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Thank Them For Their Service!

Army Medallions Milk Chocolate

We’re preparing for one of our favorite annual events: the Veterans Appreciation Tailgate at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 3. Hosted by Johnson County Veterans Affairs, with support from several other Eastern Iowa VA offices and lots of organizational, business and individual sponsors, it’s a fun opportunity for local veterans and their families to hang out in the Kinnick Stadium Press Box, watch the (away) football game, and feel the love of support and appreciation for their service and dedication to our country.

Veterans Appreciation Tailgate Flyer 2018

For this event, we will be supplying chocolate medallions for each of the five military branches, as well as some eagles and stars.

Eagle Medallions Milk Chocolate

We try to keep a stash of the chocolate military medallions on hand, which we give out as a thank you to veterans and service personnel who are in the shop. We pay attention to people’s shirts, jackets, hats, tattoos, and comments, and start conversations about their service. My father was a Marine, my brother graduated from West Point, and I have a number of family members who were in the military. But it’s really something I learned from a volunteer when I worked at Iowa City Hospice that has driven this practice. Mel McMorris, a Vietnam War Veteran who helped launch Iowa City Hospice’s Veterans at the End of Life program and training, told me how important and meaningful a simple “Thank you for your service” can be to a veteran. The chocolates are a small token of our immense appreciation for the great sacrifice made by our veterans, current service personnel, and their families.

Packaged Army Medallions

If you know a veteran or current service person who would enjoy attending the event at Kinnick Stadium on November 3, please pass along the information. There is no need to RSVP, or show ID, and he or she does not need to be “local.” And remember to thank them for their service!

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Subscriptions Close Tonight

October Subscription Box Contents

Today I’m finishing up the items for the first of the 2018 Fall Share Subscription Boxes, including dark chocolate pumpkin truffles, milk chocolate-dipped apple chips and both dark and milk chocolate caramel s’mores. If you haven’t yet placed your order, you have until 11:59 pm CST, tonight, Sunday, October 14, 2018.

Here are the details on the subscriptions:

  • The Fall Share includes three monthly boxes (October, November and December 2018).
  • Full-Share boxes contain approximately 24 pieces per month; Half-Share boxes approximately 12 pieces per month.
  • The full share is great for a family, office, or a couple of serious chocolate fans; the half share works well for a single person or couple with a lot of self-control.
  • The basic subscription, “I Love All Chocolates,” will have dark, milk and white chocolate confections.
  • If you’re partial to milk or dark chocolate, you may choose All Milk or All Dark.
  • Need vegan products? Choose the Dairy-Free/Gluten-Free option. Note that all products will be dark chocolate.
  • Boxes will ship or will be available for pick-up in our shop the weeks of October 16, November 13 and December 18, 2018.

Mount Vernon Confections subscription boxes are a fun way to get our delicious chocolates delivered to your door, to find new favorite goodies, and be the first to try our new products!

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Time Is Running Out to Order Subscription Boxes

Subscription Box Logo

You only have a few more days to get your order in for the Fall 2018 shares of the Mount Vernon Confections Community-Supported Chocolate Subscription Boxes! There are a limited number of subscriptions available, and orders must be placed by 11:59 pm CST, Sunday, October 14, 2018.

October happens to National Pumpkin Month, National Apple Month, and National Caramel Month, and the October subscription boxes will be an homage to all those goodies (and, of course, Halloween).

Milk chocolate pumpkin truffle

As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been working on a caramel s’more (which will likely ONLY be available in subscription boxes) that is ooey-gooey-super-tasty. Here’s a pic of the dark chocolate version that one of my taste-testers shared with an envious friend:

Caramel S'more

Here’s all the details on the subscriptions:

  • The Fall Share includes three monthly boxes (October, November and December 2018).
  • Full-Share boxes contain approximately 24 pieces per month; Half-Share boxes approximately 12 pieces per month.
  • The full share is great for a family, office, or a couple of serious chocolate fans; the half share works well for a single person or couple with a lot of self-control.
  • The basic subscription, “I Love All Chocolates,” will have dark, milk and white chocolate confections.
  • If you’re partial to milk or dark chocolate, you may choose All Milk or All Dark.
  • Need vegan products? Choose the Dairy-Free/Gluten-Free option. Note that all products will be dark chocolate.
  • Boxes will ship or will be available for pick-up in our shop the weeks of October 16, November 13 and December 18, 2018.

