Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prix Fixe Tasting Dinners

Choco-friends and -philes! The photos are back from our recent Summer Seafood Chocolate Tasting Dinner and they look pretty tasty thanks to my friend Kaleb at Kaleb Scott Photographs. He and his assisants were in to enjoy the faire and shoot each plating as they debuted from the kitchen.

If you missed the dinner, we have already planned our next line-up. Exclusively for Saturday, August 23rd with seatings at 4.5, 6.5, & 8.5pm for $35 guests will enjoy a Five Couse Pan-Asian Dinner. Organized by country, this one should be a lot of fun:

Vietnam: Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Black Bean-Chocolate Sauce
Thailand: White Chocolate-Coconut Milk Curry Soup with Lemongrass and Tomato
China: Stir-fried Long Beans with Cocoa Nibs
Japan: Sake & Cocoa-Marinated Beef with Black Sesame Rice
Indonesia: Black Rice Pudding with Milk Chocolate-Cinnamon Creme

As always, space is limited so RSVP today. Email or call 619.578.2984. We hold tables with a credit card and accept cancelations up to 48 hrs prior to the dinner without a charge.

Until then... enjoy some mouth-watering pics from our last:
Starter Plate: Artisan Cheese and Fruit Platter
Starter Plate: Steamed Black Mussels with Crispy Chorizo
First Course: White Chocolate-Raspberry Sangria with Grilled Peaches
Second Course: Chile-burnt Caramel Shrimp Ceviche
Third Course: Toasted Wakame Seaweed Salad with Green Apple and Candied Sesame-Nibs
Fourth Course: Pan-seared Diver Scallop with Shaved Asparagus, Grapefruit Sumpreme, & White Chocolate Blood Orange Oil Olive Drizzle

Fifth Course: Dark Chocolate Tarragon Marmalade Trifle

After Dinner Drink: Chile-burnt Caramel Drinking Chocolate

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grilled Kumquat Cake and Mixed Berry Bread Pudding

It's just days before our current Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter is retired, and I'm baking up a storm around here. Before the weekend, we should be finished with our transition to the next collection. Consisting of four little desserts perfect for two, this platter rotates every 6-8 weeks. Keep reading and you'll be privy to a sneak peek for two of these...

Perhaps the star for this next collection is a culinarily peculiar little cake that, at least in my opinion, seems to embody all flavors summer. I finished this baby yesterday just in time to see it "stuffed it down the gullet" of my good friend, confidant, and role-model Rich. Sounds a bit aggressive I know, but when one turns his back only to find the plate of cake licked clean that one just set down moments earlier... well the phrase seems to be apropos. I suppose it could have something to do with the that that Rich is gluten intolerant and as such seldom enjoys a piece of cake, but I'd like to consider the raving reviews of my Grilled White Chocolate-Kumquat Cake just as significant. Owing its structure to an obscene amount of eggs and almond flour, this cake contains no gluten at all, which is what usually keeps a cake together. As such, it's closer to a pudding than a legit cake, and is ridiculously rich and moist. And it packs a wallop, flavored with local, organic kumquat puree and vanilla bean. Best of all, after grilling it caramelizes with a crispy crunch on the surface while staying warm and wet on the inside. What's sexier than that?

On the other hand, the next goodie is perhaps as gluten-y as one can possible be. Mixed Berry Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise is another moist delectable I'm pretty excited about. If you've been paying attention to the first five platters (one, two, three, four, five), you'll have made the connection by now that bread pudding is among my most favorite desserts. This one is a bit different, featuring blackberries, blueberries, & strawberries in a egg custard-soaked brioche crumb. It's richer than previous bread puddings which are usually made from challah. While both breads are egg fortified, brioche just happens to contain a freakish amount of butter, too. And what's wrong with that? Nothing, if you ask me. It's served warmed and finished with a chilled vanilla bean creme anglaise.

Don't they look pretty?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eclipse Chocolat- Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!

Well Summertime is officially in full-swing, and thus bathing season is upon us. Unfortunately for me, that means less and less chocolate rushing out the doors these days. And without any choco-holidays before us until the Fall, we are spending our development time catching up on securing a proper foundation for the next season.

A charming foodie couple wandered into the cafe a few weeks ago and both were quite enthusiastic over my retail chocolate line. Since they live in the Bay Area, it was very flattering when they started dropping names and locations of places they would like to see EC in their own neighborhood. They even followed up with a lengthy email of all SF places foodie (thanks John and Jennifer!).

