On a walk that's chock-full of chocolate

20-stop tour in Pa. village benefits kids' service groups

September 29, 2004|By Nancy Eason | Nancy Eason,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Imagine treating yourself to a day full of chocolate and not feeling guilty about the indulgence.

That is entirely possible at the Third Annual Chocolate Walk in Lititz, Pa., on Oct. 9, a celebration that will satisfy chocolate lovers and do a good deed as well.

Walkers can sample such luscious sweets as buttery, thin, chewy chocolate-chip cookies; smooth, rich, dark- or milk-chocolate nonpareils; chocolate-coated pretzels; homemade chocolate-chip ice cream; dark-chocolate or vanilla-nut coffee with a dash of cinnamon or cocoa; and hand-dipped chocolate caramels and butter creams.

The 20-stop tour traverses a bit more than a mile and includes chocolate demonstrations and artworks. Tickets are $10 with proceeds going to the Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center of Lancaster County, Pa., the Lititz Public Library and local children's service groups.

The Chocolate Walk serves as an exhibition for chocolatiers in the Lititz area who will adopt a space in one of the town's shops for the day.

Lititz, an 18th-century Moravian village, is about nine miles north of Lancaster and 85 miles from Baltimore. It's home to the Wilbur Chocolate Co., its candy museum and factory store.

"This is a showcase for the small mom and pop places. With many of the chocolatiers ... this is their life. Every day they go to work and make candy," says Mark Freeman, president of sales for Wilbur Chocolate and chair of the Chocolate Walk.

Many of these craftsmen are making chocolate the way their families have done for generations, Freeman says.

"When you see these products, it's so much more than candy; there's a lot of history. These are handmade, age-old recipes that have not been cheapened [for profits' sake]. The candy is made the same way their parents or grandparents made it. You can taste it."

Both walkers and chocolatiers have a lot of fun. While a demonstration begins as a display of culinary art, it can turn into comical entertainment.

Freeman says in last year's event, one chef demonstrated how to make chocolate bowls by dipping balloons into a vat of chocolate. In most instances, when the chef removed the chocolate-coated balloon and popped it, a chocolate bowl would result. But sometimes he popped the balloon too early.

"Sometimes the chocolate would not solidify quickly and the chocolate would splatter all over the chef," Freeman says.

Sea Anderson of Sweet Constellations, producer of Hot Fudge Heaven sauce, recalls an elderly gentleman with the "sweetest smile and the dearest face" whom she is sure that she saw repeatedly at her presentations. "He would listen very patiently through each talk [about the development and uses of her sauce]; he was really savoring the fudge sauce," says Anderson.

Inspired by the movie Chocolat, Anderson established Sweet Constellations in May last year. The Hot Fudge Heaven sauce evolved from her family, "a long line of chocolate lovers," and her family's input during home sauce tastings, she says.

After a lot of experiments, she hit upon the perfect recipe, which includes ancho chilies. Friends and family first received jars of the hot fudge sauce as Christmas gifts. It later served as a base for a fund-raiser for a daughter's church group trip to Brazil.

In previous years, some of the chocolatiers had to work at an unexpectedly frenzied pace. One chocolatier, who made 500 chocolate mice in advance of the event, struggled to apply almond eyes and noses to new mice when more than 1,000 walkers streamed by.

Chef Vince Knipple, who is usually based at the Lititz restaurant Scooters, said he had to improvise when he ran out of his treats of phyllo pastry filled with chocolate mascarpone cheese and a berry topping.

He ended up serving his Aztec Chocolate Chili, which he had on hand. This year, the chili will be his featured contribution to the event.

"The cocoa takes the acidity out of the tomato product in the chili," he says. For an added touch this year, he will top off the chili with a cocoa powder sour cream.

Fortunately, there's plenty of walking to help burn off the extra calories. And anyway, gorging on chocolate is hardly the point, Freeman says.

"The goal is to see and taste; the goal is not to make a pig of oneself," Freeman says. "To come and learn about what people do with chocolate and their passion for it - that's what really makes it [the Chocolate Walk] special."

Aztec Chocolate Chili

Makes 20 one-cup servings

1 large diced onion

1 diced green pepper

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 pounds great Northern beans

2 pounds kidney beans

1 cup barbecue sauce

1 tablespoon cumin

1/4 cup diced jalapenos (see note)

1/2 tablespoon white pepper

3 pounds diced tomato in juice

1 quart bloody Mary mix

1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups water

Saute veggies and beef. Cook until beef is browned and onions are soft. Drain juice from beans, add to beef mixture, saute for 5 minutes. Then add all other ingredients, including drained beans.

Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Note: More jalapenos can be added to raise the heat factor of the chili, but if adding more peppers then add 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder.

- Chef Vince Knipple Per serving: 194 calories; 14 grams protein; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 25 grams carbohydrate; 6 grams fiber; 21 milligrams cholesterol; 601 milligrams sodium

At a glance

The Third Annual Lititz Chocolate Walk, sponsored by the Wilbur Chocolate Co., Kiwanis Club of Lititz Area and local retailers, will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 9, rain or shine.

Buttons and tour maps may be purchased for $10 before the Chocolate Walk and for $15 on the day of the walk.

For details of the Chocolate Walk, see the events page of the Lititz Web site: www.shoplititz.com.

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