Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes- Part Dix

Initially, my agenda with the Crème Fraîche Cupcake line was to offer a selection of dense and rich pastries that rotate daily. Something familiar and accessible, yet different... get me? Alice Q Foodie recently referred to these babies as "a plated dessert posing as a cupcake" on her blog and I'm proud to say that I think they have a pretty intense impact, too. I had planned to stuff each one with different caramels, sauces, and fillings that were already in use around my kitchen. Common sense for a professional foodie: if you're taking the time to make a quality component from scratch you might as well use in more than one application.

Well, I'm closing out this week with 20 total flavors and I'm officially out of multitasking ingredients! Bit of a double-edged sword, really- I no longer have convenient fillings at my disposal so I need to invest more energy in creating new options. Though while I need to start making fillings specifically for cupcakes, I am no longer hindered by existing parameters. In short, I'm expanding my cupcake vocabulary.

This conundrum has resulted in something particularly delicious today- an incredibly yummy banana compote.

I've been looking at Sheri Yard's pastry cookbooks for sometime, specifically her first one: The Secrets of Baking. It more or less reads as an encyclopedia of all things pastry, conveniently organized into master recipe concepts and variations. If you're interested in taking your personal baking to the next level, I highly recommend it. It has certainly proven personally useful over the past few years.

One particular recipe in her book is for a cake filling she calls banana schmutz. Doesn't sound very tasty, eh? Trust me on this one. It's not a complete dessert, but a component for something larger, and as such I never really found a use for it since I don't do layered cakes. Rummaging around the shop in search of cupcake fodder today, my mind quickly flashed to her recipe. Using her formula as a springboard, I pushed and pulled the ingredients here and there, omitting and adding, until I found something a bit more "eclipsey". The finished filling is made from ripe bananas, dark muscavado, dark rum, and browned butter. Super, super tasty.

I may have to find more applications for this culinary treasure. Until then, you can enjoy it in center of one of our little square cakes:

Banana Cinnamon-Dark chocolate-crème fraîche cake+brown sugar & banana filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+vietnamese cinnamon.

Hazelnut Aniseed-Dark chocolate-crème fraîche cake+toasted hazelnut gianduja filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+aniseed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Foodish Art: Art Opening and Silent Auction

ECLIPSE CHOCOLAT hosts local San Diego artists for an exclusive TWO HOUR foodie-art event! Admission is FREE!

Why can't I seem to to make an announcement about an event on a Sunday without that strange car-demolition and/or monster truck rally voice starting in my head? Come on, you all know what I'm talking about! Or is that a Midwest thing?

Regardless of the voices in my head and what they are telling me, we are hosting an art opening and silent auction in two weeks of food-related art. 27 San Diego artists were invited to create "Foodish" art and donate their works for an auction. 100% of the proceeds will benefit an upcoming local youth photo art project organized by the San Diego Sugar Museum.

Foodish Art
Reception and Silent Auction:
Sunday June 8th, 4-6pm, Eclipse Chocolat

Guests to enjoy friends, art and food (we will be sampling lots of chocolate, including our Chile-Burnt Caramel and Artisan Cheese Skewers!).

FYI- Artwork will actually be on display beginning Saturday morning, if you can't make it on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes- Part Neuf

I came in on Sunday to do my Monday baking so I could enjoy a chocolate-free Memorial Day. Shockingly, Saturday evening was pretty busy around here. By the time I had called to check in on the evening barista, she said that we were completely out of all brownies AND cupcakes. That's a first, folk. Thanks for the business! For those of you interested in a slower weekend day at the cafe, try Sundays.

So after an oddly-paced holiday weekend, I'm back to the cocoa-grindstone (techincally the conch-stone for those of you who are initiated in the ways of chocolate refining). Continuing my exploration in all things cupcake, we're on with two more flavors today. That makes 18 Crème Fraîche Cupcakes so far! Crazy, no? Even I don't know how many more cupcakes will be debuted (24? 28? 36?), though I have decided to take a poll here on the blog to see which you're all most interested in and then pair back to the most popular 18. I guess that makes some of these limited edition. Better try them all now! Here are my new offerings today:

Muscavado Caramel-Dark chocolate-crème fraîche cake+smoky caramel filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+dark muscavado sugar.

