Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chocolate September!

Where did September go?  I recall a plethora of chocolate crumbs, chocolate smears, and chocolate treats as the Garden opened Chocolate: Seed to Sweet, an exhibition celebrating this favorite indulgence.  Here’s a photo journal highlighting some of the chocolaty September moments.

A Quick Lesson: Chocolate comes from the fruit of the cacao tree.  This cacao tree is displayed in the Atlanta Botanical Garden Orangerie.  Another is located in the Tropical Rotunda.

Flowers and pods grow directly off the trunk and limbs rather than the tips like many other fruits. Cacao (pronounced ca-COW) refers to the tree and the beans inside its seed pods; cocoa (pronounced KO-ko) refers to the two byproducts of the cocoa bean: cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

Opening Weekend, Sept. 4 - 6, 2010 was full of fun activities.  These little ones are fingerpainting with melted chocolate on graham cracker canvases.

Chocolate Scented Play Dough

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cream of tartar together.  Add cooking oil and boiling water to mixture. Stir quickly and mix well.  Cook over low heat until dough forms a ball.  When cool, mix with your hands.  Store in airtight container.

Very few passed up the opportunity to decorate a chocolate cupcake!

Karen Porteleo and Joshua John Russell of Highland Bakery wowed the crowd during a chocolate cake decorating demonstration. 

This fabulous chocolate sculpture was created by Victor Dagatan from The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead.  Chef James Satterwhite also participated in the opening weekend by creating chocolate butterflies, flowers, and cacao pods. 

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory joined the Garden for the first Chocolate Sunday.  Jamie Fahey provided home baking tips, demonstrated how to decorate giant chocolate cupcake cakes, and provided cakes and frosting for all to decorate and consume.  There wasn't a clean face in the Outdoor Kitchen!

Garden Chefs Megan McCarthy and Christina Curry indulged in some chocolate recipes in September: 

Spicy Dark Chocolate Fondue

6 oz fine dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
½ cup almond milk (or cream)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp sea salt

Heat almond milk on low heat until it lightly boils.  Turn off heat and add chopped chocolate.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in cayenne pepper and sea salt and gently stir.  Transfer to fondue pot.  Arrange your favorite accompaniments on a platter with the chocolate fondue using fondue forks or bamboo skewers for dipping.  Serve chocolate fondue with strawberries, kiwi, fresh figs, pineapple, bananas, graham crackers, shortbread or pound cake.
Serves 4

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

8 oz dark chocolate
1 12 oz package silken tofu
2 T agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 T espresso, chilled

1. Using a double boiler, slowly melt chocolate until smooth.
2. In a blender, combine tofu, melted chocolate, agave nectar, vanilla extract and espresso.
3. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.

It's not too late to get a chocolate fix!  Chocolate: Seed to Sweet runs through January 2, 2011.  Find an up-to-date list of happenings here.