Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner

Here they are, the long awaited details for our Parisian Sweetheart Valentine's Chocolate Tasting Dinner! If you patronized Eclipse this time last year, you will know that I started the Prix Fixe dinner concept with Valentine's Day and I'm proud to say that the time has come again... twelve dinners later! I guess that makes it our Second Annual.

For $65 per couple, guests will enjoy four courses of French-inspired cocoa-infused fare complete with live violin serenades. Of course we have plenty of options such as an Artisan Cheese or Charcuterie Platter and a full wine menu with course pairings. Essentially, all you need do is find a sweetheart and enjoy an immersive experience.

Here's the line-up:

Cocoa-buckwheat crepe with Wild Mushroom Ragout
French Onion Soup with White Chocolate Olive-oil Crostini
Pink Peppercorn-crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa, Cherry, and Shallot Jus
Baked Fromager D'affinois with Cocoa, Cherry, and Shallot Jus
Rose Petal Creme Brulee
With the holiday falling on Saturday this year, we have opted to offer seatings on both Friday night (at 6.5 and 8.5pm) and Saturday (at 4, 6, and 8pm), but don't let that fool you into thinking we won't sell out quickly. With just 24 people per seating, last year we were taking a waiting list as early at two weeks prior to the event. You can make reservations by emailing info@eclipsechocolat.com or calling the cafe direct at 619.578.2984. Cya there!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Upcoming Chocolate Tasting Dinners

So somewhere in the past six months between buying my new Iphone, MobileMe, MacBook, and Adobe Creative Suite 4, I managed to convince myself that all I really need to stay organized and on top of my professional agendas is a collection of full-integrated tech toys. Did I say toys? Yeah... I pretty sure thats what they are. Yet, no amount of e-gadgets can seem to keep me on task with professional emails and blog posts. Oh well... at least my office looks pretty!

So it's been two weeks since my last post! Ouch! Well, all of the December holidays have passed and I can finally return to business as usual and catch up on all of the regular things that are supposed to happen on a daily basis here. But alas, it's only 45 days until Vday! Better blog while I can...

If you missed it, many a chocophile enjoyed our Creole Christmas dinner earlier this month, which happens to have been our last Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner. These dinners of ours are pretty big to-do for the cafe, and this past line-up was no exception. With five courses to plan and serve, I always thought that $40 a person was a great rate, but as everyone seems to be tightening their belts these days, I want to offer something a little less expensive.

"No dinners?" I hear each of you gasp! Don't fret, we haven't discontinued the series, just mixed it up a bit. With the expection of our next event: Parisian Sweetheart Dinner for Valentine's Day, all future dinners will be 3-course for only $25 a guest. Same essential details as all of the previous dinners, but with just $25 a person, we hope that more people can find the opportunity to indulge!

So what about Vday? Well since it is the high-holiday of all chocolate high-holidays, we have decided on a 4-course line-up with a live violinist for just $65 a couple. We will announce the menu in the next few days, so stay tuned. And as Vday falls on a Saturday this year, we have opted to do three seatings for Vday, and two more the day before on Friday night. Even with five seatings, we expect to sell out quickly so don't wait to contact us for reservations. Last year we did five seatings and sold out before the end of January! Don't miss out!

Until then... take a look at the pics from the last dinner:

Starter: Fried Shrimp Cakes with Capers and Remoulade Sauce

Course One: Crispy Plantains with Smoked Sernano Sea-salt and Chile-burnt Caramel Peanut Sauce

Course Two: Dirty Rice with Mixed Peppers and Cocoa-Bacon Jus.

Course Three: Smoked Tomato-Crawfish Bisque with White Chocolate-Olive Oil Crostini.

Course Four: Jambalaya with Smoked Beef-Cocoa Nib Sausage and Barley.

Course Five: Cinnamon-Sugar Beignets with Milk Chocolate-Caramel-Chicory Sauce.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Truffle, Wine, and Cheese Tasting

Our last event of the 2008 year is coming up tomorrow: an hour-long experience of exotic truffles, artisan cheeses, and mouth-watering brews. Join me at the cafe from 7-8pm and navigate through a set of four tasting trios and a discussion of the chocolate-making process and the experience of taste.

The truffles we're featuring this time are: Lavender Sea-Salted Caramel, Balsamic Pink Peppercorn, Chile-burnt Caramel, and the all new Cranberry Peppercorn!

