Founder, Charles Chocolates
Here’s a sneak peek of our kitchen/store before construction and what it looks like now.
Not sure what to get? Stylist Sandy Sloan will help you discover the pieces to accessorize your new fall wardrobe or to update your holiday attire. All pieces arrive beautifully boxed and ready for gift-giving, so get out your holiday list and see who’s been naughty or nice. Surprise your loved one, granddaughter or best friend with what fashion editors are calling ‘Style for a Steal’.
Stella & Dot has been featured multiple times in magazines like InStyle, Lucky, and Real Simple, but isn’t available at retail stores. Come join in the fun and see what beautiful things we have to offer. Please feel free to bring friends. Your treats await!
With everything going on these days—working on developing a bunch of great new recipes and finding ways to make our website even easier to use—I let our 6th birthday pass almost completely unnoticed.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to figure out both a fun way to celebrate, and also a way to share something special with all of you. As I mentioned above, I have been working on some new recipes that we will feature later this year when our new flagship store opens. I have decided to share a new treat each month until we open on the 4th floor. They will be available only through our website and in our San Francisco store, and only for a very limited time (7 days from the date of this post).
Our new store will feature not only our confections, bars and treats, but freshly baked goods and homemade ice cream. That is why our first special is something you haven’t seen from us before: the walnut brownie!
This is a brownie recipe that I created over 20 years ago and it has been a favorite of friends and family ever since. I have never been a huge fan of cakey brownies so these are rich, moist and really fudgy. They are filled with fresh toasted walnuts—and lots of them. While we don’t have final pricing for our flagship store and kitchen, I can assure you that this is an amazing deal at $9.50 per package of four.
Finally, the holidays are almost here. Please let us know if we can help you with your personal or corporate gifting this year.
Founder, Charles Chocolates
The story behind our peanut butterflies is unique in that it ushered forth two different types of truffles: the peanut butterfly itself and our two yankees and our two marmalades.
Chuck’s all time favorite companion for chocolate is peanut butter and so he began to experiment with creating his own peanut butter truffles. But try as he might, he was never able to achieve a unique flavor, everything just tasted the same and like could already already find on the market. As it happened, one day a friend was visiting Chuck and saw his sheer frustration in trying to create a truly amazing peanut butter truffle and suggested he set that project aside and try something else, to clear his mind. This friend pulled a jar of marmalade from the pantry and suggested Chuck try this in truffles. Always up for a challenge, Chuck toyed around with this ingredient and eventually created our Yankee truffle, named after the person that helped bring it to life. This is also the reason why we sell our own marmalade: we create the marmalades ourselves to go into the Yankee and sell the rest!
It was this break in concentration that Chuck needed as he came back to his peanut butter truffle with a fresh perspective. It was one week later that he was making gianduia, a mixture of finely ground paste made of hazelnuts and chocolate. The thought struck him to replace the hazelnuts with candied peanuts and to use this praline (candied nuts ground to a fine paste) instead of peanut butter for his truffles. Sure enough it worked and ended up giving our peanut butterflies that extra kick they needed.
Last year Chuck met a wonderful chef turned writer named Georgia Pellegrini. After spending a few hours with her in the kitchen making bourbon truffles and a deep-dish bourbon pecan pie, he eagerly followed her blog posts that tracked her travels around the world meeting and interviewing artisan food producers for her just released book, Food Heroes.
The bourbon pecan pie recipe follows the chapter on Jess Graber and Stranahan’s, the maker of a small batch Colorado whiskey.
For a party/benefit for Georgia’s new book, he created a batch of truffles using Stranahan’s amazing whiskey. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!
