friday feast: “For the Chocolate Tasters” by Diane Lockward (+ a recipe!)

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.” ~ Michael Levine

Small Batch House Truffles via Chocolate Chocolate DC.

Please don’t wake me. I’m in the midst of a chocolate truffle dream. I’m surrounded by beautiful bonbons and it’s my job to taste them. One by one, I wrap my lips around the scrumptious hand-shaped orbs, savoring each note of exquisite flavor as they slowly melt on my tongue.

Deep Milk Pleasure with its creamy milk chocolate buttery center takes me back to the after school treats of my childhood. With the rich white chocolate of Coconut Rum Paradise I’ve washed up on the shores of Hawai’i, while the Original Dark, with its chocolate liquor and handsome dusting of Scharffen Berger cocoa, speaks of men in tuxedos waltzing in dimly lit ballrooms. 🙂

With an Irish last name, I’m entitled to an Irish Cream Dream. I breathe in the heady aroma of Bailey’s Irish Cream before gently sinking my teeth into the rich Valrhona chocolate shell, my taste buds tickled by those sprinkles of coffee-infused El Ceibo. It’s like meeting Aidan Turner at the corner pub. Pure ecstasy!

Since I am serious about my chocolate, I save the best for last: Uber Dark and Decadent. Dangerous and devilish, this one is capable of bringing even veteran tasters to their knees. This is how it is with 70% cacao and sassy cinnamon– one small taste and you’re hooked. Come over to the deepest darkest dark of the dark side. 🙂

Diane Lockward’s tantalizing poem got me fantasizing about what it would be like to be a professional chocolate taster. Surely it’s the ultimate dream job — chocolate espresso beans for breakfast, dark almond bark for lunch, a beautifully hand-painted artisan bonbon for dinner.

Diane’s finely wrought sensory confection is a little haute, a little naughty, and is laced with just the right touch of irony. Shouldn’t it be illegal to so exquisitely protract this brand of passion? Where do I sign up? 🙂



who sit around all day eating bonbons,
whose mission is to empty each fluted cup,
day after day in pursuit of the perfect truffle,

whose nights are filled with dreams of ganache,
who do not count calories or fret the heart
attack, diabetes, or cavities, but push forward

to the next confection, who make a virtue
of falling to temptation, these epicureans
of chocolate, who never say I’ve had enough,

but like Olympic athletes persevere and savor
the literal taste of sweet success, who worship
the chocolatiers as they would gods and study

the science of chocolate, how to hold up a piece
to the light, to inspect for sheen and the slight
fissure, how to snap it and listen for the crack

that signals perfection, how to soften a Belgian
treat with the teeth and not chew, who train
like sommeliers to master the bunny sniff,

to breathe in the aroma notes, and show up
at work each day with a whiff of expectation,
who practice the fine art of slow eating,

grateful for each one of the 8000 taste buds
on the tongue, the hypersensitive palate,
steadfast in their refusal to rush joy.

~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2016 Diane Lockward, from The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement (Wind Publications, 2016).


Thanks to Diane for permission to share her poem and for providing a little backstory:

As you know I put out a monthly Poetry Newsletter. Each issue includes a model poem which is followed by a prompt I’ve
made up based on the poem. I often do the prompts myself. One month I used Caitlin Doyle’s poem, “The Foley Artist’s Apprentice,” a poem about a job I’d never heard of. So I came up with the idea to ask my subscribers to write an odd job poem. First, I researched a number of odd jobs. Among the list was “chocolate taster.” I thought, Wow, now that’s a dream job. I did some research and learned the language of chocolate. Then I wrote the poem as an ode, praising the professional chocolate taster for his dedication to his work–a touch of irony there. I used the 3-line stanzas as I liked the formal elegance of the form and it seemed worthy of its subject.

Diane was also gracious enough to share a favorite chocolate recipe. She said she’s taken these cookies to several functions and she’s never come home with a single leftover piece. So put on your aprons, grab your mixing bowls, and make this for the people you love this weekend! 🙂


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 king-size Hershey’s milk chocolate bars
  • 1-1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8 inch square glass baking pan.

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a different bowl, mix together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.

Add two mixtures together and beat until combined.

Divide dough in half.

Press half into an even layer on bottom of pan. Place two chocolate bars on top of dough (you might have to trim off a bit). Cover chocolate bars with marshmallow fluff.

Place remaining dough on top of fluff–best achieved by taking a small amount of the dough and working it into a flat piece in your hands.

Lay each piece on top so that entire top is covered. Might look a bit messy but that’s fine.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned.

Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.



♥ Don’t forget to look for Diane’s latest book, The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement (Wind Publications, 2016). Highly recommended!