The event is $25 per person, and seating is limited. Call to rsvp: 619.578.2984!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dinner Update

Wow... Xmas. If any of you have come into the shop lately, you will see my trying to catch my breath. Hopefully we won't run out of anything before the holiday!

Until then, I've got a quick update on our upcoming Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner. Exclusively for this Saturday, we are treating our guests to five chocolate courses of Creole faire. Don't wait to make your reservations, though! Our 6pm seating is already sold out, and we've only a few tables lefts at the 4 and 8pm seatings.

Reservations can be made by contacting info@eclipsechocolat.com or calling the cafe direct at 619.578.2984. Cya there!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Little Italy Farmer's Market

Tis the season for chocolate, and we are ramping up for all sorts of special events as of late! Tomorrow, for example, we make our first forray into the San Diego farmer's market scene at the Little Italy Mercato. See us there each Saturday from 9am-1.5pm.


The Little Italy Mercato is the city market for downtown San Diego residents and visitors with more than 70 booths lining Date Street from Kettner to Union offering farm fresh produce, artisan foods and specialty items.

CERTIFIED FARMERS MARKET fruits and vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs, cheese and more from more than a dozen certified California producers on Date Street between India and State FOOD PURVEYORS fish, bread, sauces, olives, pasta, coffee, pastry and more FLOWERS and PLANTS orchids, fresh flowers, bedding plants DINING rotisseried chicken, crepes, paninis, smoothies, Italian ices, coffee drinks and local chefs' specialties to enjoy along with the LIVE MUSIC at the Mercato. At the top of the market from State Street to Union, check out the MercARTo artisans, crafts and specialty gifts, and PET PLACE Natural pet foods and accessories, custom collars, and doggie day care at the top of Date Street near Amici Park.

Coming soon! CHEF DEMOS at the amphitheatre at Date & State.

For more Mercato information, call 619.233.3769 or mercato@littleitalysd.com

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A New Moon Crowns the Night Sky...

Have you seen the website lately? No, not this one... though I know a number of you out there don't actually get to the online storefront much. But take a look! See? There's a link in the margin just to the side of this text here... Go on... Just click on it.

I guess if you're still reading this part, you have yet to tap your mouse. But I swear, it's worth it. Ok, fine. I'll just spell it out.

We have a new website!!! With all new tongue-tantalizing photographs! And it's about time, too. The OLD site was really, really out of date. Well no more, my little cocoa-babies. It's even been equipped with a feed from the blog so people can more easily navigate between our blog and out site.

So go see it already! Cya there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Exotic Drinking Chocolates

Even with yesterday's strange San Diego heat wave (it must have been 80 midday!), we are in full Exotic Drinking Chocolate production mode here at the cafe. Thankfully the weather seems to be finally cooling down, at least enough to enjoy a warm cup of cocoa-bliss. We even purchased a new piece of equipment to assist in making large batches of our mixes. While it doesn't seem too scary, it is officially my first piece of "machinery" mostly because it comes equipped with an emergency stop plunger. A plunger, I tell you! As if the rotating square rod that shaves the infused chocolate blocks into easily melted ribbons is going to scrape someone into oblivion. Though as I type this, I can imagine it giving me a bad rug-burn... so who's to complain about safety measures. The point of all of this is that I feel as though I have graduated to full chocolatier-adulthood with my first piece of equipment that look like actual machinery! But for those of you who find all of this industry chatter boring... no fret, sugar-babies, here's your yum yums...

Made from all premium couveture chocolate, Eclipse Exotic Drinking Chocolate Tins are here! These are the same mixes that we make all of our in-house Drinking Chocolates and Mochas at the counter, and now you can enjoy them in your own home. All you need to do is whisk our signature infusions into warmed milk. Each$8 tin comes with 5oz of shaved chocolate, enough to make three cups. Or try our Tasting Trio for just $20, which showcases all three flavors: Orange Peel Vanilla Bean (31% white), Chile-Burnt Caramel (38% milk), and Rosemary Mint (72% dark). Check it:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Personal and Corporate Gifts

Today is November 26th, and while tomorrow is Thanksgiving, there are officially only 29 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 prepackaged options in the cafe from which to choose. 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 at our pesonalization options! Here we have our new Box of Twenty-Eight Truffles dressed with a custom ribbon color and a custom printed vellum overlay. The vellum can show any text and/or graphic you like and is designed/ printed in-house so our turn-around is very fast. This option is available at just 10 like-items.

