Friday, December 21, 2007

KPBS Review!

Just a quick post before I sign off for Xmas, and although it breaks my cardinal rule of not posting without a pic, this one is fun!

Check out the link below to hear our recent 2 minute review on KPBS San Diego's These Days!;id=10512 The Eclipse part starts at 07:52.

And check back the week before the New Year as we preview our new selections on the next Dessert Tasting Platter. If you haven't heard already, our first collection will be retired when the New Year rolls in, so come and get it while you can.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Exotic Artisan Truffles

Browsing through my own blog, I realized that I have taken for granted that you all are familiar (or at least have seen) our collection of Exotic Artisan Truffles. It is our speciality, after all. Clearly, it should have its own posting.

Made from all premium ingredients, we never use additives or preservatives, and source organically whenever possible. Each is hand rolled, enrobed in couveture chocolate (premium chocolate with high percentages of cocoa butter so it is very fluid when it melts on your tongue!), and hand garnished with a variety of intoxicating goodies.

Our signature line-up includes 16 different infusions, though we typically rotate about a dozen in the shop at a time. We also feature another 12 seasonal infusions. Stayed tuned here to see postings when we debut these new flavors about every other month.

While you are welcome to design your own assortment to fit in our boxes of 2, 4, and 8, if you ask for my opinion I will certainly try and talk you into our Lavender Sea-salted Caramel. Our most popular infusion, it features a smoky burnt caramel ganache enrobed in 38% milk chocolate, topped with a lovely French lavender-herbed grey sea-salt. Delicious!

All truffles are made from fresh cream and should be enjoyed within two weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eclipse Chocolat Gift Sets

With just a dozen days before the big holiday, I have many clients coming into the chocolate shop for last minute treats. Naturally, we have lots of gift concepts floating around these days, and below you can see one of the cutest. Tucked inside this adorable cellophane wrap are three of our most popular items: a box of four dark chocolate truffles, an Asian Take-out of our seasonal Gingerbread Spice Bark, and our most popular chocolate bar, Sea-salt Nib (55% chocolate studded with candied cocoa nibs and lavender-herbed grey sea-salt). A great little gift or stocking stuffer for $25, our Petit Gift Set is dressed to impress with seasonal red ribbon!

And here is the Demi Gift Set for $50, which includes more chocolate (of course!) and a selection of three Dry Sodas, an unusual treat of lightly sweetened soda infused with lavender, lemongrass, kumquat or rhubarb.We also have sets in larger sizes. The Hauteur Gift Set for $75 and the Grand Gift Set for $100 will turn heads!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tarragon-Candied Grapefruit

The gift-giving season is upon us, and although the cafe is only five weeks old, I am feeling the creativity bug once again! Just in time for those stocking stuffers, here is another brand new Eclipse product: Tarragon-Candied Grapefruit (don't I have better things to do with my time than experiment with new items?)!

Alright, so its not exactly new; I've made it a few times for people in the chocolatier classes I teach at the Prado and Williams-Sonoma, but its certainly new for my retail clients. So now you at home can enjoy them, too. Who wants to bother going to a chocolate-making class anyway... lets just skip right to the eating part.
I don't normally post in-process photos, but these are so pretty before they are enrobed, so take a look:

Its quite a long production process actually (two days to be exact). First, the grapefruit skins are peeled and sliced, piths removed, and then soaked overnight in water. The next day they are boiled in multiple water changes to remove any bitter flavors, and then slowly boiled in a sugar syrup until tender. Then they are packed with a house-made tarragon sugar (the green stuff!) and enrobed in 60% dark chocolate. Last, they are garnished with more sugar, mostly because I can never leave good-enough alone, and they are prettier that way, and because I said so because I'm the chocolatier. Since when is over-the-top a bad thing with desserts?
If you're a fan of the Orange Peel Anise bar, or of citrus and grapefruit in general, then this one is a must have!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Exotic Salted Caramels Are Back!

Salty. Smoky. Exotic.