So I sez to myself... I sez: I wonder how many other choco-friends out there are reading my blog and aren't anywhere near Sunny SD? Wouldn't it be fun to establish a space with which fans may suggest their favorite culinary haunts who should be featuring the EC line?

We're expecting a new website upgrade soon which should contain such an email link, but until then drop us a comment on this post or via email: and we will do the work. In the next few weeks, you may discover a Sea-salt Nib or Gingerbread Crumb bar inhabiting your favorite gift shop or artisan food venue!

Photo courtesy of Visual Lovin Spoonful and the very talented merchandising prowess of Sean Cameron Barnes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Fondue Platter

Though I've chatted about it on the blog before, I couldn't help but take a moment out of my day to shoot another pic of my Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Fondue Platter. While I was produce shopping yesterday, I came across the realization that Champagne Grape season is upon us! And how could I resist?

Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. No better combination of words better describes the tiny Champagne Grape. Deep purple to reddish-black, this very small grape charmer offers a very sweet and mild flavor. Delectably crisp and seedless, the tiny grape-lets offer a slight crunch and their minute stems are edible. A variety of red wine grapes, these babies grow in attractive miniature clusters and are usually only available for short few weeks in the summertime.

So for a limited time, you can find them on the tantalizing Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Fondue Platter. One of our vegan favorites, this collection 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.

Get it while it lasts!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Exotic Artisan Truffle- More Cacao for Your Cash

This week the cafe is nine months old. Nine months! Where did the time go?

For those of you who are new here, Eclipse was actually launched back in the Spring of 2004, when I had but a cocoa-glimmer in my eye. At the time, I was fresh out of graduate school, having recently finished my MFA in sculpture. I had been fooling around with chocolate for the last year or so of my program and when Xmas of 2003 approached, I was surprised to recieve requests from my friends and family who were interested in truffles for holiday gifts. Shortly after, I opted to shelve my interest in academia and instead transform my casual chocolate-making hobby into a fledging business.

And three years after, I took the leap and opened the cafe. Voila!

Now while the business is drastically different from wholesale to retail cafe, its not too difficult for me to track basic volumes and be more or less shocked at the numbers. Don't get me wrong, they are pretty small when compared to other, more nationally recognized chocolatiers, but considering that everything literally passes through my hands... well I don't quite know where I found the time to hand-mold and hand-wrap 30,000 chocolate bars.

And truffles! It's about the same number of those, too. Thankfully, I've found a new method with which to pipe out the ganache centers. The result is a much more regular and round center, which after hand-dipping, is much cleaner, prettier, and actually fits in my custom packaging (previously, truffles like the Caramel Pecan were too tall to even fit in the box after the pecan half with applied). Oddly enough, there's even a little room to spare.

So what does one do with just a little too much room in a Box of Eight? Make it a Box of Ten, of course. And for the same price! While the Box of Two and Box of Four are remaining the same, our Box of Eight Artisan Truffles is now a Box of Ten, still for $20. That's just $2 a truffle, instead of $2.50. Horray for price breaks!

Check it! Now isn't that a tidy little package?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Azteca Cinnamon Rolls

Azteca Cinnamon Rolls are back! Now that we've brought our cupcake craziness to reasonable levels, my pastry case can accomedate other culunary delights.

Here's the original blog post of these spicy babies, look!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cacao Cubano

Last week I found myself watching a Food Network show called "Recipe for Success" , which chronicles the personal stories behind the launching of indie restaurants and food-businesses. I've always enjoyed this show, even in it's current syndication where I have pretty much seen each episode. It's interesting to see the struggle of other's as they launch their own foodie dreams and draw parallels to my own experience. This particular episode was about a young lady and her interest in an Internet-based artisan cookie company. Frankly, she was a bit of a weirdo, and one of her signature flairs was to invent a cookie flavor for each of the boyfriends she has had. At the time, I thought it was a pretty stupid idea.

Well... once upon a time, when Eclipse was barely cocoa-conceived and my life resembled nothing like what it is today, I was dating a Cuban. While he didn't paddle across the Gulf to Democratic freedom (it was his parents that weren't American-born), I sometimes wonder if his ego did. Having grown up in Miami he was certainly of strong Cuban persuasion, complete with all the pride that comes along with his heritage.