And here you can see one of our most popular holiday options. Tucked inside this adorable cellophane wrap are three of our best-selling 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 if you just can't decide what your guest may like we have Eclipse Gift Certificates! Available in $5, $10, $20, and $50 increments, your friends and family can redeem them at the cafe. Treat them to dessert, chocolate, or even one of our dinners. They make great stocking stuffers, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creole Christmas Dinner

Lotsa holiday things happening around the cafe, and I find myself with less time to blog! Still, last week we served 70-some guests to a Five Course Autumn Harvest dinner and I am here to report. These dinners are featured here at the cafe and showcase a different thematic menu each month. If you've missed them in the past, don't wait to place your reservation (at info@eclipsechocolat.com) for our next on December 13th: Creole Christmas. Here's the line-up:

Fried Plantains with Chile-Burnt Caramel Dipping Sauce
Crawfish Bisque with White Chocolate Olive Oil Crostini
Dirty Rice with Cocoa-Bacon and Pepper Melody
Chicken Jambalaya with Smoke Beef-Cocoa Nib Sausage
Beignets with Dark Chocolate Chicory Drizzle

Until then, allow me to temp you with our last dinner:

Starter: Cocoa-glazed Duroc Bacon-wrapped Dates

Course One: Amuse Bouche Trio featuring Cranberry-Peppercorn Aperitif, White Chocolate Parmesan Spoonbread, and Cocoa-glazed Cippolini Onion Tartlette.

Course Two: Roasted Asparagus and Shallot Soup with White Chocolate Creme.

Course Four: Roasted Autumn Veggies with Cocoa Butter-Smashed Potatoes and White Truffle Oil Drizzle.

Course Five: Spice Pumpkin and Cranberry Creme Brulee with Milk Chocolate Center.
Photos courtesy of our talented friends at MoneyCMedia.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Truffle, Cheese, and Wine Tasting

Just a quick mention on an upcoming event here at the cafe. We started truffle and wine tasting events a few weeks ago, with the intention to host them here at the cafe on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. This next one we're trying out something a little more... we're adding cheese!

Join us Wednesday, November 19th, from 7-8pm to enjoy four truffles paired with four wines paired with four artisan cheeses. Our friends from Venissimo are providing us with the cheesy excitement, as always. And with those we will be featuring our artisan truffles and some wines (and maybe a beer!) from our current line-up here in the cafe.

The event is $25 per person, please no split plates. We're collection RSVPs, so email us at info@eclipsechocolat.com

Cya there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Autumn Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter

It's here! The new Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter is complete. As always, our guests can enjoy the collection for the next six weeks until it is retired to chocolate memory. Check it:

frozen peanut butter mousse petit four
[frozen peanut butter mousse+maldon sea salt+dark chocolate crumb crust]

aztec-cinnaroll bread pudding
[custard-soaked aztec-cinnamon roll bread pudding+38% milk chocolate cinnamon sauce]

pumpkin-dark chocolate pot de creme
[chilled 61% dark chocolate pot de creme+spiced pumpkin butter]

grilled white chocolate apple-cinnamon cake
[grilled apple-cinnamon cake studded with 31% white chocolate chips]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grilled White Chocolate Apple Cake and More

Today I'm finishing up the last details on the next Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter which will debut first thing tomorrow morning! I've always enjoyed working on the line-up, and as it rotates every six weeks, it's always kept me on my toes. And since we recently celebrated our first anniversary, I thought it would be fun to bring back one of our best desserts from this time last year. And for good measure, I'm including a new one in this little teaser, too.

Back in the fall of 2007, I first made my Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse Petit Four to much applause. In fact, I remember the response from some of my clients when they returned to find out that the collection of four desserts we feature that comprise each Tasting Platter is retired every six weeks. I'm not as disheartened; there's always new and exciting dessert combos to get my mind around. Still... maybe this post will be a long-awaited conciliation for them. Come and get it, folks!

The mousse begins with a rich crust of brownie crumbs combined with melted chocolate and a touch of Maldon sea-salt. You know me... a little salty chocolate finishes any dessert! That is then topped with a whipped mousse of milk chocolate and peanut butter. To finish, its glazed with a silky chocolate ganache, frozen, and cut into bars. Pretty tasty, folks.

