Categories
dessert Hawaii Hawaiian Oahu plate lunch

Ted’s Bakery – Sunset Beach, HI

When people talk about Ted’s Bakery, they’re usually talking about one thing: chocolate haupia pie. I’ve had Ted’s famous pie before, and you can get their pies at almost any market on Oahu, but on this trip, I wanted to get one directly from the source. But Ted’s has a lot more to offer than just pie; their selection of bentos and sandwiches is pretty impressive too.

Ted's Bakery

Let’s start with the pie since I ate a slice while I was waiting for the rest of our food to arrive. It’s a simple pie crust with chocolate filling on the bottom, a layer of haupia in the middle and topped with whipped cream. The consistency of the chocolate filling is somewhere between pudding and mousse; it’s light but sturdy enough to support the denser haupia on top. Aside from the flavors, the texture contrast between the chocolate and haupia might be the best thing about this pie. The pie crust is forgettable so it’s only real purpose is to provide structure, but it’s blandness also lets the rest of the pie shine.

Chocolate Haupia PieTed’s Famous Chocolate Haupia Pie

My wife ordered the Crab and Bacon Combo off the Hot Foods menu. It’s basically a crab salad and bacon sandwich served on a hamburger bun and served with fries. This sounds weird on paper, but it’s a brilliant combination.

Crab & Bacon Combo SandwichTed’s Crab & Bacon Combo Sandwich

I ordered the Ted’s Bento, an amazing array of Hawaiian plate lunch standards—teriyaki beef, fried SPAM, fried mahi mahi, and fried chicken—served inexplicably over four scoops of rice. I only ate half the rice and think the folks at Ted’s would really be onto something if they went with two scoops of rice and then topped this bento with a fried egg or two on top. Doesn’t that sound perfect? ;)

Ted's BentoTed’s Bento

If you’re on the North Shore and looking for a great alternative to all the shrimp trucks that roam the area, look for Ted’s. They’ve got a lot going on besides those famous chocolate haupia pies. My only regret was that we didn’t get there in time for breakfast.

INFORMATION
Ted’s Bakery
59-024 Kamehameha Highway
Sunset Beach, Hawaii 96712
808.638.8207
Web site

Categories
candy chocolate reviews

Chocolatier Blue – Berkeley, CA

Chris Blue, the owner/operator of Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley, CA, is a lucky guy—he’s young, talented, and passionate about his work. By combining fresh, mostly local ingredients with the world’s best chocolate, Chris has created line of chocolate truffles with bold yet balanced flavors.

TrufflesChocolatier Blue’s truffle assortment.

A stint as chocolatier at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago taught Chris that you have to use the best ingredients to make the best product, and this ethos is reflected in every chocolate truffle he creates.

To start, Chris is the only chocolatier in America that’s allowed to make chocolate confections using Amedei chocolate from Tuscany, which is considered to be the world’s best chocolate. Amedei’s chocolate is unique because they get all their beans come from the famed Venezuelan region of Chuao, which has an ideal microclimate and an age-old tradition of harvesting cacao. Amedei has complete control over the chocolate from bean to bar, and they developed their own processing techniques that maximize the bean’s delicate flavor. Amedei is also one the most ethical chocolate companies in the world, negotiating directly with farmers, ensuring workers rights, and paying them above fair trade standards. For a good overview of how Amedei does business, see this article.

(Amedei’s story is intriguing to say the least, especially when one if its main driving forces is a personal vendetta against French chocolate maker Valhrona, who refused to sell chocolate to Amedei founders Alessandro and Cecilia Tessieri because “Italy wasn’t evolved enough to appreciate such ordinary chocolate.” The Tessieri’s took it as a “personal slight, a national insult, a call to arms” and declared war on Valhrona. Seriously…read the article).

The $14 Chocolate BarThe $14 Chocolate Bar.

We ended up ordering a 15-piece box with one of every flavor they had on hand: apple cider, pumpkin, peppermint, pistachio, chili, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, caramel, passion fruit caramel, egg nog, espresso, and palet d’or. There were 14 flavors total, so we got two palet d’ors to fill the extra space. Each one of these truffles needs to be savored, but since my wife and I were splitting them and only had half a truffle each, we made sure to take the time to enjoy every second that they were in our mouths. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the palet d’or, caramel, espresso, lemon, peppermint and lime truffles were definite standouts. There’s a detailed list of Chocolatier Blue’s current offerings on their Web site.

