Back in November, Auntie sent me a tip about the Callebaut Chocolate Recipe Contest, a contest "designed to give amateur chefs from across the country a chance to put their chocolate skills to the test for the chance to win a trip for 2 to the Callebaut Chocolate Factory in Belgium!" A trip for 2 to Belgium?!? There were also multiple runner-up prizes of $500 or $250, plus a year's supply of chocolate. I hadn't entered a recipe contest before, but since Callebaut is my favorite chocolate, and chocolate is my favorite ingredient, and traveling is my favorite pastime, this sounded like a contest I could get excited about!
I mulled on possible recipes for awhile. Mostly I thought about entering a truffle recipe, such as my recipe for chocolate goat cheese truffles. I made another batch of the goat cheese truffles and decided that they weren't as good as I remembered. Perhaps I could create a blue cheese chocolate truffle? I knew my go-to standard truffle recipe (not created by me) would be hard to adapt and make my own since good truffles don't have too many ingredients, and I couldn't improve upon perfection.
I pondered doing a chocolate tart, after making some delicious Dorie Greenspan tarts of late. By then it was March and the contest deadline was April 30, and I settled on entering a chocolate tart recipe.
Surely I'm not the only baker who prepares to enter a recipe contest by creating an Excel spreadsheet to compare results. My first tart trial went okay. The filling was pretty good but the crust was way off - turned out hard instead of crumbly like shortbread pastry should be. I tried again with a new crust and got really good results, but the filling wasn't perfected yet according to my trusty co-worker taste-testers. For the third trial, I added a little salt and some raspberry liqueur to the tart filling, and I thought we had a winner.
The day of the contest deadline (I know! Last minute!) I made the final tart, so I could take some pictures to enter with the recipe. I asked my friends to vote on a recipe title and the best photograph. Then I submitted the recipe via the online form. And then...nothing except waiting. The contest rules gave a date when the winner would be announced. That day came and went, and I decided I hadn't won anything, but I checked the contest website occasionally, waiting for an announcement of the winning recipe.
Then one Friday afternoon while I was in my office, my cell phone rang and the number calling was one I didn't recognize. I went ahead and answered, then I got a long spiel of an introduction from someone whom I still didn't recognize. I was probably curt with my responses. At the point when I thought it must be a sales call and began to lose patience, I heard something about "Callebaut chocolate recipe contest..." at which point my ears perked up and I instantly became more courteous.
The lady on the phone said, "I need to confirm that you're Kimberly, and that your recipe is the Double Chocolate Recipe Tart."
"Yes, that's right," I answered sweetly.
"I have some good news."
My heart started beating faster. At least I won something! "Alright..."
"Are you sitting down?"
Ooh, I won something good! I responded with a nervous chuckle and "I am."
She continued, "You've been selected as the grand prize winner of the contest. They were very happy with your recipe..." I listened in shock as she detailed the prize - a trip for 2 to Belgium, a tour of the Callebaut Chocolate Factory, a Callebaut Chocolate Academy pastry class, spending money, plus a year’s supply of chocolate!
We talked for a few more moments about sundries, could they use my name in a press release?, paperwork to sign and return, etc. After that call ended, I don't know how anyone could be expected to focus on work. The feeling of butterflies in my stomach lasted for days. I felt like I had won a sweepstakes on the Price Is Right.
I called to tell my family first. Katie asked if that was better than winning Best of Show for my cake at the South Plains Fair. Just a little bit, of course. Just the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me.