Sweet tradition treat

A photo of Rosalind Farotte on her wedding day with her grandmother Louise Filice, surrounded by some of Filice's recipes. The pair began cooking together when Farotte was 10-years-old, living just a few houses away in Gilroy. Filice specialized in Italia

Rich sauce drizzling over marshmallows and glistening under bright kitchen lights smells like chocolate – pounds of chocolate – as it falls into the silver bowl in Gilroyan Rosalind Farotte’s hands.
Farotte, 63, has been making her grandmother’s famous rocky road recipe for more than 50 years, and the candy has taken to shelves in Sigona’s Farmers Market stores in Redwood City and the Stanford Shopping Center.
Her new business, Rocky Road Ahead, started in November and features a variety of sweets including baked goods made with chocolate, nuts, blackberries, lemon and peanut butter – and her infamous rocky road candy.
In four months, her following has jumped to about 70 customers, many of which place large orders for candy to give away as party favors or seasonal gifts for employees or business contacts.
For Farotte, it’s a way to continue the traditions she learned from her grandmother, Louise Filice.
“She really instilled me not just a love for baking, but a love of tradition. She told me, ‘don’t let these things die,’” Farotte said.
On a spotless counter in her Gilroy house, core ingredients sit in cheery white bowls: Guittard milk chocolate, marshmallows, toasted almonds and cocoa butter.
She pours liquid chocolate over the marshmallows and works quickly to stir ingredients before the chocolate starts to cool and set.
At first, Farotte made the chocolatey treat just for friends and family, but people bidding on her rocky road at fundraisers wanted more.
“People would ask me, ‘are there other ways of getting your rocky road other than bidding on it?’ ” Farotte said.
She considered getting a home license years ago, but when her son Andy Farotte discovered his mom could get a Cottage License that would allow her to make the sugary treat in her own kitchen that spurred the business into reality.
Andy researched the license, sent for paperwork and learned how to order her favorite Guittard chocolate in 50-pound boxes. He designed the company logo to look like a street sign that reads: “Rocky Road Ahead” – a job the not computer savvy Rosalind would have had to hire out if her son hadn’t volunteered, she said.
The partnership with Sigona’s Farmers Market started when John Nava, a buyer for the stores, saw a Limelight Theater production, tasted some of Farrotte’s rocky road and asked her if she’d like to display it in a specialty store.
“I didn’t even know the man, and I wanted to give him a hug,” Farotte said. “I remember coming home and telling my family, ‘you’re never going to believe what happened.’”
Rocky Road Ahead is family inclusive. Farrotte calls her daughter, Elizabeth Heenan, the cheerleader who constantly asks how the business is going and encourages her to continue.
Her husband, Gordy, is “quality control” and official house taster. He is also the official chocolate chopper tasked with cutting five-pound chocolate bars into pieces melted in a double-boiler on the stove.
Since Rocky Road Ahead set up shop in Gilroy, locals have placed orders for Farotte’s candy for baby showers, birthday party favors, seasonal employee gifts and military care packages. Setting up a shop in Gilroy has helped Farotte expand her Gilroy connections in a city already well populated with family and friends.
“I’ve met some great people and made some great friends just doing this and having people come to the house,” she said. “Sometimes people come and stay an hour just because we start visiting.”
According to Farotte, the best part of candy making process has been sharing. She’s donated rocky road to organizations including Gilroy Foundation, Anchorpoint Christian Schools and Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.
“I cannot tell people what a complement it is when they say, ‘can you bring your rocky road?’” she said.
Rocky Road: Four-ounce bag: $5; one-pound box: $18
Chocolate nut bars: Butter crust and chocolate fudge filling topped with walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and milk chocolate chips. 12 bars: $15
Oatmeal jam bars: Oatmeal crust, blackberry filling and graham cracker crumb topping. 12 bars: $12
White Chip Caramel Bars: Butter brown sugar crust topped with walnuts, white chocolate chips and a white chocolate drizzle. 12 bars: $12
Lemon Curd Bars: Nutty crust with a zesty lemon curd filling topped with an almond coconut crumb mixture. 12 bars: $10.50
Peanut Butter Caramel Bars: Sugar cookie crust and thick caramel sauce topped with a chocolate peanut butter layer and a sprinkle of peanuts. 12 bars: $15
Apricot Bars: Butter almond cookie crust, a layer of apricot preserves and caramel praline topped with almonds and a coconut mixture. 12 bars: $10.50
Ooey Gooey Turtle Bars: Sugar cookie crust topped with pecans and a thick caramel graham cracker layer. 12 bars: $15
Treats can be purchased during Limelight Actors Theater productions at the Gilroy Center for the Arts on 7341 Monterey St. or directly from Rosalind at her home on 5 Monte Vista Way. Details: (408) 310-3200, [email protected] or www.facebook.com/rockyroad.ahead.1.