Loving Up on Chocolate
- story by Lisa Monti, photography by Julie Ragusa
Thank heaven for the sweet celebration of Valentine’s Day in the heart of February, a month that tends to be damp and cloudy. And a special thanks for all manner of chocolate, by far the most preferred treat to share and savor on Feb. 14.
Not that enjoying chocolate is confined to this month. There actually are three official National Chocolate Days on the calendar of candy holidays: July 7, Oct. 28 and Dec. 28.
Chocolate fills our King cakes during the Carnival season, flavors the snowballs of summer and puts the divine in divinity fudge.
Not only is chocolate a comforting treat, the dark version has health benefits. And the taste, the melt-in-your-mouth texture is lagniappe. There’s plenty to love about chocolate.
“It’s addictive, like coffee,” said Julie Ragusa, executive chef at Mockingbird Cafe. “You’ve got to have it.”
For several years, the professional chef lived in Belgium, home of Godiva chocolates, where “there’s a chocolate shop on every corner.”
Now, she’s about to branch out into truffle-making as a side enterprise. The truffles come in two rich parts: a chocolate ganache center and a coating of high quality chocolate that gives it a crunchy shell. Then the truffle is topped with nuts, coconut or sea salt, taking it to another eye-rolling level.
For Valentine’s Day, the Mockingbird will have red velvet cake, heart-shaped King cakes and a double chocolate cake topped with chocolate truffles. Chef Ragusa personally will be making and selling handmade chocolate truffles in an assortment of flavors for purchase through her Facebook page or via Mockingbird Cafe. Look for prices and varieties to be posted soon.
Buttermilk Ganache (semi- sweet)
Cafe Olé (milk chocolate)
Darkest Hour (60% dark)
Black and White (white chocolate ganache with 60% dark shell)