We have a Chocolate Festival – again?


f66585_788a9f4976f447c586ca333a5febcf3c.png_srz_p_672_225_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzCame across this the other day and at first I was flummoxed. We have a chocolate festival? Why have I not been to it before? It’s like going to Paris and not taking the scary, glass-walled elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It’s like seeing a sign that says wet paint and not touching it to be sure the paint has dried. Some things you just have to do.

If there’s a chocolate festival, well, this is an important thing to know about.

Then I did some research. We apparently did have a festival in conjunction with the Virginia Arts Festival in years past. We did not have one last year. That begged the question – why not?

I checked some Yelp reviews and, as I suspected, the festival was decent but not spectacular. Prices were high, vendors (some at least) were snooty. Attendance dropped. Money was not made. Thusly, last year there was no festival.

How can you mess up a chocolate festival, people? Apparently it happened. We suck.

But we can do better!

Looking at the current list of sponsors, I see some potential. Flour Child Bakery is a family-run business and it is one of the best in town. The Royal Chocolate has been a Beach favorite at the Virginia Beach Town Center since the beginning. Duck Donuts, while not my number one pick for locally-owned and freshly made donuts, is a big hit with everyone at work.

However, Fudge Brother’s Fudge? I went to their website and found it has been “suspended.” It didn’t even rate a 404 Not Found. This does not bode well.

But, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. I would give you a first hand account of the festival, but I will be spending the same week secluded up in the Shenandoah Mountains sampling fine beverages brewed by the Old Hill Cidery and Cross Keys Vineyard. But I digress. Back to the chocolate!

I’ve done my civic duty. I have passed on the information about the chocolate festival. Now it’s up to you to go! In fact, as Monty Hall would say – let’s make a deal.

If you go to the Virginia Beach Chocolate Festival – let me know how it went. You could end up as a guest blogger on Exploding Potatoes!

Think about it. A new culinary critic’s career could be launched.

Apparently not at Fudge Brother’s Fudge, though. Come on guys – let’s see what you got! Now I’m curious.

Send samples!

Sugar Plum Bakery – more than just great cake!


Chocolate Decadence Cake - Sugar Plum Bakery in Virginia Beach

I’ll make this short. If you live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and you need a great cake, there is only place to go: Sugar Plum Bakery in Virginia Beach. Just walking into their store is an experience. So many tantalizing choices!

We had a full sheet cake made and also purchased a specialty cake called Chocolate Decadence. And indeed it was!

Aside from fabulous cake, the whole business model employed by Sugar Plum Bakery is way cool. Check out their mission statement: “… to serve the needs of people with disabilities through employment, education and training.” In other words, this is a very successful bakery that employs, educates and trains persons with various types and levels of challenges. It has enabled many disabled people to transition into the mainstream employment environment.

The cakes help people on both sides of the counter. Find out more by checking out their website: http://sugarplumbakery.org.

In the meantime, take a look at the magnificent cakes below and at the top!

Full sized sheet cake, half chocolate - half vanilla / all tasty!

There is Chocolate Pecan Pie in Heaven, and in the kitchen!


Chocolate Pecan (pah-cahn') Pie

So what do you get a guy who has everything? I mean, really. I have a nice house, a job, two little puppies and the best family ever. We are all in good health and my daughter has an A in physics (without my help. With it she would have a C…). I have been truly blessed. But there was this birthday see…

Chocolate Pecan Pie, you say? Why, yes! You would be absolutely correct. Putting aside her studies of trains leaving New York and Los Angeles at different speeds, number one daughter made a pecan pie for my birthday. It didn’t last long, so she just made another. Courtesy of Betty Crocker, this proves that if you can read and follow directions, the little red cookbook will not steer you wrong! Try it – you’ll love it!

First, either make your favorite pie crust or get one of those pre-made ones. The food police won’t get you; it’s alright. And… if you roll it out a little and then hand pinch the edges once it is in the pie dish, people won’t be able to tell the difference.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F)

Place prepared crust into a 9 inch pie pan. We use glass, but that’s just us.

Now for the good part:

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (don’t bother with the fake stuff. Live a little.)
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup light corn syrup (see? what’s the point of margarine?)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup pecan halves

Melt the chocolate with the butter.

Beat the sugar, chocolate/butter, corn syrup, salt and eggs with a hand beater. Stir in pecans. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate.

Bake until set, 40 – 50 minutes. Once the top looks “cooked”, remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack for about 20 minutes.

Once cool enough to put in the refrigerator without hurting the fridge, put it in the fridge to thoroughly cool down and set, at least two hours.

Now this last part is important. Have at least three friends over when you take the pie out of the cooler. If you don’t…you may end up eating the whole thing yourself, in one sitting. That would taste great for a few minutes, but this is just too rich. And besides, you may need those friends some day and you can always remind them about how you gave them the best pie they ever had – Chocolate Pecan Pie!