A Chocolate Affair to Die For
by Charlene Scott
It’s a chocoholic’s fantasy come true: all the chocolate desserts you can eat in a two-hour span from a two-table buffet for a few dollars.
The P.E.O. Club of Kinsley gives a Valentine to as many as 400 people from the community and outlying towns each year by hosting the fancy Chocolate Affair every February. This 14th year for the event actually fell on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.
“It’s a fun event,” said Jennifer Gleason of Offerle, who has chaired the Chocolate Affair for several years. “There are a lot of chocoholics around, and chocolate is a wonderful food. It makes everyone happy, and we all can use a little more happiness!”
The buffet of homemade desserts oozing with chocolate included a variety of pies, cakes, candies, cookies, cupcakes, and all sorts of other mouth-watering chocolate concoctions. The affair featured a theme of ruby red hearts, flowers, and striped tablecloths.
The weather cooperated this year, but past years have seen lines of hungry chocoholics standing on ice or under umbrellas in the rain all the way to the street. The P.E.O. solved the problem by moving the Chocolate Affair in 2006 from Kinsley City Hall to the Kinsley United Methodist Church fellowship hall, where guests can wait inside.
“The weather was beautiful, unseasonably warm for this time of year,” said Gleason following this year’s event. She brought a double batch of desserts she whipped up: chocolate trifles and chocolate cherry cream tortes.
Other tempting tall trifles and bite-size truffles also were sprinkled among the heavily laden serving tables. Gleason explained the difference between the two desserts.
“A trifle is a layered cake with pudding and whipping cream, and truffles are very rich, dark chocolate candy,” she said.
Desserts this year included espresso brownies, cheesecake stuffed dark chocolate cake, turtle bites, a fruit pizza, chocolate tiramisu, toffee truffles, cherry chocolate brownies, and a five-layer pecan torte.
One of the most popular items is a chocolate drop pie prepared by the same lady each year (she brought three of the pies this year). The creamy chocolate melts in your mouth.
Cakes included a black Russian cake, a crème de menthe bundt cake, a stuffed double chocolate cake, a chocolate chunk cherry cake, and a German sweet chocolate cake.
Guests also sampled several kinds of cheesecake: chocolate mocha, turtle pecan, chocolate amaretto, Oreo, and white chocolate with a bright red raspberry topping. Other chocolate delights included mocha mousse, chocolate dipped berries, bonbons, and chocolate pecan tarts.
During the early years of the Chocolate Affair, it was mostly women who attended, but during the first five minutes of this year’s event at least a dozen men appeared on the scene.
Said one satisfied man later: “I had enough calories here for the day. I sampled just about everything, and it was all good. My obituary probably will read ‘Died of chocolate!’”
“You had enough calories for the week,” his wife responded dryly.
Another man was overheard to ask his wife, who was dabbing with a napkin at the chocolate on her face: “Shall I take you home or to the hospital?”
People of all ages enjoy the Chocolate Affair. Payton Ritter, 4, carried her plate of chocolates herself to the table that her mother, Tessa, had selected.
“This is the first time we’ve attended,” said Tessa, who lives in Kinsley. “We came for Valentine’s Day. I know Payton will enjoy it because she has a sweet tooth.”
Approximately 40 P.E.O. members bring two to three desserts to the event each year, and 30 P.E.O. volunteers serve the goodies at the event. Coffee, tea, and a delicious frozen chocolate mocha punch also are served.
“We re-arranged the tables and two serving lines this time so that people could go through quickly,” Gleason explained. “We set up six big round tables and smaller tables in the parlor.”
Participants paid $5 for advanced tickets to the event and $7 at the door this year. Proceeds go toward P.E.O. scholarships for girls and women locally, statewide, and nationally. The Kinsley P.E.O., an organization that encourages education for females, made a profit of just under $2,000 at last year’s Chocolate Affair.