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Chocolate Houses to Benefit Habitat for Humanity

Anyone with a sweet tooth and a heart to match will find satisfaction at this week’s Pennsylvania College of Technology food show, where students’ delectable dream houses will be auctioned to help fulfill the wishes of needy families.

School of Hospitality students are putting the finishing touches on 11 edible chocolate houses that will be auctioned during Penn College’s eighth annual food show on Friday, Dec. 3. All auction proceeds will benefit the Williamsport/Lycoming affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.

“There’s probably not one person who doesn’t like chocolate, so, just as an interest, it brings people in,” said event organizer Chef Monica Lanczak, a baking and pastry arts instructor at Penn College. “The students work hard all semester, really contribute a lot of their own time to the production of these houses, and it benefits a great cause.”

According to Lanczak, the auction has raised more than $3,000 during the past seven years for Habitat for Humanity’s home-building efforts. She promises that Friday’s chocolate house auction will have a tasty twist on past successes.

“This year, we have a great theme Dickens’ Village so (the chocolate houses) are going to be more decorative. I think it’s fun to have a theme. Whereas before, the students chose their own theme. This year, it’s going to be set up as a village, which makes it a little different.”

Lanczak says the creativity annually showcased by her chocolate works class hasn’t changed, however.

This year’s 10- by 12-inch chocolate houses will include replicas of “Big Ben,” “Heathmoor Castle,” “Scrooge and Marley Loans” and “Camden Towne Church.” The students spend about eight weeks planning, designing and producing the houses, each of which consists of eight to 12 pounds of chocolate.

“I think (visitors to the food show) are going to be pleasantly surprised this year because, in the past, our sizes tended to be a little larger but less decorative. This year, we’re focused on smaller pieces with more decoration on them,” she said. “I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised by the look of the houses, how they actually do really resemble the Dickens houses.”

If kept in a relatively cool spot in a home, Lanczak says, the chocolate houses will remain edible throughout the winter holidays. The minimum bid for a house is $30 during the food show, which is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Penn College’s Thompson Professional Development Center.

The 12 students who produced the 11 works are James Deaver and Linda Rodke, Jerry Dimitratos, Jessica Emick, Andrea High, Amanda Jones, Matthew Loss, Kim Nalitz, Charles Niedermyer II, Nova Ritchey, Matt Sclesky and Mandi Scott.

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