Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Sweetest Place on Earth

When entering the hub of this charming Pennsylvania town, you can rely on the signs to tell you where you are, or you can simply follow your nose. If the towering brown smoke stacks branded with the name familiar to every candy counter don’t give it away, or the street lights shaped as Kisses, it’s the smell of chocolate in the air that unmistakably let you know that you are in Hershey.

Home of the infamous Hershey bar, the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania is like the Disney World of chocolate. Rather than a mouse, Milton Hershey built his dream on sugar and cocoa. With the Hershey bar, he found a way to make quality milk chocolate marketable and revolutionized the way it was mass produced. Originally constructed around the Hershey factory in order to provide workers with a place to live, the town of Hershey complete with an amusement park, is now an attraction for families from all over the country and a mecca for chocoholics.

Last week, I entered Hershey with a mission: to eat anything and everything chocolate. Making matters easier, I stayed at the Hotel Hershey, Milton Hershey’s own hotel built in the 1930’s. There, everyone is officially greeted with their own dark or milk Hershey bar (I got the dark), “Kissed” goodnight with a few of the famous foil-wrapped chocolates on the pillow, and coaxed with bowls of assorted fun sized bars waiting around at any turn.

In addition to the candy itself, every menu from one of the hotel’s several restaurants boasted something epically chocolicious—drinks, desserts, entrees—If I saw chocolate, I ordered it. I tasted as much I could until I was busting at the seams like a chocolate-dipped blueberry Violet Beauregarde fit to be rolled to the juicing room by oompa loompas. Roll with me into a chocolate-induced stupor as I relive last week’s sweet memories…

Death by Chocolate Martini:
chocolate vodka, dark chocolate liqueur, dark crème de cacao, chocolate sugar rim, and a Hershey’s Kiss.

Chocolate Cherry Bread with Chocolate Butter.
This was the bread before the meal but it tasted like dessert. Sweet and rich, it was more like chocolate cake and icing. Pretty good start, I’d say!

Cocoa-Dused Scallops
Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie.
There are many knockoffs of this pie out there--this one was the real deal.

Hotel Hershey’s signature chocolate cream pie at Harvest restaurant.
Everything is homemade from the whipped cream down to the chocolate itself. The hotel’s newest restaurant, Harvest is a farm to table eatery that sources only local ingredients.
Mini s’mores cupcake from the hotel’s cupcake shop.

And just in case you didn’t get enough chocolate, placed on the table with the check at the Hotel Hershey's Circular Dining Room: salted caramel, raspberry filled chocolate, and chocolate dipped, chocolate filled, chocolate French macaroon. I had to take them to go! The macaroon was like a brownie; so amazing! The caramel was also delicious. Milton Hershey (pictured) actually started his candy-making career in caramels. 

Since the actual Hershey factory is not open for tours, Chocolate World is one of the town’s main attractions where you can learn the process of how they make their famous sweets. Along with chocolate bars and Kisses, you’ll find other Hershey-made favorites including Reese’s, Jolly Ranchers, Kit Kats, Twizzlers, and of course, chocolate syrup. Here, you can also take a fun crash course in chocolate tasting. Set up much like a wine tasting, you are given a variety of different chocolates ranging from Hershey’s classic milk to artisanal dark. For each different kind, you examine the smell, taste, and sound or “snap.”

When tasting, it was advised to resist biting into the chocolate, allowing it to melt on your tongue in order to pick up the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter profiles. Try it out for yourself sometime and see what you can taste. It is an especially enjoyable way to savor dark chocolate. Similar to wine, chocolate has different flavor notes; it can be floral, citrusy, or woodsy. Hershey sources their cocoa beans from all over the world. Where the beans are from play a large role in what the final product will taste like. For example, if the beans grow in a tropical forest around banana and citrus plants, you may pick up some of those notes in the chocolate.

I think I accomplished my chocolate eating mission, tenfold! And I’m still not tired of it! As a matter of fact, all this talking about it makes me want a peice right now...


Eloise said...

Glad you guys had such a great trip! It really is the sweetest place on earth and one of my favorite places to visit!!!!!

Rick said...

That cupcake looks amazing. When I went there they didn't have any desserts. And I got burnt in the chocolate ride.

Evan @swEEts said...

Marisa..on a jealousy scale of 1-10 I'm at about a 20! So much chocolate!! I think you just spent a weekend in my heaven.. screw Disney World, I want to go here!!

alison said...

i'm made about chocolate and in your post is so much chocolate ...drooling!:))

Stephanie said...

Wow that is a lot of chocolate! Looks like you had a fantastic trip.

~Lisa~ said...

OH my! The first time I went there was when I was 7? Great post. And did you visit the Hershey spa where they give you a bath full of chocolate! You must try!

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Oh Marisa, this is heaven! just had park special the other day. It was good. You looked so happy in the last pic with 3 Hersey's on hand!

Karen said...

What a fun trip! I want to eat everything in those photos, particularly the pie and the martini! YUM!


Fun! Chocolate really does make everything better!

Adelina said...

Nice Marisa! Had no idea there was also a hotel. That would a dream come true stay for my kids next to Wonka Factory.

Adelina said...

Nice Marisa! Had no idea there was also a hotel. That would a dream come true stay for my kids next to Wonka Factory.

Foodessa said... accomplished much more than your mission today. You managed to give me a tour that I had heard of and couldn't put visions to...until your fabulous post. Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed yourself. Hopefully one day I'll get up there too ;o)

Flavourful chocolate wishes,

Fashion Meets Food said...

I got such a headache last time I was at Hershey! lol the chocolate smell was so over whelming. Its always so much fun though. Looks like you got a lot of yummy things.


Jason Phelps said...

That does like it could kill. I don't generally use chocolate in drinks that I make for myself, I was allergic to it when I was a kid and am only now slowly developing a taste for it, but I am going to have to give this a spin!!