My second temptation is of the grilled variety. If you remember, the platter is a collection of one frozen item, one bread pudding, one chilled pudding, and one grilled item. This time around, we're celebrating the Autumn with a Grilled White Chocolate Cinnamon-Apple Cake. Made from a house-made spiced apple sauce from local stock, this baby begins moist and develops a crispy crust after a quick pass through our panini grill. It's stuffed with 31% white chocolate chips that melt and become little pockets of gooey goodness.

See 'em both here today, but the real platter is available for the first time tomorrow. Just in time to get everyone into the Autumnal spirit!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

I'm a sucker for holidays, especially the cold ones. There's something about the crisp weather that makes me excitable. And of course the food. No fall holiday is complete without the food. So here at Eclipse we're gearing up to celebrate our Thanksgiving Dinner a full week early!

I've done a lot of recipe testing for our next Prix Fixe Chocolate Tasting Dinner, and those who came to our Anniversary Party had a taste of what's to come. Among the truffles and wine and other chocolate-goodies, we sampled our Savory Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate Jus.

As I have said time and time again, I am a big fan of bread pudding... and the heavier the better. I must admit, though, for the dozen-or-so bread puddings that have been featured here, I have yet to step outside of the box and go savory on one of them. I know what you're thinking "Stepping outside of box is so a problem Will has when it comes to food". Well this time it was different.

Each Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter we feature has a bread pudding as one of the four desserts, and since it rotates each six weeks... well it's been a lot of bread pudding. This time, however, I uncovered a savory concept of this favorite to feature at our next dinner: Autumn Harvest. Bound with all heavy cream and eggs instead of meat stock, it's pretty much Thanksgiving dressing on crack. My version showcases a sauteed veggie mixture common to dressing, but is punctuated with the addition of morels and dates. The extravagance of the morels adds a woody aroma and texture that isn't far from the dressing my grandmother used to make with turkey giblets, but of course mine remains vegetarian. It's pretty much the best of both worlds.

The finished plating is dressed with a dark chocolate jus made from an intense beef reduction and, of course, an extra brute cocoa for body and flavor. We have a roasted veggie-cocoa sauce to keep the experience truly vegetarian, as many of our clients prefer such. The remainder of the dinner looks like this:

Amuse Bouche Trio including:
Chilled White Chocolate Roasted Corn Pudding
Cocoa-caramelized Onion Tartlette
Cranberry-peppercorn Champagne Aperitif
Roasted Asparagus Soup with White Chocolate Creme

Savory Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate Jus

Roasted Root Veggies with Cocoa Butter-Smashed Potatoes & Shaved Parmesan

Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee Duo of Cranberry and Pumpkin

We also have an optional meat starter for those who just can't get enough of the carnivore goodness. And this one is seriously carnivore. I call it "The Devil's Candy":

Cocoa-glazed Duroc Bacon-Wrapped Dates

It's sensationally chewy and meaty and everything that is so wrong with bacon that it's so right.

We are about 70% sold on the event, so don't wait to make a reservation: 619.578.2984.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Anniversary Pics!

Just a quick thank you to every out there who has made my first year of business a success! Here's to twelve more months of chocolate!

And to those I owe so much, I couldn't have done it without you. I'm thrilled to share my life with each of you: Ray, Zach, Rachel, Victor, Tanya, Sean, Rich & Megan, Ben, my Dad, and about a million other people...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anniversary Party Updates!

People keep asking me for more details on our event tomorrow, so I figured I would take this moment to elaborate.

Tomorrow is, of course, our First Year Anniversary Party. And as I sit pool-side overlooking the beautiful Baja California Coast, I'm excited about everything we have planned for the big event. "Ummmm, what?" I hear you all ask? Yes, yes... I know. You think I should be slaving away in the cafe elbow deep in chocolate preparing for tomorrow, no? No fret, I've got it covered. I did that all week long! And when my lovely BF (and talented make-up artist) Ray asked if I would accompany him to a cozy resort an hour south of the Border while he played stylist for a wedding, I thought to myself, "Hm... yes. That would be a nice calm before the storm :)".

So I sit here peering out over El Oceano Pacifico, drinking my cocktail with my laptop blogging away reminiscing my first year of Eclipse. But I digress... I swear my life is never this glamorous.

