scratch? When Chris brought them home last year I did not think anything special, I just thought it is a nice gift...well, I guess I ate all of the chocolate, they were REALLY DELICIOUS!!!
What an effort from you, guys!!!! Making chocolate for a whole week... I even don't have time to make Betty CRocker Sugar Cookies LOL