Chocolatiers beyond Oregon took home some of the top honors at last weekend’s Oregon Chocolate Festival in Ashland.
For the first time, the 11th annual festival opened competition to chocolatiers in other states. Two California companies placed in the top three.
Best in show was awarded to San Francisco’s CocoTutti. I deliberated with other judges over its Florentine, a liquid caramel infused with citrus, encased in dark chocolate and topped with almonds, but we favored a guava wood-smoked salt confection in the chocolate candy category. Yet CocoTutti’s impeccable miniature pieces for sampling impressed us while its ginger caramel with Thai chili and peanuts blew us away. The newcomers also were runners-up in the People’s Choice vote, which was cast for Holm Made Toffee Co..
First runner-up went to Smitten Artisan Truffles, winner in the chocolate truffle category. The Portland company offers neat, little tastes of flavored ganache, rather than fracturing its truffles to provide samples. The owner says the method, unique to the festival, was inspired by selling a friend’s goat cheese.
Second-runner status delighted Cowboy Toffee Co., of Oakdale, Calif. Folksy but focused branding around its Western theme helped to elevate samples of its ghost-chili and s’mores toffees.
Best traditional use of chocolate: Cabruca Chocolates; best nontraditional use of chocolate: Cascade Slushies; best chocolate candy: Waimea Chocolate Co.; best chocolate truffle: Smitten Artisan Truffles; best raw chocolate: The Great Unbaked; best student chocolate creation: Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, Kayla Carrell.
I brought home enough artisan chocolate to tide over my family this week. If all you have around is a run-of-the-mill variety, make it extra-special by transforming it into a luscious fudge sauce for dipping and drizzling. This recipe, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, is supposed to be foolproof, so long as it’s heated slowly.
Bittersweet Hot Fudge Sauce
9 to 10 ounces bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
In top of a double boiler touching barely simmering water, combine the chocolate, cream, sugar, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons water. Stir frequently until all chocolate has melted, then stir occasionally until sauce is thick and glossy and is 160 to 165 F (exact temperature is not critical, so long as it is close), for 15 to 20 minutes (going slowly is key here). Remove from heat and serve.
Makes about 1 pint.