Tomorrow is the big day and all are welcome to join us from 6-9pm at ol' 2121 El Cajon. We will be sharing:

*Three of our featured wines paired with three artisan truffles including the never-before-seen Vanilla Bean Sassafras.

*Samples of our upcoming Prix Fixe Dinners including our Savory Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate Jus and Cocoa-glazed Bacon-wrapped Dates from our Harvest Feast Dinner in late November AND our Sugared Beignets with Dark Chocolate-Chicory Sauce from our Creole Christmas Dinner in December.

*10% off our entire retail chocolate line AND

*A FREE Box of Two Truffles with each Box of Ten purchased.

*And of course Me (Will), Zach, Nicole, Jess, and the rest of the EC Family!

If you miss it, you'll just have to wait until next year. Cya soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Seasonal Truffles Part III

Things always seem to go in waves here at Eclipse, and this week is no exception. Call me a completionist, but I tend to take a task to beginning to end and then think to myself "well that went well, let's try it again with something else". So early last week I began this process with a new truffle and just kept on with the theme. Today I am debuting our third Seasonal Infusion this week! In fact, as I peer into my chocolate case to decide whether or not I am prepared for our Anniversary Weekend, I find that seven of twelve of the infusions we are featuring at the moment are seasonal! I promise this will be the last new truffle infusion for some time (though no worries, I still have about a dozen spices in my pantry just waiting to become chocolate-fodder).

If you read the blog regularly, you may know that I purchase my spices from a bulk Co-op who's focus is on organic specialities. I'm quite fond of the group and its make-up and can be found regularly perusing their catalog dreaming up new cocoa-concoctions. I suppose this makes me a bit of a spice addition, but as their is no culinary version of AA, its just something I need to learn to live with.

On my last order I picked up a pound of dried Sassafras, not having any idea what I might do with it. This is pretty typical, and often the spices lay around for sometime before inspiration hits. This time, however, the momentum came instantaneously. As soon as I tore the package open and wafted the earthly aroma towards my nose, I immediately associated the potential flavor with chocolate and vanilla bean. After all, Sassafras is the foundation flavor of rootbeer and complimenting that with a little vanilla is a no-brainer.

Unless you work at Eclipse. Nothing here is that simple.

Ultimately, I choose my 61% dark chocolate to make a ganache infused with the organic Sassafras, enrobed in more dark chocolate, and finished the truffle with a generous smattering of our house-made Vanilla Bean Sugar. Not too much more profound than just simple vanilla extract, but definitely Eclipsey. Our sugar is made from ground whole vanilla beans, so the resulting sugar has an earthy tone that definitely parallels that of the Sassafras.

We will showcase this truffle until it is gone, which may be before the end of the month, especially as it is one which we are sampling at the party Saturday. Come join us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seasonal Truffles Part II

We're having our next Wine and Truffle Tasting Event tonight and I've got another brand new truffle to share with our guests. Pomegranate Sage is an infusion that I first came up with in fall of 2006, but as it only makes a brief appearance this time each year, it always seems fresh and exciting to me!

Beginning with a canvas of 61% dark chocolate ganache, I add a reduced pomegranate syrup to the infusion for an intense acidity that isn't typically found in my collection. On the palate it comes across as a berry-like familiarity that most people first associate with dark cherry. The finished ganache is then enrobed in more 61% dark chocolate and topped with organic sage powder. We're serving tonight at the tasting event with our Coppola Merlot which as a characteristic wine of that type is rich in dark cherry notes. The finish of sage is a slight accent that is heightened with the addition of the Merlot.

If you're missing the event tonight, this is a series that we are hoping to host every first and third Wednesday of the month. That makes the next event November 19th! usually these will be $20 for four truffles paired with four wines, but the next event will be with cheeses from Venissimo (our artisanal neighbor in Mission Hills) so it will be $25. As always, we take reservations since our space fills up quickly. Email if interested, info@eclipsechocolat.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seasonal Truffles Part I

Well it's finally getting cold and San Diego and I, for one, am ready to take a trip to haul a cord of firewood back to my cozy little apartment down the street from the cafe. After all, what's a brisk evening in SD good for without cuddling in front of a warm fireplace? Add a few autumn-influenced chocolates to the scenario and you'll be all set.

Well look no further! I've been working on a few new tricks around the shop and I'm ready to share. With our Anniversary Weekend just days away, I'm excited to debut three new seasonal infusions in which you may indulge. Well technically only one is brand new, but the other two haven't been seen since this time last year, and that's new enough for me!