We were chatting about exotic chocolate one day (as all exotic chocolatiers are wont to do) and he suggested trying to infuse cigars into ganache for a Cuban-inspired truffle. I think I must have looked at him as if he were an idiot and I quickly dismissed the idea to the same mental filing cabinet that held each suggestion made by stoners who suggest the same with Marijuana. Not for me, I convinced myself... Blah... Gross!

Well low and behold... two years after that initial suggestion I have created two cigar-infused concoctions. Banana Rum Cigar, one of the cupcake flavors, was popular enough to make the cut to the top eighteen, but the real star on this exotic flavor concept is my Cacao Cubano. And while I didn't create the flavor profile to as an homage, I certainly owe him credit. Thanks, Miguel!

And it doesn't get much more exotic than this. This 61% dark chocolate ganache truffle is made with a Brown Sugar Banana Rum Compote and infused with high-quality cigars. After being enrobed in a dark chocolate shell, it's then topped with a dried banana chip.

I find its dark and foreboding flavors to be quite intriguing. At first bite, the banana is most evident and deepened by a subtle hint of rum. Following that is a fiery, charred aroma that is certainly secondary, but strong enough to announce that this isn't your ordinary truffle. On the finish, you're left with a subtle smokey aftertaste that, while I have actually never smoked tobacco in any form, I would imagine would be quite familiar to those who have. All in all, one of my deepest and darkest truffle infusions. But don't take my word for it, stop in and mention this blog post and try one of these guys for free!

Summer Seafood Prix Fixe Dinner

Cocoa friends and foodies!

Join us for our next Five-Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner. Will be celebrating the coastal harvest with our Summer Seafood Dinner, exclusively for Friday, July 25th with seatings at 6.5 and 8.5pm. For$35 per person our guests will enjoy:

White Chocolate-Raspberry Sangria with Grilled Peaches
Chile-burnt Caramel Shrimp Ceviche
Seaweed-Apple Salad with Candied Seasame Seeds & Cocoa Nibs
Pan-seared Diver Scallop with Asparagus, Grapefruit, & White ChocolateBlood Orange Oil Olive Drizzle
Citrus Marmelade & Dark Chocolate-Tarragon Trifle
Try the optional Starter Platter ($12): Steamed Black Mussels with Crispy Chorizo

RSVP via email or call the cafe direct at 619.578.2984. We expect to sell out, so don't wait! As always, we hold tables with a credit card number, and can accept cancelations up to 48 hours before the dinner without a cancelation fee. -

Fourth Course: Pan-seared Diver Scallop with Asparagus, Grapefruit, & White ChocolateBlood Orange Oil Olive Drizzle

First Course: Chile-burnt Caramel Shrimp Ceviche

Monday, July 14, 2008

Grand Prize Winners

With just 12 days before our next Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner, we're really busy around here finalizing details so that it goes down deliciously. Not a whole lot to report on new cafe business, but I did want to take a moment and list the two winners from the raffle (email extensions removed to retain privacy):


We only collected emails for contact purposes, so if your handle doesn't resemble one of these two alpha-numerical combinations then I'm afraid that your rating card wasn't pulled. Better luck next time!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Winning Cupcake Flavors

Well choco-philes and -friends, that time is already here. The results of our Cupcake Extravaganza Weekend are in! The top 18 flavors and their average scores (out of 4.0, the highest and lowest scorings removed for fairness) are as follows:

Salty Peanut Butter Toffee- 4
Kentucky Bourbon Caramel- 4
Macadamia Dulce de Leche- 3.9
Lemon Dulce de Leche- 3.9
Cocoa Nib Mint- 3.7
Lavender-Vanilla Bean- 3.7
Peanut Butter and Jelly- 3.7
Muscavado Caramel- 3.5
Banana Cinnamon- 3.5
Coconut Caramel- 3.5
Banana-Rum Cigar- 3.4
Lavender Sea-salted Caramel- 3.4
Burnt-Caramel Marshmallow- 3.3
Corn-nut Dulce de Leche- 3.2
Balsamic Pink Peppercorn- 3.2
Marshmallow Almond- 3.1
Salty S'mores- 2.9
Crispy Bacon & Dulce de Leche- 2.8
This means the remaining 18 flavors will either be discontinued or (in most instances) find their way onto our seasonal flavor list to become limited edition during particular times of the year.
Our polls are closed, but if you have yet to return your review cards, bring them in! We will be drawing for our Grand Prize (a VIP Eclipse Pass) this Sunday. No one claimed the instant winning medallion (stuck to the bottom of one lucky cupcake), so we will be drawing TWO winners for the raffle.
And so you all can begin salivating at the hopes of being a winner, here's what the VIP Eclipse Passes look like. "Some may say that they even resemble Golden Tickets", says the chocolatier named Will. The holders of these shimmering babies will receive a Box of Nine Cupcakes each week for two months.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cupcake Craziness

Wow. Just wow. I had *hoped* for a good weekend with the Extravaganza, but I just didn't expect this sort of response. A very sincere THANK YOU to everyone who helped spread the word.

