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A Dutch Coffee Ritual Comes to the Bay Area

Wednesday, 26. March 2014 5:25

Place a Rip Van Wafel on top of a hot cup of coffee to warm it before enjoying. You can see it start to sink in the center from the heat.

Place a Rip Van Wafel on top of a hot cup of coffee to warm it before enjoying. You can see it start to sink in the center from the heat.

 

So many great ideas start in a garage.

But this one had its humble beginnings in a dorm room.

Amsterdam-native Rip Pruisken was a student at Brown University when he grew homesick for warm wafels enjoyed with a cup of coffee — an afternoon pick-me-up ritual beloved in the Netherlands. When he couldn’t find any wafels in the United States, he set about making his own. He bought a waffle iron and started churning out batch after unsuccessful batch in his dorm room until he hit on going to Holland to study how they are made. Upon his return, he set up a stand on the main green of the university, selling his handmade wafels to curious classmates.

Armed with ingenuity and a knack for using the resources around him, he recruited engineering students to design an automated wafel press. Next, he joined with fellow entrepreneur Marco de Leon of Brazil to win the Brown Business Plan Competition. Emboldened by that honor, they relocated to San Francisco, lured by its fanatical coffee culture.

Now, Rip van Wafels are available in every Peet’s Coffee & Teas, as well as at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, Bay Area Whole Foods and the Atlas Cafe in San Francisco.

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Category:Chocolate, General, New Products | Comments (5) | Author:

Tartine Bakery’s Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

Wednesday, 19. March 2014 5:26

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

 
There’s a reason why this “Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies” recipe is one of the most publicized ones from the new “Tartine Book No. 3.”

First, it’s one of the simplest recipes from the book (Chronicle) by Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, of which I received a review copy. If you’re familiar with Robertson’s other two books, “Tartine” (written with wife, Elisabeth M. Prueitt) and “Tartine Bread”,” you know how painstaking his recipes can be, particularly the bread ones. “Tartine Book No. 3” is no exception, especially because it’s all about baking with whole grains such as flax, spelt and kamut. The master method for Tartine loaves spans eight pages alone. Even the fruit scone recipe requires the making of a leaven (or starter).

Second, these cookies are a guaranteed hit. They are extremely fudgey and chocolatey tasting with the perfect sophisticated crunch of sea salt over the top.

I had one more reason for tackling these cookies: the bag of rye flour taking up space in my freezer that was left over from making Nancy Silverton’s amazing pizza dough recipe.

The rye flour replaces whole-wheat in these cookies. Rye contains gluten. It also lends a slight malt taste to baked goods. With chocolate, it’s a natural.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Favorite Cookie Recipes | Comments (10) | Author:

Cococlectic Delivers the Chocolatey Goods Plus a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 24. February 2014 5:25

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February's Cococlectic delivery

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February’s Cococlectic delivery.

Imagine getting a package of four premium, handcrafted chocolate bars delivered to your door every month.

If that isn’t a chocoholic’s dream, what is?

San Francisco’s Cococlectic is a craft bean-to-bar club that does exactly that.

The new company was started by Doreen Leong, who grew up in Malaysia and moved to the Bay Area to pursue an MBA. She worked in the corporate world for many years, but never felt fulfilled. Then, she hit on an idea inspired by her relationship with her sister, to whom she’d regularly send gifts of chocolate. Why not start a company for chocolate lovers like her who are always eager to try a great new bar?

Leong looks for unique products made in small batches from bean to bar. They are all dark chocolate, the favorite of chocolate connoisseurs. Plus, she likes the fact that dark chocolate has been reported to have certain antioxidant properties. None of the bars selected contain nuts or fruits or additional ingredients that might detract from the purity of the chocolate, itself.

Membership levels start at $27 per month. Each monthly shipment includes four chocolate bars. Membership also allows you to purchase more of the same bars if you find you can’t live without them. Those who sign up for a six-month membership receive a 1-month free trial membership for a friend.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. February’s featured chocolate maker is Twenty-Four Blackbirds, which was founded by Mike Orlando in Santa Barbara. Chocolate making started out as a side passion to his real job as a marine biologist. His bars are hand-made from only two ingredients: organic cacao beans and organic sugar.

My box contained four bars: 68% Dominican Republic, 75% Madagascar , and two of the 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos.

An example of Cococlectic's monthly chocolate box.

An example of Cococlectic’s monthly chocolate box.

The bars are quite smooth on the palate. The 68% Dominican Republic, sourced from a cocoa-farming cooperative, boasts a lot of berry fruitiness with a fair amount of acidity. The 75% Madagascar is full of cherry and blueberry flavors balanced by earthiness and a hint of tangy citrus. The 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos is extremely creamy, with almost a vanilla presence, and hardly any bitterness or acidity.

Additional Twenty-Four Blackbirds bars (1.41 ounces each) sell on the Cococlectic site for $8 each.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a sample gift box of chocolate bars from Cocoeclectic ($34 value). Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST March 1. The winner will be announced March 3.

How to win?

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Category:Chocolate, Enticing Events, General, New Products | Comments (17) | Author:

The Surprise of Chocolate, Thanks to Alice Medrich

Wednesday, 12. February 2014 5:26

Coq au vin -- with the surprising addition of chocolate. Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Coq au vin — with the surprising addition of chocolate. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

 

Love has a way of lurking in unexpected places, where we least expect to find it.

So, too, does chocolate.

Take coq au vin, that classic stew of chicken simmered in red wine. Leave it to the Bay Area’s baker extraordinaire Alice Medrich to create a version that adds unsweetened chocolate.

It’s from her cookbook, “Seriously Bitter Sweet” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy. It’s the new paperback edition of her 2003 book, “Bitter Sweet.”

The little bit of chocolate adds a subtle earthiness and meatiness, as well as body to the sauce.

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (8) | Author:

A Toot to Tout Sweet

Friday, 24. January 2014 5:26

Tout Sweet's Nutella brioche.

Tout Sweet’s Nutella brioche.

If you need a pick-me-up of the sweet persuasion while shopping in San Francisco’s tony Union Square area, duck into Macy’s.

That’s where you’ll find Tout Sweet – past the racks of women’s sportswear on the third floor.

It’s the cute little patisserie by Yigit Pura, the first winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”

Done up in gumdrop colors, it’s a cheery place to pick up a treat or to sit for a spell while enjoying coffee, a glass of wine or even a savory sandwich.

That’s exactly what I did one day recently when I bought a few things to enjoy later at home.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Food TV, General | Comments (3) | Author: