Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hickory-Smoked Maple

I reorganized my truffle case this week, effectifely doubling the space I have to display truffles. Now I just have to follow-up on the second have of my personal promise and fill that space with twice the truffles I normally have. As we get closer to the winter holidays, expect more and more exciting infusions... especially now that I can display 16 at a time!

So today I am debuting a new flavor over which I've been pondering for years. Since Eclipse began (way back in 2004) I've always wanted to do a maple truffle. I really only tried a few different concoctions before shelving the idea to what is that mental filling cabinet that holds all the other maybe someday flavor profiles.
But at this past dinner we served a chile-infused maple syrup and I made FAR too much. For what else does an exotic chocolatier use Chile-Maple Syrup? Well this one crystalized in into maple candy and popped in onto the top of a truffle.

But as I'm sure you all know, a single flavor note isn't nearly enough for me! I mean, maple candy is nice and all, but all truffles deserve a contrast. In this one, I opted to infuse the ganache with a hint of smoked hickory. The finished aroma is reminiscient of an old-fashioned Southern Bar-B-Que.

These babies are available for a limited time:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Autumn Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter

The temperatures are finally falling and all of us at Eclipse are ushering in the new season with all new desserts! I always associate this time of year with brisk breezes and chilly nights so my go-to flavors tend to be warmer and smokier than normal. The new collection of confections on our Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter is no exception to this. Available through the end of October, it'll warm your insides quite nicely. Take a look:

Frozen Butterscotch Semifreddo
[frozen butterscotch semifreddo+dark muscavado sugar+maldon sea salt+dark chocolate crumb crust ]

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
[custard-soaked brioche bread pudding with white chocolate & roasted sweet potatoes+creme anglaise]

Burnt Caramel-Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme
[chilled burnt caramel pot de creme+milk chocolate ganache]

Grilled Dark Chocolate, Boysenberry, & Goat Cheese Panini
[grilled sanwhich stuffed with 61% dark chocolate, boysenberry preserves, & fresh goat cheese]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding AND Burnt Caramel-Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme

Today is Saturday and within a few hours this morning I will be up and running with my new Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter. Until then, here's a teaser:

By now you know that I am obsessed with bread pudding. I just love the stuff, but just like in the world of flan, there is a huge difference between an amazing bread pudding and a lousy one. Just because it's called bread pudding, doesn't mean that it should be made with just any old bread. No sir, not here.

We served a charming lil' ditty called Sweet Potato Bread Pudding at our last dinner, and it was do well received that I am opting to shuffle it into this next platter.

Whenever I opt to make bread pudding, I choose a bread base that is rich and dense, with lots of airy pockets to soak up as much of the custard as possible. Here I have gone with Brioche, which is no exception to this rule. Broiche, being of French decent, is of course on the far left of the fatty bread spectrum. It begins just like most normal bread bases, but somewhere along it's construction its packed with far too many egg yolks and sticks of butter for it's own good. The first time I made it I couldn't believe the dough was even able to pick up all of the extra fat content, but was pleasantly surprised to see it all come together in the end. And how! These breads are nearly a meal in themselves.

So having begun with a great bread, my pudding was complete with the addition of roasted and mashed sweet potato, Dark Muscavado sugar, and white chocolate chips. Served warmed with chilled Creme Anglaise, it seems to be the perfect compliment to brisk autumn day.

I also have a pic ready for my Burnt Caramel-Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme. Pronounced poe de creme, this creamy invention is also of French derivation. Within the world of custards, this baby is also among the heaviest of incarnations, outstripping all others expect Creme Brulee. Made from part whole milk, part cream, and all egg yolks, the finished cup of bliss is smooth and creamy especially with its accents of burnt caramel and milk chocolate.

Check it:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eclipse Goes Moroccan

It's been 12 days without a post! How did this happen? Well the combo of our first sales trip to the Bay Area and a Chocolate Tasting Dinner (both of which were a lot of fun and highly successful) will do it. Now that we're back to the cocoa-grindstone, I promise not to be away from the blog so long.