TrufflesTruffles on display.

We originally went into the store to buy a box of truffles as a present for a friend who was in town, and ended up staying for nearly an hour talking to Chris about his career, chocolate, and the chocolate business. He offered us some chocolate samples and even gave us a taste of some of new flavors he was developing. The more Chris talked about chocolate, the more I started picking things up off the shelves to buy. Our finally tally was over $80 for two 15-count gift boxes of truffles, a couple packs of Amedei tasting squares, a little bag of the best peanut brittle I’ve ever had, a bag of gianduia (hazelnut) truffles, a $14 bar of Amedei Chuao 70% bittersweet chocolate that was unbelievably smooth with a fruity finish, and a perfect cup of cinnamon chili hot chocolate (the secret? a little sea salt).

Gift Boxes

Overall, we came away impressed with Chris’s commitment to his craft. He makes all the truffles himself in the store’s open kitchen and doesn’t have any other employees as a way to control quality and reduce overhead, which keeps prices down—his truffles are a bargain at $1.50 each. One of the reasons Chris set up shop in Berkeley was because the rent was much lower than more high-profile locations in San Francisco, like the Ferry Building (although I’d love to see him go head to head with Michael Recchiuti).

It’s pretty obvious that we’ll be going back, especially with Valentine’s Day just around the corner…

INFORMATION
Chocolatier Blue
1964 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94701 map
510.705.8800
Web site

Categories
Chicago reviews

Eating Chicago: Roundup

It’s been a week since we got back from Chicago, and we’re pretty excited about going back there when the weather’s a lot warmer. Here’s a quick rundown of the rest of our Chicago trip.

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate offers a menu of comfort food from savory to sweet, but the savory dishes we had were disappointing. The mac and cheese tasted good, but the cheese was more soupy than cheesy. A hamburger with fried egg is one of my favorite things to eat, but Hot Chocolate’s was surprisingly boring. Also boring was the Lamb and Krema Kasa, which sounded great on paper: sourdough flatbread with housemade lamb sausage, Carr Valley Krema Kasa cheese, wild arugula, and oregano oil served with pickled beets.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157609571428686″]

Despite this, I wholeheartedly recommend Hot Chocolate for their dessert and pastries. I had a coffee cocoa nib milkshake with my burger that was really good, and it was accompanied by cookies that were great for dipping. For dessert, my wife ordered the Chocolate Again (40 percent), a “milky” chocolate pot de créme served with peanut butter and concord grape jelly sandwich, peanut butter blondie, and milk chocolate peanut brittle, which was really good. I had a Mexican hot chocolate that was easily the best thing I ordered all night. It was a rich mix of 2/3 dark chocolate, 1/3 milk chocolate, and cinnamon, served with a housemade marshamallow. It was nice to see that Hot Chocolate lived up to its name.

Hot Chocolate
1747 N Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647 map
773.489.1747
Web site

Categories
chocolate dessert recipes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling

I came upon the recipe for Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling at Food & Wine’s Web site while doing research for a cupcake contest I was planning on entering about a month ago. Eventually, laziness set in and I didn’t enter the contest, but these cupcakes were still on my mind. When our friends decided to have folks over this past holiday weekend, I thought it would be a good time to break out some cupcakes.


Glossy ganache tops this cupcake

I love the double-dipped ganache topping as opposed standard frosting. It’s much easier than making frosting, and the cupcake has a lower profile so it’s easier to eat. The peanut butter filling was really good too, but I ended up getting a little sick to my stomach after OD’ing on peanut butter while I was making it. :-)

Mmmm...peanut butter

Credit must be given to my wife for making these cupcakes look so good. I tasked her with doing the ganache and dipping the cupcakes. She’s really good at making things pretty.
 

Categories
bakeries dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Brownies a la Bouchon

Chocolate BouchonOur trips up to Yountville are never complete unless we stop in at Bouchon Bakery to pick up some goodies. If it’s your first visit, you must try the chocolate bouchon (right). It’s a cork-shaped brownie bite that’s their signature delicacy, and it puts those mass-produced Costco ones you’ve probably had to shame. If you’ve ever had the warm chocolate brownie for dessert at Ad Hoc, it’s the same thing…but bigger.

