Friday, February 28, 2014

RED VELVET POPCORN for the ACADEMY AWARDS

Yesterday I posted a recipe for Chocolate Covered Popcorn--perfect to snack on while watching the Academy Awards.  

Want to take it up a notch?

Here are two recipes for  
Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn 
and 
Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls

Roll out the Red Carpet!

I. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN

Ingredients
1 cup red velvet cake crumbs  (make your own cake or buy one at the bakery - a few unfrosted cupcakes will do)
2 Tbsp sweet butter
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups popcorn, popped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spread cake crumbs on baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes until toasted. Cool.
3. Melt butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and mix.
4. Toss popcorn with butter mixture.
5. Microwave white chocolate chips or melt in double boiler; stir until smooth.
6. Drizzle over popcorn until evenly coated.
7. Toss in cake crumbs.

II. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN
Recipe adapted from CassieCraves, adapted from Cookies and Cups

Ingredients
8 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels or 2 bags)
3 cups red velvet cake crumbs
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. Pour popcorn into large bowl. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler.
2. Pour melted chocolate over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely.
3. Pour popcorn onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with red velvet crumbs.
4. Melt dark chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler. Using fork, drizzle over popcorn.
5. Let popcorn set completely before eating.

Want to make Red Carpet Red Velvet Popcorn Balls? Here's a recipe adapted from IcyViolet's Kitchen. It's quite heavenly--and very rich.

III. RED CARPET RED VELVET POPCORN BALLS

Ingredients
12 ounces white chocolate 
1/4 cup cream cheese
1-1/4 cup
white cake mix

1/4 cup DARK cocoa powder
2 teaspoons red food coloring (or 1/4 tsp red food gel)
1/4 cup corn kernels

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions: 
1. Put 1/4 cup corn kernels in large pot with Tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat...they will heat up and start popping. When popping lessens and stops. it's done. Measure out six cups and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Melt white chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Add cream cheese to chocolate and stir until melted.
3. Add cake mix, cocoa, and red food coloring to chocolate mixture and stir.
4. Pour coating onto popcorn and coat evenly.
5. Pour popcorn  onto cookie sheets to cool/harden and shape into popcorn balls

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Easy Kahlua Truffles: National Kahlua Day

Today is National Kahlua Day. What a great day to celebrate! Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liqueur that goes very well in so many chocolate desserts from brownies to cheesecake to truffles--even in yesterday's post for Gluten-free No-bake Pistachio Chocolate Truffle Cake. So have a glass of Kahlua to celebrate today -- or if you have some time, make these very easy Kahlua Truffles, adapted from Ina Gartner.

EASY KAHLUA TRUFFLES

Ingredients
8 oz dark chocolate (the better the chocolate, the better these will taste!)
3 Tbsp Kahlua
2 Tbsp sweetbutter
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions
Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler.
Mix Kahlua into chocolate and butter and beat until smooth.
Put chocolate in a refrigerator until semi-soft  (but not rock hard).
Put 1/2 cup cocoa powder on flat plate.
With melon baller, form small balls of chocolate (or roll by hand) and drop onto plate of cocoa powder. Roll around so completely covered.
Put on parchment lined plate or cookie sheet.
Repeat with all chocolate.
When truffles are set and hardened, shake off  excess cocoa powder and store in sealed container  or EAT!!

Want to make truffles with a bit more coffee in them? Try these REAL COFFEE TRUFFLES that I posted on National Coffee Day

A Night at the Oscars: Easy Chocolate Covered Popcorn

The Academy Awards are Sunday night. For "A Night at the Movies" or a Night About the Movies, one must have Popcorn -- dressed appropriately for the occasion. Here's a simple recipe worthy of Oscar viewing!

You can use dark or white chocolate - -or both. Just drizzle some great melted chocolate over your air-popped Popcorn. Drizzle sparingly.

CHOCOLATE COVERED POPCORN

1. Make a bag of popcorn (buttered or plain) and pop it according to the directions. (airpopping!)
2. Put popped popcorn into large bowl or flat baking pan (for more even distribution).
3. Melt dark or white chocolate or both (in separate bowls) in top of double boiler (or in microwave).
4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn. You can always add more chocolate, but you can't remove it, so use sparingly.

TCHO MOVING TO BERKELEY!

SF Business Times reports that Tcho Chocolate will be leaving the San Francisco Waterfront for Berkeley.

According to Tcho’s new CEO Andrew Burke, Tcho simply outgrew its 29,000-sqaure-foot facility on the Embarcadero’s Pier 17 and couldn’t find a suitable place in the city to meet its needs for an all-in-one office, warehouse and factory.

“With the growth needs that we now have, this new space is ideal for us,” said Burke, adding that the company’s production and revenue has shot up to more than $6 million — up from $4.5 million at the beginning of last year.

While Tcho is still searching for a location to keep a small shop in San Francisco, it will shut its doors at the Pier 17 property next month. The company hopes to reopen in Berkeley by April.

Burke said that the move shouldn’t affect the gourmet chocolate company’s brand, which has leaned heavily on San Francisco’s culture of innovation and creativity — qualities he said are represented in cities throughout the Bay Area.

“If you think of Tcho and what we stand for — innovation, creating a high quality product with passionate people — that stands for the whole Bay Area, not just San Francisco,” he said.

“Community and culture is very important, and we love where we are today. If we could hold our needs of growth, it would be great, but we can’t.”

Burke said that the new facility will allow the company to better integrate its retail shop and manufacturing to create a better experience for visitors.

“We always felt like Willy Wonka and now we can really do that well,” he said. “People will be able to come into the store and better interact to see how the chocolate is actually being made.”

The new factory in West Berkeley will house the factory, offices and a tasting room.