Remember, there are a limited number of subscription boxes and they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders must be placed by 11:59 pm CST, Sunday, October 14, 2018. However, be aware we will also close the orders if we meet our limit before that date.

If you have any questions, please contact us at mvconfections@yahoo.com.

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Fruits of the Fall

Farmer Dave Butternut Squash

People often think that summer is the height of bounty from the garden. In Iowa, however, fall is when the farm really shines. Pumpkins and other squash start making an appearance, the cold weather mitigates any bitterness from greens, and sweet fall carrots call out for a hearty soup.

As I’ve mentioned, we use butternut squash from the farm for our “pumpkin” ice cream. I’m not a big pumpkin fan, but I love the smooth texture and more subdued flavor profile of butternut squash. It tells your brain “PUMPKIN,” while your taste buds find something even creamier than you expected.

Today I’m preparing a “pumpkin” truffle for both a special order and the October subscription boxes. We did a dairy-free version for last October’s subscriptions and the recipients were pretty pleased with them. This fall we’re adding a milk chocolate recipe.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t yet purchased your Fall Share chocolate subscription, we’re getting down to the end of the sign-up period. We’re only doing 35 subscriptions for this fall share. If you want to receive a box of delicious chocolates every month, or would like to gift a friend, order today. Have questions? Drop me an email at mvconfections@yahoo.com.

 

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Delicious MVC Chocolates Delivered to Your Door

Subscription Box Logo

What’s better than a box of Mount Vernon Confections chocolates?  A box every month!

Fall 2018 shares of the Mount Vernon Confections Community-Supported Chocolate Subscription Boxes are now available. This subscription is for you…if you find you can’t get to the shop for a regular fix, if you want to be known as the best gift-giver ever, or if you want to surprise your co-workers or employees with treats to make those monthly meetings more bearable.

Click here to order your subscription now.

Last October we launched our Community-Supported Chocolate Founder program, and several of our supportive customers signed up to receive monthly subscription boxes of MVC treats. Those founders helped us test out and tweak the subscription model and thanks to their feedback (and patience!) we’re ready for a full-scale subscription program.

One of the most fun aspects of the subscription boxes is that they encourage us to experiment…and that means subscribers are the first to try new, and limited edition, products. During the Founder program, we created several vegan truffles, chocolate-covered graham crackers, s’mores, crunchy frogs, and more.

For the October share, we’re already working on a caramel s’more (which will likely ONLY be available in subscription boxes) AND bringing back the limited edition “pumpkin” truffle, made with butternut squash from the farm.

Sound delicious? Here’s the details on the MVC subscription boxes:

  • The Fall Share includes three monthly boxes (October, November and December 2018).
  • Full-Share boxes contain approximately 24 pieces per month; Half-Share boxes approximately 12 pieces per month.
  • The full share is great for a family, office, or a couple of serious chocolate fans; the half share works well for a single person or couple with a lot of self-control.
  • The basic subscription, “I Love All Chocolates,” will have dark, milk and white chocolate confections.
  • If you’re partial to milk or dark chocolate, you may choose All Milk or All Dark.
  • Need vegan products? Choose the Dairy-Free/Gluten-Free option. Note that all products will be dark chocolate.
  • Boxes will ship or will be available for pick-up in our shop the weeks of October 16, November 13 and December 18, 2018.

As you know, we make everything by hand here at Mount Vernon Confections, so we do need to limit the number of subscriptions available. We opened this up to our list yesterday (ummm, another reason to get on our mailing list already!) and we now have only 30 subscriptions left! They won’t last long, so if you want to nab one, don’t delay.

