LOVE can be spelled in many ways, but the most fitting and the most popular—especially in February—is c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e. Supermarket shelves groan with those red, heart-shaped boxes so easy to toss in a cart. But for your true love, nothing but the best will do, right? In that case, follow me to Colorado Springs and the iconic Broadmoor Hotel.
It is here that you’ll find Cafe Julie’s and some of the most tempting treats to be found anywhere. During a 2018 refresh of the hotel, the space formerly occupied by Espresso just off the main lobby gave way to Cafe Julie’s, a 2,000 square-foot Parisian-inspired patisserie with an array of house-made gelato, breads and pastries. But the real star of the show is chocolate. And the man behind many tempting creations is Adam Thomas, executive baking and pastry chef, whose career has spanned the globe.
“I’ve been here at The Broadmoor for six years,” Thomas says. “Before that I was at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills in the same position. It was a much smaller operation—we had a team of nine there. Here we have 56.” It was while working for the Gordon Ramsay restaurant group and needing a chocolate element that he uncovered his real passion. “In Ireland I had the epiphany that I loved working with chocolate. It felt so natural. I started building a relationship with Valrhona and did some competitions in Spain and Germany.”
For Thomas, the study of chocolate is ongoing. “I feel the more I get into it, the more I feel further away from it,” he says. It’s a complex food, and as he describes the intricacies, I almost imagine him more chemist than chef. The Broadmoor has a unique relationship with the chocolate company that has resulted in its own private blend. The product is 66 percent (the amount of cocoa beans), with beans from Madagascar, Dominican Republic and Ghana. These are chosen for specific reasons. Ghana beans are intense and bold; Madagascar’s are fruity and acidic; those from the Dominican Republic have a roasted vegetable aspect. The café uses about seven tons a year. Visitors to the Cafe have an added advantage of viewing the new “chocolate room” and the processes involved through a gradient window.
Cafe Julie’s cases display an array of the most imaginative creations and confections in a true feast for the eyes. Araguani Truffles, 17 flavors of bonbons; candied almonds; jarred Broadmoor Chocolate and Caramel Spread; Nougat in Broadmoor Chocolate or Broadmoor Farms Wildflower Honey (seasonal). Additionally, there are nougats, brittles or barks with a variety of nuts and fruits. Thomas says of The Broadmoor Chocolate, “We use it to make bars, and finishing chocolates. We started using it in our brownie mix, ice cream gelatos—it’s our work-horse chocolate. It’s not too strong and will not overpower a raspberry ganache, for instance.”
In addition to the Luxury Valrhona Chocolate Collection, Cafe Julie’s offers—in true Parisian fashion—an assortment of petite gateaux (baba au rum, tiramisu, mousse), Tarte (caramel, cranberry almond), and individual pastries (chocolate croissant, savory ham or turkey croissant).
Guests can sip Lavazza specialty coffees while indulging in a triple chocolate cupcake, or a pistachio raspberry eclair. Thomas proudly states, “We have a world-class pastry program here with an amazing leadership team that inspires us. It’s a quick, one-stop shop—a beautiful case filled with healthy breakfast items, chicken wraps, kale salad. We do a lot of local sourcing.”
I asked what he might have in mind for Feb. 14. “For Valentine’s Day, it’s an intimate weekend with lots of restaurant specials. What we will do is build a chocolate sculpture—about eight to 12 inches high. We’ve done a perfume bottle, or a lock and key. There will be love-themed cakes in the pastry case. Cafe Julie’s will offer more specials and pre-packed boxes. The show pieces are really popular. It’s surprising how many are willing to buy a sculpture.” Needless to say, those are wrapped with great care to survive your trip home.
Why make a trip to Colorado Springs for your Valentine sweetie? Thomas explains, “There are not many —if [any] at all—people doing what we are doing in Colorado, certainly not in a hotel. The reason we’re doing it is because The Broadmoor is always looking for a way to set itself apart. What you get here, you can only get here. It will always be our focus. Our culinary program is the same—we harvest our own honey, we breed our own wagyu beef for the hotel guests.”
Luxury chocolates may be just one part of the equation for The Broadmoor hotel, but for this romantic holiday it is at the heart of the lure to relish a unique and quintessential Colorado experience.
Cafe Julie’s is located in the main lobby of The Broadmoor Hotel
1 Lake Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Friday and Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday through Thursday 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Makes one 5-layer cake
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/4 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1 ¼ cups oil
1 2/3 cups water
3 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix until incorporated. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the liquid ingredients in three parts. Scrape the bowl down between each addition. Pour batter into three separate pans coated with butter and dusted with flour. Fill the first two pans about 2/3 of the way full and pour the rest of the batter into the third pan. Bake at 350 until cake springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Once cooled, carefully slice the two full rounds in half horizontally to make the layers of the cake.
3 1/3 cups butter
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 ½ tbsp corn syrup
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 ¼ cups cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups brown sugar
½ tsp salt
Combine butter, heavy cream, corn syrup and vanilla in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Sift together the sugar and cocoa powder in a medium mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to hot cream mixture, whisking constantly.
Return to heat. Continue to whisk frosting as it returns to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5
minutes, whisking often. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and place in large baking dish to cool.
When ready to frost the cake, warm slightly until smooth and spreadable.
Joy Lawrance is a freelance writer living in Golden writing frequently for Colorado Expression. She feels that the perfect dessert is a simple piece of excellent dark chocolate (65 to 70 percent!) to put a luscious finish on any meal.
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