Just a few words that describe one of my personal all-time favorites: Exotic Salted Caramels. Ok, ok... pretty much anything topped with an artisan sea-salt would make it into the category of "all-time favorites", but this one is also really pretty!

Topped with six different sea-salt varietals, these dark and milk chocolate-covered creme fraiche caramels really hit the salty spot. The garnish on the caramel in the foreground gets it's bright red color from an infusion of saffron, but these treats also feature salts infused with ginger, chile, and smoked Chardonnay, as well as the Maldon and lavender-herbed salts of which I am so fond.

There are eight to a pack, four milk and four dark. A perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer, these little gems are only available at the cafe.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Salty-Sweet Walnuts and Chile-Sweet Pecans

So its the holidays and there's chocolate flying everywhere around the cafe. For those of you who have yet to visit, it also houses my complete production line (and no, its nothing like the infamous I Love Lucy episode). This is definently the busiest time of the year, though, and to help push out a large order I recently filled, I decided to treat myself to a new tool: a candy tumbling drum. Its basically a large rotating stainless steel drum that attaches to the front of my Kitchen Aid, though much more expensive than you might think. Pretty much any pastry tool of professional grade is, unfortunately!

Well, long story short, I'm excited about using it in production on a new line of chocolate and sugared nuts of which I've been developing recently. Salty-Sweet Walnuts and Chile-Sweet Pecans are two of a few new things rolling around in my head. The first is roasted walnuts and cocoa nibs candied with grey sea-salt, and the later is roasted pecans and cocoa nibs candied with chiles and smoked paprika. And they both come in these adorable square tins! Take a look:

Eclipse Gift Certificates!

Just in time for the Holidays, Eclipse Gift Certificates are here! Available in $10, $20, and $50 increments, your friends and family can redeem them at the cafe or online (if they are not among the lucky residents San Diego).

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spiced Gingerbread Men (or People, if you prefer)

One of my favorite parts of the winter holiday season is gingerbread. I've always been a big fan, but it wasn't until I set my crazed-chocolatier mind to the task of making the perfect spicy cookie that I fell in love!

And how couldn't I? Dark Muscavado sugar, crushed white and black peppercorns, Vietnamese cinnamon, organic ground ginger, and the mysterious half cardamom-half peppercorn flavored African spice known as Grains of Paradise... well its all a little overwhelming. Bake and top each off with a generous drizzling of lemon-infused white chocolate and candied ginger, and you have our Exotic Spiced Gingerbread. And they are shaped like little people... how could your holiday be complete without?

There's also a mini version available in a cello wrap with ribbon for holiday parties and volume gift needs. Stop in and take a bite!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Corporate and Personal Gifts

Today is November 27th, and there are officially 28 days left until the big holiday (possibly less if you're among the mass of individuals who celebrate many of the other winter possibilities). And if you're anything like the majority of my clients, you may be wondering where the time has gone and what are you going to do for gifts?

Have no fear, the Eclipse Chocolat team and I are happy to accommodate your corporate or personal gifts! If your needs are small, we have many prepackaged options in the cafe for you to choose from. If your needs are a bit larger, you can request a catalog which include price breaks for orders 50 units and larger.

We also have custom messaging options, too (available for orders of 50 units and greater). Take a look:

Introducing the New Marshmallow Almond Rococo and the Chocolate Comfort Tin

Congratulations to Tracy Wallace for the winning entry in our Rocky Road Naming Contest. Forever to be known as Marshmallow Almond Rococo, our newest chocolatey confection has been officially finalized just in time for the holidays. It is available by the piece, in an Asian Take-Out, or as part of our new Chocolate Comfort Tin pictured below, which also contains our Salty Peanut Butter Toffee and Gingerbread Spice Bark.

At 2.5 pounds of decadence, it will melt any cold heart this winter season!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Champagne and Truffle Tasting

This just in...

