Saturday, May 22, 2010

83 Years of Chocolate Expertise

Drew's Fork-Dipped Chocolates can be found in the small Iowa community of Dexter, not far from the state capital of Des Moines.  We previously reviewed some of their chocolates, which we purchased during a trip through Iowa, but today we want to reveal the three types of products they gave your Chocolate Priestess so that she could share their expertise with the world.  You can order these worldwide, so at the end we'll tell you how to do that.

You can find them not via the above sign but with a highway sign along I-80, because they also serve ice cream and some drinks, thus earning the right to a highway sign.  We were thrilled to see that little blue sign and followed it carefully to this door.  This was in mid-March, so they were prepared for St. Patrick's Day, which I recall was widely but mostly privately celebrated when I grew up in Iowa, but that might be because your Chocolate Priestess can count Irish ancestors on her mother's side, and thus part of the reason for her auburn hair.




The shop was fairly small, but I could see a wide range of chocolates as well as the kitchen in the back where they make them.  A couple of tables and -- hey, another person there buying their goods.  You may think that a tiny Iowa store might be in need of business, but let me tell you, every place we found was busy, so plan to wait in line or order for delivery. 

I received three types of products -- one dark, one milk, and one white chocolate -- and I will reveal them to you in reverse order from least to most cocoa content.  First up, then, is the "White Raspberrry Cheesecake" truffles.  As you can see, these have sculpted edges and a fancy scroll design on top, suggesting that these are molded truffles.  They are just over 1.5 inches long, almost an inch wide, and 0.75 inches deep, so this is a nice big chocolate.  They have a creamy scent with a hint of fruity tartness, even though the shell.  A bite reveals a thick but soft shell of white chocolate over a semi-dry dusky pink center that has a sharp, tart raspberry flavor.  As you know, Sisters and Brothers, I think raspberry and chocolate is overdone, but this white chocolate and the texture of this fruity center is different, so I'm pleased with this particular truffle because it is unique and the sweetness balances the tartness well.

Toffee is a common treat, but at Drew's the "Toffee Krunch" are bite-sized pieces dipped in milk chocolate.  These are 1.25 inches long, 0.75 inches wide, and about a quarter of an inch thick.  They smell very sweet and are cool on my fingertips.  When I bite one in half it crunches loudly. Inside is very firm toffee with clearly visible almonds in it.  It has a more tart than sweet taste, and the nuts are more apparent than in other more sugary toffees.  The milk chocolate, however, can't really compete with the toffee itself, but I find this is the case so far with every "chocolate" toffee we've been offered.  With just two bites per piece this provides great portion control but a big toffee taste.

Finally our dark offering was the "Turtles" that Drew's makes, and you can see on the open caramel edge where they must hold them to fork-dip them. These are not uniformly shaped, and the two I was given are about 1.5 inches in diameter and about half an inch thick.  There is a slight dark chocolate scent along with the tang of caramel, which squeezes out when I take a bite.  The caramel is very sticky and more tangy than sweet in taste, as the fragrance suggested it would be. In terms of nuts the pieces are either small or not very numerous, because there isn't much crunch or much of their taste; I'm assuming these are pecans, but honestly there aren't big enough pieces for me to be sure.  The second "Turtle," however, has a lot of nuts, so many that they are the secondary flavor after the dark chocolate. This variation just indicates that these are individually handmade, in my opinion.

So this is a small sample of the wide variety I saw in the tiny store called Drew's Chocolates in Dexter, Iowa.  The chocolate is real and pure, it melts on the fingertips, and they clearly know how to deal with all three basic varieties of our Sacred Substance.  You can email Drew's at drews1927@iowatelecom.net or call them at 1-800-243-7397.  They do not currently have a website because for 83 years they've been doing fine by word of mouth and generations of chocolate lovers.  I think that if you want to say you truly know chocolate you need to try them, as well as all the other chocolatiers we reveal to you every Saturday Sacrament and for Special Sacramental Reviews.  The folks at Drew's have a chance to become one of your family traditions, so give them a try, especially if you aren't far from Des Moines.

Sisters and Brothers, may you, too, take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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