Chocolate and love. It is the ultimate Valentine’s Day pair. Chocolate elicits love while love emanates from chocolate. So how much more romantic can it get? Enter the Tastings Team, which sampled a variety of delectable chocolate treats from around town – Big Dipper Ice Cream, Good Earth Market, The Spiked Olive, and Tea City and Cupcakes. For Valentine’s Day this year, take the lead from our Tastings Team and share a little chocolate with someone you care for and love will surely follow. Amorous chocolate treats of all varieties can easily be found all over town.
Kari Kaiser, mom to a 3-year-old boy, works as a freelance graphic designer. For Kaiser, “A perfect evening is spent cooking with my husband, creating something new together and enjoyed with a bottle of wine.”
Kay Berry just retired from 32 years at School District #2 as a special education teacher, Behavioral Specialist and Elementary Program Specialist. During her spare time, she chaired the MSU Billings Foundation Wine and Food Festival.
Kristi Drake is Executive Director of Billings Trailnet and admits to being a chocoholic. When it comes to chocolate, “the darker the better,” for Drake.
Co-owner and general manager, Lia Munson of Big Dipper Ice Cream supplied the team with two ice cream flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Amaretto, and Dark Chocolate Caramel Brownie for sampling. The Dark Chocolate Caramel Brownie ice cream was made with brownies concocted by Harper and Madison.
From Good Earth Market, manager Mike Howard provided Chocolove chocolate bars for our team to taste. He indulged the team with an Almond in Sea Salt, Raspberry, and Ginger, all in Dark Chocolate. The first two candy bars were 55% in cocoa content while the latter was 65%, which made for a creamier texture.
Then co-owner Cameron Bullard, of Tea City and Cupcakes, contributed cupcakes in flavors of Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Cherry for the team to taste. The gluten free chocolate cake for the cupcakes offered a dense richness. To bring in the red color of Valentine’s Day, I broke up the chocolate theme slightly by choosing a Red Velvet cupcake.
Finally, Gina Ceartin, owner of The Spiked Olive gave the three tasters the opportunity to try her Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. Ceartin shares, “My kids love the balsamic with strawberries and fruit.” She suggests vanilla ice cream and cheesecake as other delicious accompaniments.
The Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from The Spiked Olive was the surprise favorite for two of the tasters. Drizzling vinegar on Big Dipper’s Vanilla ice cream provided the perfect ying and yang combination. The tart and sweet flavor of the vinegar balanced well with the creamy ice cream. From Big Dipper Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Cherry Amaretto was the majority favorite. The Red Velvet followed by the Dark Chocolate Caramel Brownie cupcake from Tea City and Cupcakes ranked high by the team. Finally, the Good Earth Market Chocolove ginger chocolate bar ranked first followed by the raspberry.
Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake
“The frosting is light and delicious. The cupcake itself is full of good quality chocolate, and together with the fresh raspberry on top, this cupcake made my day.” ~Kristi Drake
“Good frosting, nice light texture.” ~Kari Kaiser
“Nice fresh minty flavor with moist cake.” ~Kay Berry
“Anyone who loves cherries will enjoy this cupcake.” ~Kristi Drake
“Best bite of the bunch. The frosting is smooth and creamy – a nice sweet bite.” ~Kay Berry
Dark Chocolate Cherry Amaretto
“Happy flavor – reminds me of cakes I had as a kid!” ~Kari Kaiser
Dark Chocolate Caramel Brownie:
“The chunk of brownie in the ice cream is fudgy, yet gooey. The caramel flavor is subtle, while the ice cream is silky in consistency as it melts.” ~Kay Berry
Favorite: Dark Chocolate Cherry Amaretto
Chocolove Almond in Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate
“Chucked full of almonds. The chocolate has a slight smoky hint.” ~Kay Berry
Chocolove Raspberry in Dark Chocolate
“I love the tartness of the raspberries with the sweet chocolate.” ~Kari Kaiser
Chocolove Ginger in Rich Dark Chocolate
“Divine. I love the darkness of the chocolate paired with the spice of the ginger. Nice creamy chocolate.” ~Kristi Drake
Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar drizzled on Big Dipper Vanilla Ice Cream
“Wow. Party in my mouth. The sweetness of the ice cream mellows the tartness of the balsamic. The vinegar would be good for dressing a salad and drizzled on fruit.” ~Kay Berry
“Loved it. Unexpected combination, but fun to eat. I would like to try it on salads, fruit and blue cheese.” ~Kari Kaiser
Big Dipper Ice Cream
100 N. Broadway
ON THE WEB: bigdippericecream.com
Good Earth Market
3024 2nd Avenue North
ON THE WEB: goodearthmarket.coop
The Spiked Olive
1313 Grand Ave #8A
ON THE WEB: thespikedolivetaproom.com
Tea City and Cupcakes
1001 Shiloh Crossing Blvd #7
ON THE WEB: teacityusa.com