What if life were made of chocolate? A group of 19 Davis & Elkins College students got to find out during the college's recent Winter Term.
For the concentrated three-week session, the group focused on the cacao bean and all things created from it. In the end, students produced creamy parfaits, delectable candies, and fluffy, moist cakes filled with rich molten chocolate. One final project showed a house built of dark chocolate, with a sweet puff of white chocolate curling from its chimney. Nearby, a molded chocolate bridge crossed a river of milk chocolate. All was surrounded by a chocolate-covered pretzel fence.
Derrick Helzer, an adjunct professor at D&E who instructed History and Production of Chocolate 105, says while the class was fun, students put forth an intense effort learning the delicate culinary skills needed for the various steps to their creations.
Roisin McSparron, a freshman from Carnlough, Ireland, and Ashley Stitely, a junior from Philippi, display their final project for History and Production of Chocolate 105. Their piece consisted of chocolate mousse filled clementines with chocolate garnishes, red velvet fudge, white chocolate brownie and cake ball truffles with assorted toppings and garnishes.
"We began the term by learning a bit of chocolate history and wasted no time moving right into truffles and molding. The students did a fabulous job creating flavors, playing with different flavor combinations, and really taking the class to a new level," Helzer comments.
The students, mostly Hospitality Management majors at D&E, spent about two-and-a -half hours a day in the kitchen of the historic Halliehurst mansion. They were also required to write weekly papers, which Helzer says, "spoke to how they were loving the class and learning so many things to take with them later in life."
In addition to their final projects, the students were charged with creating approximately 250 chocolates for an upcoming meeting of the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities.
"The students were so happy when they began producing product for the event, and almost every piece turned out just perfect," Helzer says. "I am so honored and proud to have been a part of their experience here at D&E and look forward to what future classes create."
A graduate of D&E, Helzer refined his technical and classical skills while working at the Greenbrier as a chef. He works as a substitute teacher in Randolph County schools and Adjunct Professor at D&E while he continues to foster his love of foods through his catering business, Fabulous Fruits, Cakes and Catering.
For more information, please visit the college website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.