Heavenly Chocolates from Brigittine Monastery
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. This week, we take a break at a place that is centered on peace and serenity at one of the most successfully sweet businesses in Oregon — 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!” noted the Monastery’s spokesman, Brother Steven. “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 that they work – they make chocolate candy as a way to become truly self-supporting.
Special equipment provides a one-pound pour (there are approximately 150 pounds per batch of fudge) into lined boxes. Brother Bernerd then applied the Monastery’s signature swirl across the top of each. “That’s our trademark,” added 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’s 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. The Brigittine chocolates are shipped across the country and as far away as Europe and South America.
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!”
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.