HT: Janet Appel

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gluten-Free No-Bake Pistachio Chocolate Truffle Cake

Photo: American Pistachio Growers
Today is National Pistachio Day and what better way to celebrate than with this Gluten-free No-Bake Pistachio Chocolate Truffle Cake. Recipe is from the American Pistachio Growers. There are many other great recipes on this site. When you have a particular food in mind, as I do on 'food 'holidays', be sure to check Growers and Producers websites for recipes and info!

And, tomorrow is National Kahlua Day, so this recipe is good to celebrate then, too! LOL!

GLUTEN-FREE NO-BAKE PISTACHIO CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE

Ingredients:
Gluten free, non-stick cooking spray or melted butter
12 ounces dark chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream or full fat coconut milk (shake can before measuring)
3 Tbsp Kahlua
1 tsp pure Madagascar vanilla extract
1/3 cup roasted, salted and shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

Instructions: 
Spray 8 by 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or brush with butter.
Line pan with a piece of parchment paper (to remove the cake from pan)
Chop chocolate into small pieces.
Place chocolate in mixing bowl. Bring cream and liqueur (if using) just to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir vanilla into hot cream and pour over chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate and cream are fully combined and mixture is smooth and glossy.
Pour into prepared pan, smooth out top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.
Using parchment to help, remove cake from pan and slice with thin, hot knife (run knife under hot water then dry with towel.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Truffles: National Chocolate Covered Nut Day

Today is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day! I've posted lots of recipes for Chocolate Covered Nuts, but today I have a recipe for Hazelnut Caramel Toffee Truffles!

Go Nutty! 

Have some Chocolate Covered Nuts today!

This fabulous and easy recipe is adapted from the Hazelnut Council. 

HAZELNUT CARAMEL TOFFEE TRUFFLES

Ingredients
3/4 cup Hazelnuts, toasted, skin removed, divided
1/4 cup Toffee candy bits (I use ToffeeTalk Crumble Mumble, but whatever you have)
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) Semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped high grade dark chocolate of your choice
1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp Madagascar Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
20 (6 oz) Caramels, unwrapped, cut in half
40 Hazelnuts, whole, toasted, skin removed

Directions
1. Process 1/4 cup hazelnuts and toffee in food processor or blender until finely ground; set aside.
2. Melt chocolate and cream together in top of double boiler or microwave chocolateand cream in small microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until most of chocolate is melted. Do not overheat; lumps will melt when stirred. Stir in hazelnut mixture, vanilla and salt until blended. Cover and set aside until cool, about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Flatten caramel piece and wrap around one whole hazelnut forming a round ball; repeat. Dice remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts; set aside.
4. Form 1 heaping teaspoon chocolate mixture around each caramel and roll in diced hazelnuts. Let
set until firm.

Tip: When handling ganache, work quickly in a cool room.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

CHOCOLATE CHUNK BANANA BREAD: Chiquita Banana, Carmen Miranda & More!

Another year, another National Banana Bread Day! I've always loved Chiquita Bananas, especially the logo with Chiquita and her Fruit Hat that was popularized by Carmen Miranda. There was something so foreign and exotic about Chiquita--and Carmen Miranda.  I was so taken by all the Carmen Miranda Hollywood productions that when I was in Rio, I made a pilgrimage to Carmen Miranda's home on Avendida Rui Barbosa. Very fun!

So in honor of the day, here are two more recipes for Banana Bread adapted from Chiquita Bananas. Just add them to the other recipes I've posted in the past and let me know which one you like best. I added chocolate chunks to both of the following recipes because I love chocolate and bananas. You can also add nuts.  The second recipe is Gluten-free!

Be sure to skim down to Carmen Miranda in the "Tutti Frutti Hat." Here's the 1950s "Chiquita Banana" song!

 

1. Chiquita Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread  
adapted from Chiquita Bananas

Ingredients
4 whole Chiquita Bananas
1 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Unprocessed wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3/4 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 cup sweet butter, room temp
2 whole Eggs
1 tsp Madegascar Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Local Honey

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Whip 2 Chiquita Bananas and sugars until mix is creamy (about 3 minutes).
Add butter, eggs and vanilla and whip until smooth.
Mix in all dry ingredients until blended.
Fold in walnuts and Chopped Chocolate.
Slice two Chiquita Bananas and toss with honey until Chiquita Bananas are well coated.
Pour mix in loaf pan and place honey coated bananas on top.
Bake in oven for 60 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes then place plate on top of pan and flip pan upside down so loaf falls onto plate.

2. Gluten Free Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks
adapted from Chiquita Banana Bread recipe idea by Alisa Bennett

Ingredients
3 large Chiquita bananas
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Coconut oil (melted)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups Almond meal
2 Tbsp Coconut flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Directions
Puree egg, oil, vanilla, and bananas in blender.
In separate bowl, blend dry ingredients.
Add banana and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chopped walnuts and chopped chocolate.
Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.

"THE LADY IN THE TUTTI-FRUTTI HAT" from Busby Berkeley's Welcome to Banana Island

Saturday, February 22, 2014

MARGARITA TRUFFLES: National Margarita Day

Today is National Margarita Day! Glad it's Saturday. I've posted recipes for Chocolate Margaritas, but here's a fab and easy recipe for Margarita Truffles. Eat your Margarita!

