Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Live Music

On Tuesday, February 5th, Eclipse Chocolat will be hosting three dear friends who are on a journey around California (from Philadelphia) spreading their unique sound and indie souls. While they hail from three separate bands, they are coming together to play as a trio for this tour under the name Feed the Birds.

Call their sound a little jazzy, folky, indie, soul, ol'time country, blues- it ranges!

Their music:

They will be playing accoustic from 7-9pm. Stop in and say hello.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sea-salt Nib

Continuing with my New Year's resolution to review my old standards, this post is dedicated to my most popular solid chocolate blend. "Most popular" is probably an understatement. Sea-salt Nib, in fact, out-sells my other eleven chocolate blends 3-to-1!

Made from 55% percent dark chocolate, this blend is infused with candied cocoa nibs and lavender-herbed grey sea-salt. If you haven't tried this bar before, you're missing out! It's flecked with our house-made lavender-herbed grey sea-salt which explode on your tongue as concentrated salty bursts. This experience is tempered with the addition of candied cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs, the "meat" of the cacao pod, are the unprocessed raw essentials of chocolate, containing both the cocoa liquor and cocoa butter content of finished chocolate. We candy them, coating each kernel in a burnt sugar shell, which accentuates the toasty chocolate flavor. Previously, this processed involved a small amount of butter, but we have recently switched to using olive oil so that the final bar is vegan. The label still says that the bar contains milk powder and butter, but those ingredients have been omitted and the label will read "vegan-friendly" when it is next printed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Fondue Platter

Haven't had a sexy food post for a while, so I'm bringing out the big guns. What's sexier than dipping things into liquid chocolate-lovin'?

Shown here in all of its drippy goodness is our Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Fondue Platter. One of our vegan favorites, this platter of to-be-dipped goodies is accompanied with our house-made fondue of 72% chocolate and Californian olive oil infused with blood oranges. The resulting flavor of this marriage is somewhat citrus, somewhat fruit, and somewhat sweet. Enjoy it with our Spanish Marcona almonds and sugared-torta, candied mango slices, and seasonal fresh fruit. At the moment its coming with fresh apricot halves. Bon appetite!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sundays with Eclipse Chocolat

If you've been into the cafe lately, you may have noticed a few new faces around. And if you haven't in the past week or so, make sure to say hello to our new barista, Grace, and choco-intern, Anu, when you're around next time.

Also, starting January 27th we will be open 10-6pm on Sundays!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

San Diego's Own Secret Apollo

Join us this Saturday, January 26th, in the cafe to rock out with San Diego's own Secret Apollo. Chech out their site here, or their myspace here. The cafe is bound to be packed with indie rockers, so come early if you want a table. Show starts at 8pm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vday Update!

Wow! Y'alls hungry!

Our recently announced Valentine's Day Dinner is nearly sold out, even with the added second night. Both seatings for Thursday are closed, and we only have five tables left for Friday evening. If you're interested, respond quickly. We will take inquires on a first-come basis, so your best bet is to email Even after all tables are taken, we will be collecting a waiting list, so feel free to write in as we are taking cancellations up to 72 hours prior to the event. If you currently have a reservation for two, we have a few tables for four that can be arranged if you have another couple with whom you would like to dine. Other than that, we're booked!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eclipse and Valentine's Day

Worried your Valentine's Day will be a bust? Still regretting last year's monogrammed His and Her bowling balls? Fresh out of ideas on how to top last year's bag of In-And-Out and drive-in theater? Fret no more! Eclipse Chocolat has the whole evening planned. You just need to RSVP and show up on time.
Exclusively for the evenings of Thursday and Friday, February 14th and 15th, we are offering a five-course full-service dinner for two for just $45. Guests to enjoy:
Buttermilk Biscuits with House-made Cocoa-nib Butter
Chocolate Crepe with Creme Fraiche & Mushroom-Marsala Sauce
Soup Duo of Chilled Vichysoisse & White Chocolate Leek
Salade of Grapefruit Supremes & Fennel with Cocoa Vinaigrette
Brie en Croute with Cocoa Veal Sauce (vegetarian sauce option)
Raspberry-cocoa Nib Plombiere
Optional Artisan Cheese & Charcuterie Platter
& Speciality Drinks Available
Apparently, our teaser for this year's V-day event went over so well that we've nearly sold out! We've added seatings for Friday night at 7 and 9pm to accommodate everyone who is interested... well at least those who are timely in making decisions. We expect this event to sell out very soon, even with the recently added repeat performance. If interested, call the cafe to make a reservation (619.578.2984) or send your information via email to We require the full names of each attendee, a credit card number and expiration to hold the reservation, and an email address for confirmation. Cancellations are welcome up to 72 hours prior to the event, beyond that there will be a fee.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chocolate Chip-Chocolate Brioche

