Monday, April 12, 2010
My Sweet Week: Tasting the Local Offerings
OK. So maybe I went overboard this week. But it was time to taste the sweet life in Palo Alto. Believe me, I held back. I wanted to go to on an ice cream crawl of San Francisco, pick up some additional chocolates, and even test out some dessert recipes I have in mind. Stay tuned for those desserts: I have some novel approaches in mind of gluten-free cinnamon buns, low-fat and of course gluten-free mousse for a healthier indulgence, and still need to test out some chocolate sable and brownie recipes.
In the meantime, here are some notes from this week's haul.
The real "find" of this week was brought to my attention by my Chowhound comrades. Happy Goat caramels are soft, chewy light caramels with a nice goat cheese tang. I love all things goat: cheese, meat, ice cream, cajeta. No big surprise I enjoyed these, and as an added bonus - they are lower in calories than many caramels. I am not saying health food here, but you know...
Next up, I hit CocoaBella to try out a few new chocolates. Remembering how much I liked the Thomas Haas chocolates on my trip to Vancouver, I decided to try a few more. The exotic caramel has mango, passionfruit and banana - with passionfruit dominating. Lychee was relatively mild, but lovely. The Valrhona palet d'or was smooth and decadent, capturing the Valrhona guanaja pure chocolate flavor. The Norman Love coconut truffle delivered on pure coconutty flavor.Finally my personal favorite, the Christopher Elbow Venezuelan spiced caramel. A fantastic blend of aromatic spices, with a touch of heat at the end. No clunkers in the bunch, and that is saying something for this picky chocolate lover.
A dear friend then gifted me a box of Au Coeur Des Chocolats, hand selected to be gluten-free. This is a relatively new chocolatier located in Redwood City, CA. The tahitian vanilla had a wonderfully smooth ganache with a strong vanilla flavor. The salted caramel also had a strong vanilla flavor and was light on the salt. If you are a floral vanilla lover, these are for you. My favorites were the banana caramel and the passionfruit. The fruit flavors were front and center. The peppermint tasted like an upscale Andes mint. Also tried the ginger, madagascar single origin, and yuzu. They also have some gelee based chocolates I would love to try someday.
For passover Sprinkles created a flourless chocolate cupcake, and had a special one with peanut butter frosting. Yes, it was gluten-free and is offered every year at passover time. The cake itself was typical flourless cake, moist, tender, a bit crumbly, and medium chocolate flavor. But the star was the frosting. Nice roasted peanut flavor, sweet without cloying. It overpowered the chocolate cake, but I didn't mind. I kind of liked it that way.