If you have any questions, please contact us at mvconfections@yahoo.com.

 

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The Holidays Are On Their Way

Thanksgiving gift box of truffles

Holy crap! Did you know there are only 97 days until Christmas?! And 64 days til Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving was always my mom’s favorite holiday because, she said, it didn’t have the stress and obligations of Christmas. It’s just a time for, literally, giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, and enjoying delicious food and time with family.

I’m not a fan of cooking, but Thanksgiving is one of the few times I channel my mom’s lessons of the holiday and make a big meal. Of course there are chocolates and ice cream for dessert, and my husband, David, often makes a “pumpkin” pie from the butternut squash he grows on our farm north of Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? We can tick a few items off your list by providing adorable chocolate turkeys, scarecrows or leaves for table settings or candy dishes. Or if you’re fortunate enough to be a guest at someone else’s dinner, stop in for a gift box of truffles or caramels that will ensure any host/ess will invite you back again!

Now is also the time to start thinking about Christmas: We will of course have a full array of holiday-themed chocolates for office gatherings and children’s stockings. Remember that we also have an eclectic collection of chocolate molds in stock and can easily get many others. From chocolate carpenter’s tools to toothbrushes to Bingo cards to motorcycles–whatever topic delights your gift recipient, we can make them a gift from chocolate.

If you’re in charge of your company’s gift-giving, we can help with that, too. There is still time to have custom molds made from your company logo or to plan gift boxes that suit each of your customers. Stop in the shop, give us a call, or email mvconfections@yahoo.com to talk about your ideas.

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Big Weekend Ahead!

Dark Chocolate Paint Palettes

We’re feverishly preparing for a big weekend at Mount Vernon Confections, with three cool events on the schedule!

1) Tomorrow (Friday, September 14, 2018), Mount Vernon-Lisbon Restaurant Week begins, with the theme, “What can $20 get you?” Each of the 18 participating food businesses is offering a 2-for-$20 special throughout the Week (which actually runs for 10 days, from September 14-23). MVC will have a special half-pound box of a dozen favorite chocolates, perfect for giving as a gift or nibbling with your sweetie during a Netflix binge or Sunday Night Football broadcast. Pick up a “passport” in any of the participating businesses, get signatures from five, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a restaurant gift certificate. Learn more about Restaurant Week here.

Restaurant Week Half-Pound Gift Box

2) Also tomorrow, we’ll be participating in the 15th Annual Brewnost, at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s always a fun night filled with delicious beers, food, wine and spirits from great local restaurants and breweries. We’ve been posting the last couple weeks about our menu, which will include a milk chocolate truffle made with Wilson’s Orchard Hard Cider “Old Blue,” with a fruity twist of blueberry (and an impossibly cute label). We’ll also be offering our “sleeper favorite of 2018,” the creamy white chocolate lemon truffle; and of course we’ll have our signature dark chocolate raspberry truffles (do you see a fruity theme going on here?).

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
Don’t think you like white chocolate? You haven’t tried this creamy, lemony delight.

3) Last, but definitely not least, the Lincoln Highway Arts Festival takes place Saturday, September 15, 9 am-4 pm. There will be 50-plus artists exhibiting and offering their work for sale, artist demos, music and more. This is one of my favorite of Mount Vernon’s festivals: it’s typically a beautiful fall day–still warm enough to warrant ice cream(!); it’s low-key and relaxed; and there is beautiful art and interesting artists. We’ll be open our regular hours of 11 am-5 pm and will have a limited number of these fun chocolate paint palettes.

Dark Chocolate Paint Palettes

Phew! They all sound like fun, right? I hope we’ll connect with you this weekend…or during Restaurant Week!

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Peanut Butter Cups: A Delicious Example of Shell Molding

peanut butter cups in display case

Have you ever wondered how chocolatiers get a hard chocolate coating around a soft center? The answer is: shell molding.