MARGARITA TRUFFLES

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped  (I use Guittard chocolate)
3 Tbsp Lime juice
1-1/2 Tbsp Tequila
1/2 Cup powdered sugar

Coating
13 Ounces White Chocolate, chopped
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening
Sea salt

Directions
In saucepan over medium heat, warm cream until small bubbles appear along edges.
Put white chocolate in food processor. Pour hot cream over white chocolate and allow to sit for 15 seconds. With pusher in place, process until smooth. Add Tequila and lime juice and mix briefly.
Pour mixture into shallow pan, lined with plastic wrap, cover with plastic wrap and chill until very firm, about 3 hours.
Put powdered sugar in shallow bowl.
Using plastic wrap lift ganache mixture from pan.
With small melon baller or spoon take about an inch and roll into ball. Then roll ball in powderd sugar and place on wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile melt white chocolate and shortening in top of double boiler (or sauce an over second saucepan over simmering water).
Remove truffles from freezer.
Dip each truffle in white chocolate and place on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
Chill about 15 minutes.
Dip each truffle a second time in the white chocolate.
Sprinkle top of each with just 2-3 grains of sea salt. 
Chill until firm.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

I should have posted this recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies on Valentine's Day! Anything red and chocolate works for me! Who doesn't need another brownie recipe? This isn't my recipe, but it's an adaptation of Sunny Anderson's on the Foodnetwork, and it's delicious. The recipe contains red food coloring, but there are some nice Wilton natural red colorings you can use. it's an easy recipe--and oh so yummy! I use chopped chocolate rather than cocoa, but either will work in this recipe.

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

Ingredients
1 tablespoon sweet butter, for pan
Parchment paper

Red Velvet Brownie Layer
8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) sweet butter (I use KerryGold Irish butter)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup high grade cocoa powder  (or 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted)
Dash of salt
1 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 8 by 8-inch baking pan.
Put long piece of parchment paper in bottom of pan, extending up two side--overhanging slightly on both ends (easy to remove after baked)

Brownie layer: 
In saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Put butter in large bowl and add sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder (or melted chocolate), salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions.
Whisk eggs in small bowl and stir into cocoa mix. Fold in flour until lightly combined. Stir in walnuts and pour batter into prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: 
Blend together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in medium bowl. Gently spread tcream cheese layer on top of brownie batter in pan. Drop remaining brownie batter over cream cheese layer. Using skewer or tip of knife, drag tip through cream cheese mixture to create swirl pattern.
Bake brownies for 30 minutes.
Remove to cooling rack and cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DARK CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI



There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. --Henry James

Henry James was talking about English tea with scones and clotted cream, finger sandwiches and sometimes much more. I'm a tea drinker and spent time in Italy when I was younger, so I think there's nothing better than a biscotti with my afternoon (or morning) tea. Here are two great recipes for Dark Chocolate Biscotti. Enjoy!

I. DARK CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup sweet butter, softened
about 12 ounces of good dark chocolate, melted
3 eggs
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F
Combine sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed; Add 2 cups melted dark chocolate, eggs and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed.
Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until well mixed; stir in nuts by hand.
Divide dough into three equal pieces. Shape each 1/3 into a 12 " long roll.
Place rolls 5 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet (you'll probably need 2 cookie sheets); flatten each roll to 2-inch width; bake for 25 minutes or until set.
Cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F; Cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch slices with serrated knife.
Place on cookie sheet, cut-side down; bake for 10 minutes; turn slices; continue baking for 12 to 15 minutes or until dry and crisp; cool completely.

I also found a recipe on Eggs on Sunday which is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours biscotti recipe. Amy gives some tips for making these biscotti that also work with the recipe above. #1 She whisks all the dry ingredients together rather than sifting to break up lumps. She then creams together the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. (Butter should be room temperature).

Check out her Step-by-Step: My Favorite Chocolate Biscotti for helpful tips and great photos.

For me the best tip: Thanks, Amy. Since you're going to bake the logs whole and then cut them into individual biscotti, score the logs about halfway down before putting them in to bake! It makes it a lot easier and with much less cracking. Use this tip with the biscotti recipe above, too!

I've changed a few things in this recipe, too

II. DARK CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use a high grade dark cocoa)
2 Tbsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder (I keep some in the pantry for just this type of recipe)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp sweet butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts --either hazel nuts or walnuts.
4 oz dark chocolate (70% organic/fair trade), coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or use silicone baking mat.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
With stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes. Decrease speed to low and mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until dough forms. Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix in chopped nuts and chocolate.

Although you can add dried fruit at this point, too, I wouldn't. Guess just having the nuts is enough for me.

Turn dough out onto work surface and knead few times to pull dough together intoball. Divide into two portions; shape each portion into 12 x 2 inch log. Place each log on baking sheet. At this point, score og with knife where you plan to cut it into biscotti-- this helps to cut it later without it cracking. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove sheet from oven and let cool on rack for 20 minutes. Then, slice logs diagonally into 3/4-inch thick slices and leave slices standing up on baking sheet. Return to oven for another 15 minutes of baking. (notice this is a different technique than the recipe above. If the slices are thinner, they won't stand up)

Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

Grab a cup of tea (or coffee), and you're good to go!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up: Chocolate Mint Day!

I love the taste of Chocolate and Mint. So refreshing! There are so many different types of mint, and I grow many different mints in my garden: spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, catmint, and many more. Mint oil and mint flavorings go well in truffles, cakes, cookies and brownies--not to mention pies and ice cream!

So in honor of Chocolate Mint Day, I thought I'd do a Chocolate Mint Recipe Round-Up. Have a Chocolatey Minty Day!

Grasshopper Pie: Recipes, Cocktails, History & Vintage Cookbooks

Peppermint Patty Cake: National Peppermint Patty Day, Vintage Recipe & Ad

Chocolate Mint Bars: Guest post by Bobbi Mumm

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: 2 Recipes

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge: Guest Post by Lesa Holstine

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Thin Mint Cookies from Pattie Tierney

Peppermint Patties from Pattie Tierney

Chocolate Mint Ice Tea

Chocolate 'n Mint: Retro Ad & Recipe

Peppermint Patties from Abigail R. Gehring 

Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme 

Grasshopper Pie 

Junior Mints Cheesecake
Peppermint

Chocolate Mint Herbs and Mint Geraniums in The Chocolate Garden

Crushed Peppermint Cheesecake from Sunset

Peppermint Cake: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Bark 

Peppermint Bark Brownies

Peppermint Patty Drinks:
Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Cocktail
Chocolate Peppermintini
Peppermint Patty on the Rocks

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peppermint Cookie Recipes
Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies
Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate & Peppermint Whipped Cream


Chocolate Peppermint Creams: Vintage Ad & Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust

Candy Cane Fudge

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

Monday, February 17, 2014

George Washington's Warm Chocolate Cream

Today is Presidents Day and what better way to celebrate than with the George Washington's Favorite Drink: Warm Chocolate Cream.

