Crafting Chocolate at Bridge Gardens

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By Dawn Watson

By his own admission, Rick Bogusch might be more of a “salty person” than a sweets one, but that doesn’t stop him from showing people how it’s done with chocolate.

Peanut butter and jelly chocolate grande.

Hampton Chocolate Factory peanut butter and jelly chocolate bar.

Despite his personal preference for more savory snacks, the Bridge Gardens manager sure knows his way around a good ganache. And he’s ready to share his knowledge with those who are hungry for tasty tidbits on truffle making during a “Chocolate: The Perfect Gift” demonstration at the public garden in Bridgehampton on Saturday, November 14.

Mr. Bogusch, who is best known for his green thumb, is actually a bit of a chocolate expert. Which makes sense as the flavorful food comes from a plant. Before the ingredient is processed into its more recognizable dark, milk and white forms, it starts out as the cocoa bean, which grows on cacao trees—small evergreen trees native to a tropical regions. During his demonstration, Mr. Bogusch will also educate those who participate by offering up several chocolate facts and trivia.

Those who attend will also learn how to master making simple liqueur-filled chocolates, he says, adding that he’s still trying to decide on the final recipe to use during the demo. He can report that he’ll approach the teaching opportunity in a similar fashion as he’s done in past workshops, by helping attendees to make a ganache, then flavoring it and molding it into a mushroom-like shape.

Montauk bark.

Hampton Chocolate Factory Montauk bark.

“It’s a very simple recipe,” says Mr. Bogusch, noting that anybody can make an elegant chocolate dessert without spending a lot of time or complicated effort once they know how to do it.

But for those who would rather buy their decadent treats, there’s also another option that will be explored during the event. Caroline and Evan Gappelberg, co-owners of the Hampton Chocolate Factory, who will be selling their wares at the demonstration and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Peconic Land Trust, will join Mr. Bogusch.

The East Quogue-based entrepreneurs and Peconic Land Trust supporters will be on hand with select samples of artisanal chocolates, such as their hugely successful PB&J Bar, Artisan Dark Raspberry Truffle and Sweet and Salty Caramel Popcorn Drizzled with Chocolate. They’ll also share some of their tastiest chocolate knowledge, according to Mr. Gappelberg, who hints that a sweet trivia game will be part of the festivities.

The enterprising couple—he’s a former Wall Streeter and she’s an FIT graduate who previously worked in the garment district—combined their talents with a love of top-shelf food to began selling their gourmet wares in 2014. Fairly successful out the gate, they hit dessert pay-dirt when their PB&J Bar was featured on the reality show “Kourtney & Khloé Take the Hamptons” featuring the Kardashian sisters, reports Mr. Gappelberg.

“‘Kourtney & Khloé’ really put us on the map,” he says. “My wife brought them a big box of chocolates when they opened up Dash [the family’s pop-up retail shop on Jobs Lane in Southampton], hoping they’d try them and mention them somewhere. We never heard anything from them but then fast forward, we started getting calls from our friends who saw the program and told us that they had scripted them into the show.”

Hampton Chocolate Company bon bons

Hampton Chocolate Company bon bons

The decadent desserts appeared on episode six of the E Network television show, which aired in 2014. Kourtney shares the chocolates with her then-partner, Scott Disick, who has ties to the East End and attended the Ross School. The bad boy then attempts to give her sister, Khloé, a candy bar as a peace offering for one of his many misdeeds.

“The orders just came in like a tidal wave on the internet,” says Mr. Gappelberg of the effect of his product’s air time. “We get orders to this day from the reruns.”

Even though Hampton Chocolate Factory gained much of its initial notoriety for its mention on reality TV, the product is all luxury, he says. The kosher artisan treats are hand-crafted in Brooklyn by an expert chocolatier and made from only natural and preservative-free ingredients.

“The point is that it’s a specialty high-end chocolate that’s reserved for connoisseurs,” he adds of his sweets, which retail for $8 a bar and are meant to become synonymous with the East End lifestyle. “We want people to be transported to the Hamptons when they bite into it, to experience a positive vibe about the Hamptons.”

Whether those who attend are interested in learning how to make their own treats, or are in it for samples of the high-end chocolates, the workshop presents a terrific pre-holiday tasting opportunity, according to Trust Outreach Manager Kathy Kennedy.

“It’s perfect for gift-giving purposes,” she says. “And who doesn’t love chocolate.”

A “Chocolate: The Perfect Gift” demonstration and sale will be held on Saturday, November 14, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton. Tickets are $10 each and reservations are required, as space is limited. Bridge Garden members will be offered a $5 discounted price. For additional information and reservations, visit http://www.peconiclandtrust.org.

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