Clay learns cocoa

Joseph Pratt

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While Karen Davis has been known for a life of service and many professional outlets, she has most recently been in the community eye as the chocolate school graduate who started the Sweet Boutique in downtown Portsmouth, as well as her own chocolate store, Kakao Konfections.

Davis recently returned to her roots, teaching a lesson on chocolate to Clay High School’s classroom for students with disabilities.

Davis began her interest in chocolate years ago, as a Spanish teacher for Notre Dame Elementary School. During this time, she taught an intense session on Mayan culture, which was also known for chocolate. In order to get her students more engaged in the classroom, she hosted a chocolate session.

The students immediately fell in love with the lesson and began making chocolate of their own from cocoa beans.

Davis also fell in love, enrolled in chocolate school, and her passion for bold and unique flavors led her to where she is today.

Returning to class was a great experience, according to Davis.

“It was like riding a bike; I just right back into it and had a great time,” Davis said. “The kids really got to enjoy it, too. They were very attentive and ready to learn.”

The lesson was a bit shorter than her norm, since the classroom participants were limited on how much they could do. Davis would normally host a longer session where they would make chocolate, but she shortened it to include tasting and history.

“We discussed the history of chocolate and I taught them the different words and names for it,” Davis explained. “Then, they got a little plate and we tasted the different forms of chocolate. We started with the chocolate bean. They broke apart the bean and tasted the nibs inside. We tasted cocoa butter, 70 percent dark chocolate, semi-sweet, milk, and white chocolate.”

Davis said a lot of other chocolates were discussed and they led an activity on texture and what chocolate was most preferred.

“What made the lesson so cool was that it was such a learning experience,” Donna Hartlage, paraprofessional with the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, said. “Some of the students thought they’d just be eating chocolate, but it was very hands-on and engaging. She made chocolate a completely new learning experience, even in the way that they were tasting it.”

Hartlage also commented on the way Davis incorporated her lesson into what the students had been learning about Spanish heritage and Dia de los Muertos.

“The way she connected her lesson with what we were teaching also helped peak student interest, both in what she was doing and what we did following her work,” Hartlage explained.

Davis is excited to continue her roots of chocolate education. She will be going to Scioto County Career and Technical School next, where she will work with the Culinary Arts program in creating chocolate from cocoa beans.

“Teaching and learning about chocolate is a window to another world and culture,” Davis explains. “Students always really enjoy it and it gives them a unique and flavorful hands-on experience at another group of people.”

The chocolatier said she is open to working with other schools and interested teachers can request information by reaching out to her on Facebook; at her business, at 719 Chillicothe Street; or by phone, at 740-352-9724.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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Submitted Photo Clay students learning chocolate from Karen Davis of Kakao Konfections Photo Clay students learning chocolate from Karen Davis of Kakao Konfections