Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate — did I mention there was a lot of chocolate at the Olde Dutch Restaurant Tuesday evening?

Chocolate lovers were in paradise — that’s for certain — as the 15th annual Relay for Chocolate kicked off, raising awareness and money for finding a cure for cancer.

Citizens young and old flocked to the event, sampling various chocolate treats to satisfy the most demanding sweet tooth. The desserts were displayed on tables buffet-style for guests to taste and choose their favorites.

There were eight judges, including Lucy Burcham and myself. This wasn’t our first judging experience with the event — we’ve done this gig a few times in the past few years and each time we walk away saying, “Oh my gosh, I feel like a stuffed pig!” Yes, there’s that much chocolate.

For those on a diet, this is not the best event to be attending, but it is a delicious event to attend.

Local auctioneer Ray Dennis auctioned the desserts to the highest bidders. Altogether, chocoholics spent over $1,000 that night bidding on their favorite desserts.

My favorite was the No Bake Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons, made by Deb Thompson — one bite of those sweet, delicious morsels and I didn’t want to taste anything else but I wouldn’t be a good judge if I didn’t try all of the chocolate they placed in front of us.

My next favorite was the Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake with a “hint” of chocolate, made by Cathy Blackstone.

With a little bit of begging, both ladies agreed to share their recipes with our readers.

Winners that night included Wesley Stumbo, Maddy Schein, Abby Schein, Alexandria Lewis, Julie Lewis, Cathy Blackstone, Jessica Bowlby, Lucy Burcham, Finn Fuller Letha Schein, Kayla Hauenstein, and Bridget Bownes.

Hope you all enjoy the macaroons as much as I did.

No Bake Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons

3 Tbs. (45ml) milk

6 Tbs. (84g) salted butter

11 ounce bag Kraft caramels, wrappers removed

4-5 cups (288g-360g) shredded sweetened coconut

4 ounces melting chocolate, such as almond bark

Sea salt

1. Add the milk, butter and caramels to a large pot set over medium heat. Allow everything to melt, stirring often so that the mixture doesn’t boil.

2. When the caramel is melted and smooth, add the coconut, starting with 4 cups. Mix together until the coconut is well coated with caramel. Add additional coconut as needed so that the coconut is well covered, but not too “wet” or the final cookies will end up gooey.

3. Scoop out spoonful of about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture onto parchment paper, or another nonstick paper.

4. Allow to cool completely.

5. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate according to the package directions.

6. Dip the bottoms of each macaroon into the chocolate, then set back onto the parchment paper to dry. Drizzle with some additional chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.

7. Allow cookies to firm completely, then serve. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 30)

1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup sugar

1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin

2 Tbs. all purpose flour

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Toppings

1 8-ounce whipped topping

1/2 cup roasted pecans

1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup chocolate ice cream topping

just add some chocolate chips for more chocolate

In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom and 1 in. up the sides of a greased 10-inch springform pan or 9 by 13 baking dish. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 8 — 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, flour and spice. Add eggs; beat on low speed until combined. Pour mixture into crust. Return pan to baking sheet.

Bake cheesecake for 55-65 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. When using a springform pan remove sides of pan.

Just before serving the cheesecake, top with the toppings. Drizzle with chocolate and caramel syrups, add pecan, and chips.

Until next time, happy cooking!

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