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I got the Bouchon cookbook last year, and when I saw Sunday Nite Dinner’s epic Valrhona v. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bouchon Battle, I was even more inspired. But I didn’t want to make the bite-sized bouchons. I was going for brownies.

This recipe is actually quite easy. The most difficult thing about it was getting the freshly mixed batter into a piping bag. I used a jumbo muffin tin because it was the shape and size that I was looking for, but if you actually want to make the bite-size bouchons, I’m sure you can find that online somewhere. Baking time on the muffin-sized brownies is 30-32 minutes. I had some left over batter that I refrigerated, and the next day I made some mini cupcakes using a mini muffin tin. Baking time on the mini cupcakes was around 12 minutes. (no pictures of those…sorry!)


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157605385606410″]

The original recipe calls for Valrhona Equatoriale semisweet chocolate (55% cacao). Normally I can find Valrhona at Whole Foods, but we missed our opportunity to look at the San Ramon store because they inexplicably close at 9pm when every other Whole Foods in the area closes at 10pm. (Damn bedroom communities!) I ended up finding some E. Guittard Tsaratana semisweet (61% cacao) at Nob Hill and snapped them up since I’m a big fan of Guittard chocolate. The cocoa was Hershey’s unsweetened.

When they’re finished, the brownies are dense and rich with little gooey chunks of chocolate. We tried them both fresh out of the oven and after they’d cooled, and they’re great either way. They’re even good reheated with some ice cream.

Categories
bakeries Best of Inuyaki chocolate dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Christmas Cookies – Thomas Keller Oreos

If you’ve ever been to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, chances are you’ve seen or eaten one of his famous TKOs, a.k.a. Thomas Keller Oreos (below).


TKO

Like most of Keller’s food, his take on the classic Oreo is a textbook example of refined simplicity — white chocolate ganache sandwiched between two chocolate shortbread cookies. They’re one of our favorite cookies, and I thought it would be fun to make them for Christmas presents.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157603459650582″]

The Las Vegas NBC affiliate, KVBC, posted the TKO recipe on their Web site, which I thought was odd, but then I remembered that Keller opened a Bouchon Bakery in The Venetian a few years ago. We lengthened the the baking time from 8 minutes to 20 minutes after an unsuccessful first batch and the 20-minute baking time worked out much better. We also made a seasonal, mint-flavored TKO by adding some mint extract, peppermint extract and green food coloring to the ganache.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) butter
18 oz (by weight) all purpose flour
12 oz (by weight) sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
6 oz Cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter with paddle on mixer until smooth, then add sugar and mix until combined, scraping down the mixing bowl.
3. Sift dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and work dough until just combines. (it should look kind of like brown sand)
4. Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Cut each cookie with scalloped cutter.
5. Bake at 325 F for approximately 20 minutes
6. Let cookies cool and then sandwich together with the following filling:

GANACHE FILLING
4 oz white chocolate (cut into small pieces or buy white chocolate chips)
1 oz heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mint extract (optional, for mint filling)
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional, for mint filling)
green food coloring (optional, for mint filling)

DIRECTIONS
Bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolate, then mix until emulsified. Allow ganache to set up for at least an hour before using. Ganache should be spreadable, kind of like peanut butter.

To make the mint ganache, add mint extracts to ganache along with food coloring just before placing between the chocolate shortbread cookies.

The white chocolate ganache is perishable, so if you’re making these, make sure their consumed within three days. This can be difficult, because these cookies are really rich and it’s sometimes hard to eat just one. Enjoy!

Categories
bacon candy chocolate dessert

Bacon + Chocolate = LOVE!

If you believe that bacon makes everything better, you really need to try it with some chocolate. That’s what some of the higher-end chocolatiers are doing, and it really is a match made in heaven.