Tuesday, December 11th at 6pm, I will be one of two presenters at The Balbao Park Food and Wine School for a champagne and truffle tasting. Join sommelier, Keri Busino, and I as we tackle the world of tasty bubbly and sinful ganache.

Click here for more info and reservations!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gingerbread Spice Bark

Yet another tasty holiday treat coming your way!

Gingerbread Spice Bark: Slabs of 38% milk chocolate and 60% dark chocolate garnished with our House-made Gingerbread Crumbs and Dark Muscavado Sugar. With its toasty notes of cinnamon and molasses, this one is the perfect winter indulgence.

Some of you may have heard me talk about the Muscovado before. This all-natural brown sugar is grown and milled on the islands of Mauritius off the coast of Africa. Its signature flavor is derived from the sugar cane which grows of volcanic ash. Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, Muscovado takes its flavor and color from the unrefined sugar-cane juice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Salty Peanut Butter Toffee

Once upon a time, when I was a naive and snooty foodie with a chocolate glimmer in my eye, I was bewildered by the American obsession with peanut butter. "Peanut butter cups... seriously?" I would ask myself. Sure, they are tasty, but in a guilty pleasure sort-of-way, like Taco Bell. Its edible... and fast... but there's something terrible about giving into what seems to be the lowest common denominator of all things consumable.

So for the first four years of Eclipse, I was always a little perturbed when a client would excitedly ask if I had something with peanut butter. "No, but I have a wonderful Gianduja Truffle," I would reply to disappointed faces. Roasted hazelnuts, with their dense and smoky flavor, trump bland peanuts any day, right?

Well, before the whole Internet, I am officially withdrawing all previous contempt for the world of peanut butter. You heard it here first, kids.

I've finally given in to all the persuasion and created what I believe to be the creme de la creme of the chocolate-peanut butter combo: Salty Peanut Butter Toffee.

Rich and flaky toffee infused with all-natural peanut butter, enrobed in 70% bittersweet chocolate, topped with toasted Virginia peanuts and Maldon sea-salt... I'm pretty certain it will make a big splash.

One quick note about the pic: Take a close look at the large salt crystal in the foreground. Maldon sea-salt is quite unique in that it forms shallow pyramid-shaped crystals as it calcifies, which greatly effects how it reacts on the palate. Its a treat!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lavender Vanilla-bean Lemonade

I was going to wait on this post until Springtime, but as I walk out into the smothering San Diego heat, I think to myself: What would be more refreshing than a lemonade right now? And while I'm at it, why not make it Lavender Vanilla Bean Lemonade?

Made from fresh lemons, dried organic lavender blossoms, vanilla bean-infused cane sugar, and Pellgrino sparkling mineral water, its been pretty popular around the cafe so far!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Haute Chocolate

The seasons are definitely changing, even in Sunny San Diego. And I, for one, am excited to feel the brisk winter weather coming. Especially since it means its becoming hot chocolate season!

Made from fresh milk, premium chocolate, and other great ingredients, we're offering exotic hot chocolates in three flavors: Rosemary Mint (70% dark chocolate), Chile-burnt Caramel (38% milk chocolate), and Orange Peel Vanilla Bean (33% white chocolate). All topped with our house-made marshmallows, of course!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platters

A lot of you have asked what sort of desserts are available at the new cafe, and although I have touched on a few concepts on this blog previously, I have yet to upload a pic of the complete presentation. So here you are!

Perfect for two to share, our Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter is a collection of four small chocolate desserts designed to reflect seasonal ingredients. Available through Thanksgiving before it changes to reflect the cold weather, our current collection is as follows:

Burnt Caramel Pumpkin Pot de Creme- Succulent milk chocolate custard infused with smoky burnt caramel, topped with spiced pumpkin butter.

Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise- Warm challah, cranberry, and white chocolate bread pudding with chilled vanilla bean sauce.

Frozen Gianduja Petite Four- Iced hazelnut mousse sandwiched between a dark chocolate crumb crust and a gooey milk chocolate ganache, topped with Maldon sea-salt.

