This post includes a review of our family visit to the Theo Chocolate Factory and our at-home experiments with a Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. I paid for both myself. Whenever I do accept a complimentary visit to an attraction or a complimentary product, I will always let you know.
Congratulations to everyone who guessed the answer to this week's Photo Friday, the answer was Theo Chocolate Factory
It is no secret that I love chocolate, or that I'm constantly seeking out the best chocolate shops and supermarket candy bars in any city we visit. My kids take after me, and until he was three, E didn't realize that there were other types of sweets. Even better, they're as entranced as I am by bittersweet chocolates and enjoy "grown up" chocolate flavors as much as I do.
One of my recent obsessions are locally made Theo Organic Chocolate bars, so while M&Ms and the occasional truffle carried me through previous pregnancies, baby Eilan was grown with bar after bar of Theo's. Without digressing too far, let me just say that's all I need to make one DeliciousBaby.
D and E are finally old enough to really enjoy factory tours, so we picked an otherwise quiet weekend to take the Theo Chocolate Factory together as a family.
Theo is located in the funky Freemont neighborhood in Seattle. The close in location makes the factory an easy outing, and though the tour is not designed for children, kids are welcome to join in. The tricky bit, I reasoned, would be keeping all three kids entertained (or at least quiet and well behaved) for the entire duration of the 90 minute tour. Four-year-old E should handle it just fine, I thought, while containing mischievous D in a chocolate factory might be like trying to keep Curious George out of trouble.
I put Eilan to sleep just before entering the factory, leaving just the two older kids to wrangle. We ran into trouble earlier than anticipated, as cautious E balked at wearing the disposable hairnet required to step onto the factory floor. Even the promise of free-flowing chocolate samples wasn't enough to sway him, and he stayed behind in the showroom with my husband as D and I proceeded to a classroom to start the tour.
Our guide explained everything from how chocolate grows to how the beans are prepared and processed to finally become chocolate bars. She used pictures liberally to show the plants and the harvesting process before we stepped onto the factory floor and saw the equipment that turns the raw beans into delicious, wrapped chocolate bars.
Chocolate samples from different regions brought home the point about how "terroir" impacts chocolate flavor, just as it does wine. The biggest lesson for me, though, was about D. Normally giggly and mischievous, D (who had been told that we would leave at the first sign of trouble) sat straight up in her chair and didn't utter a word, with the draw of bite sized chocolate samples anchoring her to her seat. Through the full 60+ minute tour, she was a dream. Staying quiet while the guide was talking, standing inside the lines on the factory floor, and passing platefuls of chocolate on to others after taking her own sample... behavior I would have never believed possible from my 2.5 year old.
A few days later, stuck at home with the kids, I remembered some long-hidden "Make Your Own Chocolate Kits" I had been saving for a rainy day. On the heels of our chocolate factory visit, this seemed like the perfect time to experiment with making chocolate ourselves.
The kits contained everything needed to make chocolate bars or candies along with a few pictures of chocolate trees and a couple of raw beans. Until the chocolate factory tour, I hadn't really understood how cocoa and cocoa butter are blended together to make chocolate, so melting and blending the raw ingredients was just as interesting for me as the kids.
Listed as being for ages 8 and up, I figured that the kids would enjoy the kits if they had enough help from me. That was largely true, though with two impatient toddlers, it was tricky to temper the chocolate to the right temperature and to pour it into molds quickly enough, so the resulting chocolate was a bit lumpy, but still enjoyable.
Did the kids get anything out of the tour or the chocolate making extravaganza? Possibly... a few days later at gardening camp, the kids got a dismayed look from their teacher by listing chocolate as their favorite food that grows in a garden. They were right, of course, it's their teacher that needs a refresher course in where food comes from!Related Links:
Seattle With Kids
Amazon: Make Your Own Chocolate Kit