Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolat in Fredericksburg

Visual Traveler returns with the 200th entry, today, and it's good to be back. Sometimes, you just have to leave things alone and let them simmer awhile before you can return for another taste, and that's what I've done with this blog. Recovery from a broken elbow through much of the summer, plus intensive travels through the state of Kansas while doing research for a travel guide have resulted in a new focus. Look for food-related posts on Wednesdays, a Crossing Kansas entry on Fridays, and another travel entry - often related to food - on Mondays. And, most of all, ENJOY!

Lecia Duke watches intently as we pop liquid center chocolates in our mouths, during a press trip to Fredericksburg, TX. She encourages us to let them sit on our tongues until the chocolate shell warms up and breaks open. A rush of Almendrado (almond) tequila suddenly bathes my tongue, swirling together with the melted dark chocolate shell. I immediately want to try a second. This time there’s an explosion of rich, seductive ruby port as melting chocolate envelopes my tongue.

These are only a few varieties of the liquid center chocolates available at Chocolat/Quintessential Chocolates Co., Inc., a must-visit local destination for chocolate lovers. Duke’s ‘Spirited Selection’ liquid centers include Tennessee Whiskey, Amaretto, French Cognac Champagne, spiced rum and Russian Orange Vodka. Wine lovers can sample chocolates made with blackberry, orange Muscat, Washington raspberry and Muscat Hamburg wines, and non-alcohol selections include mesquite roasted or espresso coffee and black cherry or peach nectar.

Duke created her three- to five-day chocolate molding and filling process following her apprenticeship with a Swiss master chocolatier. By 1984, Chocolat was born. Duke casts all of her molds in the store. She and her staff use Merckens Yucatan chocolate, with 53-70% cacao, and her American roots inspired her to add liquid flavorings that Americans would appreciate. She’s also quick to point out that one of these decadent chocolates, made with at least 50 percent cacao, has only 28 calories and an astounding antioxidant level of 13,000.
But there’s more to Duke’s repertoire than liquid chocolates. Sample her silk fudge – melt-in-your-mouth, creamy and luscious, in German Chocolate, Raspberry and several other decadent flavors. Crafted only with chocolate, heavy whipping cream and flavoring, these chocolate-based confections have no added sugar, taking their sweetness from the chocolate itself. Across the tiny lobby samples of chile-laced dark chocolate are rich and satisfying, while the heat grows with each bite.

I guarantee that you won't want to stop with just one.

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