While not the sexiest girl at the party, this little mama is the one you will want to marry. Another new pastry for our first resolution, you can find our Chocolate Chip-Chocolate Brioche in rotation next to the exotic brownies and other temptations. Made from a 72% dark chocolate and butter-fortified yeast dough, we start these the night before so they can develop an intense flavor while they rest. Then chocolate chips are folded in and they are baked until moist and airy. Subtly sweet and overwhelmingly dark, the are a great pairing with a cup of tea or espresso. Just the right for a light snack, they are $3 each.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tangerine Honeycomb

New Year's Resolution #4:
More scrumptious photos (that are in focus!)

While I am not a professional photographer, I do in fact, have my Master's in Sculpture. As many of you know, that is actually how this all began. When I was finishing my third year of graduate school (seven years of art school in total), I began to play with chocolate as if it were another artistic material. No, I didn't actually sculpt with it, but I was experimenting with flavor from the perspective of an artist.

About half-way through my grad program, I picked up beeswax and honey as a conceptual and symbolic material and began to emphasize my work around my fascination with molding and melting the two. Compounded with the fact that I've always been a foodie and dessert whore, by the time I reached my thesis exhibition I had picked up chocolate as a canvas for my creations, though this time strictly for the mouth. I had even planned a closing reception for my show so I would have time to cater it all myself! That was the beginning of Eclipse!

Now while I can hack together some photography, my digital camera is really just a glamorized point-and-shoot. Luckily, seven years of schooling had given me a great sense of composition. So while many of my posts look pretty good, they are often plagued with lousy lighting and focus problems. No more, I say! And this post is the first of my newly focused sense of determination. I hope its the first of many more titillating food pics.

And what better place to start? Tangerine Honeycomb, while an art-piece for the mouth, is a pleasant culinary exercise in my first artistic love: all things bee-kind. Made from a burnt-sugar base infused with golden honey, this confection froths up as we pour it into confectionery frames to set. The result is a deep honey flavor with a crisp and airy texture. It is finished with a coating of 72% dark chocolate infused with a hint of tangerine, and topped with bee pollen. It's pretty unique and striking in this photo, if I do say so myself. It's available in the Asian Take-out boxes for $8 a quarter pound. And since it contains no dairy, it's vegan!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mango Masala

New Year's Resolution #3:
Perfect old formulas and blog on my original product line.

I never really thought I'd become a blogger, but I must admit, I've have a lot of fun writing in the past six months. I should have started a blog ages ago! As it happened, I started it mostly to rouse interest in the cafe launch. And look at me now, three posts a week, without fault.

Continuing my resolutions, it's about time I start talking about the chocolate that brought me here in the first place. I launched Eclipse back in the beginning of 2004, and it was really the Exotic Artisan Truffles and Solid Chocolate Blends that gained enough popularity for me to continue the slippery path of becoming an exotic chocolatier. In fact, it took me over a year before I even considered strengthening my product line. By the end of 2004, I had over two dozen truffles (some seasonal), and shortly after I added the Exotic Salted Caramels and Snapping Turtles. Finally, about a year ago, I increased my chocolate bar line from six blends to a even dozen. And now that I have a storefront? Well, I can't seem to stop trying out new ideas.

But for the moment, we're spending our time around here with a trip down memory lane. One of my first blends, Mango Masala, definitely made a splash in the local foodie community when it was introduced. With its 38% cacao milk chocolate couveture (chocolatey nomenclature meaning that its super high in cocoa butter and therefore very creamy in texture), candied mango, and exotic blends of curry spices, this Indian-influenced bar was turning heads, for better of worse. Funny thing about being an exotic chocolatier: you can please everyone all of the time! True about most things in life, no? Well, if we're talking about my Sea-salt Nib bar, then yes, we can, quite possibly, please everyone all the time. But of all flavors that I make, this one is definitely the most polar. It seems that for every person that tries this tricky concoction, I hear an equal amount of "that's amazing!" as I do "hm, not for me". Well to simplify the issue, if you enjoy curry and Indian food, then this bar is for you! Otherwise? Well, I have eleven other flavors, folks.

