If you consider “chocolate or vanilla?” a rhetorical question, then the annual St. Andrew’s Church Chocolate Fest in Scotia is probably for you.
Now in its sixth year, the event draws between 200 and 250 people to the quaint church on Sacandaga Road where the chocolate dessert options are dizzying and just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“Anybody who doesn’t love chocolate probably doesn’t want to come,” said Carol Salvino, chairwoman of the church’s Chocolate Fest committee.
The chocolate festival was inspired by a similar event hosted by the Galway Public Library each fall, she said.
“I had visited their festival and thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Salvino. “So I found some other people who were willing to help out and we went from there. We put ours on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, because you can’t beat chocolate for Valentine’s Day.”
All of the goods are handmade by church members, and surprisingly elegant. Everyone has a specialty, said Salvino, be it cakes, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pies or candies. One table inside the church Saturday was all about the cakes.
There was a Black Forest cake topped with gooey sour cherries and there was a pink-frosted heart-shaped cake topped with red-frosted flowers. There was a three-tier cake frosted in red, pink and white and a chocolate Bundt cake drizzled with crisscrossing lines of sugary white frosting. And then there were the cakes flecked with sprinkles of the red, white and pink heart-shaped variety.
Most of these came courtesy of Simone Rockwell, a Chocolate Fest committee member who confessed her talent for cake baking took years to hone.
“I learned by being a grandmother for 30 years,” she said, laughing. “I’ve always loved to bake. But for Chocolate Fest, I try to make things just a little bit fancier.”
Salvino’s specialty is her candied orange rinds dipped in chocolate. She also makes chocolate coffee bean clusters, German chocolate thumbprint cookies, orange chocolate chip shortbread, orange chocolate chip Bundt cake and Butterfinger bars.
“The people on the committee do most of the baking,” she said. “People in the parish also donate a number of things, so we have a great variety of homemade chocolates and candy dishes and sliced cakes and whole cakes.”
Items are purchased with tickets, which run 50 cents apiece. The most expensive items tend to be the specialty cakes, which can be bought with 15 tickets. All the proceeds go to the church budget.