Taste of Chocolate raises money and induces sugar high

In its 16th year, the Taste of Chocolate event has been giving locals a sugar high while raising money for the Bloomington Center for the Arts. What did a ticket get you at yesterday's event? Miniature desserts from each of the participating chocolatiers and pastry shops--13 in total this year.

Many of the same treats that attendees sampled on Sunday were quietly being judged by a panel in a zoo-like windowed room off the event's main thoroughfare. Truffles, brigadeiros (a Brazilian truffle-like fudge confection), tortes, cakes, and dacquoises were plated a la Food Network Challenges and served to the judges to critique while passersby marveled at the culinary treasures inside.

Some were understated examples you might see in a local bakery's display case, while a few were masterful showpieces, illustrating the kind of creativity you might expect to see in Vegas, New York, or L.A.

If the entries were any indication, you can expect to see a lot of apricot as a dessert trend this year, as well as citrus fruit with chocolate: pineapple, blood orange, and apricot were all well represented.

Taste of Chocolate raises money and induces sugar high
Sara Rice

And the winners? In the confection category, Kevin Lindee of Ganache's roasted pineapple-cilantro truffles took top honors. Its bright and unusual flavor won over the Blarney Knot--a three-layer truffle filled with dark chocolate-cinnamon ganache, blood orange white chocolate, and Bailey's Irish Cream white chocolate--and a sampling of three flavors of brigadeiros (chocolate, peanut, and coconut lemon).

Patisserie Margo's "Sofya" wowed the judges with both its high level of technical skill and innovative flavors. Pastry chef Darcia Nunes--multi-time winner of this competition, as well as many others--created a dome of white chocolate mousse filled with apricot gelee, which sat on a square of devil's food cake layered with ground almond, served with a saffron and honey buttercream, dried apricots, and a chocolate-apricot accent piece. The design was inspired by Nunes's recent trip to Istanbul, where she visited Aya Sofya, once a basilica and then a mosque (now a museum).

Taste of Chocolate raises money and induces sugar high
Sara Rice

Visually stunning as well as a dream to eat, it was the clear winner, even among strong competitors.

The chocolate wasn't the only attraction, however; ballet and choral performances and a silent auction filled with handmade jewelry, local products, and gift baskets for nearly every interest kept attendees busy in between samples.

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