{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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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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{Contest} Win a Year’s Worth of Chuao Chocolate

February 5th, 2013 · 14 Comments · Chocolate, Giveaways, Reviews

chuao sweepstakes 1

Hi all,

Thanks so much for all your kind wishes and congratulations. These last two weeks have seemed like a lifetime in a completely new reality. We’re learning more about Isabelle and how to be parents to her every day, and every day she seems to have grown a little more. It’s hard to believe that in another week she’ll be a month old.  We made a outing to the local baby store and a couple with a six month old in a stroller looked rather wistfully at us and said, “Enjoy her now. She’ll be big before you know it.” I can scarcely imagine. My days are measured in minutes and hours right now and six months seems unfathomably distant.

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{Chocolate Review}: Toffee Theory

October 27th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Candy, Chocolate, Field Guide to Candy, Recipes, Reviews, San Francisco, SF Events

toffee field guide candy
image from Field Guide to Candy

A few weeks back, I was invited to be a judge for TasteTV‘s Best Toffee in North America Competition. A whole boxful of toffees delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Those of you who are curious about the difference between toffee, English toffees, and buttercrunch, feel free to see my older post on buttercrunch. I became quite obsessed with untangling the various monikers of this candy while researching my candy book, if you couldn’t tell.

These days, most buttercrunch is marketed simply as “toffee”; I only saw one brand out of thirteen that was labelled “English toffee” (Which may perhaps provide some comfort to poor Brits trying to find their version of the candy abroad). For that reason, I will refer to all the candy I sampled for the competition as toffee, to avoid confusion. I will maintain, though, my abiding love for the word “buttercrunch”. If I ever make and sell my own version, I’ll call it buttercrunch, and probably confuse the heck out of everyone.

So how does one determine the best toffee?

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