George Washington definitely liked his chocolate. A favorite breakfast for him was cornmeal hoe cakes with honey and butter, washed them down with Warm Chocolate Cream, according to the cookbook, Dining with the Washingtons, by the staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. The cookbook offers updated versions of typical recipes from the period and a glimpse into the first president's favorite foods.

Dining with the Washingtons, Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon, edited By Stephen A. McLeod

Chocolate was a favorite drink at Mount Vernon in George Washington's lifetime. Washington's first recorded order for chocolate was for 20 pounds of chocolate, which arrived from England in 1758. He continued to buy chocolate throughout his life, in quantities as small as one pound and as large as the 50 pounds purchased three months before his death in 1799. (Source: Pleasant Living Magazine)

Chocolate was a typical breakfast beverage, not only at Mount Vernon, but throughout British North America. It was made by grating a small amount of chocolate into boiling water, milk and water, or wine and water, and later adding sugar (See recipe below from Dining with the Washingtons).

In a letter to his wife in Scotland, tutor John Harrower at Belvidera Plantation wrote that breakfast with his employer usually consisted of warm bread and either coffee or chocolate. In 1794, a friend wrote to George Washington requesting two or three bushels of chocolate shells "such as we've frequently drank Chocolate of at Mt. Vernon, as my Wife thinks it agreed with her better than any other Breakfast....". Martha Washington's daughter-in-law admitted to one of her daughters that "the more simple food I have is best" and went on to say that "I breakfast on Chocolate....".

Special ceramic forms were used to serve this beverage. Among the 309 pieces of white and gold French china acquired in 1790 for the presidential mansion were 12 chocolate cups and saucers, which were brought to Mount Vernon upon Washington's retirement. The Washingtons purchased three sets of tea china and six chocolate cups in 1793, further evidence that chocolate, although popular, was not served as often as tea. A covered, two-handled chocolate or caudle cup, probably intended as a display piece, survives from the "States" service given to Martha Washington in 1796 and is exhibited in the museum at Mount Vernon.

In addition to enjoying cocoa, the Washingtons often made a healthful tea from the shells (hulls), which they served to guests.

Recipe from Dining with the Washingtons:


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut... Homemade Almond Joy!

Today is National Almond Day.  For me, Almonds and Chocolate are all about Almond Joy.

Today, Almond Joy candy bars are manufactured by Hershey's. Almond Joy has a coconut-based center topped with two toasted almonds and covered in a layer of milk chocolate. Almond Joy is the sister product of Mounds, which is the same confection but without the almond and coated with dark chocolate. I'm actually partial to Mounds, but for the purposes of today's holiday, I'm posting about Chocolate Covered Almonds and Almond Joy. One concession, in the recipe for Homemade Almond Joy Bars, I use dark chocolate! "Real"Almond Joy bars have milk chocolate. Your choice.


According to Wikipedia, Peter Paul Halajian, a candy retailer in Connecticut in the 1919, along with other Armenian investors, including Dutch candy manufacturer Jett Schaefer, formed the Schaefer Candy Manufacturing Company in 1919. The company first sold various brands of candies, but following sugar and coconut shortages in World War II, they dropped most brands and concentrated their efforts on the Mounds bar. The Almond Joy Bar was introduced in 1946 as a replacement for the Dream Bar (created in 1936) that contained diced almonds with the coconut. In 1978, Peter Paul merged with the Cadbury company. Hershey’s then purchased the United States portion of the combined company in 1988.

During the 1970s, the Peter Paul company used the jingle, "Sometimes you feel like a nut / Sometimes you don't / Almond Joy's got nuts / Mounds don't," to advertise Almond Joy and Mounds together. In a play on words, the "feel like a nut" portion of the jingle was typically played over a clip of someone acting like a "nut", engaged in some funny-looking activity. See the Retro Commercial Video below.

Did you ever try any of these? In the 2000s, Hershey began producing variations of the product, including a limited edition Piña Colada and Double Chocolate Almond Joy in 2004, a limited edition White Chocolate Key Lime and Milk Chocolate Passion Fruit Almond Joy in 2005, and a limited edition Toasted Coconut Almond Joy in 2006. Although Peter Paul as a company no longer exists, the name still appears on the wrapper as part of the bars' brand names.

Want to make your own Almond Joy Bars? Simple and delicious. I know that Almond Joy uses milk chocolate, but I'm partial to dark which is why I probably always liked the Mounds Bar better. You can use either type of chocolate in the recipe below. As always use the very best chocolate for the very best candy!