3.5 oz (100 g) heavy cream
0.5 oz (15 g) light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
5.3 oz (150 g) 64% bittersweet chocolate (like Valrhona Manjari)
3.5 oz (100 g) milk chocolate
1.8 oz (50 g) Stranahan’s Whiskey
1. Chop the chocolates and place in a metal bowl
2. Heat heavy cream, light corn syrup and the seeds from the vanilla bean just to a boil
3. Pour the cream mixture over chocolate, let sit for 5 minutes and blend together
4. Add whiskey and blend
5. Cool to 87 degrees and pipe small balls of ganache on a silpat or parchment lined pan and let cure/harden
6. Coat with chocolate or roll in cocoa powder to finish
What a crazy weekend! Somewhere between our blenders giving up and our cash register breaking down we were able to serve up some tasty treats to the folks at Outside Lands, not to mention enjoy some awesome music. Check out it out:
We had a great turn out yesterday at Samovar Tea Lounge for our tea and chocolate tasting! Everyone got to try 6 amazing teas and 7 incredible truffles. For those that weren’t able to make it we’ll be uploading the video of the event once it’s been edited as well as photos. But for now here are the pairings that we created:
1. Samovar Breakfast Blend with 61% E Guittard
2. Houjicha with Amano’s Dos Rios 70%
3. Royal Garland with Amano’s Ocumare 70%
4. Golden Phoenix with Theo’s Origin Madagascar 74%
5. Maiden’s Ecstasy with Valrhona’s Manjari 64%
6. Soy Matcha Shake with Askinosie’s Soconusco White Chocolate infused with matcha
7. Askinosie’s San Jose Del Tambo 70%
Be sure to check out the live recorded video of the event in case you weren’t able to attend!
Summer always seems to fly by for me – maybe it’s a holdover from my student days when the beginning of August represented the last month of summer vacation. Or maybe it’s just that we have been very busy (with a few things that I can’t tell you about yet, but soon will) over the last few weeks.
I’ll lead off my monthly recap with two really exciting press items. 7X7 Magazine’s August issue is their Big Sweets issue. Inside is a list of the 50 San Francisco sweets that you should eat before you die. Not only is our new Salty-Sweet Cashew bar on the list, but it was called out as senior editor Sara Deseran’s “Editor’s Pick” from amongst the 50 amazing sweets on the list. We were also named Best Locally Made Chocolate in the East Bay Express annual reader’s poll! I love the fact that we were chosen, in the same month, by both food writers and the public. I can’t even begin to tell you how great these make me feel…
Looking forward, there are a couple of really exciting events coming up. The first happens tomorrow – and even though it is sold-out, is still available to anyone who would like to participate via live webcast (our first). I will be spending an hour in conversation with Jesse Jacobs, the owner of Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. We will be talking about the similarities between tea and chocolate, the language used to discuss them, and pairing the two. I have created 6 special truffles, using some wonderful craft-made chocolates, for the event. It will be taking place at 4 PM PDT tomorrow and can be watched live on our website.
In a couple of weeks we will be participating, for the second time, as a vendor at Outside Lands. This multi-day concert in Golden Gate Park is one of our favorite events of the year. Not only will we be serving our made-to-order S’Mores, French Style Hot Chocolate (Hot or blended cold), Blue Bottle New Orleans Style Iced Coffee and our amazing Thai Tea (Hot or Iced), but we will be doing it within earshot of some awesome music from some great indie bands. If you love music and good food, you should check it out and stop by for a tasty treat!
I want to close this month’s missive with a story about a great food experience I just had. Those of you who know me, know that one of things I love about being part of the Bay Area food community is the opportunities that it provides to interact with people who love to create amazing food. A common characteristic of all of them is their love of feeding people – bringing joy, enlightenment and education through their creations.
This is not limited to the Bay Area, nor is it limited to the actual producers of the foods we eat, as exemplified byZingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aside from being one of our loyal wholesale customers, I have been a fan of Zingerman’s since they opened in 1982 (I spent most fall Saturdays in Ann Arbor watching University of Michigan football games). In the world of specialty and artisan foods, Zingerman’s is known far and wide – they are so much more than just a deli. At the end of the day though, what makes Zingerman’s really great is their people.
From the beginning, Ari, Paul and Co. have understood the importance of finding great people. Many years ago, not long after I started my first chocolate company Attivo Confections (Zingerman’s was also a vendor), Ari shared his employment application with me. I was stunned to see a long multi-page application, with essay questions, for employment in a college-town deli. I soon came to realize that what at first seemed cumbersome was in fact brilliant. Through careful application screening they were/are able to find people who would not only be “good” employees, but people who would be more likely to understand who they wanted to be as a food emporium. 20+ years later, they have assembled an amazing team.
Back to my experience this past weekend. I often do tasting for our vendors but am rarely engaged at the same level I was at Zingerman’s. Folks were excited and interested on a way that is becoming more and more rare (and at 10 in the morning!). Equally impressive was having some of the participants stop me during the 2 hours after the tasting, when I was having lunch and stocking up on Zing bars for the trip home, to ask more questions about our chocolates (and chocolate in general).
I wish I had more experiences where I walked away saying “Wow!” For now, my thanks go out to Duff, Margot and Rick for another great day at Zingerrman’s.
Founder, Charles Chocolates