AMITY, Ore. — Shortcuts are meant to get you where you're going a whole lot faster, but there are some Oregon back roads where you want to put on the brakes, catch your breath and savor a sweet treat.
We travel a trail toward a place where heavenly chocolates are produced for eager customers at the Brigittine Monastery Gourmet Confections.
Winter has arrived across Oregon’s Willamette Valley – with a firm hold on the landscape that seems lasting as fresh snowfall lights up the scene near the small burg of Amity.
While indoors at the Brigittine Monastery, the sweet life has reached the boiling point inside a huge copper kettle as milk, sugar and butter combine to make a thick syrup slurry at 245 degrees.
“This will be chocolate fudge with nuts and right now it‘s boiling hot,” said Brother Steven, noted the Monastery’s spokesman. “We’ll add two types of chocolate next and doesn’t it smell good in here?”
It always smells great in the kitchens of the Brigittine Monastery Gourmet Confectionary. It’s where half a dozen monks rely on time-tested recipes to make daily batches of seven flavors of fudge.
Since 1986, the monks have lived outside the community of Amity, on a 45-acre farm where they work. They make chocolate candy as a way to become truly self-supporting.
Special equipment provides a one-pound pour into lined boxes. There are approximately 150 pounds per batch of fudge.
Brother Bernerd then applied the Monastery’s signature swirl across the top of each.
“That’s our trademark,” said Brother Steven. “Each pound of candy is swirled. In fact, everything we do is hand-swirled.”
The Brigittines are the only monastic community in Oregon that makes candy and it is delicious!
Not just fudge, but a one of a kind, hand-crank truffle press pushes out creamy chocolate that becomes the hand rolled centers for truffles.
The Monastery produces a dozen different truffle flavors.
Business is booming at this busiest time of the year too. The Brigittine chocolates are shipped across the country and as far away as Europe and South America.
Brother Steven was quick to point out that the sweet treats provide the Monastery and its varied charities a self-supporting business, but it is not their most important business.
“We are in the business of praising God," said Brother Steven. “We are monks and our life is centered on the praising of God. We believe that we cannot change each other with war and violence – we do it with the grace of God and by prayer.”
The Monastery’s Chapel, their candy store and the grounds are open to the public seven days a week.
The Brigittine Monastery’s chocolate production is determined month-to-month, based upon demand. But this time of year, the fudge is poured and the truffles are rolled as a daily event.
In fact, the monks produce up to four batches of fudge a day in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
So now is a good time to stop in and sample some of their sweet heavenly chocolate candy where they like to say: “Good addictions start small!”
“You smell this wonderful aroma,” offered Brother Steven. “That’s what I like about the candy; you can be centered on God still and do your work.”
If you would like to visit more of Oregon – consider a walk on the wild side with my latest book: “Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids.” You’ll find activities to engage any kid, from archery to clamming on the coast to hunting for thundereggs to zip-lining through trees in an aerial adventure park.
In addition, be sure to check out “Grant’s Getaways Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon.” you will enjoy 48 uniquely Oregon adventures highlighting my fish and wildlife encounters. scores of colorful photos by “Grant’s
RELATED: Grant's Getaways: Candy Cane Express
RELATED: Grant's Getaways: Just for the Kids