Chocolate was the unifying factor at the Heard Museum's second annual Haute Chocolate festival, held Friday, January 31. From cocktails to cupcakes -- with some Peruvian cacao thrown in -- it was a sweet evening with a few twists and even an edible fashion show.
The Heard served up a chocolate cocktail made with Dorda double chocolate liqueur, vodka, and chocolate syrup -- a great way to warm up for the tastings ahead.
Super Chunk Sweets and Treats gave out samples of chocolate bacon caramel corn and the Butti Ma Buoni, an almond cocoa meringue cookie, was sweet without being overpowering, hollow, with almonds hugging the inside.
Our favorite cupcakes of the night came from Chow Bella contributor Rachel Miller of from Pistol Whipped Pastry. We sampled dark chocolate cupcakes, one with black cocoa frosting and gold sprinkle, and the other topped with vanilla buttercream, bourbon caramel and homemade graham crumb. The cake was moist and sweet, but not overpowering, and the frostings were airy and light in sweetness.
Adding spice to the evening, jalepeño toffee from DD's Desert Delights -- nut and gluten free -- started out sweet, then kicked up the heat at the end of the bite. DD's also offered up dark chocolate peanut brittle and English toffee with almonds.
Nutwhats sampled their Peruvian cacao chocolate bars with a whopping 75 percent cacao. This chocolate was definitely not for the faint of heart. Nutwhats also offered samples of cacao from Madagascar and the Dominican Republic. The Madagascar had a citrus aftertaste, with the Dominican Republic sample tasted more like the dark chocolate we're accustomed to.
The Hyatt Regency Resort prepared chocolate and caramel tarts with a raspberry to top it off. The creamy caramel paired well with the chocolate crust, and the raspberry added fresh sweetness.
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To end the night, the Heard Museum presented a fashion show featuring edible creations designed by local chefs from cooking schools, resorts and bakeries. Chef Chris Cwierz and Gerre Heron from the Art Institute of Phoenix designed a knee-length dress with sugar petals all through the dress and gelatin sequins around the collar. Their model wore high heels with white fondant, topped with roses made from sugar.