Category Archives: Chocolate

Yossy Arefi’s Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake

You'll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

You’ll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

 

Imagine a deliriously, deep, rich chocolate-y cake that’s like the love child of a brownie and a molten lava cake.

It’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?

It surely is my fantasy come true, especially with its scattering of plump fresh figs on top. So much so that I can’t stop myself from digging a fork into it again and again in utter bliss.

That’s what “Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake” will do to you.

This incredible — and incredibly easy — cake is from the new cookbook, “Sweeter Off The Vine” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

SweeterOffTheVine

It’s from the super talented Yossy Arefi, a Brooklyn-based food photographer, food stylist and baker, who created the charmingly named blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., where she chronicles her baking endeavors.

This is one of those must-have cookbooks. And I don’t say that lightly, not when my shelves are already groaning under the strain of too many cookbooks. But if you’re like me and love to bake, you will find yourself bookmarking practically every page because these are down-home treats with a personality all their own that are in no way an ordeal to make.

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Good Things Come — In Boxes

A peek inside the "Silicon Valley'' Sojourn Box.

A peek inside the “Silicon Valley” Sojourn Box.

 

With graduation fetes, Father’s Day, and summer birthday celebrations to come, everyone’s got gift-giving on their minds. Recently, I had a chance to check out samples of three new artisan gift box deliveries. Here’s the lowdown:

Sojourn Box

The word, “sojourn,” refers to a “temporary stay.”

And Sojourn Box aims to do something similar — to transport you briefly to another place.

The Santa Cruz-based company packs curated artisan products in boxes, each of which has a different Northern California geographic theme, such as “Monterey,” “San Francisco,” and “Santa Cruz.”

The “Silicon Valley” one was sent to me, befittingly since I reside there. I received the “taste-size” box ($38). If you like the products, you can reorder and choose the “full-sized” box ($70) with — you guessed it — full-sized versions of each product.

With the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley life, this box was definitely made for unplugging and getting away from it all. It’s also a box designed more for a woman than a man, what with its Lavender Herbal Bath Soak salts from Sylvie James, and Lemongrass Tangerine Soy Candle. Hey, just saying.

There’s also a tiny sea urchin shell holding the teeniest air plant; Smoked Sugar from Whiskey Oak Seasonings; a Cantaloupe Mint Green Tea bag from Thao Tea; and Coconut, Cacao + Raisin Granola Bites, which taste much more healthy and austere than most granolas on the market.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Each product is sourced locally. Each box also includes a little printed booklet containing fun facts about each region, including the “Top Five Places to Eat,” and “Top Five Places To Shop.” There’s also a card listing the “Top 10 Songs” in the area. Who knew that Dogcatcher’s “It’s You, It’s Me,” was tops in Silicon Valley.

Good For: A favorite female in your life whom you want to pamper.

Chococurb

For the chocoholics in your life, there is Chococurb.

This Seattle company delivers a box of chocolates monthly — or as a one-time gift. A full-sized box of five to seven chocolate products is $35. A mini box of three chocolate products is $20. Choose a three-month or six-month subscription and the price per box goes down.

It’s also a full e-commerce site, so if you or your recipient is enamored of a particular chocolate, he or she can re-order it easily.

Chococurb's full-sized box.

Chococurb’s full-sized box.

Of the offerings included in my sample full-sized box, I especially enjoyed the Cabruca walnut and fig bar, with its unusual undulating shape and its candied fig pieces decorating the top.

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Petit Pot — Pudding and Cookies, the French Way

Dark Chocolate Petit Pot with Vanilla French Mini Cookie.

Dark Chocolate Petit Pot with Vanilla French Mini Cookie.

 

When you shrink down desserts, they just get so adorable, don’t they?

Not to mention irresistible since you so want to covet one all to yourself.

Petit Pot’s pot de cremes and shortbread cookies make that easy to do.

The South San Francisco company was founded by Frenchmen, Pierre Coeurdeuil, a former Valrhona food engineer; and Pastry Chef Max Pouvreau, who has worked at Coi and Radius restaurants, both in San Francisco.

They specialize in certified organic French pots de creme in various flavors that are sold in individual glass jars, as well as little round shortbread cookies. Of course, the two together make for a perfect dessert duo. I had a chance recently to try samples.

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A Chocolate Bar With An Unusual Ingredient

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that's a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that’s a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

 

Jcoco’s newest chocolate bar tastes of cherries.

Yet there are no actual cherries in it.

Instead, its fruity taste comes from discarded coffee waste, otherwise known as the pulp leftover when a coffee bean is extracted from its fruit.

Canadian company Coffee Flour, which has offices in Redwood City, started working with coffee farmers five years ago to turn coffee waste into a type of gluten-free flour. Now, food manufacturers are starting to use coffee waste in new products like this chocolate bar.

Coffee flour has more iron per gram than spinach, more fiber than whole wheat flour, more protein than kale, and more potassium than a banana.

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Afternoon Tea Is A Breeze With The East India Company

Cheese crackers you''re sure to fall for.

Cheese crackers you”re sure to fall for.

 

What do you need for a proper afternoon tea at home?

Great quality tea, for starters. Along with a few dainty sweets and savories to serve alongside.

The East India Company has got you covered.

Originally established in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I to explore the unknown East, it mapped trade routes, brought back exotic flavors, planted the first teas in Darjeeling, and saw its tea thrown overboard into the Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.

Today, the company continues to develop and market fine teas and foods. In fact, it recently just started being carried in select Neiman Marcus stores, including the ones in San Francisco and Palo Alto.

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