Chocolate by the Bay Your guide to chocolate in the SF Bay area Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:12:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 When worlds collide Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:11:13 +0000 Ferrero Lee Min Ho

[caption id="attachment_7727" align="alignright" width="320"]Lee Min Ho with chocolates Lee Min Ho makes a good case for chocolates being the international language of love.[/caption] Today my life-long obsession with chocolate and my recent obsession with K-dramas collided when I read that Ferrero Rocher has hired Hallyu star Lee Min Ho as their spokesmodel. According to Adrienne Stanley, contributing editor at KDramaStars, Lee Min Ho will star in Ferrero Rocher’s Christmas and Valentine’s Day commercials. The first ad in the “Italian Flair” campaign shows the popular actor preparing for a date in Rome that includes a box of chocolates. Most chocolate lovers are probably already familiar with Ferrero-Rocher’s ubiquitous holiday commercials, if not with the chocolates themselves. And if you know who Lee Min Ho is, you probably can’t wait for the ads to air on a TV station near you. It’s not clear from the news reports however, if the ads are strictly for the Asian market or will air worldwide. For those who don’t know who this Korean Wave actor is, I’d like to suggest a couple of his TV dramas as introduction: Faith, 2012, an action/supernatural thriller in which he plays a time-traveling warrior from 1300s Korea; and City Hunter, 2011, a revenge drama in which he plays an assassin-by-upbringing with an over-the-top wardrobe. Don’t forget the bonbons! Photos: Starhaus Entertainment]]> 0
Stuff like that Fri, 25 Sep 2015 01:25:33 +0000 haggis

Continuing our series of “I can’t believe what somebody thought of to put in chocolate” (British edition), Chocolate Tree just announced that their Haggis Spice Chocolate Bar is a semifinalist in the Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge (GBSCC). Yup, that’s right. Alastair & Friederike Gower of Chocolate Tree, Edinburgh, Scotland’s only bean-to-bar maker, produce a chocolate bar that includes all the common ingredients in haggis, that traditional Scottish dish of sheep liver, heart & lung, cooked with oatmeal & spices in the sheep’s stomach — minus the minced offal and intestine casing. (Does that make it vegan haggis?) [caption id="attachment_7702" align="alignnone" width="519"]Haggis Spice chocolate bar “What makes you feel like doing stuff like that?” — Quincy Jones lyric (Photo by Chocolate Tree.)[/caption] Somehow I missed this bar before, but it won an International Chocolate Award in 2013, and is now receiving recognition in the GBSCC. According to the GBSCC website, the Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge is in its 2nd year and features “over 100 professional and amateur chocolatiers competing alongside each other to create a new spiced chocolate.” Preliminary judging was on Sept. 3, with the final challenge taking place during National Chocolate Week, Oct. 12-18, 2015. The winning chocolatier will receive a 7-day trip to Grenada (a producer of spices and chocolate) plus their chocolate “will be fast-tracked into a top London food hall in time for Christmas 2015!” If the contest is for a new bar, and Haggis Spice has been around a while, it seems like they need to change things up a bit. My suggestion: Since haggis is typically consumed with a glass of Scotch, maybe they should add whiskey to the bar? Might make the bar more approachable for the haggis-averse crowd. [Previous entries in the “What are they thinking?” (British edition) include the Francis Bacon-themed chocolate with no bacon, but including edible charcoal, hay-flavored chocolate, and Truffle Sprouts (chocolates made with Brussels sprouts).] (Featured image of haggis on front page from Wikipedia by zoonabar. Title: Haggis. Taken on: April 27, 2006. Original source:]]> 0
Chocolate Bacon Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:51:54 +0000 Francis Bacon Figure in a Landscape

