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In Honor of Elaine Gonzalez, chocolatier.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.  Our owner Sue, and myself both had the opportunity to attend some of her classes and learn about chocolate with her.  Elaine’s passion for chocolate, mastery of chocolate, and kind unassuming nature was an inspiration to both of us as well as countless other chocolate lovers.  Here are excerpts from an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune commemorating her life and work.

Noted chocolatier, Elaine Gonzalez, passed away this July.

Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune

3:18 p.m. CDT, July 26, 2014
Elaine Gonzalez of Northbrook, an innovative chocolatier noted for transforming chocolate into edible bowls, plates, ornaments, flowers and much, much more, died July 25. She was 79.
“She was an artist and took chocolate to new places,” said restaurateur Ina Pinkney. “Everything she did had this artistry. She was more comfortable with that ingredient than anyone I ever saw with any other ingredient. It was like she was one with the chocolate.”  “I never saw anyone roll, twist and coax chocolate like she did,” Pinkney added. “I was always in awe and always learned something.”
Judith Dunbar Hines, formerly Chicago’s director of culinary arts and events, agreed that Gonzalez was a chocolate trail-blazer who could create all sorts of “fantastical things.” But what Hines remembers most is a recipe for chocolate rice pudding.  “It was a Mexican recipe…and she made it her signature,” Hines recalled. “Her style was more like the chocolate pudding. She was very quiet and calming….There was no drama out of this woman – ever.”
While Gonzalez trained with some chefs, she told the Chicago Tribune in 1983 that she most of what she learned came from family. Her mother, the late Mary Garcia, was a cooking teacher noted for elaborate cakes, the Tribune wrote in 2001 in reporting Mrs. Garcia’s death, and “whose lessons in the 1960s and ’70s opened an era of specialized cooking at home.”
Gonzalez modestly attributed her success to timing and fate in a brief biographical passage included in “Chicago Cooks,” a book of food history and memories by members of the Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a professional group.  “I was there when the chocolate craze hit this country in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” she recalled, crediting an assignment to teach a chocolate class – a subject she claimed to knowing “next to nothing” – at The Complete Cook, a North Shore cookware shop owned by the late Elaine Sherman, for getting her in the chocolate game.
“Using skills from my party-food and cake-decorating experiences, I taught what turned out to be my first class in chocolate artistry: edible, chocolate-mint-flavored place cards, personalized lollipops, and a few fancy confections,” Gonzales remembered. “Nobody had ever seen anything like that before and neither had I. I must have had an angel sitting on my shoulder that night because in spite of my lack of chocolate experience, everything worked and the excitement in the classroom was beyond description – mine as well as theirs.”
Described in “Chicago Cooks” as “an accomplished teacher of ‘all things chocolate,'” she taught at local cookware shops; became a master chocolatier; launched in 1983 a chocolate consulting firm called Chocolate Artistry; served as a consultant for Peter’s Chocolate and, in 2006, was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame. She also wrote two books on chocolate, 1983’s “Chocolate Artistry” and “The Art of Chocolate,” published in 1998.
Chocolate rice pudding recipe
Makes: 8 servings
Elaine Gonzalez demonstrated and shared this recipe with students in the now-defunct city of Chicago’s World Kitchen program. The director, Judith Dunbar Hines, added the following headnote: “This recipe is a favorite from friend and author Elaine Gonzalez, who like the dish, has roots in Spain but a heart in Mexico, where the large production of fine cooking chocolate with cinnamon is reflected in this dish. It takes a bit of patience to make, but is well worth it!”
2 quarts milk
1 ounce coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate (use Mexican chocolate if possible)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 4-inch piece Mexican cinnamon bark
1/2 cup short-grain rice
2 large egg yolks
Cocoa for dusting the final dish before serving
1.) In a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, chocolate and 1 cup of the sugar plus the cinnamon bark to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat and add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the grains from sticking together. Don’t be concerned if the milk at first appears to be speckled with chocolate, as this will change as the cooking progresses.
2.) Simmer, uncovered, over very gentle heat for 1 hour, stirring the mixture most of the time. Check for doneness by squeezing a grain of rice between your fingers…it should feel completely tender with no hard part in the center.
3.) Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl until well mixed. Remove 1/2 cup of cooked rice from the pot and stir into the eggs, stirring vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring for 5 minutes. The pudding should now be the consistency of soft custard (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Discard the cinnamon bark, transfer the pudding to a metal bowl set over ice and let cool, stirring occasionally. When it is room temperature, it may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours.
 4.) Dust the pudding with cocoa powder and serve with lots of hot coffee, also flavored with Mexican cinnamon.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