Homemade Almond Joy Recipe

Ingredients
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
14 ounces sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
24 ounces dark chocolate, chopped  (milk chocolate if you're a traditionalist)
3/4 cup whole almonds (that you'll toast-see recipe)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F
1. Spread raw almonds on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
2. In big mixing bowl, blend milk, butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time. Add coconut a little at a time and mix until combined. The mixture will be thick. Place mixture in refrigerator for 30 minutes. (You can use your Kitchen Aid flat beater, but I prefer the texture that comes from hand mixing.)
3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from refrigerator. With hands, shape one tablespoon of coconut into small log - 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick. Press coconut mixture tightly together. Place logs on lined baking sheet and continue until all coconut mixture is finished.
4. Press an almond on top of each coconut log.
5. Place baking sheet in freezer to chill while you melt chocolate.
6. In medium microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate in tmicrowave 2-4 minutes at 30 SECOND intervals until chocolate is melted (or melt in top of double boiler or pan over saucepan of simmering water).
7. Remove coconut logs from freezer.
8. Dip in Chocolate: See next step

How to Dip in Chocolate:  Two Ways

1. Place one coconut almond log on fork. Use spoon to scoop a bit of chocolate over almond. This helps almond stick to coconut log during dipping. Lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat. Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate. Scrape bottom of fork along the side of bowl and place on lined baking sheet. You might need a toothpick to help get the candy off the fork. Repeat until all candy is coated in chocolate. If chocolate gets thick, return to microwave or heat for a tiny bit more.
Let dipped candy harden for 45 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

2. Using Two Fork method (or a special dipping tool - I find this tool handy for lots of other dipping, including truffles), dunk coconut logs in chocolate, bring up and tap on lip of bowl to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and repeat.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon: March 15

You can never have enough chocolate, so even though yesterday was Valentine's Day and you probably had a lot of chocolate truffles and other chocolate desserts, you'll need to start saving room for the ultimate chocolate day! Put this on your calendar--a day devoted to chocolate. It's one month until the amazing 8th Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon: March 15, 10-6.

Featuring a delicious selection chosen and curated by the Organizers, the 8th Annual International CHOCOLATE SALON participants include master chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans such as Amano Artisan Chocolate, Marti Chocolatt, Guittard Chocolate Company, Amella Caramels, flying noir, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Taza Chocolate, Fera'wyn's Artisan Chocolates, Marco Paolo Chocolates, Nuttyness, Neo Cocoa, NewTree, Smitten: Artisan Truffles, Jade Chocolates, Socola Chocolatier, Toffee Talk, chocoMe US, Shokomonk, Plumeria Flours, Marich Premium Chocolates, Clarine's Florentines, The TeaRoom Chocolate Company, Kika's Treats, CC Made, Be A Gourmet, Farm Fresh To You, Krave Jerky, Ultra Crepes, Cacoco, R&B Cellars, Raff Distillerie, H-G Vineyards, Rosa d'Oro Vineyards, Twisted Roots Wine, Spicy Vines, DAVIDsTEA, Soleil Communications, Tipsy Tea, New Orleans Bill, The Melt, The CookBook Lady, and more.

What: SF CHOCOLATE SALON
Where: Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion, 1 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
 When: March 15, 2014 Time: 10am-6pm
www.SFChocolateSalon.com 
Adults: $20 (Advance), Adults: $25 (Early Entry, Advance) Adults: $30 (Door)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mickey & Minnie Valentine's Day Chocolate Cookies

There's nothing quite like a good Chocolate Cookie for Valentine's Day. I make a lot of Heart shaped Chocolate Cookies for Valentine's Day. I always think it's fun to use different Heart Cookie Cutters, so you have different sizes and different shaped hearts. Last year at the Flea Market I came across these two cuties. What says Valentine's Day more than the perfect couple -- Minnie and Mickey Mouse!

So here's a great easy Chocolate Cookie Recipe. Use whatever cookie cutters you have.. I'm using Minnie and Mickey!

This great Chocolate Cut Out Cookie Recipe is slightly adapted from Bake @ 350. These cookies hold their shape and are delicious!

CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ingredients
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 cup sweet butter
1/2 tsp salt (I use course seasalt)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy (1-2 full minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso and salt and slowly add to butter mixture with mixer on low. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick on surface lightly dusted with cocoa powder. Hint: roll soft dough in between sheets of parchment and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes until firm.
Cut out shapes and put on baking sheets.
Freeze for 5 minutes (optional) 
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set.
Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and using spatula put on cooling rack.

I don't frost my chocolate cookies, but these cutters would guide the way. I know you'll love the great chocolate taste in these cookies!

What cookie cutters are you planning to use for Valentine's Day?

Vintage Valentine's Day Chocolate Ads

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I just love these Vintage Valentine's Day Chocolate Ads! Say it with Chocolate!






Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Banana Split for Valentine's Day

Today my worlds of mystery and chocolate collide again, as I welcome back the multi-talented Cleo Coyle, pseudonym for the bestselling author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries. See bio below. This recipe is fantastic and fabulous for Valentine's Day.. and any day! Can't wait to make it!

Cleo Coyle:
Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Banana Split

In my youth, I had no problem polishing off a banana split. These days, however, that three-scoop boat is way too large for me to sink in one sitting, especially after a meal. And that’s how I came up with this “Coffeehouse” version of the American classic. It’s a fun way to fancy up the famous kiddie sundae for the adult table.

Why is it a “Coffeehouse” Banana Split? Because I can just see my amateur sleuth—coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi—serving this dessert in an espresso cup after an elegant dinner. Its visual impact gives any dinner a special ending, making it lovely idea for Valentine’s Day…or any day. May you…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo

Click here to download a free printable copy of this recipe in PDF form with step-by-step photos.

My adult take on this childhood favorite begins with...

* A splash of Kahlúa at the bottom of an espresso cup. If you're not a fan of coffee liqueur, then try Baileys Irish Cream or a chocolate liqueur. If you'd rather not use alcohol, then simply omit it.

* Next comes a modest little scoop of gelato (or ice cream). In my photos, you see vanilla bean gelato.

* Finally comes a whole strawberry and a thick slice of banana, skewered by a Popsicle stick and covered in chocolate and nuts. The key to the recipe is using Magic Shell Chocolate. You can buy it pre-made, but I prefer to make my own, and I'm happy to show you how in the recipe following this one.

Ingredients for Chocolate-Dipped Fruit Skewers...

