Three chocolate courses in one evening? For the sake of charity, yes.

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Marshall V. King/Flavor 574

The chocolate just kept coming.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, more than 100 people gathered to put forks into not just one or two, but three chocolate courses.

Chef Sean Wojtkowksi worked with Garrick Trotter and April Howell to create three plates of goodness. Errol Rousseve of City-Wide Liquors paired a beer and wine with each of the courses.

It was all for a good cause, too. Indulgence Pastry Shop & Cafe and City-Wide collaborated for the third annual Taste of Indulgence to benefit Unity Gardens. I had the privilege of emceeing the event. Tickets were $30 each.

The nonprofit has had a busy winter. Sara Stewart and Mitch Yaciw are teaching classes, getting used to new greenhouses and making plans for the more than 50 gardens that will provide food to people in need around St. Joseph County this summer. They’re also working to raise $25,000 this month for a new endowment.

Several years ago, Wojtkowski said he wanted to help Unity Gardens, so they planned this fundraiser together. The crowd gathered at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel for this year’s event were happy to dig their forks into course after course of sweet charity. “It’s a lot of sugar,” he said.

The first course was bittersweet chocolate mousse with marbled milk and white chocolate creams. Chocolate pieces bearing some decoration went in the top.

The soft creaminess was paired with Samuel Smith organic chocolate stout and Elio Perrone Bigaro. The wine is a sweet, effervescent blend of moscato and brachetto. It drinks like a sweet sparkling rose. The two drink pairings did different things in the mouth, but both worked.

The second course was flourless chocolate cake on a cookie crust with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce. Decorated chocolate was again an accent.

The beer was a blend of New Holland Dragon’s Milk stout and Lindeman’s framboise lambic. The raspberry and stout beers were delightful together and worked well with the chocolate. The Frost Bitten ice riesling added a layer of sweetness with the dessert.

The third course was a baked chocolate hazelnut donut and hazelnut cream. The Atwater vanilla java porter wasn’t as rich and was a bit sour with the baked donut, but the Broadbent 3-year-old Madeira was light and rich enough to work well with the course.

I thought it was interesting that Rousseve didn’t use red wine with any of the courses, which is a more traditional pairing for chocolate. What he did was interesting and I liked in particular how the beer blend and Madeira worked with the desserts.

Talking to Wojtkowski, Trotter and Howell in the kitchen was a blast. They’re hard-working food professionals who care a lot about their craft. Helping a cause, as so many people in the business do, made a great evening.

“The combination between what Unity Gardens does and the passion for both of us — we come together for this,” Wojtkowski said of Trotter and himself at Indulgence.

Tasting delicious chocolate desserts was a great way to spend a winter night. Talking about gardening added to it.

“Spring will be here before we know it,” Trotter said.

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