The Chocolate Fetish Wins Over a Dozen Awards at National Competition

For the third year in a row we entered the international Chocolate Salon’s Award Competition and we are delighted to announce that we earned 15 medals!   The awards won include one Gold Medal, eight Silver Medals, seven Bronze Medals, and two Honorable Mentions.  The medals recognize excellence in a variety of categories including Most Artistic Designs, Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, and Best Taste.  Awards are decided by a panel of esteemed judges including culinary experts, respected magazine and newspaper editors, and food and lifestyle gurus.

Among the many products that received awards at The International Chocolate Salon was our Four Piece Favor Box featuring Velvet Sin Ecstasy Truffles and Hand Decorated Dark Chocolate Hearts.  The Four Piece Favor Box features a long time customer favorite, Velvet Sin Truffles.  Velvet Sin Truffles are a decadent blend of four European Dark Chocolates; the ultimate dark chocolate experience.  One judge mentioned that The Chocolate Fetish was among their favorite in the competition while another commented on the Velvet Sin Truffles saying, “The dark chocolate ones were amazing!”  Another judge mentioned us as one of their favorite overall chocolatiers!

We also won a variety of awards for our Custom Bride and Groom Wedding Toppers.  These are one of my favorite products that we are currently offering.  We can customize these including skin tones and hair colors to make them truly individualized and perfectly match the real bride and groom.  These chocolate Bride and Groom cake toppers don;t just have to go on top of a cake… they would also make great gifts for the bridal party or bride and groom’s parents.

Here is the full listing of each of the awards we received and the products we received them for:

Luxury Caramel Awards

Sea Salt Caramel Collection – Bronze Best Ingredient Combinations

Habenero Sea Salt Caramel – Honorable Mention Best Taste & Most Unique

Top Chocolate Bar Awards

Hazelnut Crisp Bar – Bronze Best Milk Chocolate Bar

74% Cranberry Pistachio Bar – Bronze Best Taste

Bridal Luxury Chocolate Salon

Custom Bride and Groom Cake Topper – Silver Best Bridal Gift Set, Silver Best Traditional Chocolates, Silver Most Artistic Designs

Four Piece Favor Box – Silver Best Dark Chocolate, Silver Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, Silver Best Flavored Chocolate, Silver Best for The Wedding Reception, Silver Best in Salon

Best White Chocolate Awards

Midsummer’s Dream Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Silver Best Ingredient Combinations, Bronze Best Texture

Chai Moon Ecstasy Elite Truffle – Bronze Best Taste, Bronze Best Texture

 

 

 

Spiceland’s Time Machine

“Samurai” on display at The Satellite Gallery until March 23rd.

Asheville is a city alive with the arts and The Chocolate Fetish is frequently blessed by the creative energies of local artists.  If you’ve been following our blog and Facebook pages then you have probably heard about talented artist Joshua Spiceland.  In addition to being an artist he is also an art teacher and part time chocolatier.  If you’ve eaten a Sea Salt Caramel from us in the last four years then chances are good his hand helped make it.  We frequently find doodles and works in progress tucked around the shop on there way to other places.


An exhibition of Spiceland’s work is on display at The Satellite Gallery in Asheville until March 23rd.  The show, titled “Time Machine,” features numerous paintings in Spiceland’s eclectic folk art inspired style. Spiceland draws inspiration form many things including art history and music and many works incorporate detailed geometric patterns.  Titles of pieces range from “Fishing for Inspiration”, “Killing Time”, and “These Rooms Have Seen It All.”   In the world of Asheville art this is a must see exhibition and a good chance to get a great deal on some fine art as Spiceland usually prices his art very affordably.  
You can see the show at The Satellite Gallery located at 5 Broadway Street in Downtown Asheville .  The gallery’s hours are 11am – 6 pm Tuesday – Saturday and 11 am – 5 pm on Sunday adn the show will be up until March 23rd.
If you would like to read more about the exhibition or about Spiceland’s art check out the following links:

Pick Your Chocolate Purse!