This past Saturday, 80 lucky guests enjoyed our Southern Comfort Chocolate Tasting Dinner, and no one went away hungry. In fact, I think this was the heaviest dinner to date. But what to people in the South do best if not fill their bellies? If you missed the event, we just announced the date for the next event which falls on the Saturday before Halloween and has a Moroccan theme. Join us then on October 25th at 4.5, 6.5, or 8.5pm. Fun, no? The menu goes as such:

Fried Chickpea Fritters with Dark Chocolate Harissa Sauce
Honey-glazed Baby Carrots with Kalamata and Candied Cocoa Nibs
Spiced Red Lentil Soup with White Chocolate-Olive Oil Crostini
Moroccan-Spiced Chicken & Butternut with Apricot & Cocoa Couscous
(Butternut Squash Veggie Option)
White Chocolate-Saffron Cheesecake with Toasted Sesame Crust

RSVP early by emailing (info@eclipsechocolat.com) or calling the cafe direct (619.578.2984). We collect credit card numbers and email addresses to hold tables. Cancellations less than 48 hours before the event are subject to a service fee. These dinners sell out fast, so don't wait!

Until then, check out the yum-yums from our last dinner:

Starter: Coconut-crusted Shrimp with Cocoa-nib Butter Dipping Sauce

One: White Chocolate Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Two: Butter Beans with Cocoa-Glazed Duroc Bacon

Three: Sauteed Southern Greens with Candied Cocoa Nibs

Four: Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken and Buckwheat & Cocoa Waffle with Chile-Maple Syrup

Five: Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Milk Chocolate-Cinnamon Gelato

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Corn Meal-Crusted Chicken and Chocolate Waffle

Upon viewing the title of this post, you're probably wondering why I'm blogging about chicken if I own a dessert cafe. Well if you're out of the loop, you may not know that we also serve a Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner once a month in addition to our regular sugary faire.

Exclusively on September 20th we are offering seatings at 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 for our Southern Comfort Prix Fixe dinner. For $35 each our, guests to enjoy:

White Chocolate Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Butter Beans with Cocoa-Glazed Duroc Bacon
Sauteed Southern Greens with Candied Cocoa Nibs
Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken and Chocolate Waffle with Chile-Maple Syrup
Sweet Potato Pie with Milk Chocolate Gelato

Yesterday we did a little recipe testing and tried out the entree- our eclipsed version of fried chicken and waffles. Crusted in cornmeal and a savory herb blend of African Grains of Paradise, Tellicherry Peppercorns, and Maldon Sea-salt, our pan-fried chicken breast rests upon a cripsy waffle of buckwheat and cocoa. Served with a generous portion of chile-infused real maple syrup, it's sweet and savory all rolled into one. If you've never come across the Grains of Paradise before, they really make the chicken sing. The tiny seeds have a pungent, peppery taste which is closely related cardamom. I also use them in my Moroccan Spice chocolate bar because of their North African association.

You'll only find this plating for our September dinner, and as they regularly sell-out, don't wait to make your reservation. Call (619.578.2984) or email (info@eclipsechocolat.com) your reservation today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Basil-Absinthe Truffle

Continuing my foray into my pantry cabinet for ingredients too expensive for their own good, this week I am finishing up a ganache for a lovely little ditty I am calling Basil-Absinthe.

Absinthe originally became popular in the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries in France, particularly among artists and writers like Charles Baudelaire, Vincent van Gogh, and Oscar Wilde. Absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive and psychoactive drug due to the presense of the chemical thujone. Although Absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary liquor. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of alcohol, had been much exaggerated.

By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries due to the temperance movement. A revival of the Green Faerie began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale, and in 2007, various brands began to infulitrate the American market when it was legalized here, too. It was about that time that I also became fascinated by it.

The herbal flavors of aniseed, star anise, and fennel is pretty intense, so I decided to showcase the liqour on a palate of 61% dark chocolate ganache. Becuase it is 100 proof, Absinthe is never drank straight up. It is usually enjoyed poured over a sugar cube and diluted with water. Following the same idea, I chose to finished this truffle with a coating of more dark chocolate and a healthy garnish of a house-made basil sugar. It's a neat addition with an intense aroma of basil that you perceive well before any chocolate actually meets your palate.

It's a limited edition flavor, so come get it while it lasts.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Eclipse Chocolat Travels to the Bay Area!

Zach, my professional God-Send, newly acquired General Manager, and all around fun-lovin Wing-Man has been doing great things around the cafe since he started his career with Eclipse back in June. Can you tell I'm pretty fond of him? He's a pretty awesome guy... and he's single, ladies! That's Zach Negin, GS, GM, WM. Find him here during most business days and Saturday afternoons.