12 ripe strawberries (try to select uniform sizes close to 1-inch)
3 medium bananas (ripe but still firm)
1 cup magic shell chocolate (recipe follows)
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or peanuts, your choice)
12 wooden Popsicle sticks

METHOD:

Step 1 - Prep and chill fruit: Remove green stems and hull the strawberries. For tips on hulling, click here to download another strawberry recipe of mine (Low-Fat Strawberry Shortcake Muffins). Cut bananas into 1-inch pieces with flat ends. Do not use pointy banana tips. Place these fruit pieces in the freezer for 30 minutes, but no more than an hour. This will help prevent the fruit pieces from splitting in the next step.

Step 2 - Make your fruit skewers: With a paring knife, cut a shallow slit on the pointy end of a chilled and hulled strawberry. With a firm grip on the berry, gently push the end of one Popsicle stick through that slit. Keep pushing until you see the stick protruding out the top end of the berry. Gently spear that end downward, into (but not completely through) a piece of banana. The little fruit skewer should now be able to stand upright on your plate (as in my photos).

Troubleshooting tip: If you can't get it to stand up, you probably have too much of the Popsicle stick pushing through the banana. Adjust the fruit along the stick so the flat of the banana is on the plate and not the end of the Popsicle stick.


Step 3 - Re-chill: Once all the fruit skewers are finished, return them to the freezer for another 15 – 20 minutes to chill them up again.

Step 4 - Prep plate: Cover a plate with plastic or aluminum foil. (If you don't, the chocolate may stick to the plate.)

Step 5 - Dip, sprinkle, and chill: Gently dip the fruit skewers into the warm Magic Shell Chocolate. As you pull it out, allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and stand it on the foil- or plastic-covered plate. When all of the skewers are finished, place them in the refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes to set.


STORE: You can keep the finished skewers in the fridge for many hours before dinner or even the day before. Or you can wrap them gently in plastic or foil and keep in the freezer for up to one week.

HOW TO MAKE MAGIC SHELL CHOCOLATE

Although many versions of this basic recipe are all over the Internet, the original source appears to be award-winning Chef Thomas Keller, who allowed The New York Times to reprint this recipe.

The secret is the extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil, which liquefies around a modest 76 degrees F. yet firms up fast when taken below that temperature. That's why you'll see a chocolate shell form quickly if you drizzle it over scoops of ice cream.

Likewise, for my "Coffeehouse" Banana Split recipe, once the fruit is chilled and dipped, you can place it in the fridge and watch a shell form very quickly.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

14 ounces (2-1/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons) chocolate chips*
1/4 cup extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil**

*Chocolate chips can be milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or dark (bittersweet). In my photos, you see milk chocolate chips.

**Coconut oil is a very healthy oil IF you purchase the right kind--extra virgin, cold pressed. For a fast tutorial on what kind of coconut oil to purchase (and which I use and why), see my past recipe post, here.

Directions: 

In a microwave-safe container, stir together chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop and stir the chips. Chocolate burns very easily so be sure to heat the mixture in short intervals. Return the container to the microwave for another 15 to 20 seconds. Stir again until chocolate is melted and smooth.

This mixture is now ready to use in the above recipe or you can drizzle it over very cold ice cream and the "magic" shell will quickly form. The chocolate should stay in its liquid form unless chilled. If the mixture begins to solidify, return it to the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds and stir until smooth once again.

* * *

A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published New York Times bestselling author. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is in its eighteenth printing. There are now thirteen books in the series. The latest, Billionaire Blend, was a national bestseller in hardcover, honored with a starred review by Kirkus, a “Top Pick” designation by RT Book Reviews, and selected as a featured alternate of the Mystery Guild. Click here to sample Billionaire Blend’s recipes. Click here for a free Coffeehouse Mystery title checklist. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the popular Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Click here for its title checklist. Learn more about Cleo and her books at her online coffeehouse, where you can also download free recipe: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com

Photos: Cleo Coyle

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chocolate Heart Shaped Truffles for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about Chocolate. I love heart-shaped truffles, and they're easy to make... if you have the right molds. There are silicon heart shapes molds to make these chocolates, but I'm lucky enough to have a few vintage heart-shaped chocolate molds I've found over the years. Scroll down for photos of Vintage Heart-Shaped Chocolate Molds.

So here's yet another recipe for truffles--this time for Valentine Heart-shaped Chocolate Truffles. Of course, you can use any basic truffle recipe and just press into the mold. I usually melt my chocolate and butter in a double boiler, but the microwave works, too.

And, if you have no time to make your own heart shaped truffles, buy some of Chuao's Popping Hearts--milk chocolate hearts bursting with all natural popping candy or their aphrodiasic heart bourbon collection! Be sure and check with your local chocolatier for their chocolate heart truffle selection!

Valentine Chocolate Truffle Recipe
Makes 24 chocolate truffles

Ingredients
2 tbsp sweet butter, chopped coarsely
9 oz Fair-trade organic dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted for dusting the finished chocolate truffles
You are only limited by your imagination or heart on decorating ideas!

Directions
1. Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or in saucepan on top of saucepan over simmering water.
2. Remove from heat and add cream and the corn syrup. Mix until combined and smooth. If you are adding flavorings add them with the cream (kirsch, bourbon, kahlua, etc???).
3. Pour chocolate truffle filling into heart shaped chocolate mold. Level top with scraper. Put in refrigerator to set.
4. Once firm place in freezer for 5 minutes then push out of mold. Dust with sifted cocoa powder.
5. Store in cool dry place until ready to eat or give as a Valentine's Day gift.

Vintage Valentine Chocolate Molds





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Murder with Ganache: Lucy Burdette

Today in honor of her new mystery, Murder with Ganache, and for Valentine's Day, I welcome Lucy Burdette. Love it when my mystery and chocolate worlds collide!  

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. MURDER WITH GANACHE is in bookstores now!.The book has Hemingway cats, and cupcakes, and wedding angst, and a murder mystery, but most of all it's about finding and embracing your family in whatever form they come.

