Coconut trees
High on Adventure


Story and photos by Yvette Cardozo
  Broadmoor Chef Amanda Houdek demonstrates making gourmet chocolate.  

     There are times you feel like a Martian observing planet Earth. That’s more or less how I view anything to do with creating food. Not eating it, mind you. But dealing with pots and pans and recipes and all the rest.

     I’d rather not usually. However ... well ... THIS was chocolate.

     So of course, I signed up for a day of food clinics, starting a chance to seriously play with chocolate at Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor Hotel.

Chef Amanda Houdek demonstrates making gourmet chocolate. Here, she is cutting the individual candies out of a large sheet of chocolate. Photo by Barbara Ramsey Orr.
       The term ‘upscale’ doesn’t do the Broadmoor justice. I think there was a time in the early 20th century when hotels like this popped out of the ground in countless cities.  

     There was one much like the Broadmoor in south Miami Beach where I grew up. And while the Roney Plaza is long gone, The Broadmoor is very much still with us.

     Meanwhile, I was there to experience chocolate ... making, cooking, fooling around with chocolate ... I don’t view this as cooking. Rather, chocoholic that I am, I see it as FUN.

     So there we were, behind this pane of sometimes opaque glass (yes they could control this) learning how to have fun with chocolate. And yes, if you are staying at the Broadmoor, you, too, can attend one of these chocolate clinics.


     I was at the elbow of Amanda Hodek, the pastry sous chef in charge of, among other things, chocolate. Houdek said in pastry school, she just gravitated to chocolate, studied it on her own and eventually landed at the Broadmoor where she has been for seven years.

     The chocolate they make is for sale at the hotel, so they do go through a LOT of it. This year, they ordered three tons (yes...TONS), mostly from the Dominican Republic but also Madascar and other spots along Africa’s Ivory coast. But that’s nothing compared to the year they ordered (and used) nine tons. Houdek explained what she’s looking for in a chocolate is a neutral taste, adding that she went through six different chocolates until she found what she wanted.

   Our first step was melting the chocolate by controlling the temperature so it would crystallize properly. It does actually crystallize. Under a microscope, Houdek said, the crystals look like snow flakes. The technique to reach this crystallized state requires heating and cooling and heating and cooling the chocolate again and again.

  Broadmoor sous chef Amanda Hodek  
       And of course, you also need to know when to stop.  
Pastry chef Amanda Houdek pours cream into chocolate to make a gnache which will become part of gourmet chocolates.

     While the chocolate was melting, Hodeck had a second pot going with sugar, water and slivered almonds which would emerge as candied almonds destined for almond rocher candy.

     Next was gnashe, which Google defines as “a whipped filling of chocolate and cream, used in desserts such as cakes and truffles.”

  Broadmoor chocolates  

     Interestingly, it turns out chocolate and cream don’t really go together well. Getting this to work takes patience and, among other things, knowing just how hot to get the chocolate. In this case, it’s just under 89 degrees F.

   It’s a matter of respecting the temperature range of chocolate, Hodek explained. The process is referred to as ‘tempering,’ which is not the same a ‘melting.’ When chocolate is melted, the molecules separate. When you temper the chocolate, you bond those molecules back together so your chocolate will harden with a glossy, crisp finish.

     And, as ‘they’ say ... there’s more. You still need to mix the chocolate and the cream.

     Meanwhile, “when you’re mixing the cream into the chocolate, you want it to be shiny, not grainy or separated,” Hodek said.

     All this was poured onto parchment paper across a cookie sheet and left to crystalize (basically get firm) at room temperature. Then, with a knife that Hodek first heated in hot water, then dried, she sliced the chocolate into squares.

Gourmet chocolates made by hotel guests and Broadmoor pastry chef.
      All this was done, of course with what people think of as ‘dark’ or semi sweet chocolate. And yes, it was as truly yum as it sounds.  

     So, can the public experience something like this?

     Yes, if you’re staying at the hotel. The Boadmoor offers regularly scheduled one-hour tours of the kitchen for free but the chocolate clinic (also free) must be booked separately.



This is one of the more easily-done Broadmoor recipes. Another YUM.

1 Cup regular sugar
1 Cup brown sugar
12 tbsp room temperature butter
¾ Cup peanut butter
1 egg yolk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ Cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

1. Combine sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter and butter in mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until mixture is light and creamy.
2. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Mix until combined.
3. Stir in flour and baking soda.
4. Refrigerate dough 3-4 hours.
5. Scoop globs onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until golden brown around the outside and a little soft in the middle.

  Broadmoor peanut butter cookies  
Freshly made peanut butter cookies.
Photo by Broadmoor Hotel.


I’m including this because it was one of the best 5pm cocktails I’ve EVER had. And a splash of vodka isn’t a bad addition.

Muddle three strips of jalapeno.
Add 1 ½ oz fresh lime juice, ½ oz agave nectar, 1 oz fresh orange juice.
Shake on ice, strain into a highball glass with ice.
Add a splash of soda and a splash of Sprite.
Garnish with jalapeno and lime.


  Yvette Cardozo is a writer/photographer who loves adventure and the outdoors, specifically skiing, scuba diving and cycling. If it involves interesting food (ethnic delicacies, high arctic "country food," molecular gastronomy and whatever else is interesting or weird), so much the better. She has skied in Kashmir, India, scuba dived both the Arctic and Antarctic, run a dogsled team above the arctic circle and more. She is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), TJG (Travel Journalists Guild) and NASJA (North American Snowsports Journalists Association). Her stories appear in the Chicago Tribune, NY Post, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, among other newspapers, along with Just For Canadian Doctors, Sport Diver and several international magazines.   Yvette Cardozo