Blood Orange Apricot-Dark chocolate-crème fraîche cake+dark chocolate-blood orange olive oil filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+dried apricot.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Espresso Walnut

Still recovering from Mom's Day! Can you believe it? We were out of a lot around here, and I've been making chocolate bars all week. And for all you guys who are jonesing for my Sea-salt Nib Bar, I swear I ordered new labels! We've been out for a month because I had to place a new printing order specifically for that bar. Who knew it was so much more popular than the others? We should be back with those in about a week. Until then, try the others... like this one:

So it's back to basics... and this is as basic as Eclipse gets. One of my first bars ever, Espresso Walnut, is pretty straight-forward and direct in flavor. Studded with toasted walnut pieces and espresso beans (locally roasted from Cafe Calabria), this 61% dark chocolate bar has got some crunch! Each bite is a little different as the texture fluxuates from dark chocolate to espresso to toasty walnut notes.

Our bars are $6 each, or three for $15. Stop in and try a few out!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Triple Chocolate Toffee

Back in 2004 when I was a young chocolatier with just a cocoa-nib glint in his eye, I started making truffles. Lots and lots of truffles. I was mostly working with wine bars, and Eclipse was very much a hobby. In my down time, you could easily find me pawning Le Creuset and All-Clad at the Fashion Valley Williams-Sonoma.

My "big break" was my first regular volume account. At the time, the W Hotel was having chocolate shipped out from Chicago and treating their VIP clients to Vosges Chocolate (take a look, beautiful site and Katrina was recently named Entrepreneur Magazine's Woman of the Year 2008!). Well, the W was all too happy to find a local option and my little hobby became a career.

One of the things that they requested was a toffee. My first thought was, "Toffee? Why? I make truffles!". You heard it here first, folks: I've been a bit close-minded and not open to feedback in my past (but I'm working on that, I swear!). So with a little personal persuasion, I set out to make an outstanding toffee. About a week later, Triple Chocolate Toffee was born.

Made from an all-butter toffee, I add a healthy dose of extra-brute cocoa powder to the batch just before pouring it out to set. Each piece is hand broken before being dipped into 60% dark chocolate and topped with cocoa-nibs. The finished toffee is pretty intense, with a great crunchy texture from the nibs.

Dressed for success in our Asian Take-Outs, these babies are $8 each or two for $15 and make great gifts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lotsa Cupcakes & Thankyous

Holy crème fraîche! I don't exactly know how this happened, but I have run out of my first order of cupcake liners. I always underestimate holidays, and Mom's Day was yet another one that gave me quite a workout.

Somewhere in the past 30 days, I managed to bake 1000 cupcakes. I know what you're thinking, I honestly can't believe it either. When I first imagined the cafe in 2006, I wouldn't have believed anyone who told me that I would become known for my baking. And while I had no intention on becoming a part-time cupcake boutique, I'm certainly having a lot of fun with it all.

So with all the craziness that's gone on in my life in the past four months, it's about time for another round of thankyous. There are many people holding me up these days, and I fret to think where I would be without them:

Alice, Jonathon, Roger, and all the SD Foodies and Bloggers- For sending me so much support and word of mouth. It's very validating to see you all return time and time again!

Oreste- For being a solid foundation in my life and checking in regularly to make sure I'm not found up face-up in a chocolatey gutter (and to Kevin for lending me his boyfriend on a part-time basis)

Zach- For being a good sport these first few weeks and quite literally cleaning up my wake. I think you will fit in here quite well.

Michelle- For helping me divide my personal and professional life (for the sake of my all relationships!)

Charlie- For being an enthusiastic part of Eclipse.

