Sorry for the little hiatus – but I have a good excuse: Taste Tester and I got engaged!
We went on a midwestern road trip visiting Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri where we visited our friends at the Askinosie Chocolate factory.
Want proof? Here’s me in Iowa. (We don’t have corn like that in NJ):
Obviously, I was really excited to visit our friends and to have the privilege of seeing their factory, but apparently Taste Tester was anticipating it for alternate reasons. Enlisting the help of Shawn Askinosie, he proposed right in the factory! Here’s the story:
Shortly after Taste Tester and I arrived at the factory in Springfield (MO), we went to watch and help as chocolate molds were filled, and as the chocolate bars were un-molded and packaged. After filling a few dozen molds, we walked around to the opposite end of the cooling tunnel to retrieve the cooled and hardened bars. Taste Tester pulled an Askinosie Chalk-Late Box out of the tunnel that read “To Kristy” in chalk.
(Disclaimer: Engagment ring not normally included in Chalk-late box. :P)
While I anxiously awaited biting into a fresh chocolate bar, “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison came on the speakers and Taste Tester opened the box to reveal a ring as he got down on one knee. The entire Askinosie team was in on it and there to witness the proposal. It was awesome and very sweet.
This is the cooling tunnel that my ring came out of:
Going with the chocolate theme, Taste Tester was originally on the hunt for a chocolate diamond ring, but found this beautiful sapphire instead. He likes to think of it as a chocolate (the stone) and peanut butter (the gold band) ring. Aww!
Aftereward, we enjoyed a champagne toast with everyone. This is us on the left with the whole team (minus Shawn, who is taking the picture):
As if the engagement wasn’t exciting enough, Taste Tester and I got to spend the next few days seeing every corner of the factory and hung out with all of the people and machines that work together to turn those cocoa beans into the delicious chocolate bars that we get to enjoy. We got to help add ingredients to the Universal, watch as cocoa butter was made, learn how cocoa powder is made, roast cocoa beans, help un-mold and package bars, etc. We even got to taste the chocolate in many of it’s various stages, which was really cool. Here are a few shots (there are even more on flickr):
Outside shot – unfortunately we didn’t get any sun during our trip, so sorry for the gloomy shot:
The neat store-front (I love the old mural):
The melangeur is one of the many machines there. It’s job is to refine the chocolate. During our trip, it was working on some of that delicious Davao White Chocolate:
Here’s us letting the beans out of the roaster to cool:
Taste Tester (aka future hubs) helping package bars:
And lastly, here’s Shawn and us:
I will be sharing a little more about the trip including some chocolate and peanut butter that we found along the way! One snack that we enjoyed at the Askinosie Factory was P.B. Loco’s Cookie Dough Peanut Butter with Askinosie chocolate. Yummy!
Big, big super huge thanks to all of our friends at Askinosie Chocolate for sharing in the planning and secret-keeping that revolved around the proposal! Taste Tester and I look forward to a lifetime together of chocolate-peanut-butter-fueled happiness! :)