Life works in funny ways, it has a sense of humor. I thought I was too good for everything Pennsylvania offered; so I left. I found myself trying my damnedest to recreate it any chance I had. I found a Steelers jersey at a Goodwill once in San Diego. I bought it on the spot.
I thought the Laurel Highlands and the Cumberland Valley were relics, stale, stagnant. I thought I had created a mythology around them. I feared it on the plane, when the wheels hit the tarmac, when my dad picked me up in his Pathfinder. I worried I had missed something that never existed. That I had become a refugee to my wild imagination. That my mother never loved me. That the effervescent greenery would wear me down. That there would be nothing for me to come back to in Pennsylvania.
But there was. There was a community. Whether you spend your time hanging out in gas stations or ice cream stands, there was a community I came back to. And when I drove US-30 to get to Chambersburg last Sunday, I felt that community grow.
I visited a chocolate factory. My community grew while I was there. I began to understand more about the products I love. I passed farmland and barbecue to get there and everything felt satisfyingly familiar. I questioned why I had left Pennsylvania, wasting money and years and friendships trying to leave a place I’ve loved for so long.
I visited a chocolate factory last week. Nathan Miller Chocolate invited me to see the entire bean-to-bar process in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. We toured the café, we toured the factory, too. We saw how the beans were sorted and smelled their earthy burlap sacks. Large slabs of chocolate and delicate bars being wrapped. Vats of chocolate with 55% buttermilk. Small tasting spoons weren’t enough and I bought 3 bars. I learned the difference between South American chocolates. I learned how professionals wrapped their bars. I learned everything I could and couldn’t wait to go back. For another day, another road trip. Any chance I had to see the beauty that’s in every pocket of Pennsylvania. Five years ago I left and never thought I’d see an artisan chocolate factory in rural Pennsylvania. But I’m so glad it’s there, waiting to be discovered. Waiting to share with you.
Check out the gallery above and the video of my tour during my FeedFeed takeover. You can also visit Nathan Miller Chocolate on their website, their instagram, Twitter, and their Facebook. These lovely bars are also available on Food52, because they’re just THAT gorgeous.
And speaking of FeedFeed, I am an editor over at the Nostalgic Desserts feed and it is one of my favorite things as a food blogger that I get to do. My community has grown and I have grown with it. I'm different than I was 5 years ago. I'm more me than ever before.
Black Forest Scones
With the Nathan Miller Cherry Pretzel bar, I was inspired to make these scones. You can view me making them in-action in the video below as well.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 TB white vinegar
- 1 TB vanilla
- 1 chocolate bar, pulsed until crumbs
- 2 1/2 cup flour, plus more if it is a sticky dough for you
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, highest quality you can get
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 TB shortening, cold
- 4 TB unsalted butter, cold
- 2 cup whipped cream (I made mine from scratch, adding Gran Marnier as I had some leftover)
- 2 cup cherries, halved and pitted
- Preheat oven to 450*F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Combine milk, vinegar, and vanilla in a cup and refrigerate while you prepare the remainder of the dough
- In a food processor, combine chocolate flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine
- Add fats and pulse 6-8 times until pea-sized and combined into flour mixture
- Get your milk mixture from the fridge. With the motor of the food processor running, slowly pour in the milk mixture
- Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and pat into a round
- Cut into 8 triangles
- Place onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 14-18 minutes, they will be done when firm and browned on the edges (but not burnt!)
- Allow to cool from oven, top with whipped cream and cherries and enjoy!