Festival of Chocolate at UCF Arena

Three-day event hits the sweet spot

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The Festival of Chocolate

4-10 p.m. Friday, April 27
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 28
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, April 29
UCF Arena
Bldg. 50, North Gemini Blvd.

For those with more savory-driven palates, dessert sometimes arrives as an afterthought - something sweet only enjoyed if there's room. But this weekend, Orlando's collective sweet tooth pulls culinary confections front and center to indulge in a three-day celebration of the utmost decadent treat: chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate.

This year's Festival of Chocolate, moving from the Orlando Science Center to the spacious UCF Arena, goes way beyond finger-licking-fountain dreams, overloading chocoholics with an Unwrapped-style delve into the art of making (and, of course, tasting) chocolate. The weekend kicks off with a Cocoa Couture Fashion Show (think Kit Kat-trimmed necklines and Milky Way-wrapped A-lines), then continues with live chocolate showpiece and wedding cake decorating competitions, hands-on classes with master chocolatiers ($20 per person), tours of “Chocoland, the chocolate museum” and a slew of informative chef demos like “How to Properly Taste Chocolate,” with Stephanie Weinberger of Orlando's Dove Chocolate Discoveries, and “Using Chocolate in a Savory Dish,” by chef David Arnold of MTI Culinary Arts.

Grazers looking to nibble their way through the weekend should visit local vendors' tables - Winter Park's Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Lake Mary's Cupcake Crazy and Orlando's Farris and Foster's Chocolate Factory, to name a few - and use “Chocolate Chip” coins for sugary samples (priced $1-$5). And the PRP Wine and Guittard chocolate pairing sessions ($10 per person) are the weekend's ultimate self-indulgence for the grown-up chocolate-loving kid.

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