The Tate art museum in London opened a new exhibit this week that attempts to engage more of your senses when viewing the art in the exhibit. According to their website, the Tate Sensorium, open through 9/20/15, “is an immersive display featuring four paintings from the Tate collection. You can experience sounds, smells, tastes and physical forms inspired by the artworks, and record and review your physiological responses through sophisticated measurement devices.” One of those works is Francis Bacon’s 1945 “Figure in a Landscape,” which to this former art student looks like one of his typical unsettling, why-does-he-always-dismember-his-models works. They’ve paired it with chocolate. [caption id="attachment_7679" align="alignnone" width="543"]Francis Bacon Figure in a Landscape Figure in a Landscape, 1945, Francis Bacon[/caption] Other artworks are paired with sound, scent, smell, and touch. Why they chose to pair chocolate with the most depressing piece in the exhibit, I don’t understand. Maybe they are trying to cheer us up when we are looking at the piece. Or maybe it’s simply that the exhibitor heard the term Bacon Chocolate and thought it would be a funny twist. The chocolate doesn’t have any bacon in it. Instead, they were trying to evoke the painting’s “dark nature” by flavoring the chocolate with sea salt, cacao nibs, lapsang souchong tea and edible charcoal. Edible charcoal? Sounds like they’re trying to mess with the enjoyment of chocolate experience as much as Bacon messed with the representation of the human form. In case that isn’t enough to color the experience, they also have “mechanized, industrial sounds” playing and scents wafting around the image that include grass, dirt, and “an animalic, horse-like scent.” I’m starting to think somebody doesn’t like chocolate very much.]]> 0
Chocolate heartbreak Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:39:41 +0000 Coco Delice

Chef Dennis Kearney of Coco Délice sent out an email, July 15, 2015 announcing the sale of this SFBA artisan chocolate institution. The letter mentions personal reasons for the sale, plus the difficulty of “achieving a consistent and positive cash flow” and the need for more capital investment. We at CBTB are sad that such a fine chocolatier is leaving the business. Chef Dennis makes elegant, delicious chocolates that win awards and fans. I am personally going to miss his great peanut butter chocolate Easter bunnies the most, so I am hoping he shares the recipe with whoever buys the business. [caption id="attachment_1632" align="alignnone" width="630"]Coco Delice bunnies Coco Délice peanut butter bunnies: my favorite local chocolate covered peanut butter treats.[/caption] The letter, in its entirety, is printed below: Hello Friends and Colleagues- I am reaching out to let you know that due to personal reasons (mostly good) I plan to sell Coco Delice.  It has been a great run (almost 10 years!) and I have grown a lot as a person and as professional.  I am hoping that you or someone you know, might want to purchase either the entire business or some of our products to help expand your own product line.  While it would be great to keep the Coco Delice name going, I would certainly understand the desire to absorb the products under another company’s name. As they say, timing is everything.  Coco Delice started getting its momentum just before the recession hit.  Since then, finding the money to grow faster and larger has been very challenging, as many of you know.  As some of you may know, the company evolved out my own need to get in touch with my creative self, when I was working a full-time job that was far from fulfilling.  I never had a solid plan for Coco Delice (mistake #1), but the company continued to grow organically with limited marketing and I went with it, learning lots along the way and making plenty of mistakes. Please note that achieving a consistent and positive cash flow has continued to elude me as the owner of this business. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main reason was lack of proper planning and lack of capital to implement growth-inducing measures. Hence the low asking price below. However, Coco Delice has some amazing products (award winning beer chocolates for example) great customers (Whole Foods, Pasta Shop, Carneros Inn) and a very loyal following. I would prefer to sell the company and its assets (equipment, recipes, and customers) in one transaction but would consider all reasonable proposals for the various components.  In the right hands, the company could become a mainstay in the artisan chocolate marketplace. Sale price: $123,500 I know some of you might be interested in some of the assets-we have lots of molds, packaging, equipment, etc., please let me know your interests and I will let you know what is available depending on if a buyer steps up to purchase everything or not. While the decision to move on is bittersweet (pun intended!), the journey has been amazing and I have enjoyed  getting to know many of you. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone that may be interested. Warm regards- Dennis ______________________________ Dennis Kearney | Founder Coco Délice Fine Chocolates 2014 Good Food Award Winner! Black Magic Beer Chocolates Visit Us On Facebook! CocoDelice]]> 0
Why? Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:14:02 +0000 why poop

