San Francisco has always been synonymous with chocolate, from iconic Ghirardelli Square to Scharffen Berger’s gourmet bars. The chocolate scene has grown tremendously in the last few years, and there are more local chocolatiers and chocolate makers in the city than ever. From handmade chocolate bars to perfectly decorated bonbons, the variety of chocolate available is deliciously tempting. Below are my picks for some of the most delectable chocolate in the city. Recchiuti Confections Pictured above For chocolate aficionados, Michael Recchiuti is a don’t-miss. His meticulously crafted confections and inventive flavors like star anise, sesame nougat, and rose caramel, have made him one of San Francisco’s premier chocolatiers. The best place to sample his signature burnt caramel chocolates is his flagship shop at the Ferry Building. If you’re in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, stop by the Little Nib outlet, which has the bonus of being a couple doors down from Chocolate Lab, Rechiuti’s sweet and savory café. At Chocolate Lab, Recchiuti returns to his restaurant roots; customers can sample his desserts, including a modern update on carrot cake with milk chocolate mousse and white chocolate frosting, and a burnt caramel ice cream sundae topped with hazelnuts, almonds, peanut butter pearls, and marshmallows. Charles Chocolates Charles Siegel is a longtime veteran of the San Francisco chocolate scene. After opening his original shop in Emeryville, where he sold his signature peanut butterflies and triple chocolate hazelnuts, Siegel has moved to San Francisco. His new store in the Mission offers all his classic bonbons like his tea-infused chocolates, and his housemade hot chocolate, along with his newly expanded line of chocolate bars – don’t miss the toffee coffee bar. Charles Chocolates also serves pastries and afternoon tea service, best enjoyed on the sunny outdoor patio (it’s dog-friendly as well). They also offer tours of their kitchen, where visitors can see how those beautiful chocolates are made. Dandelion Chocolate Dandelion Chocolate is a true small-batch artisan chocolate maker dedicated to capturing the unique nuances of every bag of cacao beans in their intensely flavorful bars. Every bar is noted with the cacao’s country of origin, as well as tasting notes. The lofty, industrial-chic café in the Mission is ideal for sampling their bars, or housemade pastries with a cup of drinking chocolate – also made in house, of course. Dandelion Chocolate offers tours of their kitchen and classes as well for those interested in learning more about where cacao come from and how quality chocolate is made. TCHO TCHO has the distinction of being San Francisco’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker. In their sleek factory/retail shop on the Embarcadero, visitors can see the equipment that turns cacao beans into chocolate bars, learn about the chocolate-making process, and sample TCHO’s range of chocolates. TCHO’s chocolates are identified by their flavor profile, so customers can choose from “nutty”, “bright”, ”chocolatey” or “fruity”, along with TCHO’s new milk chocolates.Read More
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Ooey-gooey salty goodness. Salted caramel, like bacon, will not die as a food trend. This buttery confection keeps chefs, bakers and dessert makers inspired to try new creations. If this is good news to you, then here are a few spots to get your salted caramel fix in San Francisco. Salted caramel bread pudding from Schulzies Bread pudding served like ice cream? That's Schulzies. Located in Hayes Valley this unique shop opened by fourth generation San Francisco native Sarah Shulz, serves bread pudding in a cone. It fits since she serves it cold, an interesting twist on the classic. And while all her flavors are delicious (there are 108 of them, although only about a dozen served daily), if you are a salted caramel fan you'll love the salted caramel sutra. Milk chocolate pot de creme from RN74 So you might be asking where is the salted caramel? Trust me, its there. If you order the milk chocolate pot de creme on Michael Mina's RN74 menu it comes with cocoa nibs, salted toffee, and salted caramel whipped cream. The combination is so delectable that you'll wonder why they don't just change the name. The crunch and saltiness of the toffee mixed with the caramel whip cream is perfect with the chocolate pudding; it doesn't come off as cloyingly sweet. Perfect with a glass of red wine. Salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite We rarely see heat waves in San Francisco, so we've just gotten use to eating ice cream even when its chilly. The biggest decision to make is where. Bi-Rite Creamery? Mitchell's? Or Humphry Slocombe? When it comes to salted caramel, it's easy. Bi-Rite is