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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Back to Childhood: Malted Milk Chocolate Pretzel Tart

September 10th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Chocolate, Recipes, Tarts

pretzel malted milk chocolate tart on dessertfirstgirl.com

This has been on my drawing board for a while. The husband is a big fan of malted milk anything so I’d been meaning to make him a malted milk chocolate tart. As I finally got around to making some malted milk chocolate ganache, I thought, hang on, what else goes with malted milk? What about pretzels? What about a tart crust made of pretzels?

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Valrhona and Measured Indulgence: New Lemon Tart

August 27th, 2013 · 6 Comments · Chocolate, Recipes, San Francisco, SF Events, Tarts

new lemon tart

When most people talk about becoming a pastry chef, it’s usually French pâtisserie they are referring to: puff pastry, buttercream, profiteroles, chocolate ganache. Can you imagine making crème brûlée or pâte sucrée by any other method than the French way? And yet, it’s a French pastry chef who is trying reinvent the classics of French pâtisserie. In July I was invited by Valrhona to attend a special conference on “La Gourmandise Raisonnée”, that promised a modern perspective on making pastries less of a guilty pleasure and more of a measured indulgence.

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A Red Egg and Ginger (Dessert) Party

May 2nd, 2013 · 11 Comments · Cakes, Personal, Recipes

Red egg and ginger dessert table

Success! Last weekend we threw a red egg and ginger party for Isabelle! This is a Chinese tradition where the new baby is officially introduced to relatives and family friends, and the baby’s name is revealed. Historically the red egg and ginger party was held when the baby was one month old, as high infant mortality rates meant that a baby surviving to one month of age was indeed a cause for celebration. Also, the mother was also typically kept at home to recover during the same month, so this party was also meant to mark her “return” to society.

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An Easter Egg Cake for Easter

March 30th, 2013 · 11 Comments · Cakes, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

Chocolate Easter Egg Cake

Ok, this post is going up a little later than I wanted but at least I made it before Easter – why is it when you *have* to get a post up on time that things invariably go wonky? I wanted to share this cake that I picked out from Martha Stewart Living’s special Cakes and Cupcakes edition, as it’s so apropos for the holiday.

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