By Elise French

dining-side-combine-your-l-copyJoin award-winning gourmet and pastry chefs ~ from the decorated chocolatier Antonio to the Chef Lizia ~ for a week of cooking with decadent chocolate. The cooking classes will tempt your sweet tooth (and you know what they say, chocolate is an aphrodisiac, so why not take the class with your sweetie?) as you use chocolate in more ways than you’ve ever imagined. Chef Antonio’s award-winning works of chocolate have included a 6 foot chocolate mermaid, one of the world’s largest crêpes ~ served with chocolate-hazelnut Nutella ~ and, most recently, the largest iced coffee frappe in the world, with over 2000 Italian espressos added and whipped. Chef Antonio hosts an annual Chocolate Party with cioccolatini, mini chocolate truffles in flavors from the lightest white chocolate dusted with coconut to the darkest, cioccolato fondente, with a bit of spicy chili pepper. Chef Antonio’s clients include movie stars including Sophia Loren, Italian VIP, the Pope and chocolate and ice cream lovers from all over the world.

From celebrity chefs to home-style cooking with Chef Lizia, you’ll learn chocolate delights such as the flourless chocolate almond cake ~ caprese, topped with panna-whipped cream and a veil of powdered sugar.

You will also learn desserts made with chocolate that you didn’t even know existed ~ how does the local Amalfi Coast specialty ~ a layered eggplant stacked with chocolate ~ sound?  This melanzane al cioccolato is served with canditi-dried and candied orange and topped with crushed almonds. The recipe originated in the monastery of Tramonti in the mountains above the Amalfi Coast town of Maiori. During the Middle Ages, the monks dipped their eggplant in a liqueur mixed with herbs, spices and sugar. When chocolate was brought to Europe from the New World in the 16th century, the Amalfi people started dipping their eggplant in chocolate. Today the tradition continues with this delicate melanzane al cioccolato.

For more information, contact Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli of Cooking Vacations, 1-800-916-1152,