Pastry Chef Jewel Zimmer of San Francisco has always liked to create good things to eat.
The British Columbia-native first studied bread baking with her father before attending pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu. She later moved to San Francisco to work at La Folie restaurant.
This year, she left the restaurant world to open her own artisan chocolatier company in San Francisco, Cocoa Absolute. Her pricey delicacies are now sold at Bardessono resort in Yountville, Boulette’s Larder in the San Francisco Ferry Building, and the Gardener shop in Berkeley.
The single-origin chocolates are made from cocoa beans sourced from all over the world and formed into a simple, signature-shaped confection.
I’ll use my patented scale of 1 to 10 lip-smackers, with 1 being the “Bleh, save your money” far end of the spectrum; 5 being the “I’m not sure I’d buy it, but if it was just there, I might nibble some” middle-of-the-road response; and 10 being the “My gawd, I could die now and never be happier, because this is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” supreme ranking.
Cocoa Absolute Single Origin IND/32, Bergamot 68 Percent (a 5.62-ounce box is $40): Open the little black box and an intense aroma of chocolate wafts out immediately. Inside are supermodel-thin squares of chocolate, about as thick as a credit card. Hence the name, “IND/32,” to denote 32 individual squares to a box. Zimmer explained that she prefers enjoying chocolate this way, rather than breaking off a chunk at a time from a big bar. One little square fits easily into your mouth, making it more refined and lady-like to eat.
The squares are so thin that they start to soften almost immediately in your fingers when you pick them up. They melt even more smoothly and easily on your tongue. After a few seconds, it’s like a puddle of rich ganache coating your entire mouth. The chocolate is deep and dark. There are hits of vanilla, floral-ness, Earl Grey tea, and a smidge of sweetness at the end. The chocolate comes in four varieties: the Bergamot one I tried, as well as Rose (with rose essence added), Brulee (with burnt sugar and sea salt), and Natural. It’s hard to believe something so small and skinny could have such weight in your mouth. Rating: 10 lip-smackers.