LUCY BURDETTE:
How to Make Ganache in Honor of MURDER WITH GANACHE 

When you have a new book out called MURDER WITH GANACHE, it's a crime not to try making that chocolate delicacy. I wanted to concentrate on the ganache itself, rather than getting all wrapped up in what was lying underneath it.

So I baked my grandmother's One-Bowl Chocolate Cake, which is delicious on its own. And then I made the ganache topping and drizzled, dripped, dribbled rivulets of molten chocolate over the top and down the sides.

You could do many things with this ganache, including something as simple as pouring it over ice cream. It's only got two ingredients--chocolate and cream--so the trick is using the good stuff.

Ingredients: 
8 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
8 oz good quality whipping cream

Crush the chocolate into small pieces. (Larger ones won't melt, resulting in a lumpy product.)

Meanwhile, empty the cream into a pan and heat until it's just boiling. Watch this closely so it doesn't burn or bubble out of the pan. Remove the pan from the stove and pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. With a wire whisk, whisk the cream and the chocolate... Until it's smooth and shiny. That's ganache!

It may seem thin at this point, but it will thicken as it cools. If you want to hurry this along, put the bowl in the refrigerator.

However, this can result in hardening. But don't panic! Just reheat the bowl of chocolate over a pan of simmering water and whisk again.

When the chocolate is at the right consistency, drizzle it over your cake or ice cream--and watch the chocoholics in your life swoon. And that's what we call MURDER WITH GANACHE :-)


Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 12 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a past president of Sisters in Crime. facebook,  twitter, pinterestwebsite

Monday, February 10, 2014

San Francisco Chocolatiers & Chocolate Shops: Valentine's Day

I left my heart in San Francisco, so what could be more fitting for Valentine's Day than a round-up of some of my favorite San Francisco Chocolatiers and Chocolate Shops! This is by no means a definitive list, nor is there a specific order. I'll be adding locations throughout the week, as well as an East Bay list. Emphasis is on locally made chocolate.

Love to hear about your favorite San Francisco Chocolate establishments -- and chocolatiers!

1. Recchiuti Confections. Ferry Building (#30) + Chocolate Lab & Little Nib, 807 22nd Street (at Tennessee)  www.recchiuti.com

The quintessential local artisan chocolatier, Michael Recchiuti was one of the trailblazers of the Bay Area chocolate renaissance and is still a trendsetter. His chocolates are innovative yet approachable, and always meticulously crafted. Recchiuti introduced chocolate lovers to the wonder of burnt caramel truffles, and it’s one of my favorites. Take that caramel love one step further and try the Burnt Caramel Almonds. The almonds are toasted in-house so they develop that super nutty flavor and extra crunch. They’re then covered in layers of burnt caramel and chocolate and sea salt and cocoa powder. Their flavor keeps developing long after the first bite. It's hard to believe that something so small can pack such a punch! Another favorite confection for dark chocolate lovers is the Force Noir truffle. Recchiuti's Force Noir truffle is silky 70% extra-bitter chocolate ganache infused with whole vanilla bean and enrobed in pure bittersweet chocolate. It will satisfy your craving for dark chocolate every time! And, in case you haven’t gotten your fill, Recchiuti’s latest line of chocolate bars includes a dark milk chocolate.

2. CocoaBella. 2102 Union Street and Westfield Center, Level 1 www.cocoabella.com

This wonderful shop has an impressively curated selection of small batch artisan chocolates from around the world. Although they sell pre-assembled collections, it’s much more fun to mix and match truffles and bonbons in a Custom Box Builder from their ever-rotating line up. Favorite chocolates include Marquise de Sevigne and Michel Cluziel from France, Oriel Balaguer from Spain, Lillie Belle Farms from Oregon, Norman Love from South Florida and Christopher Elbow, Michael Recchiuti, and Michael Mischer from the Bay Area. The great staff will guide you through the varieties, so that you have an informed selection. Since assortments change, you’ll want to come back again and again.

3. Poco Dolce. 2419 3rd St. www.pocodolce.com

There is no substitute for Poco Dolce’s signature grey sea salt bittersweet chocolate tile. It’s an icon! Poco Dolce’s great dark “tiles” are a pitch-perfect combination of salty and sweet that will make you wish you bought the larger sized box. When you’re ready to branch out, their olive oil sea salt bar is another must-try. It was chosen by SF Weekly as best local chocolate bar, and you’ll understand why when you taste it. The olive oil is from California, the sea salt from Brittany, and the 62% cacao is from Guittard. You’ll think it’s a marriage made in heaven. Perfecting the Art of Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate since 2003, Katy Wiley’s Poco Dolce is a winner.



4. TCHO. Pier 17 www.tcho.com

If you’re trying to figure out the different flavor profiles of chocolate, wine-tasting style, TCHO is your best bet. Try the pure chocolate in four different formulations designed to emphasize the diversity in cacao from around the world. Be sure and sample in order to taste the difference between their Chocolatey (Fudgie) West African and fruity Peruvian cacao. Very different flavor profiles. TCHO has taken chocolate a step further with laboratories at origin, and that will definitely appeal to the geek in you. Like Milk Chocolate? You’ve come to the right place. Tcho makes a 39% Serious Milk chocolate which is caramel-ly and well balanced, but not too sweet. Their 53% Serious Milk chocolate has more cacao presence and tastes more like a high end chocolate gelato concentrated in a bar. Sign up for a tour of the Factory. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet Brad Kintzer, Head Chocolate Maker, who will tell you everything you need to know about TCHO and chocolate. On your way out, pick up some chocolate drops that are killer for home baking.

5. Socola. Opening tomorrow (2/11) just in time for Valentine's Day! 535 Folsom Street (between 1st & 2nd). www.socolachocolates.com

I've been enjoying Socola chocolates at the SF International Chocolate Salon and at local chocolate shops, so I'm thrilled they're opening their own shop. Love their chocolates. Sôcôla” is a Vietnamese word for “chocolate.” Sisters Wendy & Susan Lieu are hardcore “Chocolate Chocolatiers.”  They make "handcrafted artisanal confections with modern flavors and a taste of fun! Daring and delightful!" They use local and Straus Family Creamery products and E. Guittard chocolate in every handmade chocolate truffle. Named after the Vietnamese word for “chocolate,” Socola prepares all its truffles with unique, cosmopolitan flavors, including burnt caramel with sea salt, guava, beer, sriracha hot sauce and more.

6. Dandelion Chocolate. (Chocolate Factory + Cafe) 740 Valencia www.dandelionchocolate.com

This is an incredible Bean to Bar chocolate factory smack dab in the Mission District. Dandelion roasts, cracks, sorts, winnows, grinds, conchesm and tempers small batches of beans and molds each bar by hand. Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring started Dandelion Chocolate in 2010, after a career in hi-tech. Their current line-up consists of three single-origin, 70% cacao bars that contain only two ingredients: cocoa beans and cane sugar.

7. XOX Truffles. 754 Columbus Ave www.xoxtruffles.com

Every day Jean-Marc Gorce makes at least 20 flavors of hand-made truffles, both liqueur and non-liqueur. If you’re vegan, you’ve come to the right place, too. The vegan truffles are made with soy, and they’re delicious. I’m a tea drinker, and the Earl Grey truffle is like drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea. From Vin Rouge to Cognac to Honey Vodka, to Tequila Cayenne, they’re all rich and great. One Caveat, since you’ll probably mix and match: many of the truffles are covered in cocoa, so they’re lumpy like ‘real’ truffles. If you don’t mark what you’ve bought, you might not remember which are which. But that’s ok, too. I doubt you’ll be disappointed with any. There’s coffee at the shop, and you usually get a free truffle with your coffee, but you won’t want stop there.

8. Charles Chocolates. 535 Florida (between Mariposa and 18th Street) www.charleschocolates.com

Welcome back. I loved visiting Charles Chocolates when they were located in Emeryville, and I did make the pilgrimage to San Francisco once they moved. But then they shut their doors. Horreurs! Thankfully, Charles Chocolates has reopened and is enjoying a renaissance of fabulous chocolate. Founded in 2004, Charles Chocolates began as one man’s dedication to the art of chocolate, his pursuit of perfection and a complete and total passion for producing only the finest confections. Chuck (Charles) Siegel has been a part of the San Francisco chocolate scene since 1987 when he started his first premium chocolate company at the age of 25. Charles Chocolates has set out to redefine the world of fine chocolate confections. The confections are made using the finest ingredients, including some of the world’s best chocolates, organic herbs, fruits and nuts as well as organic cream and butter. Everything is made by hand in very small batches using traditional, artisanal techniques. I love the Chocolate boxes, which contain fab chocolates--in an edible box! At the shop: chocolates, pastries, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Don't miss their wonderful afternoon tea with tea or hot chocolate, pastries, tea sandwiches and more!

9. Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli Square, The Palace Hotel, Union Square, Westfield SF Center, www.Ghirardelli.com


No list of San Francisco chocolate shops is complete without this San Francisco original. Yes, the tourists fill the shop at Ghirardelli Square for a sundae covered in the company’s signature hot fudge or to take home a bag of their famous wrapped chocolate squares, but for those looking to avoid the tourist crush, Ghirardelli chocolate shops downtown offer a less crowded Ghirardelli San Francisco treat! Love that they offer square samples. Ghirardelli has established its position as America's premium chocolate company for more than 160 years. They make chocolate starting from the cocoa bean through to finished products. Throughout the process, they take special steps to ensure that their premium chocolate delivers our signature intense, smooth-melting chocolate taste.

10. See's Candies. Multiple locations. www.sees.com

See's was the first quality candy company I was introduced to when I settled in the Bay Area. I still love See's and their quality chocolates and other chocolate products. Who can turn down a free sample? or not pick up a box for friends and family at the airport! See's Candies chocolate shops were founded on Mary See's basic principle of Quality without Compromise. Their chocolates and candies are made in their own factories located in both South San Francisco and L.A. Their reputation is founded upon their delicious candies and chocolates, free chocolate and candy samples, and friendly customer service. See's Candies follows in Mary See's footsteps and uses only the best ingredients (no preservatives).

11. Fog City News. 455 Market St Ste 125

This “only in San Francisco” store is located in the heart of the Financial District. It combines sales of over 700 magazine titles from 25 different countries with an incredible selection of artisan chocolate-much of it locally made. Although they don’t make their own chocolate, they import hundreds of chocolate bars, truffles and bonbons from all over the world. I love the wall of chocolate bars! But it’s not just the great chocolate, it’s the knowledgeable staff that will help you make informed decisions about chocolate that matches your taste or inclination. The shop even maintains a database of documented tastings that really helps narrow your choices. Be sure and pick up a Chocolate Passport: Buy 10 and the 11th is free. Each bar needs to be different, so it’s a great way to try new and different chocolates. Tasty Tuesdays: Free tasting 12-12.

12. Chocolate Covered. 4069 24th St www.chocolatecoveredsf.com

You’ll be knocked out by the great selection of chocolate packed into this tiny shop in Noe Valley. Such great quality and variation! Everything and the kitchen sink! It seems more like a museum than a store, but all the chocolate is for eating! There are great tins with SF neighborhood streets, and retro metal lunchboxes to fill up with chocolate. Even the most jaded chocoholic will find something new and delicious. Chocolate Covered also carries many local chocolatiers who don’t have storefronts. The staff here is terrific, and the owner knows everything about the chocolate, from the bean to the bar to the brand. He’ll guide your choices to make your chocolate experience in this great store memorable and delicious. It’s Wall to Wall chocolate with hundreds of brands. They even have the camel’s milk bar from Dubai that I still haven’t tried.