T-Day is here. Whether you are getting a tax refund or painfully writing a check, you deserve to celebrate (or commiserate) by escaping for a day, preferably to a world of pure enjoyment. The perfect little “trip” is coming on Saturday as the annual Big Island Chocolate Festival turns the ballroom and courtyard of Hapuna Beach Resort into “Chocolate Around the World” from 5-9 p.m.
Indulge in both sweet and savory creations by chefs and chocolatiers, unlimited beer and wine, a tasty mole and salad bar, chocolate body painting and specialty cocktails. Music, dancing, and a silent auction add to the festive mood. Proceeds from the event benefit Hawaii Institute of Pacific Agriculture, University of Hawaii Maui College’s culinary arts program, Waimea Country School, Kona Pacific Public Charter School, and Kona Dance &Performing Arts. Tickets to the gala are $85 presale, $100 at the door, and can be purchased online at https://bigislandchocolatefestival.com/tickets/.
While you wait for the main event, here’s a couple of chocolate delights generously shared by participating chefs.
Dark Chocolate Pate
Courtesy of Fenton Lee, Mauna Kea Resort Executive Pastry Chef; makes up to 24 pieces.
15 oz. bittersweet chocolate, preferably Big Island Chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 oz. butter
4 egg yolks
½ cup powdered sugar
3 oz. liqueur such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Kahana,
Cocoa powder (for dusting)
Line a vessel with parchment paper (loaf pan, terrine mold, etc.) Place chopped chocolate into a double boiler; add cream and butter. Melt over medium heat, stirring until completely smooth. Whisk in egg yolks. Sift powdered sugar into chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in liqueur. Pour into prepared pan. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready, unmold cake and remove paper. Dust top with cocoa powder. Cut to desired size with warm knife.
Chocolate Lava Cupcakes
Chef Michelle Gomez, Executive Sous Chef at the Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa, is mentoring Konawaena High School students who will also have a booth at the festival.
2 tablets of Abuelita Mexican chocolate (used to make Mexican-style hot chocolate, also known as para mesa or table chocolate. This is readily available in West Hawaii stores, including Walmart.)
1 stick butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kona Coffee “Frosting” (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter; add vanilla extract. Remove from double boiler and set aside. In a separate large bowl sift together salt, sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Add warm chocolate to the sifted dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, slowly mix in eggs, one at a time. Continue to mix on high speed until batter is creamy and smooth. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers; fill cupcake papers with ½ cup batter each. Bake 11 minutes; remove from oven. Spread warm frosting on cupcakes and serve with vanilla ice cream (optional.)
Kona Coffee ‘Frosting’
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup sugar
1/2 cup brewed Kona coffee
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons butter
In a saucepan, heat the chocolate, salt, cornstarch and sugar; stir in coffee. Bring to boil over medium heat while stirring. Once thickened: whisk in vanilla and butter. While warm spread frosting on cupcakes.
Mauna Kea Resort executive pastry chef Fenton Lee supervises two teams that create delectable sweets at both Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Resort.
Lee is an award-winning pastry chef who has worked in the pastry kitchens of some of Hawaii’s top hotels. He was also owner of Hale Aina Award winner Hawaiian Classic Desserts Restaurant and Bakery on Kauai.
Lee’s focus, in addition to creative breads and pastries, is to develop and mentor his team while assuring product quality and the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction.