Chocolate, made from the seed of the cocoa tree, has been around for most of human history, but Europeans didn’t discover its enticements until Montezuma poured a cup of hot choclate for Spanish conquistador Cortes in the 1500s.
It didn’t take long for the flavorful beverage to become the fashionable drink among the continental nobility, and our passion for the stuff has only mushroomed since. Europeans still account for the consumption of almost half the world’s chocolate, but we aren’t far behind. Americans eat it up in second place, consuming 20 percent of the world’s annual chocolate production.
That love affair with chocolate is the theme of the annual WYES Chocolate Sunday, taking place Sunday at Harrah’s Casino Theater. Bakeries, caterers and restaurants will help create chocolate nirvana in a variety of guises.
And sure, you know that chocolate can be liquid, solid and pretty much everything in between, but you may not know some of the ingenious ways that local cooks put the cocoa bean to use.
Here, for your chocolate edification, are half a dozen ways of indulging in chocolate that might surprise you. All will be available for sampling at Chocolate Sunday:
Chocolate Cotton Candy. Poof! Gourmet Cotton Candy spins a new theme on that quintessential carnival favorite. Think snoballs, only not wet. This by-New Orleanians-for-New Orleanians company has more than 150 flavors; for Chocolate Sunday they’re spinning White Russian, Mudslide, Amaretto and S-Mores. The first three taste just like their cocktail namesakes, while the S’Mores are comprised of chocolate cotton candy spun on toasted marshmallow sticks and topped with graham cracker sprinkles. Speaking of which, an array of edible glitters, colored and flavored crunchies, non-pareils and spices will be on hand for interactive sprinkling purposes.
Chocolate Paraffin Hand Dips. Talk about refined taste. Spa Isbell in the Lower Garden District softens and moisturizes your skin with chocolate paraffin hand dips. The wax is heated, then you plunge in your hands two or three times to coat them with the warm oiled wax, withdraw and wrap them in plastic and sit back and enjoy the soothing sensation. Think of it as chocolate indulgence without the calories.
Icy Hot Chocolate. It’s hot chocolate, only cold. Frozen. The flavor for Chocolate Sunday will be Decadent Dark, Blue Frog Chocolate’s most popular drink. Though close runners-up are Creole (dark and white chocolate), Mayan Blend (spices from Meso-America, where chocolate began) and NOLA Nectar (a trip straight back to the past and K&B’s Nectar Soda). Do you eat it? Drink it? Who cares. In case you can’t decide, Blue Frog will have a 10-slab pound of chocolate for sharing.
Red Bean and Rice Truffle. The Hyatt Regency’s new Borgne restaurant is gaining accolades for sophisticated pairings. We’re not sure just what goes into Red Bean and Rice Truffles, but they certainly souns New Orleans.
Chocolate City Ice Cream. With tongues firmly in cheek, New Orleans Ice Cream serves up this deliciously sarcastic chocolate ice cream filled with shards of white chocolate chips. It’s a reference to post-Katrina remarks by former mayer Ray Nagin, who said, “It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”
Bacon and Strawberry Chocolate-Covered Jalapenos. Innovative Baton Rouge Restaurant IPO wraps a jalapeno in bacon, fries it, dips it in chocolate and tops with strawberries. Sort of a “more is more” approach to strong foods.
WYES CHOCOLATE SUNDAY