I meant to get this one out in time for Halloween, but somewhere between carving seven pumpkins and the myriad of other tasks between my personal and professional life in which to get lost, I didn't find the time until just now. But if you ask me, we are just coming up on Squash and Gourd season, so my Pumpkin Muscavado Truffle is just in time!

Packed with pumpkin puree, an assortment of holiday spices, and topped with Dark Muscavado sugar, this treat is one of my personal favorites for the fall. It's pretty much everything one could ask for in a great pumpkin pie, but stuffed into a dark chocolate truffle. We're serving it at our next Truffle and Wine Tasting Event this Wednesday in the cafe, and I've paired it with one of our new wines, a tawny port from Australia called Yalumba. It's got some serious butterscotch and caramel notes behind it and as such is a pretty natural combo next to the pumpkin flavors.

We should have this truffle at least through the end of Thanksgiving. Stop in and try one! Don't forget our Wine and Beer Happy Hour (4-7pm M-F) where any wine or beer purchase comes from a free truffle!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anniversary Party!

Though last week was our official anniversary, we're holding off for a few more days for the festivities. With all the new Wine and Beer offerings, special event dinners, and Truffle and Wine Tastings, I hardly have time to breathe any more.

(Pauses to inhale)

But it's been a fun and exciting journey! And to thank you all for the continued patronage and support, this one's for you, baby. Join us on Saturday, November 8th, from 7-10pm and celebrate the first 12 months of the Eclipse!

Join us for complementary:

-Three of our featured wines paired with three artisan truffles including the never-before-seen Vanilla Bean Sassafras.
-Samples of savory-chocolate food for upcoming Prix Fixe Tasting Dinners.
-A free Box of Two truffles with every Box of Ten purchased.
-10% our entire retail chocolate line.
-Plus all the foodie-socializing that you can shake a stick at!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn Harvest Dinner

This past Saturday we served 70 guests our latest Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner: Moroccan Spice, to much satisfaction. This was our seventh dinner to date and I continue to be surprised at our chocolatey faire. When I did the first dinner back at Valentine's Day, I remember feeling as though I had exhausted all savory-chocolate potential after working on the menu for nearly two months. Apparently I am becoming well-seasoned at the exercise, because more and more ideas seem to be flowing from my cocoa-crazed mind.

Our next dinner is Sunday November 16th, with seatings at 2, 4.5, and 7pm. Don't wait to RSVP as these dinners always sell out. Send your information to info@eclipsechocolat.com or call direct 619.578.2984. Here's the next line-up:

Autumn Harvest Dinner:

Amuse Bouche Trio including:
Chilled White Chocolate Roasted Corn Pudding
Cocoa-caramelized Onion Tartlette
Cranberry-peppercorn Champagne Aperitif

Roasted Asparagus Soup with White Chocolate Creme

Savory Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate Jus

Roasted Root Veggies with Cocoa Butter-Smashed Potatoes & Shaved Parmesan

Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee Duo of Cranberry and Pumpkin

And if you missed it this past weekend, heres what our guests enjoyed:

Moroccan Flatbreads with Green Olive Tapenade and Cucumber-Mint Salad

Fried Chickpea Fritters with Dark Chocolate Harissa Sauce

Honey-glazed Baby Carrots with Kalamata and Cocoa Nibs

Spiced Red Lentil Soup with White Chocolate-Olive Oil Crostini

Moroccan-Spiced Cocoa-Chicken with Roasted Butternut, Celeriac, Shallot, & Fruited Couscous

Cheesecake with Toasted Sesame-Macadamia Crust and White Chocolate-Saffron Sauce

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lavender-lemon Mimosa

My blog posts have been a bit sparse lately, and I promise to remedy that soon! With so much set-up here for our new Wine and Beer offerings, little time has been left to actually write about the things that I love most: the food.

When I first designed my menu boards (believe it or not nearly a full year before even signing the lease for this space), I concocted a lovely drink that became to be known as Lavender Vanilla-bean Lemonade. Made in house from fresh lemons, organic lavender blossoms, vanilla beans, and cane sugar, it is poured into one of our Picardie cafe glasses and topped with ice and Pellegrino. It's fun and refreshing.

