{Review}: Sweet Subscription Boxes (and a Giveaway)

March 7th, 2014 · 3 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews

cococlectic 24 blackbirds

I love getting things in the mail. Growing up, I was obsessed with the book/stamp/sticker/etc of the month clubs and heading out to the mailbox every day in anticipation of packages for me. Now the modern version of those clubs, subscription boxes, are calling my name. Hey, on the days I’m at home with the baby, a package on your doorstep is a big event, know what I mean?

Although there are subscription boxes for pretty much every interest and need imaginable, there weren’t any sweet-related ones that really caught my eye. However, recently I was introduced to two sweet subscription boxes that impressed me with their quality and creativity. Happy surprises at my door, indeed!

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My Favorite Baking Books for 2013

December 20th, 2013 · 2 Comments · Cookbooks, Reviews

cookbooks

Hi readers,

It’s been a tough month. I have to admit it, this hasn’t been my best holiday season. Our first trip with baby Isabelle was a 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. And while I’m not going to complain about two weeks in glamorous Hong Kong or sunny Singapore, coming home was like falling headfirst into a hurricane: house to clean and decorate for the holidays. Jetlagged baby who temporarily forgot how to put herself to sleep. Presents to wrap and cards to write. Overflowing inbox at work. Christmas travel looming just weeks away (why are Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together??). Oh yes, and did I mention my book manuscript was due the week before Christmas?

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The Holiday Gift Guide for the Dessert Lover

December 11th, 2013 · 2 Comments · Reviews

makecaron box

Holiday greetings! I just got back from a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore, and will be leaving soon again to visit family in the midwest. Combined with a jet lagged baby, Christmas shopping, and other writing commitments, I’m afraid I haven’t been able to update this blog sooner. I’m so eager to do a recap post of my trip to Asia, but before that I wanted to get my yearly best-of lists up before it’s too late to do any more gift shopping! So without further ado, here’s a list of my favorite pastry-related things this year – any dessert lover would be happy to find one of these in their stocking, or perhaps you’ll find something to add to your wish list!

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How to Bake with Craft Chocolate (Plus Bar & Bean Giveaway!)

October 29th, 2013 · 57 Comments · Chocolate, Chocolate, Cookbooks, Giveaways, Recipes, Reviews, Sweet Spots

intensely bittersweet chocolate souffle

Happy (day after) National Chocolate Day! I’ve been getting plenty of intriguing new chocolate to keep me occupied – perhaps it’s a good thing I have a baby to prevent me from eating it all at once!

I was recently contacted by Bar & Bean, a new online shop for small-batch craft chocolate from around the world. Bar & Bean is dedicated to educating people about the qualities and nuances of craft chocolate, and they helpfully include tasting notes for the bars on their site, as well as detailed information about the chocolate makers.

I got the chance to meet Jasdeep, the creator of Bar & Bean, who is passionate about introducing people to the world of craft chocolate. He’s brought an impressive roster of chocolate makers onto Bar & Bean, many of whom I haven’t heard of or had the opportunity to try yet. Jas recognized that many people are either unaware of all the craft chocolate out there, or intimidated by the plethora of choices. By organizing his site with cocoa percentage and flavor profile searches, and adding tasting notes, he’s hoping to demystify the process. Jas has also developed some detailed personal notes on how to taste chocolate, which he shares in his tasting classes in San Francisco; check the Bar & Bean website for details.

As a introduction to Bar & Bean, I received a baker’s set consisting of five bars from Poco Dolce, Ritual, Escazu, and Dick Taylor. An early Halloween haul, indeed!

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{SF} {Chocolate Review} TCHO’s New TCHOPairings Bars

October 10th, 2013 · 5 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots

TCHOPairings Bars

Things have been a little on overdrive around here. A baby that can crawl and stand, lots of recipe testing, and the holidays peeping around the corner.

The nice thing about being a new mom, of course, is that people are infinitely sympathetic and kind. “Oh, you must be so busy! It’s ok if you’re late to the party!” “Oh, don’t worry if you forgot to bring the thing! You must have so much on your mind these days!” “You must be totally sleep-deprived – don’t worry about looking tired!” (Wait, what was that again? I look like crap?)

But I’m trying, gosh darn it. I don’t want to use a baby as an excuse to let everything fall by the wayside in a flaming, forgotten ball of fail. It’s just that when you have a baby, and things don’t go well, events tend to snowball much more dramatically.

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{SF} The Return of Charles Chocolates

May 23rd, 2013 · 3 Comments · Chocolate, Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots

charles chocolates display

San Francisco is currently going through a chocolate renaissance – new artisan chocolate makers and chocolatiers are popping up at every food festival and in every neighborhood. One of these chocolatiers, though, is actually a Bay Area classic making a welcome return – Charles Chocolates.

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