Rich and Megan- For spreading the word. I smile each time you guys come in.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mom's Day Brunch Pics

As promised, here are the pics from our recent Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner. This one was for Mom's Day weekend, and thus brunch themed. Pictures courtesy of Tyler and Amanda (the very talented and hungry foodie couple behind What We're Eatting), I treated them to a free meal in exchange for their photo services. Any bloggers interested in the same for our Dad's Day Chocolate Bar-B-Que?

PS, Tyler is a web designer, so hit them up for freelance work. Mouth-watering pics, guys. Thanks!

PSS, I'd love to see reactionary comments on the blog from people who attended!

Starter: Farmhouse Meat Platter, featuring Chile-Maple Links,
Sage and Cocoa Nib Sausage, & Cocoa-Glazed Durac Bacon

Course One: White Chocolate-Citrus Sparklers

Course Two: Dark Chocolate Chip Waffle with Maple Syrup
and Honeyed Creme Fraiche

Course Three: Cocoa nib-Corn Bread with Red-eye Gravy

Course Four: Quail Eggs in the Hole with Chile-burnt Caramel Hollandaise

Course Five: Azteca Buttermilk Cinnamon Roll
with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes-Part Huit, AKA Babies Love Cupcakes

I came into the cafe today with the intent to bake off two more cupcakes flavors. All went as planned until photo-time approached when as I picked up my camera I discovered renegade pictures on my memory stick. It seems as though a two cocoa-craven babies snuck into my cafe, each stole a set of three cupcakes and proceeded to take a nap on one of my tables. Crazy, no?

Turns out they were not the operatives I thought they were, and instead were the adorable new-born twins of my very good friends, Autumn and Dan. Autumn has seasonally helped out with Eclipse back in its infancy until the time when she lost her professional freedom to her own infancy. Here's hoping she makes a return to EC some day in the future. If I haven't said it already, she and Dan are doing a wonderful job being new parents. Congrats, guys! In a year or two we can start training those buggers to wrap chocolate bars!

Until then, here are two more Crème Fraîche Cupcakes to enjoy:

Coconut Caramel-White-crème fraîche cake+smoky caramel filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+toasted coconut flake topping.

Lime-salted Caramel-White-crème fraîche cake+smoky caramel filling+white chocolate ganache glaze+lime-infused sea salt topping.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dad's Day Chocolate Bar-B-Que

Our Mother's Day Brunch was this past weekend and everyone seemed to have an egg-cellent time (Thanks to Charlie for getting me in the mood of terrible puns all weekend long). Pics to be posted soon; check back in a few days.
In the mean time, the next Five Course Chocolate-Tasting Dinner has been floating around the the chocolatey depths of my mind for some time. Finally ready to be debuted, I've finalized the line-up of our Father's Day Weekend Chocolate Bar-B-Que. Guests to enjoy:
Chile-roasted Corn on the Cobb with House-made Cocoa-nib Butter
Heirloom Tomato-Goat Cheese Brulee with White Chocolate-Balsamic Drizzle
Bar-B-Que Baked Beans with Cocoa-Glazed Bacon (veggie option)
Cocoa Nib-Smoked Pulled Pork Sammie with White Chocolate Slaw (veggie option)
Milk Chocolate S’mores with House-made Vanilla Bean Marshmallow
There will also be an optional Grilled Artisan Sausage Platter to complete the meaty occasion. Custom made by local Knight Salumi, these babies will be from the same master-mind who brought us our Cocoa-Glazed Bacon this past Mom's Day Brunch.
Seatings are limited to 24 people each, and is available ONLY Saturday of Dad's Day Weekend (the 14th) at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.
Tickets are $35 a person. RSVP required. Call 619.578.2984 or email today

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes-Part Sept

The last thing I have time to do this week is experiment with new formulas. Mom's Day is, unfortunately, one of my less favored holidays of the year on a personal level, and perhaps it's a good thing that the cafe is pretty busy at the moment. At least it keeps my mind off of other things.