Diane Lockward, more than any other poet now writing, exemplifies Garcia Lorca’s definition of poet as the professor of the five bodily senses. She revels in sensory language, often lip-smacking language, and she can make the language of terror and loss as spine-tingling as the beauty of a last stab of sunset before it disappears. The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement, with its cryptic title, invites us to join her in nothing less than a poetic banquet where we are seduced by the “Red of the raspberry, its drupelets a nest of sexual seeds, / and the music, pepper hot and red,” or challenged by the never-ending unwinding of Lockward’s interior landscape seeking its exterior expression in the physical world around her: “I build a nest of silken floss / and tiny twigs, / watch the lives on the other side.” Make no mistake, though, the artistic weaving in these poems is tough as knots that “hold their weight, that won’t come undone.” This book is a feast to which Garcia Lorca himself would give a five-star rating.  ~ Kathryn Stripling Byer, North Carolina Poet Laureate, 2005-2009

📘 For info about all of Diane’s books, visit her official website and blog, Blogalicious.


♥ Curious to learn more about chocolate tasting? Enjoy this video featuring UK chocolatier Paul A. Young:


♥ I tend to think that all chocolate lovers in some way qualify as tasters :). Even if we never get paid, we sure have a lot of fun practicing! In case my dream has left you craving truffles, click over to the Chocolate Chocolate website, where you can learn more about their Small Batch House Truffles, made fresh daily by co-owner Ginger Park. Of course while you’re there, be “virtuous” and allow yourself to fall to the temptation of their many other devilishly delish offerings. Whatever your pleasure, these folks can make your fondest chocolate dreams come true. Order by phone or online. They ship anywhere in the continental U.S.!



poetry fridayThe lovely and talented Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink. Float over on a chocolate cloud and check out the full menu of poetic offerings being shared in the blogosphere this week.




wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Click through and come join the delicious fun!


*All chocolate candy photos in this post via Chocolate Chocolate’s FB Page.

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

43 thoughts on “friday feast: “For the Chocolate Tasters” by Diane Lockward (+ a recipe!)

  1. I’m glad I’ve learned to tie on a bib before I get to your blog so I don’t drool all over my computer. Today’s post is over the top with yumminess!

    Whether it’s chocolate or sunrises, let’s all vow to be “steadfast in their (our) refusal to rush joy.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simply the name, The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement, is enough for me to feel I need to read that poetry collection.

    And whoa, to be a supertaster AND get to taste chocolate must be knee-weakeningly amazing! Every six months or so we try a box from a local (SF local, anyway) chocolatier… and the wonderful Recchiuti Confections packs a gift box that looks an awful lot like the last photo! I only give them as gifts and never eat them, of course. ::cough::

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you do read Diane’s new book. I love how she surprises me by coming from different directions on universal themes.


  3. Jama, first of all thank you for the lovely shout-out and secondly, thank you for allowing my senses to be totally aroused. Did you know that I am a chocolate lover? Most of my baking is with a chocolate touch. Sign me up for a chocolate tasting. What’s better than chocolate and poetry???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay for dark chocolate! Thanks for the link. Actually, I did try the Mozart kugeln when I visited Salzburg many years ago. Didn’t know what they were called, but they seemed to be everywhere. Yum!


  4. I just realised that I never posted earlier. I was distracted – sending the link to my sister… The poem is smooth and creamy perfection and your chocolate photos are divine decadence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Jama! I know it’s hard to believe, but my daughter is not a big chocolate fan–perhaps she’s a changeling? In any case, when she gets gifts of chocolate from her students, guess who’s the beneficiary?


  6. This is vintage Diane! I love her poetry and her newsletter. Thanks Diane, for giving permission and Jama, for your sumptuous set-up. I’m sure I’ve gained 5 lbs. just reading – but enjoyed every single virtual calorie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diane is the one who turned me on to culinary verse (What Feeds Us). She writes so beautifully and sensually about food, and her poems always have an interesting twist/underlying bite/element of irony.


  7. Yes! Uber Dark is theeeee best. S’more bars???? OMG. Must make. Love the photos, the poem, and learning about chocolate tasting. Such a great post.


    1. Diane is such a temptress, isn’t she? Waving those s’mores bars right in front of us. It’s futile to resist . . .


  8. What a truly delicious post! Good chocolate is one of the life’s biggest pleasures. The poem is gorgeous and I would happily apply to be a chocolate taster. 😉 Those s’mores cookie bars look amazing too!


  9. Beautiful AND delicious! I love chocolate in all its forms, but especially artisanal creations like these! I want to try all of the truffle flavors. I have noted the shop name down for my next trip to Washington, D.C.!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Do make it a point to visit Chocolate Chocolate. You won’t find a nicer group of people behind the counter. I love family owned businesses. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s nothing like small batch homemade truffles, and Ginger always adds the secret ingredient: love. 🙂 Enjoy the s’mores bars!


  10. Thanks for the amazing chocolate orgy Jama! And I love the contemplative expression on the bunny’s face as he sits beside the carrots.


    1. It’s one of the best poetry collection covers I’ve seen in a long time — plus I’m very partial to rabbits. 🙂


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