The Bay Area is a wonderful place for chocolate. We have bean to bar manufacturers as well as talented confectioners and pastry chefs all crafting wonderful treats. Today is the deadline for 2 day delivery, so if you’re looking for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, here are some of my top picks:
is famous for their burnt caramel truffle, fleur de sel caramels and their wonderful s’mores kit. This year I got a chance to try their Dark Hot Chocolate
. Please note, this is not cocoa, it’s real chocolate pistoles, made with a custom South American blend. What are pistoles? It’s the French name for a Spanish coin; the chocolate coins melt into a rich, yet mellow and smooth drink when dissolved with water or milk (or a combination). Or you can add some to your coffee, as my mother-in-law likes to do. It’s won raves from many publications and is a great winter time treat for kids or adults, just under $20.
One of my favorite local confectioners is Charles Chocolate
. I’m crazy about their triple chocolate coated almonds and their sweet salty cashew bar, this year I tried two more recent additions to line of chocolate bars, the Toffee Coffee dark milk chocolate bar and the Caramelized Crisped Rice bittersweet chocolate bar. The Toffee Coffee bar has chunks of almond toffee and coffee beans in it, the toffee flavor really comes through deliciously. The Crisped Rice bar has caramelized crisped brown rice that might remind you of a Nestle Cunch bar but it’s much darker and with just a light crunch.The bars are available in mini versions for about $3 each.
makes all kinds of things, including outstanding Salted Crunch Caramels and Salted Nutty Caramels. They also make a line of chocolate covered cookies including different flavors of shortbread and graham crackers. The Caramelized Graham Crackers
coated in chocolate are a favorite of mine and you can get them coated in dark chocolate, milk chocolate or 70% Dandelion chocolate. You’ve never had graham crackers like these before, they are thick, crisp and crunchy, and positively irresistible. Each box is $8-10.
Earlier this year I got a chance to try the chocolate panettone From Roy
studded with Guittard
chocolate. I had never had a panettone as luxuriously airy yet moist, rich and delicious. From Roy recently received an investment in cash and is expanding, offering panettone year round and in a variety of different flavors. It’s made with an Italian starter made from wild yeast and takes 40 hours to make! Last week I ordered one for a friend, but I’m sorry to say they are now sold out. The cakes are $50, but lofty and worth every penny.
Another choice for chocolate lovers would be a book on chocolate, and this year there are two I strongly recommend, neither are cookbooks per se, but both include some recipes.
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution
this compact volume starts by explaining just what bean to bar means and how chocolate is made. It has a lot of Bay Area connections including pages devoted to Scharffen Berger and Guittard, both “chocolate pioneers” and a profile of Dandelion Chocolate.
Along the way there are wonderful features on pairing chocolate with cheese, tea, spirits and more plus recipes including a few from locals Michael Recchiuti and Alice Medrich.
This book is perfect for anyone who loves chocolate and wants to know more about the American chocolate makers, and is looking for new ways to enjoy chocolate.
Making Chocolate from Bean to Bar to S’more
, written by Todd Masonis, founder and CEO of Dandelion Chocolate. It’s a gorgeous coffee table volume that covers everything form how to temper chocolate, how to source cacao and even the equipment used to process chocolate.
The recipes come from Dandelion’s in-house pastry chef, Lisa Vega. Vega gives away the secrets to recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes, drinks and more.
This book is for chocolate aficionados, especially those who want to try their hand at making it or just want to learn more about it. It’s also good for those who want to use different percentage chocolate in recipes. The recipes don’t call out specific brands.
Disclaimer: I purchased each of the items featured in this post, with the exception of the hot chocolate. The books were review copies and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.