I think the thing I like most about it is how the Pellegrino transforms the drink. I'm sure it would be nice with just a good bottled water, but the effervescence of the Pellergrino actually raises the tiny vanilla bean seeds to the surface of the beverage, something which our guests become very aware when they perceive the actual texture of the seeds between their teeth. The tiny little pops make me smile. I mean, how many times can you say that you have actually felt a vanilla bean seed on your palate before?

Well with the advent of our Wine and Beer offerings we are officially taking this drink to the next level. For an extra few bucks, you can now upgrade the lemonade with our featured champagne! Karma Champagne, locally operated in Carlsbad, is lovely California brut with subtle notes of melon and pear and the perfect addition to our lemonade. For $10 guests get a full flute filled with this bubbly pairing and enough extra Karma for second glass!

And don't forget to enjoy it during our Happy Hour (M-F 4-7pm) when all Wine and Beer purchases come with a your choice of free truffle! Here it is plated next to our Lavender Poppy truffle. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jasmine and Pear Nectar

When I started Eclipse back in 2004 as a hobby, I developed 16 different exotic truffle infusions. To make a long story short, a year later I had added my chocolate bar line followed quickly by the Asian Take-outs. And two years after that I opened my retail shop from which I am currently sitting and writing this little ditty. Today is, in fact, my official one year anniversary (holds for applause).

While it's been a long and winding chocolate journey with lots and lots of culinary concoctions, my Exotic Artisan Truffles remain, to this day, my first and primary love. All true truffles are made from an emulsion of fresh cream and chocolate combined with other flavorings (in my cafe entirely natural). There is just something magical about taking dried herbs and spices, fresh produce, and whatever exciting ingredients I can find and infusing them into hot cream. In fact, when I first set down to design my Truffle Tasting Guide, our visual menu of truffles included in each box, the first piece of writing I created for Eclipse was this:

A new Moon crowns the night sky...
This is the moment of the Eclipse;
A convergence of Art and Science.
It is chocolate-making as alchemy.

And thus Eclipse began, and still today I come into my shop each morning and decide which exotic herbs and spices to pull from my cabinet with which to create our chocolate infusions. The main difference being the size of my pantry growing to include over 60 herbal ingredients!

One of my first "seasonal" infusions still remains one of my favorites: Jasmine and Pear Nectar. Made from organic jasmine blossoms and pear puree, this truffle is finished in 61% dark chocolate ganache and topped with a candied pear slice.

Enjoy this truffle and three others this week at our first Truffle and Wine Tasting Event this Wednesday, October 22nd from 7-8pm. The other infusions we will be tasting are: Balsamic Pink Peppercorn, Lavender Poppy, and Peppered Goat Cheese and Fig. Each will be accompanied by a wine and the whole event is just $20 per guest. We sell out at just 30 people, so call today (619.578.2984) to RSVP!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Hour with Eclipse Chocolat

Choco-friends and -philes! Our Wine and Beer is finally here. Join us for our Exotic Truffle Happy Hour!

Each weekday from 4-7pm, leave the hustle and bustle of your business day and stop in for a confectionery respite. During these hours, each alcohol purchase comes with a free artisan truffle of your choice. We've even organized all of our wines with chocolate pairing suggestions, so all you need to do is show up ready to indulge. Our lovely barista Nicole (pictured here) is ready to tempt you. Cya soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eclipse Chocolat: Now Serving Wine!!!

That's right kids, the Wine and Beer License we applied for way back in March has FINALLY posted. God bless the ABC. More information about how we are serving wine and which we are opting to offer coming soon. In the mean time, let's have a little fun!

To celebrate we are hosting our first ever Truffle and Wine Tasting this coming Wednesday, October 22nd, which just happens to be our official one year anniversary. We've opted to push back our formal anniversary party to the first week of November, so consider this just a taste of what's to come.

So join us from 7-8pm that evening for an evening of exotic chocolate paired with exquisite wines. For just $20 guests will enjoy 4 truffles and 4 wines and a guided tasting and explanation of each pairing by owner and chocolatier, William Gustwiller (that's me!). Participants are also welcome to cash in on a 10% discount for all retail chocolate purchased that evening.