Seriously though, I've kept him quite busy with some exciting business growth & development tasks and so far he's performing quite nicely. On the top of his agenda is a business trip that he and I are taking next weekend to the Bay Area. We will be doing some sales approaches to some of SF's finest foodie shops, boutiques, and cafes hoping to draw up new accounts for the upcoming winter holidays. We've also managed to find a day to ourselves (sans Eclipse) to explore the area at large. Personally, I've only been there once, so I'm quite excited to get out and about.

So we're packing suitcases of chocolate bars, caramels, and truffles in hopes to spread the good cocoa-word. And while we're gone (Thursday through Sunday) we're entrusting the cafe to our finest. All cupcakes and brownies will be baked courtesy of the amazing Autumn, and all customer service has been entrusted to the lovely Jen and Nicole. Don't forget to say your thanks... they're each picking up my slack quite nicely.

And how does this effect me?, you ask? Well I suppose this post is more of a Call-To-Arms than anything else. I'd love to hear from you all with recommendations. We will be wandering about the streets of SF, Berkley, and Oakland and we'd love to hear where you think Eclipse should make a stand. Have a favorite shop? Tell us! With a little luck, you may find our line there before Xmas. We're also excited to hear of all the can't-be-missed foodie haunts. After all, we will need to eat at least 11 meals while we're there, plus snacks!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Honey-Saffron Truffle

I made a new Special Edition truffle today and it turned out to be quite possibly the most expensive infusion I've ever made. Not that it broke the bank, but it's not every day that I dive into my ingredient pantry to pull out a few Jacksons of exotic spices. And while the flavor is particular enough to disinterest a few of my regular clients, this truffle is a rare treat for those excited by Spanish Saffron.

Honey-Saffron begins with a ganache made from cream infused with sweet honey and the dried stigma of an exciting little Spanish flower. The little flecks of ruby yield tremendous flavor and color to whichever liquid they are steeped, but since each stigma requires hand-harvesting, Saffron, as the most expensive spice in the world, remains a costly ingredient even in its potency. After setting, we rolled each truffle in a coating of 31% white chocolate and garnish with an equally romantic ingredient, Bee Pollen.

Gathered by the worker bees, Bee Pollen contains a wild cocktail of health-wise components including all the essential amino acids, a full spectrum of vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B12, C, D and E), and various minerals (calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, sodium, potassium, aluminium, magnesium, and copper). Culinarily speaking, the little pollen granules are vaguely earthy in flavor with strong honey overtones and sandy in texture. Not exactly your go-to sweet treat, still I love using it in conjunction with honey whenever possible. It's the romantic in me.

Personally I love the idea of this truffle (infused with flower stigmas & honey, topped with pollen), but that's mostly because of my love of all things apiary. Regardless of your fondness (or lack there of) of our bee-kind brethren, it's a pretty truffle in cross-section with the warm golden ganache framed by a creamy-white shell. We will be showcasing this infusion through the early Fall, so don't miss out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ART ROCKS! University Heights Arts Open Reception

We don't typically have much hanging on the walls though this weekend we're very excited about hosting a local painter. Steve Briner has provided us with a wonderful collection of work that will be on display this Friday, September 5th. Join us and meet the arists for the opening that evening from 6-9 here at the cafe. We will be sampling some of our Exotic Truffle Infusions including Double Espresso, Lavender Sea-salted Caramel, and a brand new seasonal infusion: Honey-Saffron.

We chose to display Steve's work to participate in the University Heights Third Annual Arts Open: ART ROCKS!. This Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 5pm our neighborhood will be showcasing over 100 artists, playwrights, performers, and musicians at various local stops. Check out the full details here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Exotic Gelato- Part Quattro

I made two more Exotic Gelatos before the weekend, but ran out of time to do a posting before our Spectacular. In all, the event was a lot of fun and we were washing tasting spoon all day long. We settled on seven signature flavors:

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean
Milk Chocolate & Sea-salt Nib
Marshmallow Almond Rococo
Chile-Burnt Caramel & Mango
Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Chunk
Salty Peanut Butter Toffee
Extra Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean

We are also pulling "special edition flavors" from our freezer when the moment seems right. This first week we made and sold quite a few pints of Azteca Cinnaroll. It's out of stock until I can find the time to make more!

Remember the rice pudding from the last tasting dinner? Well, what was left found its way into pints of Black Rice Pudding gelato. All the comfort of both an ice cream and a rice pudding. See it here next to the Extra Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean.