Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neo Cocoa

The chocolate media darling of the year is undoubtedly Christine Doerr's Neo Cocoa. I first sampled these unique truffles at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon, where Neo Cocoa snagged a first place for "Best Truffle" and a second place for "Best Traditional Chocolates," "Top Artisan Chocolatier," "Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience," "New Product" and "Best in Salon." With accolades like that, how much higher can Neo Cocoa soar?

Since the Salon, Neo Cocoa was named "Best New Chocolates" by 7X7 Magazine and Doerr even appeared on Martha Stewart Living (radio). One explanation for the media frenzy is that, in an increasingly competitive world of artisan chocolatiers, Neo Cocoa chocolates offer something new. Christine Doerr has no use for couverture. Neo Cocoa chocolates are simply ganache, and for those whose idea of bliss is the creamy center of a chocolate, this is very good news. Like any good San Franciscan, Doerr insists on fresh local and organic ingredients: Guittard chocolate, Straus cream, Sweet Earth cocoa powder.

A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Doerr has worked as a pastry chef for over ten years. After taking some time off to study graphic design, Doerr came back to the pastry world and started Neo Cocoa in November of 2008.

I purchased a small assortment of Neo Cocoa truffles from the Village Market in the Ferry Building. The flavors are simple yet sophisticated: ginger root, toasted coconut, crushed bittersweet nib, zested lime and almond butter & smoked sea salt. In other words, you won't find "fun flavors" like root beer, cupcake and peanut butter and jelly that are now in vogue. This suits me perfectly, as I prefer to taste chocolate first and then a bit of flavor enhancer. In all her chocolates, Doerr has a subtle touch and even the ginger root is not too overwhelming. My favorites were the bittersweet nib and the almond butter & smoked sea salt.

My only concern was that the boxes at the Village Market did not have an expiration date filled in. I am the kind of shopper who is obsessed with buying the freshest possible food - always digging back in the shelves to find the latest possible expiration date. I wondered if the truffles were as fresh as they could be, and really hope that Neo Cocoa starts including the expiration date. A good alternative for shoppers is to order directly from their web site.

While Neo Cocoa fans have got to be begging for some new flavors (and word is something is in development), I applaud the chocolate makers who do just a few things well. Scharffen Berger began with three simple bars. And we at Gourmet Walks are taking our time in creating our next tour! Wherever Neo Cocoa goes next, I'm confident it will be delicious.

1 comment:

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