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}TCHO Milk Chocolate Chip Brown Butter Cookies

July 2nd, 2013 · 12 Comments · Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes, San Francisco, Sweet Spots

milk chocolate chip cookies

Ok! Recipe post, finally. I’ve been trying to get this up for a while! A TCHO chocolate-dipped ice cream cone last weekend gave me the final push to get these photos processed and up. I recently got a box of some of TCHO’s latest offerings, including their milk chocolate baking discs and Mokaccino chocolate bar. I’ve loved TCHO’s dark chocolates for a long time (Fruity is my favorite) and I’ve been after them to come up with their own milk chocolate.

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{SF} Baker + Banker: Dessert All Day Long

June 29th, 2013 · 4 Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

baker banker

For those of you waiting for a recipe post, don’t worry – I have one coming up on Monday!

There’s no lack of fantastic restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, but Baker + Banker stands out as a fantastic restaurant and bakery. Run by husband and wife team Jeff Banker and Lori Baker, Jeff handles the savory side while Lori oversees the pastry.  Although I’d enjoyed a fabulous meal at the restaurant a couple years back, the bakery was closed so I didn’t get a chance to sample the baked goods. (The bakery opens in the morning and closes at 5, shortly before the restaurant side opens for dinner service.) I finally got the chance a few weeks ago to stop by and try some of their updates on classic American bakery treats. Below, some of my favorites:

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{SF} Sweet Alchemy: Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Lab

June 17th, 2013 · 2 Comments · San Francisco, Sweet Spots

choco lab erlenmeyer

A dessert cafe is probably the last place you would expect to see an Erlenmeyer flask, but it’s quite apropos at Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Lab. Recchiuti has already cemented his place as one of San Francisco’s premier chocolatiers, and he’s decided to go back to his restaurant roots with the opening of Chocolate Lab, a sweet (and savory) cafe located in the Dogpatch, near his commercial kitchen space.

The laboratory theme fits Michael’s curious, inventive nature perfectly – he is constantly experimenting with different sweet ideas and envisioned Chocolate Lab as a place to showcase different concepts. On our last visit there we didn’t have a chance to sample the savory side of the menu, but we made sure we had room for as many of the desserts as possible:

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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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