Fig, Goat Cheese, and Chocolate Panini Wedges- Mission fig compote, dark chocolate, and honeyed goat cheese sandwich, grilled to perfection.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rocky Road: New and Improved!

While wallowing in my new-found love of everything marshmallow, I have been hard at work developing a new product for the upcoming holiday season. I recently found these super cute tins to use for holiday products, and I am planning to do a trio of delectable treats, the star of which is my version of Rocky Road.

Consisting of our house-made marshmallows, Marcona almonds, cocoa nibs, and Maldon sea-salt, our version of this classic is destined to become greater than the name "Rocky Road" can imply. So we're hosting a naming contest! Stop on in for a chocolate sample and fill out a contest form and you may win your own holiday tin of fabulous chocolate confections ($60 value!).

We will be accepting contest entries until November 17th. Winners will be announced on the 20th (all entries must be submitted in person at the cafe).

Allow me to get your mental gears grinding with a little visual stimulation:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Marshmallow-y Goodness

In the last post, I mentioned a brownie that was topped with our own House-made Vanilla-bean Marshmallows. Now, I have to admit that as a kid I felt that outside of the context of a camp-fire marshmallows held little to no allure for me. But replace the commercial lumps of "jet-puffed" corn-syrup with fresh, pillowy clouds of fluffy goodness, and we're talking something I can't resist.

Marshmallows are pretty simple really, just awfully messy. And having the right equipment helps, too. My formula is five simple ingredients: cane sugar, honey, gelatin, egg whites, and vanilla bean... nothing else. The only hard part is cutting them to shape. Here are some pics of my fancy pastry-cutter at work (imagine a giant egg slicer on steroids).

Stay tuned to see what else I have planned for these darling little treasures!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Spiced Pumpkin-Seed, Marshmallow Almond, Masala Chai... Oh My!

Well, I'm starting to settle into the cafe and the daily ins and outs of operating a retail storefront. And while the hours are much longer, the pace is much more relaxed. For those of you who don't know, I started Eclipse about 4 years ago and (until now!) had rented a production kitchen on a by-order basis, very much like a caterer would. Thankfully, I no longer have to worry about returning the kitchen back to the state I found it in. And its becoming a lot of fun to come in each morning and decide what is on the production agenda for the day.

What was on the menu for today, I hear some of you ask? House-made marshmallows (which always leave me covered in powdered sugar), the white chocolate bread pudding (seen here), and my personal new favorite, Exotic Brownies.

Whats so exciting about a brownie, I see some of you grimace? Well, when the formula contains twice as much cocoa powder as flour (and extra-brute cocoa, at that) the product is closer to a chewy flourless cake than a brownie. And I'm baking them in individual loaves! Top them with exotic garnishes, and you've got a dessert that stands alone. Today I made Marshmallow Almond, Masala Chai, and Chile Hazelnut, but I'm cooking up Blackberry Sage, Macadamia Ginger, Espresso Walnut, Orange Peel Anise, and Coconut Lime for future mornings.

Here are the Spiced Pumpkin Seed and Orange Peel Anise versions. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eclipse and San Diego

Whew! What a strange time to launch a store front. San Diego has definitely been through a lot these past few days. Fortunately, everything here at the cafe is sound, and all of our friends and families are safe. Our hearts go out to everyone effected by the fires and we hope things will return to normal very soon.

For those of you who do not know, Eclipse pledges 10% of its annual net profits to the development of local non-profit organizations and charities. Normally, these take place in the form of product donations at fund-raising events. But for the remainder of the month, we will be making a cash contribution to the After-the-Fires Scholarship Fund. The fund, originally organized for the 2003 Ceder Fires, helps graduating high-school seniors complete their applications for college admissions. After the 2003 fires, many of the students effected by the fires found themselves without a home, mailing address, personal documentation, or the assistance required to complete their applications by their due dates. By making this contribution, our donation will go to help local students fulfill their educational goals for the 2008-2009 academic year.

