Does chocolate say love or does love say chocolate?
Our love affair with chocolate goes back centuries — since the cacao bean appeared in the Western world, its magical powers warmly embraced. For this we thank the Aztecs, who generously shared their discovery.
We have since used many words to describe this brown elixir — sensuous, intriguing, delicious, addictive. The Latin name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the Gods” — and who are we to disagree?
While connoisseurs consider Belgian chocolate the ultimate, the Swiss and the French also have cultivated the cocoa bean to a fine art of sweet taste. We Americans unabashedly savor imports, but assert affection for familiar chocolatiers such as Godiva, Ghirardelli, and See’s.
Meanwhile, the powerful confection has been feted in books (Chocolate French showcases all aspects of the French adoration of chocolate), films (Who can forget Chocolat?), and museums (Chicago’s Field Museum mounted a tasty 2002 exhibition covering chocolate’s 2,000-year history — From Seed to Sweet — that went on a national tour).
Palm Springs’ chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a group of women in culinary professions, celebrates chocolate at its annual L’Affaire Chocolat — a mouth-watering dream that also raises money for scholarships, part of the organization’s “Young Chef in the Making” program.
And what a party! Chocolate tastings, professional chef competition, celebrity judges, cooking demonstrations, an auction, and champagne — an all-out gala hosted by Miramonte Resort in Indian Wells and sponsored by Palm Springs Life.
Best in Show and Most Romantic (see photo above)
Yasmin Martin, pastry chef
The Vintage Club, Indian Wells
A double whammy for this talented young pastry chef, A Passion for Butterfly Kisses bespeaks her romantic approach and won the hearts of the judges. Chocolate mousse made with Alize passion liqueur with a passion cream and caramelized hazelnut center, a praline royaltine crust, topped with a chocolate glaze and passion fruit tuile. The dreamy butterflies and flower are made carefully of milk chocolate. Plated with a polka-dot jacande cake and raspberry and passion fruit coulis, this entry was truly a romance in chocolate.