Chocolate creativity comes in many forms

Since chocolate’s never really been my thing, inspiration for a blog on this weekend’s Oregon Chocolate Festival didn’t come easily.

Then I saw Jim Craven’s video on the chocolate sculpture chocolatier Jeff Shepherd built for the festival at Ashland Springs Hotel. Now, that’s edible art I can get excited about.

Maybe it’s because I love documentaries of international pastry and confectionery competitions, which chronicle the spectacular highs and lows of participating chefs. As beautiful as they are, chocolate sculptures are precarious and prone to mishaps but if done right consist of nothing but entirely edible ingredients.

Shepherd’s coral reef is one of the more colorful sculptures I’ve seen and while it doesn’t tower to extraordinarily impressive heights, one can still appreciate its painstaking detail. Even if the festival wasn’t on your weekend itinerary, passers-by can view the sculpture without buying a ticket.

Of course, Shepherd, owner of Lillie Belle Farms, is an entertaining character always ready to ply his next product and relive his accolades. If the festival does sound up your alley, he’ll be presenting a program on the science behind chocolate Saturday evening at ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum in Ashland and closing the festival Sunday afternoon with a demonstration of more chocolate art. See the weekend’s schedule of events for more details.

Or just get creative in your own kitchen this weekend. My culinary forays into chocolate are few, mostly consisting of dark-chocolate-chunk and walnut cookies. But this recipe courtesy of The Associated Press reinvents s’mores as a cookie and, as a bonus, contains a healthy dose of oats.

S’mores Cookies

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup mini marshmallows

2 cups coarsely crushed graham crackers (about 8 crackers)

Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bow, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium to beat together the butter and both sugars until creamy, about 4 minutes.

With mixer on low, one at a time add the eggs, beating gently until combined. Add the vanilla. Reduce mixer to low, then add flour mixture. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers until just combined.

Evenly space 6 rounded tablespoons of dough per baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between them. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool for 15 minutes on baking sheets, then use a spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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