Chocolate and reading go hand-in-hand

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 06:59 PM

“if you can read ... you can self educate yourself,” said Dolly Parton during her interview in on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”.

She’s a big sponsor of reading with her Imagination Library and if Dolly’s for it, count me in.

Another reading proponent is our very own Literacy Council of Union County.

“So many generous people have said that they want to be a part of teaching adults because they know helping parents helps kids,” said Julie Andreacola, Board Chair.

The wonderful thing about the Literacy Council of Union County is I can support them by eating chocolate.

It’s a painless journey to the Chocoholic Frolic, February 7th starting at 5 o’clock at Crossroads Ford. Donate money, buy a $25 dollar ticket and eat heavenly, divine chocolate in all forms and shapes.

“I love the idea making chocolate the centerpiece of the evening, as it is a complex food with a lush history.  It is also very versatile, as it compliments both sweet and savory dishes,”said Matthew Sganga of the Stone Table.

            Matthew is one of the vendors at the Chocoholic Frolic.            

            We talked at length about chocolate. Its taste, how to cook it, recipes about it and above all else how to eat and enjoy it.

            I can’t wait to taste his chocolate covered grapes and bacon.

            Matthew said he experimented with his chocolate covered bacon idea and found the results quite decadent.

            He’s been featuring his chocolate covered grapes at cocktail parties and other events for a couple of years.

            Luckily he’s willing to share his recipes listed below.


Chocolate covered bacon


1 pound thick-cut smoked bacon

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Kosher salt


Cook the bacon on baking sheet until crisp, 20-25 minutes. 

While bacon is cooking, heat semi-sweet chocolate in heat-proof bowl in double boiler until melted.

When bacon is cooked, drain the fat.  When cool, lay bacon on plastic wrap or wax paper.  

Brush melted chocolate on bacon with pastry brush, sprinkle with salt.

Place bacon in refrigerator until hardened.

Melt white chocolate in bowl in microwave at 30 second increments.  Do not overheat!  When softened, stir with spoon, and drizzle over bacon. Let cool further,   enjoy.


Chocolate covered grapes


2 pounds green grapes

1 pound white chocolate chips

powdered sugar


Chocolate covered grapes are simple to make, but take a little practice getting them perfected.

Stem the grapes. Wash, and dry thoroughly.  Drying the grapes completely is important.  Place grapes in large bowl.

Melt white chocolate in glass or ceramic bowl in microwave at 30 second increments.  It usually takes about 1 1/2 minutes.  As soon as chocolate begins to soften, stir until smooth.  Working quickly, spoon chocolate onto grapes and stir to coat.  A plastic spatula or wooden spoon works well.  Stir rapidly, and try to keep the grapes from "clumping" together.  Shake powdered sugar over grapes and continue to stir to coat.  I usually shake the unmeasured powdered sugar from the bag and the return the unused amount.  The white chocolate and powdered sugar should coat the exterior of the grapes completely.  Serve as as simple dessert or compliment to dessert wine.

Sounds delicious to me. Come have a finger-licking chocolate good time and support our Literacy Council programs which are free for all adults.

“We help men and women learn to read with confidence the most basic information, such as utility bills, a child’s report card and a job application,” said Kelly Norton, executive director.

Tickets ($25) for this event are for sale at the Literacy Council in downtown Monroe, at and at the event. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.


• Monroe resident Jeanne Howell has attended cooking schools in San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte and Monroe. She and her partner are currently re-vamping their cooking school video project. She can be reached at 704-221-1905 and