Seems odd to say that after 4 years of making something professionally I've finally decided upon the definitive formula, but in this case it's true. I recently made a pledge to go organic, so I'm now sourcing all my spices certifiably so, and that has proved tricky for the curry powder market. As I am sure most of you know, there is no curry tree yielding curry seeds in the far East. Curry powder, like Moroccan harissa and Mexican mole, is code-word for a blend of spices that can vary greatly from region to region. And while I was elated to find an organic curry blend, I quickly found that it just didn't add up to the same flavor profile that my previous one had. My solution was to start making my own blend from my own selection of organic spices. The combo I settled upon has notes of Vietnamese cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and cumin among various others. Beyond that, I have found that most people (sorry, die-hard curry fans) are more interested in a subtler spice flavor and more sweet mango.

So in short: Mango Masala, now with organic spices. Less curry, more mango!

Stop in an enjoy a sample.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Toasted S'mores Platter

New Year's Resolution #2:
More exciting dessert platters.

I've been working on a few things around the cafe, and one is finally completed: the Toasted S'mores Platter. Not your typical s'mores combo, these babies feature a cinnamon-sugared chocolate shortbread topped with two of our house-made vanilla bean marshmallows (see how we make those here). And you don't just get one, you get three! Can you believe it???

Seriously though, they are toasted until they are gooey inside and crisp on top. Accompanying the trio is a warm cup of our 72% Cacao and Catalonian Olive Oil Fondue and two little silver ramekins of my favorite Lavender-herbed Grey Sea-salt and Maldon Sea-salt. If you've never had artisan sea-salts with chocolate (and pretty much anything I do with that flavor concept quickly becomes a best-seller), this isn't a bad place to start. Dip, sprinkle, and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Azteca Cinnamon Rolls

New Year's Resolution #1:
More delicious and decadent pastries and baked goods.

Each day at the cafe we plate a few fresh goodies for our pastry case. Having opened just a few weeks before Xmas, no one here had a moment to breath, let alone add something new to our line-up. So for a while, it was a lot of exotic brownies and not much else around here. Not that I heard anyone complaining; you all seemed quite happy with those little dense and chocolatey gems (see the full post here). But I'm happy to say that that's not the only trick up my sleeve. No need to worry, we will still have the brownies each day, but here is a glimpse of the first (of many) new pastries you might find each day.

Gooey, sticky, spicy, and creamy are a few words that can aptly describe our new Azteca Cinnamon Rolls. Our decadent variation on the classic, we start the buttermilk dough the day before and although them to rest, chilled, for 16 hours or so. During that time, they develop a well-balanced yeasty flavor that's a little akin to sourdough. These treats are then rolled up and filled with dark muscovado sugar, Vietnamese cinnamon, and a touch of cayenne. They aren't exactly hot, but they do have a subtle bite to them that you aren't likely to find in other rolls. Plus, they are topped with cream cheese frosting, and who isn't on board for that?

Have them cold or asked us to gently heat them. Either way, they are my new personal favorite!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Vegan Truffles

(This post is dedicated to my friend, Charlie, the most enthusiastic vegan in San Diego)

So, you've probably heard me say it before: Being a true foodie through and through, I'm not a fan of dietary substitutions. While I can understand and appreciate tofu and gluten, what's the purpose of mock meats? Did ANYONE think Olestra was really a good idea? And it's taken me a long time to come to terms with sugar-free sodas (how else can a chocolatier keep his girlish figure?). Lastly, if you come into the cafe, don't ask about sugar-free chocolate. Some things just weren't meant to be.

So for a long time when a vegan would ask me about non-dairy truffles, I would grimace and point them to a dark chocolate bar instead. But a few weeks ago I found an interesting recipe for a coconut milk-based dulce de leche and, of course, my first though was "Ah ha! Vegan ganache!"

Ganache, as some of you might know, is definitively part heavy cream and part chocolate (and sometimes butter). And it's that super creamy fattiness that makes a truffle so decedent and delicious. Sure, there are other vegan truffles and bon-bons out there, but most use vegetable oil instead of the cream. Yuck! No one wants an oily truffle!