We're taking informal reservations so as to get an idea on how many people we should expect, so if interested just drop us a line at info@eclipsechocolat.com

Cya there!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Peanut Butter Toffee Rococo

Way back long ago (nearly one year, in fact!), I held a naming contest for a new concoction that became to be known as Marshmallow Almond Rococo. My Eclipsed version of your standard Rocky Road, my addition of cocoa nibs and Maldon Sea-salt made this old stand-by stand at attention. Since then, it has lived on the bottom shelf of my chocolate case, smartly dressed to impress in our Asian Take-out containers where it joined the other six confections in such packaging.

I've always considered creating one last treat in this format but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I stumbled onto the proper blend of flavors and textures.

Now I know many of you sometime doubt my cocoa-crazed mine, but seriously... after a critical tasting, how many times have I led you astray? I do, however, see many a scowl on some of these flavor pairings. But I'm telling you. Trust me.

So here's another one for the record books: 55% dark chocolate+Vanilla Bean Marshmallow+Peanut Butter Toffee+Maldon Sea Salt+... ... ... Corn Nuts? Yes, I'm telling you, yes! There's just something utterly decadant about the sutbly emulsive texture and nutty crunch of a corn nut. Especially in contrast with the smooth creaminess of couveture chocolate. I love it!

This one is officially deemed Peanut Butter Toffee Rococo. My wholesale merchandising contact, good friend, and all around cocoa-compadre Sean declares it his favorite Asian Take-out I have... and that's good enough for me.

So here it is comin' atcha. Take a look:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Peanut Butter Toffee Truffle

One more exotic truffle infusion coming at ya! When Ben and I trolled about the Fancy Food Show here in Sunny SD back in January, I was on the hunt for a really good natural peanut butter to use in my production line. I found one from the East Coast called Cream-Nut, and it consisted solely of roasted Virgina Peanuts and sea salt. Nothing else... who needs the rest?

Since then, I've managed to stuff it into whatever makes sense to me at the time. My vegan Salty Peanut Butter Toffee was first followed by the Salty Peanut Butter Toffee Cupcake. But what chocolate shop is complete without a Peanut Butter Toffee Truffle?

Made from a dark chocolate ganache stuffed with the all-natural peanut butter, Maldon Sea-salt, and fresh cream, we hand roll each before dipping in 38% milk chocolate. It's finished with a garnish of crunchy peanut butter toffee. No profound or unusual flavors here, just good ol' comfort food. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sweet Potato Spice

As promised, I've spent a great deal of time as of late developing new truffle infusions. Now that my case holds 16 infusions at a time, I plan on taking advantage of this and throwing as many types of truffles at ya'll as I can muster. Of course if you can't make a decision because there are too many delectable concoctions from which to choose... well that's not my problem.

Debuted last week, Sweet Potato Spice is here just in time for the fall and all of the warmly comforting desserts that come along for the season. At our last tasting dinner, we featured a Sweet Potato Bread Pudding that is arguably the best bread pudding Eclipse has seen yet. I personally enjoyed it so much, it is currently featured on our Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter, too. And, lucky for you all, I had enough potato mash for a small run of truffles to recreate the same flavor concept into a smaller, more chocolatey tidbit.

Enrobed in 38% milk chocolate, this dark chocolate ganache is packed with plenty of Sweet Potato mash and Vietnamese cinnamon and other spices. It's finished with a generous garnish of African Grains of Paradise. If you haven't heard me speak of these before, these babies are often used in lieu of peppercorns in Northern Africa and are peppery and piquant, with unusual tones of cardamom.

We will showcase this infusion until it's gone, and expect it to last through the early fall. Check

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Harvest Festival 2008

Do you watch San Diego Living on the local Fox affliate Channel 6? If so, you would have seen yours truely around 9.5 this morning. I visited their studio and did a blind truffle tasting to promote our participation in the 9th Annual Harvest Celebration of Food and Wine at The Prado in Balboa Park.

There's no direct link for the video, but if you follow this one, you will see a collection of videos on the right margin. Click on the right arrow below the video feed until you find the "Chocolate Lounge" video and you can see the full segment.

So what was it all about? This Thursday October 2 from 5pm-9pm watch cooking demonstrations from local area chefs, meet local winemakers, listen to live music, and enjoy nibbles from Venissimo Cheese Shop, Sushi on a Roll, other various local foodie treats, and of course Eclipse Chocolat!

Tickets are still available and are $59.95+tax in advance and $69.95+tax at the door. Call Stacy Anderson at 619.557.9441 X 203 for more information and reservations!

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