Chocolate on the auction block

Proceeds will sweeten opportunities in the arts

Don't make the mistake of deeming the elaborate confectioneries at Baldwin's annual Chocolate Auction too pretty to eat.

Granted, Sandy Cardens' 13-inch-tall truffle tree is a work of art, more properly called a croquembouche by pastry chefs. But the 7 1/2 pounds of white and dark chocolate covering the more than 75 dipped truffles on the tree still taste like chocolate. And for chocolate lovers, that's enough.

"I'm a serious chocoholic," said Cardens, president of the Baldwin City Arts Council. "I'm not a proponent of mixing it with anything, like mint. I'm a purist. A little liqueur, that's OK."

For 14 years, residents of Baldwin and surrounding communities have been reaping sweet rewards just before Valentine's Day from the kitchens of bakers like Cardens. And it's all for a good cause.

This year's Chocolate Auction will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at Baldwin High School, 415 Eisenhower St. The entry fee is $1.

Proceeds from the event will help the Baldwin City Arts Council provide music, art and drama scholarships to Baldwin youth; mount art exhibitions; provide community workshops; and sponsor other community arts activities.

"All of this money that comes from the community goes back to the community," Cardens said. "We feel it's very important to do that."


Richard Gwin/Journal-World Photo

baldwin residents Christy Carlisle and Sandy Cardens put finishing touches on their creations for the 15th annual Chocolate Auction. Bidding starts at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at Baldwin High School, 415 Eisenhower St. Proceeds will fund arts opportunities for children and adults in Baldwin.

Though chocolate seems to be the most coveted item on the auction block -- last year, a pair of chocolate pies from one cook sold for $105 -- nonedible artwork and items donated by local businesses also will be up for bid in the part-silent, part-live auction.

Last year's auction raised $4,500. Organizers would like to surpass that total this year. Between the chocolate delicacies and the artwork, more than 200 items will be for sale. The doors open for viewing at 1:30 p.m.

What: The 15th annual Chocolate AuctionWhen: 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 9. Preview begins at 1:30 p.m.Where: Baldwin High School, 415 Eisenhower St.Cost: $1 entry fee. The rest is up to bidders in the part-silent, part-live auction. Proceeds benefit the Baldwin City Arts Council, which sponsors scholarships and arts programming in the community.

But it will be hard not to focus on the most decadent of the wares. Among them will be a sunflower painting by Christy Carlisle, co-chairwoman of the auction. The masterpiece isn't done in oils or acrylics. Carlisle's palette is composed exclusively of, you guessed it, chocolate.

She starts with white chocolate and then achieves varying shades of brown by mixing in powder made to color chocolate. The painting rests on a bed of shortbread to give it strength.

"There's probably eight pounds of chocolate in this one," Carlisle said. "It's a lot of fun. The rewards are wonderful."


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