So let me introduce you to my two newest creations, and while they aren't exactly truffles, they sure are tasty, and without pretending to be something they aren't. Salted Coconut Milk Caramel and Double Coconut Milk Caramel are pretty satisfying, have no dairy in them at all, and, for the record, are considerably more healthy than the other truffles in my line-up (but who's counting calories?)

Both are made from all 60% dark chocolate and a coconut milk dulce de leche ganache. The first is topped with a ginger and coriander-infused sea-salt and the latter is topped with toasted coconut threads. If you're a fan of my signature Lavender Sea-salted Caramel, then don't miss its coconut milk cousin!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner

For those of you paying attention, you've seen the e-poll at the top of the blog here asking for your input on the upcoming Chocolate Tasting Dinner. Well, the vote so far seems to be right down the middle, but upon speaking to some of you in person I've decided to splurge and go all out.

Available exclusively on the evening of Thursday, February 14th (which is conveniently Valentine's Day!) we will offer a full-service candle-lit prix fixe five-course chocolate tasting dinner. That's a lot of adjectives, you say? Well lets break it down!

For $45 per couple (that's only $22.50 per person for those of you who aren't good with mental math) you and a friend can enjoy a classy evening out with plenty of food for two. Prix Fixe, fancy-French pronounced prē-fēks, means that it's a fixed five course dinner at the set price, but there will also be an optional artisan cheese and meat platter and of course a few beverages to enjoy. And chocolate tasting? Well, I'm sure no one needs clarification on this one, but for the record the meal will follow a traditional five-course format (Amuse Bouche or Appetiser, Soup, Salad, Entree, and Dessert) and each offering will feature chocolate as an flavor element. Although the menu is still in development, I can say I've completed the finishing touches on the Baked Brie en Croute with Cocoa-Veal Demiglace. Exciting, no? Well we think so and expect this event to sell out (and we can only accept 24 couples) so don't wait until the last minute to sign up.

There will be seatings at 6.30 and 8.30, RSVP with credit card required. Email to reserve your space.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter Dessert Tasting Platter

It's January 2nd, 2008, and today is the premier of the Winter Dessert Tasting Platter! Consisting of a collection small desserts perfect for two, this quartet of chocolate temptations changes six times a year to reflect seasonal ingredients.

The new collection features:

Frozen Peanut-butter Chocolate Mousse-Iced 60% dark chocolate mousse with a layer of crunchy peanut-butter daquois, topped with peanut-butter brittle.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce-Moist fig, coffee, and molasses cake served hot, topped with a Bourbon-spiked milk chocolate and burnt-caramel sauce.

Grilled Orange Peel-Date Bars with Cocoa Nib Cream-Vanilla short-bread cookie filled with orange peel, ale, and date compote, grilled to perfection, topped with a cocoa-nib infused whipped cream and cocoa nibs.

Forbidden Rice Pudding- Chinese black and jasmine rice and coconut milk pudding, topped with a cocoa nib-white chocolate sauce and Vietnamese cinnamon.
(see a more in-depth post here)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Forbidden Rice Pudding

It's the New Year already and I'm cooking up a few resolutions for the cafe. Most exciting is the debut of the second Dessert Tasting Platter! Those of you out there that have been "meaning to try that new chocolate place" but have yet to make it in... well you've already missed out on a few goodies never to be seen again. Well, it's not quite that dramatic, but our first tasting platter was retired today, it being seasonal and all (check it out here).

So I'm back to the chocolatey grind, concocting four new mini-desserts for the new platter, and here is a sneak preview of the first dessert: Forbidden Rice Pudding.

Forbidden, you say? Well, not quite, but this twist on and old standard is, in fact, made from one particularly alluring and mysterious ingredient. Forbidden Rice, or Chinese Black Rice, is so-called because legend has it that at one time it was forbidden for anyone to eat but the Emperor.

Taking a page from the new pastry book by Spago's Sherry Yard, I've taken part Forbidden rice, part Jasmine rice and a selection of delicious spices to make a visually unusual treat that is as comforting as it is intriguing. Here is a pic of the spices (cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and vanilla bean) and uncooked rice:

The black rice yields such a dark color when cooked that the completed pudding is a deep purple when finished with dairy and coconut milk. Topped with a cocoa nib-white chocolate sauce and a dusting and Vietnamese cinnamon, this dessert is dressed to impress: