Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Good Things

Do I ever get tired leading the same Chocolate Tour, week after week? No, because the incredibly talented chocolate makers we work with are always coming out with something new. We love tasting what's new and also getting reactions from the chocolate lovers on our tour. Not everything we try is a winner, but below are our favorites of the last few months:

Scharffen Berger Asante Bar
With the factory set to close and Joseph Schmidt soon to retire, here is some good news coming out of Berkeley - the new Scharffen Berger Asante bar. This single origin bar from Ghana is the second in Scharffen Berger's Chocolate Makers series. Locals and tourists are loving its deep chocolate flavor, with just a hint of cherry and spice. It also makes for a fun comparison with the 68% Tome Acu bar - which really does have the finish of a fine dessert wine. We can't wait to see what country Scharffen Berger will turn to for its next bar in this series.

Ginger Elizabeth Bars
What were you doing when you were 24? Sitting in a cubicle, I'm afraid - definitely not running an eponymous chocolate company. Ginger Elizabeth has set up an elegant chocolaterie in Sacramento, and although not making bean-to-bar chocolate, she is melting and mixing with a careful touch. She has apprenticed with big names in the pastry world, including Jacques Torres and Daniel Budd. While a trip to Sacramento is a must for her filled chocolates, three of her bars are for sale at Fog City News. A definite favorite for hazelnut lovers is the Crunchy Gianduja Bar.

Schoggi Drinking Chocolate
Why is it so hard to find good drinking chocolate in San Francisco? You may know about Boulette's Larder's rich and creamy chocolate, but Schoggi on Yerba Buena Lane has been making authentic drinking chocolate for the past couple months. The recipe is simple: melted bittersweet Swiss chocolate, cream and a hint of spice. And for those of us who are ready to trash our Swiss Miss mixes, Schoggi sells little bags of the drinking chocolate to replicate the experience at home.

Christopher Elbow Chocolate Marshmallow

With such a wide and impressive assortment of international chocolates, there is always something new and delicious at Cocoa Bella. Micheal Mischer fans should take note that Cocoa Bella is now selling Mischer truffles, with unique flavors like "root beer" and "banana split." But my favorite new thing has to be the Christopher Elbow chocolate marshmallow. Think mallomar, only with homemade marshmallow and fine gourmet chocolate. And if you're a coconut lover, like I am, the flaked coconut coating will make this confection simply irresistable.

And if this is not enough, we can't wait to simple four new flavors coming out of Michael Recchiuti's kitchen next week. Just in time for spring, we've heard that cherries will be well represented.