[caption id="attachment_7619" align="alignright" width="320"]mickeys updates Somebody’s idea of a new fun way to eat chocolate.[/caption] This seems so wrong, I can’t ignore it. According to the New York Daily News, this month Disney World in Orlando, FL, has been selling chocolate treats shaped like animal dung. They don’t name them as such, instead the “Match the Species” desserts are labelled with the names of animals. For example, “elephant” is a blob of chocolate peanut butter fudge rolled in oatmeal and coconut flakes. “Giraffe” is smaller pellets of caramel chocolate fudge. But just one look and you know this isn’t some chocolate version of animal crackers. I’m not sure what public reaction at the park was like to these new treats during the 2 weeks they were sold at Zuri’s Sweets Shop in the Harambe Marketplace of the Animal Kingdom section, but as of June 29, 2015, Disney will no longer be selling the faux poop. [caption id="attachment_7621" align="alignleft" width="400"]Putting the “gag” in gag gifts, Disney’s “Match the Species” desserts are supposed to look like poop. Putting the “gag” in gag gifts, Disney’s “Match the Species” desserts are supposed to look like poop.[/caption] If you’re sorry you missed this limited-time treat, watch TheTimTracker and his wife Jenn try all 4 types of the scat-themed desserts in Eating Animal Poop At Disney's Animal Kingdom?!? (You can stop watching after 6:37 when they ramble on to other areas and topics.)]]> 0
Get the value pack Tue, 16 Jun 2015 20:37:30 +0000 Value Pack

[caption id="attachment_7492" align="alignleft" width="320"]catamaran Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup winning catamaran is parked on the man-made lake at Oracle’s campus. You can see it from the café.[/caption] When you think of artisan chocolates, you probably never thought of Oracle Corporation, the multi-national software company headed by Larry Ellison, but you should. On the Oracle campus in Redwood City is a great SFBA chocolate find. Farrell Confections is located in Oracle Café 300, and not only does it make artisan chocolates on site, but it sells them for half the price of other local chocolates. They don’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients, but because they are part of the food service Oracle provides for its employees, the cost is partly subsidized by Oracle.

Like BOGO for chocolate

The subsidy makes for a great deal for local artisan-chocolate lovers. You don’t need to work at Oracle to visit the café. You can get a freshly made, reasonably priced lunch or snack if you’re hungry, then buy some inexpensive truffles for the road — or as a gift. They have pretty box options, and the truffles are well-made and tasty, so no one will know you paid less than $1.10 per chocolate. (The boxes cost extra, but even with the extra box charge, they’re a great deal.) [caption id="attachment_7516" align="alignnone" width="630"]Farrell Confections case Fresh house-made chocolates in the Farrell Confections case in the Oracle’s Café 300.[/caption] They have a nice variety of flavors. When we visited, the barista/chocolatier recommended the fresh mint, saying it was his current favorite. The name is the ultimate truth in advertising: The first impression is fresh!!!, with a very vegetal mint flavor. The shell was a bit thicker than expected, but I think that since most people probably buy these truffles loose, it’s better to have a sturdy truffle that survives a walk back to the office. The chocolatier told us that while some flavors are always available, they change flavors depending on what’s popular and what’s not, and what ingredients are in season. For late spring, that included the fresh mint, plus ginger, rose geranium caramel, and lavender. We also tried the blood orange & cinnamon, which has a light orange flavor ending in the cinnamon; a nice raspberry white chocolate; and a distinctive chai.