If you would like more information or would like to make a personal contribution you can do so here:

So we're here and the cafe is up and running! Stop in and enjoy a dessert, truffle, and/or espresso. We will be contributing to the Fund until Wednesday at close.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Grand Opening Pics

Well we did it! The opening receptions were a blast and much fun was had by all. Check the crazy before and after shots:



Monday, October 15, 2007

Grand Opening Info!

This post is just in time for those of you wondering what you have planned for this weekend. What was that event I was planning on attending, I hear you all asking yourselves. Why, its the Eclipse Chocolat grand opening, of course! Please join us for all sorts of tasty treats this Saturday night (10.20.2007), from 7.5-10.5pm.

Our new address is 2121 El Cajon Blvd, near the intersection of Alabama. That's just a block east of the "Boulevard" sign, for those of you who thrive on visual stimuli.

See you there!

More Menu Boards

I'd love to type out some witty anecdotalism relating to this next menu board post, but I have a cafe to open! Less chatty, more worky...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eclipse Chocolate and David Rio

Ben, about every other good friend I know, and I have been going CRAZY completing odd jobs to complete the cafe. I must be the most fortunate person in San Diego to have so many amazing people in my life who are happy to help me succeed! More on official thank yous later...

Luckily, a few cafe details have been set in stone for some time. When I first tried it two years ago, I knew that David Rio of San Francisco would play a part in my future food offerings. And not only are their tea and chai blends tasty, but their company ideals run parallel to our own. This from their mission statement:

"We strive to create innovative, great tasting products that blend eastern traditions with western style. Whenever possible, we use organic ingredients and recyclable or reusable packaging while maintaining the integrity of our high-end product line. Our objective is to continue growing David Rio as the premier brand in our industry."

Not only pleasing to the palate but also to the eye. With sublime flavors of peach, tangerine, vanilla, and rose petals, Tahitian Tangerine is a personal favorite! Cute tins, too! Take a look:


And now for your next menu board teaser:


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Eclipse Chocolat and Caffe Calabria: San Diego Favorites

With just two weeks before our official grand opening, our core staff has achieved another milestone and completed our espresso training this week. We've chosen Caffe Calabria as our coffee bean purveyor because of their international recognition for award-winning blends and intense devotion to the art of espresso-making. Not only are they considered in the top ten roasters in the US, but they are conveniently located down the street in the heart of North Park, and we're happy to establish cooperative connections within the community.

So have at it kids... another preview coming your way, though this time less about photography and more about design. Here is one of our five menu boards. Stay tuned to see previews of the others in the next two weeks.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Eclipse Cafe: Sneak Peak!

We've been running around like crazy people trying to finish everything on time for the cafe opening. Thankfully, we're working on both the functional and aesthetic details simultaneously so its very rewarding to see things come together so quickly. Here are a few sneak peaks of the space in progress. Hope to see you all there after the opening!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Artisan Cheese and Caramel Tasting Platter

Let me start this post by saying that I am extremely fond of cheese. If I hadn't become a chocolatier, I sometimes wonder if I would have eventually opened a creamery instead. Well... maybe not, but I would have spent a lot of time loitering around one?

This post details a passion of mine that began three years ago, back in the infancy of Eclipse. My first Xmas, I had a client who wanted me to come to her holiday party and do a fancy-schmancy dessert presentation for her guests. At the time, I had recently developed a new caramel sauce and I hit upon the idea of serving it with fruit and artisan cheeses. Thus the Artisan Cheese and Caramel Platter was born! Its changed over time as I have discovered new caramel and cheese pairings, but the essentials are the same. In short, its gooey, creamy, tangy, and very satisfying. Here are the elements (and there and many!):

Chile-burnt Caramel Sauce- Slightly spicy, with a poignant smoky note. Served warm.
Candied mango slices- Sweet and chewy, perfect foil to the caramel's heat.
Sugared torta- From Andulacia, an olive oil crisp bread topped with coarse sugar, anise, sesame, and fennel pollen.
But most important (!), four lovely artisan cheeses, from left to right:
Lemon Stilton- From Leicestershire. Tangy and crumbly, studded with candied lemon zest.
Our own house-made Cacao Chevre- Fresh goat cheese flecked with lavender, rolled in cocoa nibs.
Bucherondin- French. Sharp and tangy, with an aged rind that has a rich finish.
Drunken Goat- Spanish. Dense with overtones of berries that come from a Cabernet-drenched rind.

