Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

Chocolate-y good ideas


Chocolatiers: Need some inspiration? Maybe one of these ideas will spark your creativity.

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I’ve been seeing lots of cool chocolate ideas this year that I want to share with SFBA chocolatiers. I’d love to see their take on these:

1920s cocktail bonbons

In honor of the Great Gatsby movie opening May 10, 2013, Artisan Confections of Arlington, VA is offering a collection of cocktail-inspired chocolates, including Mint Julep, Gin Rickey, Blood & Sand (Scotch, vermouth & blood orange ganache), and Old Fashioned.

With summer blockbuster season approaching, it seems like there could be all sorts of possibilities for movie-themed chocolates. Although this year, it looks to be a summer full of space aliens, car chases, wars, apocalypse… Maybe wait until December and the Oscar hopefuls rush.

Each bar has London's outline molded on it and moves you through its flavors like a walk through the neighborhood.
Each bar has London’s outline molded on it and moves you through its flavors like a walk through the neighborhood.

Neighborhood bars

No, not another alcohol-themed idea (although maybe considering we are talking about SF, which supposedly has more bars per square mile than any other large US city), but chocolate bars based on neighborhoods. Damien Allsop, a London chocolatier has made Eat London, a set of 6 chocolate bars that each represent a different London neighborhood.

China Town is represented by caramelized peanuts, soy sauce and ginger in 45% milk chocolate. Grovesnor Square, home of the American Embassy, is represented by a bar that includes lemon, cinnamon and pop rocks in white chocolate, as a riff on Coca Cola.

Also interesting is that the ingredients in the bars are not all mixed together. Like taking a walk through the neighborhood and seeing how it changes as you go, the bars start with one flavor on one end and change as you eat your way through the bar.

A chocolate blonde
A chocolate blonde

Blondes have more fun

Valrhona, one of the top chocolate producers, has invented a new type of chocolate: Dulcey or Blond, which is basically a white chocolate couverture that’s cooked until it darkens and changes flavor to something that’s been described as shortbread-like: buttery and caramelized.

I haven’t tried it yet, but that flavor profile seems like it could lend itself to all sorts of classic cookie recipes made into chocolates.

Soft candy shell

In Italy, it seems there is a long tradition of using hollow chocolate eggs as packaging for Easter gifts. And artisan chocolatiers there are making custom eggs for clients to hide big ticket items inside (like jewelry, car keys and plane tickets).

SFBA’s Charles Chocolates already makes lovely chocolate boxes with more chocolates inside, but it seems we are only taking baby steps here. Custom molded and decorated chocolates with a personal gift inside? Sounds like a cool way to make someone feel special.

Artisan coffee & chocolate

Finally, a little closer to home, Ginger Elizabeth, Sacramento’s award-winning chocolatier & pastry chef, teamed up with local (& SFBA) independent coffee roasters recently for Coffee Day, where she created desserts that highlighted the different roasts.

This riff on locally-sourced ingredients ranged from the fairly simple coffee ice cream with toffee sauce and chocolate-chip cookie dough pieces to the sounds-amazing chocolate & sponge cake layered with caramelized milk & coffee mousse and coffee jam(!), and topped with creme and cocoa crumbles.

Doesn't this Ginger Elizabeth coffee dessert look amazing?
Doesn’t this Ginger Elizabeth coffee dessert look amazing?

I love this idea of partnering with other artisans to create truly unique, beautiful, delicious, can-only-get-it-here treats, don’t you?

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Published May 3, 2013