His tip was to come on Fridays, because that’s when they put out the new batch of chocolates, which would include any new flavors they made that week. Usually there is no one manning the chocolate case. Instead, go to the coffee bar/pastry case and ask for help. Or if you’re in a hurry, they have a limited selection of the truffles in the pastry case to buy by the piece. Either way you are in for a treat. These are competent truffle makers working at Oracle. The chocolates are flavorful, not overly sweet, and well made. The price is truly no indicator of quality. Alas, there is no key or menu to go with the chocolates, so it helps to take photos of the case or make notes of what you are buying. But I think that’s a small inconvenience to suffer for this deal.

More than chocolate

Farrell Confections is headed by Ian Farrell, who is the Executive Pastry Chef for Bon Appetit, the company that provides food-service management at Oracle. So in addition to providing chocolates to the café, Ian is also in charge of the café’s bakery. The bakery not only supplies the pastry case with sweet and savory pastries, they also make custom cakes for special occasions. Again, you do not need to work there, just make an appointment to meet with someone to discuss what you want. So next time you’re cruising through Redwood City, make a detour to the Oracle campus and pick up some chocolates. Get some to share too — you can afford to be generous!]]> 0
Congrats to the best Tue, 16 Jun 2015 18:30:36 +0000 2015 best chocolatiers

TasteTV has announced their 2015 list of the Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America, and SFBA is well represented. Here are our local winners:

6 stars Grand Masters

5 stars Master Chocolatiers

4 stars Superior Chocolatiers

3 stars Exceptional Chocolatiers

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Art imitates life Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:50:45 +0000 a chocolate bar walks into a bar

Sunday’s Sherman’s Lagoon comic strip (6/14/15) not only has a chocolate theme, but could’ve been written about my husband and me. [caption id="attachment_7522" align="alignnone" width="630"]sherman's lagoon A conversation in Sherman's Lagoon comic strip imitates my life.[/caption] Back in 2009, Ronnie won a big chunk of change in an art contest. We had a conversation somewhat similar to this one, ending with us deciding to use the money to go to France, instead of any of the more sensible purposes we came up with. Of course, we fell in love with Paris and the amazing local artisan chocolate scene. And when we came home, we started this blog with the goal of doing what we could to encourage our local SFBA artisan chocolate scene to one day rival Paris’s. You’re welcome.]]> 0
No more skipped breakfasts Thu, 21 May 2015 23:56:13 +0000 Hot chocolate is not like hot cocoa: A little goes a long way.

I follow David Lebovitz on Facebook — he lives in Paris, writes cookbooks, and loves chocolate so much he has a Paris chocolate-finding app. And today he posted a link to an article titled, “Chocolate cake breakfast could help you lose weight.” According to The Telegraph, researchers found that people who added cookies or chocolate to a 600-calorie breakfast of protein and carbs (think bacon, eggs and toast) lost more weight than people on a restricted-calorie, low-carb breakfast over the 32 weeks of their study. The dessert-with-breakfast crowd lost an average of 40 lbs. more than the suffering low-carb participants. Both groups ate the same # of calories a day, but the low-carb group had more intense sugar/carb cravings that caused them to cheat. The research shows that by having chocolate in the morning with a balanced hot breakfast, you will be less likely to crave chocolate and other sweets throughout the day. “Curbing cravings is better than deprivation for weight loss success,” said Researcher/Professor Daniela Jakubowicz,of Tel Aviv University. OK, all you SFBA chocolatiers, new market: any diners, cafés or coffee shops that serve breakfast — they need breakfast dessert options! And any local chocolate cafés (I’m looking at you, Socola and Dandelion): time to add eggs and toast to the menu.]]> 0
How to eat a box of chocolates Thu, 16 Apr 2015 00:21:06 +0000 JadeBoxSm

box of chocolates If you are the lucky recipient of a box of artisan chocolates, or even just a good box of preservative-free chocolates (like See’s), you might think you have to eat them all ASAP before they go bad. But that would be a shame if it means overindulging/binging so you miss the opportunity to savor what a lovely gift you have. Plus then you’re suddenly left with an empty box and a guilty sick feeling. So slow down and attack that box with a plan aimed at maximizing the pleasure while minimizing spoilage and nausea. Here’s CBTB to the rescue with a strategy for solving this happy problem.

