July 15, 2011

Callebaut Chocolate Recipe Contest

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.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart


Chester said...

I was under the assumption that if I voted for you, I would receive said chocolate tart by post. To date, no such tart has arrived, only my salty tears. Congrats!

Megan said...

Congratulations! That is so awesome! And I'm glad you were able to include the recipe in another post. I am totally going to make it. Enjoy Belgium!

Steve said...

Best...Story...Ever. I know a famous person!

Auntie said...

I am so glad to have had a hand in this. I knew you'd have more than an ordinary chance.

The Davis Family Three said...

Wow! That is really amazing! Congratulations!