Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eurochocolate in Perugia, Italy & Easy Chocolate Cream-Filled Torte

October is a great month for Italian food festivals, especially mushrooms, chestnuts, chocolate, and truffles. On October weekends, you’ll find fall food festivals and wine harvest celebrations all over Italy. One of my favorite festivals is called Eurochocolate. It is a chocolate lover’s paradise. As my readers know, I am a huge chocolate lover. So when I read about this festival, I just had to share it with all of you. This big chocolate festival takes place in Perugia, Italy, from October 14th through October 23rd. Eurochocolate this year celebrates its 18th birthday. This sweet event attracts about 900,000 visitors, and is famous for its Perugina, Baci chocolates.

The Perugina Company was formed in 1907 in the beautiful hill town of Perugia, in Umbria, and soon became one of the most successful confectionary companies in Italy. In 1922, Luisa Spagnoli, one of the founding members of the company, began to experiment with a new product, mixing together chocolate with hazelnuts. The product was delicious and took a rather strange form which resembled a fist, and the chocolate came to be called Cazzotto, literally a punch. Later given the more romantic title of Baci (“kiss“) by Giovanni Buitoni, and little love notes were placed inside the confectionary wrapping. Baci chocolates are one of the gifts most commonly exchanged between lovers today. Perugina has four shops in New York including its flagship store on Fifth Ave.

Legend has it that Luisa Spagnoli, wife of one of the founders of the Perugina Company, invented the Baci, in honor of her young love, Giovanni Buitoni, the son of another founding member of the company, who was 14 years her junior. (Incidentally the Buitoni families continue to be famous for their pasta.) Luisa, forced to keep her love a secret, wrote short romantic messages which she wrapped inside the chocolate and gave to Giovanni. After Luisa’s death, Giovanni wanted to keep this tradition of love messages in the chocolate, which can still be found in the wrappings today.

Eurochocolate is the most popular festival that takes place in Perugia and is known as the European capital of chocolate. For 10 days the Umbrian town transforms itself for the occasion in a huge open air pastry shop for the delight of all chocoholics. This Perugia festival will be organized with dozens of events concentrated on the “food of the gods” with exhibitions, cooking classes, tasting, chocolate sculptures, banquets, and many other celebrations. At Eurochocolate you can find a Chocolate Show, with over 150 signatures from around the world. Each year, new themes and entertainment are dedicated to the young and old. In this Chocolate Show, which has the widest range of chocolate products, Italian and foreign crafts, and this year also has an area for gluten-free products. For all the tourists and local Italians, this event is without any doubt a good one to discover the most remote corners of this antique medieval center and to enjoy the famous Umbrian hospitality.  

My mom, Madeline & dad, Robert

I remember when I was growing up in my Italian American family; we always had chocolates as a treat. Especially on the holidays, one of my chores when I was young was to polish the silver trays and place the chocolates on them for company. My parents made sure that they always had many goodies to serve their guests. I have many memories of chocolate candies, Ferrara-Italian Torrone (nougat candy), Hershey’s chocolate kisses, and of course we can’t forget the Baci chocolates, from Perugina. The silver wrapper on the Baci looked spectacular on the silver trays which illumined like lights on a Christmas tree. It was extremely hard not to just take one and unwrap the silver paper, but I waited till the guests had their fill. Then, I opened the little ball of silver and took a bite of this delicious hazelnut center which was like a bit of heaven in my mouth. As I would enjoy this petite ball of chocolate, I would read the love note that was enclosed in its wrapper. What a special treat that was when I was young and I still do the same as my parents did many years ago, place them on a silver tray, especially at Christmas so my guests can enjoy them as well.

Well, to honor all things chocolate, I thought this recipe is an easy, creamy, and very elegant “Chocolate Cream-Filled Torte,” for anytime of the year. I have made this a number of times and acquired this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Hershey’s Classic Recipe Book.” So try a piece of chocolate, whether it is a piece of chocolate cake, candy or even a small Baci, from Perugina. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Cream-Filled Torte

1 frozen pound cake (10 3/4 ounces) thawed
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)
Sliced almonds (optional)

1. Cut cake horizontally to make 4 layers. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl. Add whipping cream and vanilla, beat until stiff.
2. Place bottom cake layer on serving platter. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture on cake layer. Place next cake layer on top of mixture, continue layering whipped cream mixture and cake until all have been used.
3. Prepare Chocolate Glaze, spoon over top of cake, allowing to drizzle down sides. Garnish with almonds, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cover; refrigerate
leftover torte.

Chocolate Glaze:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa and 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and slightly thickened. Do not boil! Remove from heat and gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, beating with whisk until smooth. Makes about 1/2 cup glaze.

Makes about 8 to 10 servings

Till Next Time………
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1 comment:

  1. If you love chocolate then you should attend the biggest show about it, me and my friends will be there and I'm sure it will be awesome.