Friday obviously was a holiday, so lots of people stopped in early for a Box of Nine (or even two or three boxes!), inevitably on their way to a bar-b-que or picnic. Saturday and Sunday were much more steady, with lots of cupcakers wandering in throughout the day and evening. When all was said and done, we sold nearly 1200 cupcakes before close on Sunday. Who knew? Not me! Friday morning I began with just 300 cupcakes by 10am and didn't stop baking until well into the evening. And balancing 36 flavors is no easy task. At our height on Saturday at noon, we had 28 flavors at the same time. Check it:

So what now, you ask? Well, we will be accepting the rating cards (complete with your email address on the back for the Grand Prize drawing) through this weekend, so bring 'em in for your chance to win! The 2000th cupcake was also sold, which contained the winning medalion on the bottom of the liner, though no one has claimed the prize. If no one does by Sunday, we will draw TWO winners from the raffle, instead of just one.

And while we expect many more rating cards, some of the top rated so far are:

Lavender Sea-salted Caramel
Cocoa Nib Mint
Kentucky Bourbon Caramel
Salty Peanut Butter Toffee
Lemon Dulce de Leche
Lavender-Vanilla Bean
Macadamia Dulce de Leche
Peanut Butter and Jelly

Thanks again to everyone who came out. Cya at our next event: Five Course Chocolate Tasting Dinner, Summer Seafood!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Savory Cupcake and Coupons

One last post before the big weekend! And a coupon this time. Our first ever. Print it, cut it out, and bring it in. What else are you going to do this holiday weekend? We have normal business hours all weekend long!

Forgot to grab lunch? Try one of our more savory flavors. They are practically a meal:

Sweet Onion Caramel
Crispy Bacon Dulce de Leche
Goat Cheese & Fig
Peanut Butter-Banana & Bacon
Corn Nut Dulce de Leche
Crispy Chorizo-Date

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes- Part Dix-Huit

Holy Crème Fraîche Cupcakes, Batman. Two more today and that makes the promised 36! As mentioned, these last few have been off the culinary deep-end and today's are no exception.

I'm also getting requests for an organized list of all flavors in one post. So, here you go (click on the links to see full descriptions)!

Oddly enough, organized into chronological order the list seems to be a rare glimpse into erosion of a mental health patient and his descent into madness. Cupcakes just seemed to become stranger and stranger the more flavors that poured out of my mind. Go figure.

And the last two cocoa-crazed-creations:

Sweet Onion Caramel-Dark chocolate-crème fraîche cake+sweet onion caramel filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+merlot-infused sea-salt.

Crispy Chorizo-Date-Butter-crème fraîche cake+crispy chorizo & candied date puree+dark chocolate ganache glaze+crystallized date.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes- Part Dix-Sept

I thought I would start today's post with a bit of a teaser. Check it:

Here you can see our Box of Nine Crème Fraîche Cupcakes, accompanied with the two VIP Eclipse Passes, which as you probably know are good for a Box of Nine every week for two months! How does one receive such a pleasure? Well by winning the Extravaganza Weekend Raffle, of course (each cupcake purchased this weekend is an entry).

But why bother with entries into a lottery when you can win the fast way? One lucky patron this weekend will receive the Golden EC Medallion. That's the pretty little token in the cupcake liner shown above. That person will ALSO win the VIP Eclipse Pass. Who needs a golden ticket when you can have a medallion (insert inevitable Willy Wonka joke here, I've heard 'em all!).

And that's all happening this weekend. Can't wait until then? We have these crazy cupcake creations each day. Two new ones this morning:

Banana-Rum Cigar-Yellow-crème fraîche cake+cigar, banana, & rum-infused dark chocolate filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+cashew.

Tarragon Grapefruit-White-crème fraîche cake+cigar, candied grapefruit & caramel filling+dark chocolate ganache glaze+tarragon sugar.