Sneak Peek: Baume Chocolates

Look forward to the day you can try these incredible chocolates at Baume.

Chef Bruno Chemel of Palo Alto’s Baume can be a bit of a mad scientist.

With his molecular gastronomy creations that foam, smoke, fizz and bubble savagely at the dining table, you’d think that any chocolates he would make would be equally jaw-dropping wild.

But instead, they are as timelessly elegant and chic as can be.

Chemel doesn’t make chocolates very often. No time. But on his rare days off from his nearly one- year-old restaurant, which just received a coveted one Michelin star, he likes to pull out molds, temper chocolate and stir ganache. Sometimes, he even enlists the help of his 6-year-old son, Antoine, who is a whiz at piping.

For Chemel, chocolate-making is relaxing — which, he jokes, his pastry chef thinks is preposterous.

Chef Bruno Chemel of Baume.

Next year, Chemel hopes to find the time and a way to incorporate his chocolates into the restaurant. Let’s hope so, because recently, the chef allowed me to try some of the bonbons. They are exquisite.

Classic in shape, with delicate dark chocolate shells, including some flecked with gold, these hand-made confections are decidedly grown-up. With no preservatives, they’re made in small batches (24 to 30 at a time) and designed to be enjoyed within a week.

The fillings are incredibly intense and with the barest hint of sweetness. The bonbons are designed to really let the filings star: from a floral jasmine green tea that has the bitter edge of a fine cup of brewed tea to a beguiling ylang ylang with its burst of floral perfume and tart finish to a yuzu as bracing as a cold splash of water to the marron (chestnut) with its toasted crunch.

Molds for the chocolates that are made by hand.

When I asked how he stared making chocolates, Chemel just chuckles. “I love doing pastry and cooking,” he says. “But chocolate was the last thing I ever wanted to do. I thought it was just too hard to do.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t love chocolate. He does. And has ever since he was a child. In fact, he grew up in Moulins, France, home of Les Palets D’Or, a chocolatier founded in 1835 and famous for its pioneering use of gold on chocolates. Chemel remembers sauntering down there regularly at age 7 to buy his fill of fine chocolates to nibble on.

A dozen years ago when Chemel was between restaurants in San Francisco and feeling pretty burnt out on cooking, he contacted Les Palets D’Or to see if he could import some of the chocolates to sell in California. But they turned out to be too expensive, too fragile and too perishable to do so.

“So, I decided to learn to make chocolates on my own,” he says. “I read books and experimented. I ended up loving it.”

Life should be like a box of chocolates.

For a time, he actually sold his chocolates at Whole Foods, Andronico’s and Dean & Deluca. But making a living at it was too challenging. So, Chemel returned to cooking. Still, his love of chocolate-making never disappeared.

“I like to work precisely and chocolate-making is like that, he says. “Chocolate really lets you express yourself. It’s like art you can admire.”

More: My Q&A with Bruno Chemel

More: My Dinner at Baume

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Date: Tuesday, 14. December 2010 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, Chocolate, General, Great Finds, New Products, Restaurants

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14 comments

  1. 1

    Beautiful and refined!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. 2

    Have you eaten at his restaurant yet? I’m afraid it’s under-appreciated in this area – please report on it if you haven’t already. As usual, nice article and photos! Happy Holidays to you and Meat Boy.

  3. 3

    Whoa. If he sold them at Whole Foods I’d love to try the jasmine and marron flavors.

  4. 4

    Thanks for the informative post. It’s interesting that his chocolate are so different from his restaurant cooking philosophy but then again, since he began making them when burnt out from his day job, I guess it makes sense.

    I’m drooling over his molds in particular. Those are gorgeous.

  5. 5

    I like making chocolates too, but it’s very time-consuming. So I do it just once a year. I may steal some of Baume’s flavors! :)

  6. 6

    He must have a true knack for making chocolates if that is what he does to relax, lol! They are really lovely!

  7. 7

    The flavors seem amazing. I can’t believe you could not make a commercial run with them.

  8. 8

    The chocolates sound wonderful! Love that he sometimes involves his son… :)

  9. 9

    These sound very special! The fillings sound very unique.

  10. 10

    Must add Baume to the Palo Alto list!

  11. 11

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  12. 12

    I couldn’t agree more with the last quote! :D

  13. 13

    They look gorgeous especially with the gold flecks. Wish they were still available at Whole Foods!

  14. 14

    Chocolate is something that I’d rather buy a few really good ones than making my own. I can’t quite get the same gratifying feeling from the ones I make. Oh, and macarons, too.

    I’ll definitely look for Baume Chocolates when I’m at Whole Foods next time. :)

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