Most items that we enrobe (that’s a fancy word for “dip in chocolate”) go directly into a bowl of tempered, liquid chocolate. Tempering is the process of heating and cooling a substance to improve its consistency, durability and/or hardness. Tempered chocolate is glossy, has a satisfying “snap” when you break off a piece, and holds up better to handling than untempered chocolate.

Sometimes, though, we have something that is too liquid or soft to dip directly in the chocolate. Or, we may want the outer coating to have a certain shape. Peanut butter cups fall into both of those categories.

Here is a video of the process of making me peanut butter cups that my friend Jennifer Zach recorded several years ago.

Step one is to create the hard chocolate “shell.” We pour liquid chocolate into the candy mold, then turn it upside down to let excess chocolate drip out, leaving a thin layer, or shell, inside the cavity.

peanut butter cup shells

Using a flexible scraper, we remove the excess and create a level surface at the top (or, in the case of our chocolate creams, the bottom) of the mold. Next, we spoon or pipe in the filling (I don’t have a photo of this step because my staff was super fast getting it done!)

single peanut butter cup in mold

Finally, we “top” (or bottom) the filling with liquid, tempered chocolate, making sure to create a good seal where the two layers meet, so none of the filling leaks out. “Leaky” peanut butter cups are far from disastrous, though, because we chop them up and mix them into our chocolate peanut butter ice cream! (Or, you know, they disappear into my mouth.)

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Preparing for BrewNost, a Beer and Fine Food Extravaganza!

Dairy free raspberry truffles

We’re busily preparing for BrewNost, the annual beer and fine food festival held each fall at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This year’s event–their 15th anniversary–is Friday, September 14, 2018, 6:30-10:00 pm.

We’re excited to be paired again this year with Wilson’s Orchard Hard Cider, and this week I’m experimenting with a special new truffle flavor using their Old Blue, a hard cider with a blueberry twist. I like blueberries, but honestly, I just love the label so much we had to give it a go. Any of the local bartenders can tell you that my husband, Farmer Dave Miller, will often choose his adult beverages based purely on label art. More often, if he’s on the fence and doesn’t like the label, that beverage won’t make it into a glass for him. I’ve kind of made fun of him for this quirk, but I totally get it. I mean, if you like dogs, how can you not love this artwork?

Artwork for Wilson's Orchard "Old Blue" hard cider
How cool is this artwork for Wilson’s Orchard “Old Blue” hard cider?

Of course at this year’s event we’ll have our signature truffle, dark chocolate raspberry. We’ll bring the dairy-free recipe, which uses only Belgian dark chocolate and raspberry puree of fruit from the farm. The dairy-free part is great for those who don’t do dairy, but don’t let it scare you off; these truffles are amazingly decadent and pair well with just about everything–from an IPA to stout to wine to coffee. We generally take this truffle to any tasting event and I love watching people’s eyes get huge as the raspberry sweetness hits their taste buds.

There is still time to get tickets to BrewNost and join us for a full-filled evening of beer, wine, excellent food, live music and more. And if you stop in the shop later this week, you may have an opportunity to taste-test the Old Blue truffle!

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Chocolate Mini Bars: A Little Bite of Heaven

Various Mini Chocolate Bars

Do you ever find yourself half-way through your day, thinking, “I seriously need a bite of good chocolate…”? Yeah, me, too.

I love truffles, caramels, nut clusters and, well, pretty much everything we make at the shop. But sometimes I just want a nibble of pure Belgian chocolate. I love that snap of perfectly tempered chocolate and breathing in the aroma as the creamy goodness begins to melt on my tongue. It’s a wonderful little luxury that feels simultaneously simple and decadent.

Our chocolate mini-bars are an excellent alternative to whatever you might find in your break room vending machine when you go on that 3 pm chocolate prowl. You can pick up a bag of 10 individually wrapped bars in a bag pretty enough to give away as a gift, if you’re willing to share. Or just slip it into your desk drawer and know that you’re prepared for any chocolate emergency.

Milk Chocolate Mini Bars