The set-up

Of course you should store your artisan chocolates somewhere away from heat and direct sunlight. And don’t put the box in the fridge thinking that will save it. It’s generally recommended that you not refrigerate chocolates because that can cause bloom or changes to flavors (you do not want your lovely handmade chocolate picking up  flavors from leftovers in the fridge). So find a cool, dark place — I put mine in a cooler in the basement.

Donnelly Chocolates#1. Read the menu/key/guide provided.

Forget the Forrest Gump quote about never knowing what’s in a box of chocolates. Most artisan chocolatiers include some sort of list of their chocolates, usually with images so you can decipher what’s in the box without putting your thumb through the bottom of each one. If you’re really lucky, the guide is actually a menu describing what’s in each piece. This way you can tell, based on our strategy, which pieces to eat in what order. You can also remove any chocolates you might be allergic to or know you won’t like. These are also known as the “share” chocolates. There’s probably somebody in your life who would love your artisan chocolate cast-offs. Tip: If the guide is skimpy, check the chocolatier’s website for more info on what’s in each piece.

#2. Eat the piece you are most interested in first.

Do not save the best for last. The chocolates will never be fresher than when you first open the box, so it makes sense to eat the flavor you love or are most intrigued by first. This is the one piece you don’t want to miss. Tip: No judgement, no guilt here. Start strategizing after eating that first piece. Vice Chocolates Box

#3. Eat any ganache-only pieces next.

Truffles without shells, sometimes called pavés, have the shortest shelf life of any chocolates. Made of just chocolate, heavy cream and sugar, with maybe some flavoring like vanilla or a liqueur, then dusted with cocoa powder or confectioners’ sugar, they have no protection from the elements. Tip: These pieces can be stored in the fridge, carefully sealed, to lengthen their shelf life. Some people even like them frozen. The full set of Woodhouse Chocolates.

#4. Eat chocolates filled with white chocolate ganache next.

White chocolate ganache has the shortest shelf life of the 3 ganache types. I’d start with any fruit-flavored white chocolate ganache pieces at this stage because fruit flavors can fade quickly.

#5. Move on to fruit-flavored ganaches.

After finishing off all the white chocolate ganache fillings, any fruit-flavored milk or dark chocolate ganaches are fair game. Tip: If the ganache contains dried fruit or alcohol-soaked fruit, like brandied cherries, they can wait. (See step #9.)

#6. Nut & seed butters/ganaches are next.

As opposed to chocolate-covered nuts which can wait until the end of the box, any chocolates that contain ground or finely chopped nuts or seeds will fade and should be eaten before more strongly flavored chocolates. Sucre assortment

#7. Try any teas, florals & herbs.

Strong teas, florals and herbs (like rosemary or mint) can be saved for after you’ve eaten all the lighter-flavored chocolates. Tip: Lighter teas and fresh herbs can be more delicate than fruit flavors, so you might want to eat those before the fruit-flavored ganaches.

#8. Time for spices and savories.

A notch stronger than herbs are spices, so now’s the time to eat your spicy chocolates like cinnamon, chai or hot pepper. This is also the time I’d eat savory chocolates like bacon. Timothy Adams box of chocolates

#9. Save liqueur & preserves for late-in-the-box enjoyment.

Toward the end of the box is when you should turn your attention to any chocolates made with ingredients that have some shelf life of their own, such as chocolate-covered dried fruits and nuts, or chocolates filled with jams, jellies (like pâte de fruits), or alcohol-soaked fruit. Also liqueur-filled chocolates will still be delicious when other chocolates are just a memory.

#10. Save the salted caramels for last.

Save any chocolate-covered caramels in the box for last since caramel is a hardier beast than ganache. QPC chocolates I hope this little walk through a chocolate box comes in handy the next time you have the happy problem of a beautiful box of chocolates to attack.]]> 0