Its fun, interactive, and more than enough food fit for two. What more can you ask for?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cranberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

I have to admit, the last post, Frozen Gianduja Petit Four, was shockingly delicious. But when has toasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate ever led someone astray? That's a brand new recipe for me, so its exciting so see it hit the mark so closely so early on in development. This next one, however, is an old standard of mine that I know will always please the crowds.

Cranberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise seems to be the antithesis of a stressful day. Custard-soaked challah-bread pudding, studded with sweet white chocolate bits and tart cranberries, served warm.... then topped with chilled vanilla-bean creme anglaise sauce. Crazy, no? Its quite a complicated description, but trust me when I say that its smooth and relaxing, with no complications. Just the perfect thing to wind down with after a long day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Frozen Gianduja Petit Four

Another tasty tidbit coming your way...

Frozen Gianduja Petit Fours:
Frozen hazelnut and milk chocolate mousse sandwiched between a dark chocolate crumb crust and a gooey milk chocolate ganache. All topped with flakes of Maldon sea-salt. Pretty tempting, eh?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Exotic Shortbreads

We're doing way too much baking and chocolate-work around here trying to decide on the perfect offerings for the upcoming cafe. Luckily, Ben and I are holding each other to strict portion-control! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to fit through the door when it finally opens in October!

Here is the first of what will hopefully be a series of visually tantalizing teasers. Unfortunately, you won't be able to indulge for another month and a half. I'm confident that you'll be able to hold it together until then...

Exotic Spiced Shortbreads:
Three different butter shortbreads here: One with dried lavender blossoms, another with aniseed, and a third chocolate with candied cocoa nibs.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Coming Soon: The Eclipse Chocolat Cafe!!!

By October 1st, we will have our own retail storefront! Part espresso- and tea-house, part dessert cafe, and part retail chocolate shop, we're striving to create an artisan food environment unique to San Diego. This new space will also encompass 100% of our wholesale production, so feel free to stop in any time to see how it all happens and what sort of "crazed" impulses wander through the mind of an exotic chocolatier.

We are proud to be pairing San Diego's Cafe Calabria espresso beans with our own house-made chocolate and caramel sauces, and David Rio of San Francisco as our tea purveyor. And of particular interest will be our "dessert tasting platters": four miniaturized confections perfectly presented for two people to share (or perhaps one hungry person!).

Look for us soon at the corner of El Cajon and Alabama in the quaint neighborhood of University Heights!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Six New Chocolate Bar Blends!!!

I know what you're all thinking: What odd flavors will that chocolate-guy put together next? Well imagine no more, here they are!

Kyoto Green Tea- 25% White Chocolate
Japanese matcha green tea infused white chocolate, flecked with candied ginger and toasted gen mai brown rice.

Chile Hazelnut- 36% Milk Chocolate
Smooth milk chocolate studded with cayenne-candied hazelnut pieces.

Gingerbread Crumb- 50% Dark Chocolate
Vietnamese cinnamon spiced dark chocolate flecked with African muscavado brown sugar and gingerbread crumbs.

Sea-salt Nib- 50% Dark Chocolate
French lavender-herbed grey sea-salt flecked chocolate with candied cocoa nibs. A personal favorite!

Moroccan Spice- 70% Dark Chocolate
Harissa and African grains of paradise spiced dark chocolate, studded with honeyed pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Sweet Basil-Mint- 70% Dark Chocolate
Peppermint and basil infused dark chocolate with candied cocoa nibs.