If you have been following my blog you know that I have spent the last week at a chocolate conference in Buffalo, New York. It’s been a nice break from my everyday routine but I sure will happy to be back home in wonderful Asheville.
What does one do at a chocolate conference? Of course I taste lots of delicious and sometimes not so delicious chocolates, and I also attend seminars about various topics including making candies and chocolates. One of the seminars offered at this conference was titled, “Ganache Formulation for the Non-Food Scientist.” During this seminar we learned how to formulate a ganache from a scientific perspective to be sure it has the ‘proper ratio’ of fats and sugars. While this was interesting and useful information I think I’ll continue to make taste my number one priority.
Another seminar I attended was titled “History & Use of Confectionery Molds around the World.” During this seminar, presented by the author of a couple of fabulous books about chocolate and candy including Chocolate: the Sweet History, we learned all sorts of interesting tidbits about the development and use of molds for chocolate making. Did you know that molding chocolates became popular as early as the 1830s and that early chocolateirs often hammered their own tin molds?
The best part of a chocolate conference is always the tours to various candy shops and manufactures. On this tour we visited a number of family owned candy businesses some of whom have been in business for generations.
One of the companies we visited, Fowler’s, is credited with inventing sponge candy. So what is Sponge Candy? Sponge candy is made with caramelized sugar and has a honeycomb like texture. It is sweet and crunchy but sort of melts in your mouth at the same time. One of our hosts on the tour said they call it Sponge Candy because it acts like a sponge and absorbs moisture in the air. In fact many of the places around here don’t even make it in the summer because it absorbs the humidity in the air so rapidly that it ruins the delicious crunchy texture. We sell Sponge Candy covered in chocolate although we leave the making of the sponge to the experts and just do the chocolate covering part. On this trip I learned that while Sponge Candy originated in Buffalo, variations of it are made in many areas of the United States and boast different names wherever you go; Fairy Food, Sponge Taffy, Cinderblock, Sea Foam, Molasses Puffs, and Honeycomb are all names you may see.
So did I fulfill my desire to find some really tasty chocolate while I was in Buffalo? Sadly, no. I know I am a bit biased but while I tasted some well made chocolate confections I never tasted anything I liked nearly as much as a decadent Chocolate Fetish truffle. It’s always good to get away if only to remind us how good we have it back at home. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.