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The month of February brings a special holiday, Valentine’s Day. Hershey bills itself as the sweetest place on earth, and there is a month-long celebration of chocolate events. You can make truffles or design your own heart-shaped milk chocolate confection at The Hershey Story. Adults can learn how to create a chocolate martini at the Hershey Lodge. Families can enjoy high tea at The Hotel Hershey, which includes tea sandwiches, delectable pastries, scones and a fine selection of teas or go to the Hersheypark Chocolate Parade at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Some of the other events are wine and chocolate pairing, beer and chocolate pairing, creating your own hot cocoa recipe, dessert buffets, and many different events to choose from. The Spa at Hotel Hershey offers a chocolate spa sampler. The events vary, as some are for families with children, others for couples and many are for any lover of chocolate.

My husband Bill and I were invited by Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, to the kick-off of Chocolate Covered February. We were very lucky to experience Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire on Friday, February 5 at Hotel Hershey. The meal was excellent. Each dish had the flavor of chocolate infused into it. Each of five courses was paired with a different wine to sample.

The meal started with a chilled cocoa-chili prawn served with gingered butternut squash puree, toasted pumpkin seeds and pickled red onions. The appetizer was served next; chocolate braised veal cheek served over house made three cheese ravioli, wilted spinach, carrot and chocolate curry sauce.

The salad was baby red and green oak leaves. This is a type of leaf lettuce shaped like an oak leaf with a buttery texture. This was served with chocolate poached pear, brie cheese, chocolate almond brittle and a lemon-chocolate vinaigrette. The chef at Hotel Hershey shared a recipe for Chocolate-Spiced Vinaigrette for you to try at home.

To cleanse the palate, Prosecco Orange Sorbet was served next. This was more tart than sweet.

The entree we chose was spiced Cocoa Rubbed Tenderloin of beef, accompanied by whipped potatoes with caramelized red onions, roasted carrots and parsnips, scallions and madeira-chocolate sauce.

The grand finale was dessert. The pastry chef served a dark chocolate raspberry torte with a blackberry Merlot sauce, which was delicious.

For a complete list of chocolate-themed events go to http://www.chocolatecoveredfebruary.com.

The Hotel Hershey Peanut Butter Pie
The Hotel Hershey Culinary Team, from The Hotel Hershey
Ingredients:

Crust: 2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs, finely ground 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 stick butter at room temperature

Filling: 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened 2 cups plus 1 cup powdered sugar 1 40-ounce jar peanut butter 3 cups plus 1 quart heavy cream 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter chips 1 9-inch Oreo pie crust

Directions:

Crust: Mix all ingredients well with melted warm butter. Form mixture into ball. Brush soft butter inside of 9-inch pie dish. Press crumbs evenly around pie dish.

Filling: Cream butter, 2 cups powdered sugar and peanut butter very well. Whip 3 cups heavy cream. Fold the butter, sugar and peanut butter mixture with the whipped cream. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter chips. Fill pie crust with filling. Whip remaining 1-quart heavy cream with 1 cup powdered sugar until firm. Pipe over top of pie. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of peanut butter chips over top of pie. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

The Hotel Hershey's Chocolate Cream Pie
The Hotel Hershey Culinary Team, from The Hotel Hershey
Ingredients: 9-inch baked pastry shell 2 1/2 cups milk, divided 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 5 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 egg yolks 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 2 tablespoons butter, shaved chocolate or Hershey's Kisses for garnish Image 

Directions: Heat 1 1/2 cups milk and sugar in 1-quart saucepan. Combine 1 cup milk with flour, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Temper by adding 1/3 of the hot sugar/milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Stir one minute, then remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir in until melted. Finish with vanilla and butter. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate. To serve, garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate or unwrapped Hershey's Kisses.

Yield: 1 pie (8 servings)

Spiced Chocolate Rub
Ingredients: (by volume)
2 ½ ounces – Hershey’s Cocoa Powder
1 ½ ounces --Mushroom Powder
1 ½ ounces – Espresso
1 ½ teaspoon – Chipotle Chili Powder
1 ½ teaspoon – Pasilla Negro Chili Powder
1 ½ teaspoon – Chili Powder
¾ teaspoon – Garlic, Granulated
¾ teaspoon – Onion, Granulated
1 ½ teaspoon – Mustard Seeds, Whole Ground
1 ½ teaspoon t – Paprika
¼ teaspoon– Cinnamon, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Cardamom, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Allspice, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Nutmeg, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Cloves, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Mace, ground
1/8 teaspoon – Ginger, ground
¾ teaspoon – Black Pepper, fresh ground
1 ½ teaspoon – Salt

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly for 5 minutes. For best results use a table top mixer.
Sear protein (meat, seafood)product well on all sides. Let cool and coat completely. Finish in low oven.

Chocolate-Spiced Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 Pt.
Ingredients:
½ teaspoon – Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons – Honey
4 ounces – Apple Cider Vinegar
12 ounces – Oil
1 teaspoon – Hershey Cocoa Powder
¼ teaspoon – Allspice, ground
¼ teaspoon – Cloves, ground
¼ teaspoon Mace, ground
¼ teaspoon – Nutmeg, ground
¼ teaspoon – Cinnamon, ground
½ teaspoon – Chili Powder
-Salt & Black pepper to taste

Method;
• In a clean bowl add mustard, honey, and vinegar. Using a whisk mix very well
• Slow add oil while whisking until oil is full incorporated into vinegar mixture
• Add all spices and carefully then carefully start whisking until all are fully incorporated. Make sure to wipe down sides of bowl
• Taste and adjust and season with salt and pepper as necessary
• Pour vinaigrette into to container, cover and refrigerate over night

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