When I heard about the Toronto Chocolate Festival last year, I wondered how it had been around for 6 years and I was somehow just being made aware of it. If there is one thing in this life I am addicted to, it is sugar. Cliche girl, I know. It’s an awful addiction to have as it means I struggle constantly with my love of sweets and my desire to remain not obese. A festival like this plays right into my addiction, but when it comes down to it I’m happy to spend an extra hour on the elliptical if it means an evening like this.

So on Friday night, I attended the 7th Annual Toronto Chocolate Ball, themed “Cocoa Cabaret” this year, and consumed more sugar than one person should probably eat in a month. It was incredible.

As we walked in, we were immediately greeted with tables upon tables of chocolate being handed out and I was quickly reminded that this was a Gala event when I saw women in dresses and men in tuxedos – and we were very much under-dressed (headed to the Horseshoe for a show right after meant I wasn’t gonna be wearing any heels on this night). I had been to a similarly delicious foodie event for charity a few nights before (Eat To The Beat) and it wasn’t quite as fancy, so I assumed we wouldn’t stick out too much, but man was I wrong. They call it a ball for a reason – remember that for next year.

After indulging in some fancy chocolates and fondue, I realized there was also an entire section dedicated to savoury ‘chocolate infused’ dinner items. The idea of chocolate in my meat and potatoes kind of freaked me out at first, but these are some of the best and most innovative chefs in the country. I decided to try Auntee Donna’s Catering, who were serving up Chicken with Coconut Mashed Potatoes in Mole Sauce with Mango Chutney and Guava and sautéed vegetables – and that has to be the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not exactly sure how chocolate was involved in the dish, I think it was infused into the chicken as well as in the gravy on the potatoes, but it definitely worked.

Wingit! was serving chocolate infused chicken wings, which, while at first seemed like a horrible idea, after the success I’d already had with chicken, I figured I should go for it. The chocolate flavour was very slight and surprisingly worked really well, I could definitely have ate a few more. That is the fun of these chocolate as a meal dishes – it all sounds kind of gross at first, but these guys know what they are doing.

There were a bunch of other savoury options that sounded interesting, but I was really there for the desserts, so I left the Chocolate Hazelnut soup with goat cheese relish and orange oil, and the Chocolate Sfoja Lorda stuffed pasta for everyone else and moved back to the sweet section, but not before checking out the entertainment.

They brought in a dance troupe to perform for the night between sets played by The Toronto Big Band. The band was really great, a true highlight of the night, but unfortunately the dancers fell flat. They all seemed to be on a different beat, and my friend pointed out that it felt sort of like a high school dance recital.

After consuming some chocolate crepes, hand-painted champagne, pumpkin, and hazelnut flavoured chocolates, cookie cupcakes, banana cupcakes, items dipped in some of the most incredible fondue I’ve ever tasted, and more cake than I needed to eat, I was hitting the point of no return and it was time to leave. I didn’t want to, but we were both falling into a food coma.

The best items I had were easily the chocolate cupcakes with hazelnut buttercream (I could eat that buttercream on its own, and I generally dislike icing) and this amazing chocolate truffle royale cake from La Rocca that I loved so much I had a second slice despite being at the point of no return. It was truly the most delicious cake I have ever tasted in my life.

If there is any area of improvement for next year, I’d say they might want to focus on offering up some drink options next time. I was fully expecting to see hot chocolate being served by someone, but didn’t come across any – and a chocolate martini just seems like it would be a given at something like this.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening that celebrated food in a new way and raised a lot of money for breast and prostate cancer initiatives, and I look forward to checking out the Toronto Chocolate Show as well, on November 4th.

Lisa