Chocolate fits many different molds.
It can be dressed in chopped nuts or disguised by painted patterns. It can be the one thing we reach for when we’re sad, anxious or feeling romantic.
“Chocolate is very emotional,” said Bill Copeland, founder of Glacier Confection. “It’s a simple indulgence and something that everyone can afford.”
Whether people reach for the inexpensive 50-cent piece of chocolate or a hand-filled and decorated piece, he said it’s a treat for anyone to receive chocolates — especially on Valentine’s Day.
The Brady Arts District shop and other confectioners will soon be busy filling orders and heart-shaped boxes with chocolates of every imaginable flavor from the classics to the exotic combinations with hints of fruit and spices. Copeland and his team at Glacier Confection have developed around 100 flavors, which he said could please just about anyone’s palate.
Flavors, like Strawberry Champagne and Peach Bellini, are popular with the more adventurous palates, and trusted classics, like caramel and peanut butter, continue to fare well with the creatures of habit.
“It’s not your grandmother’s chocolate. People want one piece that is great,” he said.
Even the finish of chocolates has evolved from standard molded chocolates — in milk, dark or white chocolates — that paved the way for filled chocolates. Now there are colorfully stenciled chocolates that shine in their display cases and seem to burst out of their cardboard boxes with bright hues and pigments, some with abstract designs and others with artistic interpretations of their fillings that decorate their outsides.
“You shop with your eyes first,” he added.
The relationship between chocolate and the culinary realm is a reciprocal one, too, Copeland said. Inspirations for new flavor combinations can come from area menus and trends set by well-known chefs. Dishes with watermelon paired with feta and raspberry served with brie have produced chocolates with the same flavor profiles.
Chocolate can also be extremely personal. Rather than choosing a pre-packaged box of chocolates, Glacier Confections offers a build-your-own-box option. Customers can choose someone’s favorite flavors or choose some flavors they haven’t yet tried.
Whether you’re looking for molded and filled chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberries or solid chocolates, there is plenty of time to find what you need from any area chocolate shop.
There is still time to plan a memorable Valentine’s Day. Here are a few sweet treats you can make at home.
DUTCH CARAMEL VODKA BITES
1 12-ounce package of vanilla wafers
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2½ tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
7 ounces melting chocolate (dark or milk)
1. Put wafers in a food processor and process until fine. If you don’t have a food processor put wafers in a resealable gallon-sized bag and use a rolling pin to crush until fine. Place wafer crumbs in a bowl and add confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup and Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka. Mix until well combined. Using a small cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll into a 1 inch bite-sized ball.
2. Melt the chocolate and then dip the bites into the chocolate until covered entirely. Place dipped bites on waxed paper to harden. To decorate, add sprinkles or colored sugar before the chocolate coating hardens. Store the Dutch Caramel Vodka Bites in an airtight container. Bites are best when made ahead of time and stored for 1 to 3 days to allow the flavors to meld before serving.
— Recipe by Dawn Belisle, delightsbydawn.com
VAN GOGH RASPBERRY VODKA CUPCAKES
1 box white cake mix
1 box instant French vanilla pudding
½ cup fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka
½ cup vegetable oil
For White Chocolate Raspberry Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces white chocolate melted and slightly cooled, but still pouring consistency
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup International Delight White Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Creamer
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Coat ½ cup of raspberries with sugar and 1 tablespoon of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka, set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. Combine white cake mix, French vanilla pudding, eggs, vegetable oil and 1 cup of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka and the raspberry-sugar-vodka mixture from above in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
3. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Using a hand mixer, or if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides down. Put the mixer on low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Next, quickly pour in the melted white chocolate and then beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed until creamy. Add coffee creamer and salt. Beat for an additional 1 minute until combined.
4. Once cupcakes have cooled and before adding the frosting, put the remaining Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka in a small, shallow bowl and dip the top of the cupcake in the vodka until the top is covered, but not overly saturated. Allow the raspberry vodka to soak in for about five minutes before frosting. Frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.
— Recipe by Dawn Belisle, delightsbydawn.com
2 cups pitted cherries, cut in half
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional)
1. The hardest part of this recipe is removing the pits from the cherries. You can use a cherry pitter, or cut the cherries in half, twist the two halves to expose the pit, and use a knife to cut it out.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a 9-inch buttered and floured pie pan, add the fresh cherry halves and slivered almonds.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, salt, flour, milk, almond extract and vanilla extract until completely smooth. Pour the batter over the cherries and almonds and put in the oven.
5. Let the clafoutis cook for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.
6. Take the clafoutis out of the oven and let it cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
— Recipe from Blakely Trettenero, gourmetwithblakely.com
Jessica Rodrigo 918-581-8482