So while I am grateful for all the recent patronage and how busy it's keeping me, how can I still compelled to pump out new Crème Fraîche Cupcakes? Don't I have better things to be doing with my cafe time? Don't I have a brunch to plan? Or train my first full-time manager? More on that one later, but I digress...

The truth of the matter is as simple as our basic chicken egg. One part white, one part yolk, each of these halves lend themselves to varied applications without which the pastry world would be lifeless and nonfunctional. And what does one do with stockpiles of egg whites left over from the coveted egg yolks that are making their way into my yellow cupcakes? Well, develop a crème fraîche white cake, of course.

Yellow cake (or butter cake) and its white cousin are striking similar, except that the first focuses on richness from extra egg yolks and the later on lightness from an all-egg white batter. No better way for me to begin using the vast amounts of egg whites hanging around here. And while I'm sure I'm not the first to try this out, this is a pretty unusual cake formula in that it features both the egg white-only batter AND the crème fraîche. At least I couldn't find a single reference online or in my many baking books about such a monstrosity. The result is a sort of dense and rich cake that is trying to be light and fluffy at the same time. A bit of an identity crisis, but yummy nonetheless.

So there you go. Two more. Now with white ganache glazes! And more white cupcakes to come:

Blueberry-Lemon-White-crème fraîche cake+vanilla bean-lemon curd filling+white chocolate ganache glaze+dried wild blueberry topping.

Lemon-Ginger-White-crème fraîche cake+vanilla bean-lemon curd filling+white chocolate ganache glaze+candied ginger topping.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter IV

The new Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter debuted almost two weeks ago and I haven't had a moment to e-mention it! Too many cupcakes, I suppose. Is that even possible? Check it:

Frozen Chocolate-Mixed Berry Merlot Mousse
[frozen cocoa nib-chocolate mousse+61% dark chocolate & mixed berry merlot glaze]
Grilled White Chocolate Carrot Gateau
[grilled almond-carrot cake, studded with 31% white chocolate chips]
Dark Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise
[croissant bread pudding studded with 61% dark chocolate, warmed+vanilla bean creme anglaise]
White Chocolate-Chamomile Lemon Bar
[vanilla shortbread+tart lemon curd filling+white chocolate chamomile glaze]

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes-Part Six

For those of you who have been following these cupcake posts yet do not speak French, "six" just happens to be "six" in both languages. Who knew? For those of you who are reading this and haven't a clue what I'm blabbering about... just read on, this part is nearly done.

Two new flavors! Get 'em today and tomorrow until they join the other ten Crème Fraîche Cupcakes and are bound to show up in my pastry case rotation whenever I feel in the mood.

Chile-Burnt Caramel-Butter-crème fraîche cake+chile-burnt caramel filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+candied mango topping.

Marshmallow Almond-Butter-crème fraîche cake+vanilla bean marshmallow filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+marcona almond topping.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes-Part Cinq

My friend Stephen complained when I completed my forth post about cupcakes that it wasn't titled Part Quatre, to which I replied "I think most people only know how to count to three in French". Well in honor of him and everyone out there who speaks better French than I (which, frankly isn't very hard), I'll continue with this charmingly cultural numbering theme.

So here we are with two more Crème Fraîche Cupcakes. And I know what you're thinking... "Is this guy going to go through his entire truffle and chocolate bar collections reinventing each flavor into one of these cupcakes?" Well, yes and no! We may just have to wait for Crème Fraîche Cupcakes-Part Dix-Neuf (that's Nineteen for everyone without Google-translator) to see exactly how many cupcake infusions I will create. Rest assured I have many, many flavor concepts floating around in my head just waiting to burst out.

Freshly debuted today we have:

Burnt-Caramel Marshmallow-Chocolate-crème fraîche cake+chile-burnt caramel filling+vanilla bean marshmallow filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+toasted marshmallow topping.

Goat Cheese and Fig-Chocolate-crème fraîche cake+mission fig filling+fresh goat cheese filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+cracked white peppercorn topping.