Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Writers, Readers, and Chocolate: a Sweet Relationship, St. Augustine, FL Chocolate Factory Tour

Hello and welcome to the Books We Love Insiders blog. My name is J.Q. Rose, author of the recently released romantic suspense, Dangerous Sanctuary.

Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose
Romantic suspense
Available at amazon

In December 2014, we visited St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European continuously occupied city in the USA. We fell in love with the beautiful city founded 452 years ago. The history, cultures, waterways, the Christmas lights, and music all blended into a great get-away.

Writers and readers love snacking on chocolate,so today I'm taking you on a tour of the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. According to their website. the story of the establishment of this chocolate company is a story of a dream fulfilled for a hard-working, dedicated couple, Henry and Esther Whetstone. They first opened their small ice cream store on St. George Street in the historic business district of St. Augustine in 1966. Henry and Esther entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe in the family’s kitchen.The kitchen was the original Whetstone Chocolate factory and they were the only workers. You can read more about their amazing growth at the Whetstone Chocolate website.

The tour costs $8.00 and is worth every penny of it, especially when Ty was our guide. He was an elementary school teacher for 36 years!  He brings all the energy and enthusiasm he used to teach kids to the tour presentation. Kudos to Ty for his fun tour of the factory. (Of course, how can you NOT have fun when eating samples of delicious chocolate?? We were pretty wired by the end of the tour!!)

Ty begins the tour on the factory floor. Information on the fine ingredients in this artisanal chocolate and the method used to turn cocoa beans into heavenly flavors of chocolate were explained in an adjoining room.

The factory. Yes, I was expecting conveyor belts, clanging bells, a frenzy of machinery, and lots of workers. But no, only about three people working at quiet machines that you will see below.

Ty introduced us to Miss Nan (forgive me if I don't have her name correct). She is bagging their delicious foil-wrapped candy shells and placing them in the boxes.

The machine is making white chocolate. Stirring is an important aspect of making delicious candy. I learned white chocolate does not have cocoa powder as an ingredient, but does contain the cocoa butter.

Milk chocolate machine. The difference between Whetstone's fine chocolates and the Over the Counter kind, as Ty referred to the cheaper manufactured chocolate, is the amount of lecithin, an emulsifier. Cheaper chocolates use none or less lecithin in the product.

Dark chocolate.
Yes, they push the health benefits of eating DARK chocolate.

Ty demonstrates how the hollow chocolate football is made. A measured amount of chocolate is added to the plastic mold he is holding.
A worker continually turns the liquid chocolate leaving a thin layer on the mold. In order to make it evenly shaped, it takes 35 minutes of hand turning to do it right!

The mold and the finished product, a hollow football complete with white chocolate laces!
Beautiful! No,Ty didn't make this one....

Miss Nan revs up the machine that wraps foil around the chocolate shells.

Miss Nan loads the shells into the machine. Ty explained the path the candy took through the gears and belts with a patter that a rap star couldn't have done better! 

Success! Look at the parade of red foil-wrapped candy which Miss Nan will bag later.

Yes, we re-enacted the candy wrapping scene from the I Love Lucy Show.
You can't tell I have the candy stuffed in my mouth and down my bra, just like Lucy. LOL!!

The chocolate factory scene from the I Love Lucy Show.
The real actors in I Love Lucy. Have you seen this episode? It's a classic.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Are you hungry for chocolate now? Do you like dark chocolate?
I bet with the holidays upon us, you'll get many chocolate treats whether candy or desserts. Take time to really taste them and feel the joy this small morsel can bring to us.
Photos by J.Q. Rose
Poinsettia--the traditional Christmas flower

Wishing you joy, peace, hope, and love this Christmas season 
and for the New Year 2017!
About J.Q. Rose
After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking  and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She spends winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

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