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses.  Yes!  They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

Hand Sculpted Chocolate Purses. Yes! They are as delicious as they are beautiful.

What’s the only thing more exciting than winning a designer hand bag?  Winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse!  We are so excited about an upcoming promotion we are sponsoring with local radio station, Mix 96.5!  The promotion, “Pick Your Purse” begins next week and gives 96 people the chance to win great prizes including $1000 cash, designer handbags, hand sculpted chocolate purses, massages and more!  I know your excited to hear more about the chocolate purses… but hold on a second while I tell you all about how “Pick Your Purse” works and how you can win $1000 which may actually be better than winning a hand sculpted chocolate purse… although then again, maybe not.

Starting next Monday you can go to Mix 96.5’s website and register to qualify.  Then listen to 96.5 and if you hear your name called out call to claim your spot as a finalist.  On Saturday, December 7th join us at Paramount Kia in Asheville for your chance to win any number of great prizes, and taste some special chocolate samples.  At the event there will be a reverse raffle with the final 12 names called getting to pick one of a dozen designer handbags for their prize.  When all 12 finalists have selected their purses they will open them together and one lucky winner will find $1000 stuffed inside.  Everyone that qualifies as a finalist will win some sort of prize, it may be a gift card from The Chocolate Fetish, or a free massage or facial from Massage Envy, or any number of other fabulous prizes.

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses.  Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Here you can see the first stage of creating chocolate purses. Later I will add handles, buckles, buttons and other embellishments, all made out of chocolate of course!

Winners’ number 13, 14 and 15 will each get to choose from three Chocolate purse sculptures.  You can’t stuff it full of all your miscellaneous paraphernalia but you can eat the entire decadently delicious thing, if you can bring yourself to destroy it.  Each chocolate purse is made entirely from our high quality custom blended chocolates and each one is a unique one of a kind edible masterpiece.

So which would you rather have?  A one of a kind edible chocolate purse or a designer handbag filled with $1000?

Mix 96.5 Website  http://mix965asheville.com/

Honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month with Chocolate High Heel Shoes

Do you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence every year?  Do you know that year round The Chocolate Fetish partners with Helpmate, a local domestic violence agency?  I’m so excited to share with you a new promotion we’re doing to help bring awareness to this worthy cause and continue to support Helpmate.

Artist & Chocolatier Jessica Lied hand crafting chocolate high heel shoes.

Artist & Chocolatier hand crafting chocolate high heel shoes.

We’ve created a specially designed chocolate high heel shoe, the proceeds from which will be donated to Helpmate.  Each limited edition chocolate high heel shoe boasts a unique purple ribbon pattern that has been specially designed for this promotion.  Our talented chocolatier that designed and created all the shoes, Jessica Lied, says that she enjoys the opportunity to make the shoes because; “I know that my creativity will have a positive impact on the lives of others.”  The limited edition high heel shoes will be available in store and on our website exclusively through the month of October.  Each hand decorated chocolate shoe is available in milk or dark chocolate for $32.95.

The Chocolate Fetish has partnered with Helpmate since 2005.  Throughout the year we give frequent donations to them such as our recent donation of over 200 chocolates for their, “Men who Care Luncheon.”  The annual “Men Who Care Luncheon” was held on September 12, 2013 and raised over $38,000 for Helpmate.  We also sell a special ‘Helpmate Assortment’ year round and donate all the proceeds to Helpmate.  Our Helpmate Assortment is adorned with a purple ribbon and contains chocolate covered caramels and New England style butter crunch.  It sells for $16.95 and is available in our store.

In addition to the monetary donations we make through out the year we also collect gifts for the residents of Helpmate’s shelter during the holidays.  We used to have an employee secret Santa gift exchange and no one was really that excited about it.   One year I suggested that we give gifts to Helpmate instead and the response was overwhelming.  Years before it was hard to get people to spend $10 on a gift for a coworker.  But now every year we collect literally 100’s of brand new gift items (from a staff of 20) to take to the women and children at the shelter.  My favorite part of our staff Christmas party every year is collecting and wrapping the gifts, it always brings a tear to my eye.

You can learn more about Helpmate and all the services they offer at http://www.helpmateonline.org/.  If you know someone who may be suffering from domestic violence but don’t know how to help come by and pick up one of our Helpmate boxes and a brochure… it’s a subtle way to let them know there is help available.  We have heard success stories from this method in the past!