Category Archives: Chocolate

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 28

Bake Sum's inventive Croissubi.
Bake Sum’s inventive Croissubi.

Bake Sum, Berkeley, Plus San Francisco, Redwood City, and Oakland

Imagine impeccable French Viennoiserie with crisp, buttery layers to get lost in — but flaunting inspired Asian flavors.

That, in sum, is Bake Sum.

This Berkeley-based bakery, which has amassed a huge following during the pandemic, was co-founded by local baker, Joyce Tang, who had the wholesale bakery Chinoiserie, and previously supplied pastries to Boba Guys.

Each week, Bake Sum offers one set pastry box ($35) filled with about half a dozen treats, as well as a specialty bun box, Gochujang sourdough loaves, mochi bites, and cookies.

Sign up for its newsletter ahead of time because it drops Monday morning with that week’s offerings. It pays to be quick on the draw because the baked goods, especially the pastry box, sell out quickly. Pick up your order on Fridays or Saturdays at the Bread Project in Berkeley; Fridays at Golden Goat Coffee in San Francisco; Saturdays at Grand Coffee in San Francisco; or Fridays at Red Giant Coffee Roasters in Redwood City.

Yes, with Spam and nori tucked inside, it's like a musubi in croissant form.
Yes, with Spam and nori tucked inside, it’s like a musubi in croissant form.

Last week’s pastry box included a Croissubi, a unique riff on a traditional ham and cheese croissant that paid homage to Spam musubi. Just on its own, this was one beautiful croissant — shattering into deep golden shards upon the first bite. Add in the novelty of thin slices of Spam wrapped in nori, and get ready for your taste buds to take a French-Hawaiian ride. Crispy Parmesan cheese and flecks of togarashi dot the top to add more umami, savoriness and just a hint of spice. It is every inch like a nostalgic ABC Store musubi transformed into a perfect French croissant.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 27

Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.
Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.

PintxoPote, Los Gatos

Los Gatos’ PintxoPote is a sliver of a restaurant that has managed to survive this incredibly challenging year, despite not having the ability to provide either outdoor or indoor seating.

Instead, the Spanish-Basque restaurant has persevered, largely through the support of a loyal clientele that orders takeout, along with the fact that Chef-Owner Hector Figueroa and his wife Angie Lipsett have operated the restaurant all on their own without any staff, and without taking any salaries.

If you haven’t yet discovered this charming Spanish restaurant, it’s high time that you did.

Right now, the restaurant is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. The takeout menu for the week usually posts on Thursdays.

A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.
A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.

Figueroa, whose grandparents hailed from Spain, is a former tech engineer. When you pick up your order at the doorway, you can spot him in the kitchen, as Lipsett hands you your food.

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Chocolate-Chip Hot Cross Buns

My favored hot cross buns for Easter.
My favored hot cross buns for Easter.

I have a confession to make: I love hot cross buns.

But the neon red, green and yellow dried fruit inside?

Not so much.

As an avowed carb lover, I always felt painfully left out at Easter, simply because I couldn’t bring myself to buy these holiday buns only to pick out and discard the bits of dried fruit so wastefully.

Now, however, I’ve found a delicious solution to my dilemma: “Chocolate-Chip Hot Cross Buns.”

Because if there’s one thing I love even more than bread, it’s chocolate.

This fabulous recipe is from “Just Desserts: Good Things Come to Those Who Bake” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy. This compact tome of 30 recipes is the first cookbook by Charlotte Ree, an Australia-based recipe developer and avid home baker.

This fun little book full of cheeky quotes will have you running to your kitchen to try your hand at such delights as “Nutella Thumbprint Cookies,” “Tiramisu Swiss Roll,” and “Vanilla Cake with Ricotta Frosting and Roasted Peaches.”

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Baked Goods With A Twist, Part I: Not Your Usual Brownies

These incredible brownies have an ingredient that's hard to believe.
These incredible brownies have an ingredient that’s hard to believe.

Deep, dark and rich, these irresistible brownies are gluten-free, as they’re made with almond meal.

They also sport a very unlikely ingredient.

Soy sauce.

Before you scratch your head in complete disbelief, consider that soy sauce actually amplifies the chocolate even more, in much the same way that a little espresso does.

Only in this case, the soy sauce imparts a subtle salted caramel note.

If that doesn’t make you a believer, one taste surely will.

Yup, soy sauce, of all things.
Yup, soy sauce, of all things.

This genius recipe comes from food writer and best-selling cookbook author Hetty McKinnon, who started a community salad delivery business in Sydney, Australia, before moving with her family to Brooklyn in 2015.

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Add A Sweet Lift to Easter

Easter gets even more fun with Lift's chick truffles.
Easter gets even more fun with Lift’s chick truffles.

Fellow U.S. Marines nicknamed Brandon Busch “The Candy Man” for this lieutenant colonel’s major sweet tooth. It was a passion he took rather seriously, too. So much so that the heavy-lift helicopter pilot spent any downtime during his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan reading textbooks from the Culinary Institute of America.

So, when he segued into civilian life to pursue a Willy Wonka-like dream, Busch couldn’t resist naming his business Lift Chocolate in a nod to his former occupation, as well as to the feeling he hopes to impart in anyone who enjoys his chocolates.

Indeed, his creations are sure to lift your day, especially on Easter.

I had a chance recently to try samples from this Boulder, CO chocolate shop, opened in 2017 by Busch, a graduate of the pastry program at Johnson & Wales.

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