the only one that carries it. In fact this spot is often attributed to creating the salted caramel craze in the first place. You have plenty of time to dream about their sweet cream and smoky caramel while you wait in the really long line to get in! Caramel de Sel Donut from Dynamo Donut The sweet of the fluffy dough combined with the slightly chewy of the caramel glaze by itself would be sufficient, but then you get a hint of a citrus zing from fresh orange zest and nutmeg. That's pretty complex for a donut. BONUS: It's worth seeking out these next two food truck treats. Find them at Off the Grid or SOMA Streat Food Park or any of their other regular haunts around the city. Salted caramel creme brulee from The Crème Brûlée Cart These tasty little custard treats already have caramelized sugar on top, but when you add a little sea salt, wowza, that makes all the difference! Salted caramel mochi from Simply Mochi Sweet and salty goodness wrapped in a glutinous rice rice cake. Unless you are eating a truffle, this is the purest form of eating salted caramel. The mochi casing is the perfect wrap, its taste so subtle that you get the full salted caramel experience. It looks like salted caramel is here to stay and San Franciscan are the ones that benefit from the craftiness and experimentation of the city's best kitchens.Read More
Unlike other places where ice cream is a summer treat, San Francisco is an it’s-always-ice-cream-weather town. San Francisco residents aren’t eating ice cream to cool down, but because there’s some seriously delicious artisan ice cream being made locally in little shops all around the city. Here are my picks: Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (622 22nd St) The name is a bit of a tongue-twister but it’s not difficult to rave about this little gem hidden away in Potrero Hill. The titular Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, pastry chefs Ian Flores and Annabelle Topacio, serve up beautifully smooth and creamy ice creams that taste amazingly fresh. The flavors are offbeat but appealing, like Pink Squirrel (almond and cocoa liqueurs) and candied violet. They also make their own cookies, brittles, and other sweets, displayed for sale in mason jars by the counter. The sleek wood tables in the clean, light-filled store make the perfect spot to enjoy a perfect scoop. Bi-Rite Creamery (3692 18th St) Bi-Rite Creamery began as an offshoot of Bi-Rite Market, a specialty grocery just across the street. However, as word spread of their addictive salted caramel ice cream, the creamery achieved a fame of its own. Long lines snaking down the block are not an uncommon sight outside the store, but the lush, flavorful ice cream is worth it. Although the salted caramel is a must-try, the honey lavender and malted vanilla with peanut brittle are stealth favorites. Their fruit popsicles are also delightful on the rare hot San Francisco day. Humphry Slocombe (2790A Harrison St) The ribbon for most unusual ice cream and ice cream store name goes to Humphry Slocombe. Tucked away in a little corner of the Mission district, this shop is quite unassuming except for the near-constant lines out the door and under the trim blue awnings. Humphry Slocombe’s claim to fame is its Secret Breakfast, a vanilla ice cream laced with bourbon and cornflakes that is truly the breakfast of champions. For the slightly less adventurous, the Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee is the next best thing to a wake-me-up cup of espresso. The Ice Cream Bar (815 Cole St) While many of the newest ice cream shops in San Francisco are showcasing modern, offbeat flavors, The Ice Cream Bar aims to recreate the classic soda fountain of the 1930s. Although they also make and offer their own ice cream, the star of the shop is the soda fountain bar at the rear of the retro-styled shop. Soda jerks will mix up lactarts, phosphates, malts, and milkshakes with a chemist’s library of ingredients. The New Orleans Hangover seems cult favorite-worthy: chicory coffee syrup, golden eagle tincture, sweet cream ice cream, and soda. Sit down on the classic fountain bar stools and visit the past. Smitten (432 Octavia Street) Smitten offers one of the most entertaining desserts in the city: ice cream made to order and flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen to preserve its creamy, ice crystal-free texture. Every scoop is made fresh, so you can watch your ice cream solidify in front of your eyes in a cloud of liquid nitrogen. Flavors are usually limited to three rotating choices: the TCHO chocolate shows off the locally made chocolate perfectly. The location is more of a popup than a full sit-down shop, but the adjacent park and nearby Hayes Street shopping boulevard make for a lovely venue to enjoy your custom made ice cream.Read More