The salty/sweet combination works in mysterious ways, especially with fried chicken and waffles, bacon and maple syrup (which is often accidental), and the classic peanut butter and chocolate. But bacon and chocolate is combination I’d never considered or even heard or until my friend Soo Jin gave me a piece of Zotter’s Bacon Bits bar. The finely chopped bacon bits are incorporated throughout the bar giving it a subtle, salty bacon flavor that was really nice.


zotter bacon bar

Let it be known that Soo Jin is my chocolate enabler, having introduced me to Fog City News, one of San Francisco’s best newsstands. It’s also one of the city’s best chocolate shops, sporting an extensive selection of imported chocolates from around the world. They offer a Premium Chocolate Passport, a frequent buyer program that gives you a free premium chocolate bar for every 10 bars you buy. Needless to say, Fog City News is an excellent place to try some exotic chocolate concoctions.

Last week, I got an email about one of Fog City’s chocolate tasting events, and here’s what caught my eye:

Meatpaper and Meaty Chocolate Tasting
We hope to see you tomorrow (Friday) between Noon and 2pm when you’ll have the chance to meat (sorry, couldn’t resist) Amy and Sasha, the editors of this unique new “magazine of art and ideas about meat.” And what could be more appropriate than trying samples of the latest chocolate bar with applewood smoked bacon which are being donated by the sweet (can’t help myself today) folks at Vosges? Be among the first to pick up the premiere issue of Meatpaper (Members take 10% off the magazine at the event) and learn about the trials and tribulations of launching an independent print publication in the electronic age.

First, there’s a magazine called Meatpaper? I gotta really look into that!

Since Soo Jin works nearby, I suggested that she stop by on her lunch break and she was happy to oblige. She ended up enjoying herself and picked up a Vosges bacon chocolate bar for us. Vosges has been a sentimental favorite of mine for awhile; I bought my then-fiancee some of their fabulous truffles when I was in New York on business a few years ago, and recently we discovered their delicious chocolate bar with goji berries.


Vosges bacon bar

The Vosges bacon chocolate bar is fantastic. Instead of finely chopped bacon bits like the Zotter, there are much bigger pieces of bacon in the Vosges bacon bar, and it’s got a hearty, smoky, salty kick that the Zotter lacks. So if you see a Vosges bacon chocolate are at your local market…make sure you pick one up and give it a try.

And remember…bacon makes everything better.

Categories
bakeries dessert reviews Southern California

Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)

I want you to imagine a moist devil’s food cupcake, filled with flavored whipped cream (let’s use banana for this example). Now dip it in chocolate ganache to seal it, top it with an additional flourish of banana whipped cream and then garnish it with a slice of roasted banana.

Hungry?

Dainties Cupcakes are really a misnomer…but this is a good thing. The devil’s food cake and the chocolate ganache give the cupcakes a heft (without being heavy) that you just don’t get anywhere else. It makes these cupcakes — dare I say — manly!

I think I’ve finally found my cupcake.



All of Dainties cupcakes have the same base of moist devil’s food. They differ by their cream fillings. We ordered the Creme de Menthe, Tiramisu, Maple and the Stupid Chocolate.

The best of these was the Maple…just an incredible flavor combination with the devil’s food. The Tiramisu was also excellent…the cream reminded me of the mocha frosting at Goldilocks, only denser. Creme de Menthe was a really nice, subtle mint flavor. Then there’s the Stupid Chocolate, which adds dark chocolate chips to the cake, is filled with vanilla cream, then dipped in chocolate ganache twice. It’s topped with more vanilla cream and chocolate shavings. It gets its name because it’s a stupid amount of chocolate.

The actual storefront doesn’t look like much and the main signage says Flatbush and J, the catering company from which Dainties spawned. You’ll likely be greeted by Chef Bill Dertouzos, a Brooklyn native who’s the mastermind behind these amazing creations. Bill was very cool and gets extra props for giving us a sample of the roasted banana cupcake mentioned above. He said he was very proud of that creation, and he should be. It was our favorite cupcake of the bunch.

Finding Dainties is a little challenging. The address is on Santa Monica Blvd., but the entrance is actually on the side street. The easiest way to find it is to look for Winchell’s, then walk around the corner and Dainties is right there. I went there the other day and saw that they added a new mural on the wall near the entrance celebrating being named Best Cupcake by Los Angeles Magazine, so that should help you find it also.

The extra effort it takes to find the place will be rewarded. Believe you me, you will be rewarded!

INFORMATION
Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)
11058 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025 map
310.312.3656
Web site