Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Eclipse Spectacular Cake

My boyfriend, Ray, recently had his birthday earlier this month. When asked what his preference for a birthday cake all I could get out of him was a jumble of different ideas. He's never been a big fan of chocolate (why is he dating me???), but lucky for me he is a bit of a glutton over a few other things I make. So I took his birthday request literally and starting composing. But how to stick the half-dozen items together that he mentioned? I felt confident that my seven years of art school learning to be a sculptor would come in handy. One doesn't navigate through 70k of student loans without coming out on the other end with a few constructive skill sets.

Surprisingly, it all came other in just an afternoon! I even had a few moments to reflect on the monstrosity before guests arrived for the party. The chimera of cake that resulted seemed a little intimidating, but no one at the event seemed to pause when tearing into it. Before looking at the pic, allow yourself to fully digest the written description... it's a doozy!

Here is is, folks, from the bottom up (complete with hyperlinks for those interested in reading a full description on individual layers):

A base of Double Dark Chocolate Brownie dressed with 61% dark chocolate ganache, topped with...

A layer of Azteca Cinnamon Rolls slathered in cream cheese frosting, topped with...

A layer of bourbon-soaked Chocolate Creme Fraiche Cake, all encapsulated in...

Seriously! This baby was 11" in diameter and 8" tall. It could feed 30 or more if you can find a way to slice it proficiently. And since I'm sure someone out there is going to see this picture and want to roll around in it for their next birthday, I'll beat you to the punch and say this whopper would be about $155 for the lot! Special order, of course:)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Truffle, Wine, and Cheese Tasting Is Back!

That's right! Our next Truffle, Wine, and Cheese Tasting is coming up in April. Join us Wednesday, April 8th from 7-8pm for an hour-long tour of all things tasty with Eclipse Chocolate owner and head chocolatier, William Gustwiller (that's me!).

I will be discussing how chocolate is made, the particular flavor profiles of three of our exotic truffle infusions, and how they taste in conjunction next to an artisan cheese and a Californian wine. Do the math kids, that's an hour of tasting and discussion with 9 tasty bites for just $20 per person.

This time we will be featuring: Chile Burnt Caramel, Lemon Ginger, and Basil Absinthe

We can only fit about 20 folks for each tasting, so call the cafe to reserve your space today!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eclipse Goes to Oaxaca!

So its 7.15AM and I'm sitting in bed wide-eyed and sleepless concerning my little cocoa-clogged brain with the few dozens details that need to be addressed this evening when I serve 120 people dinner. Such is the life of a chocolatier who moonlights as a restauranteur once a month. But sure enough, within hours to declaring exhaustion I will already be dreaming of next month's dinner. At least I'm pretty confident this is how its going to all play out... its happened 12 times already.

That's right, tonight is Eclipse's twelfth Prix Fixe Chocolate Dinner! Wow! It's pretty overwhelming for me to look back and consider (hm... let's see... 5 courses - 1 dessert x 12 dinners = 48???) that I've made 48 different platings that otherwise wouldn't normally contain a chocolate element. Zach, our GM, claims that makes me the nation's foremost chocolate-savory food expert, but I am positive that there are a handful of crazier and more chocolate obsessed people than moi!

Still though, that's a lot of crazy chocolate experimentation. And as I pour over the details of the theme for next month, I wonder why someone hasn't called me out of it yet. Certainly someone thinks this is ridiculous, no?

I guess that's why it has taken me so long to get to next month's theme. Fearing that Rick Bayless or some other definitively world-famous authority would come knocking down my door detailing everything I've done wrong, I have consistently avoided the most obvious of chocolate entrees: Mole. Well, no more! I'm going for it and doing it well!

So join me, staff, and my chocolate-obsessions as we delve into all things authentically Mexican at our next dinner: Oaxacan Fiesta. And if you're unfamiliar with the name, Oaxaca is the Mexican state just south of Pueblo that is famous for mole. Pronounced (say it with me!) wah-Haw-kah.

Exclusively Saturday April 25th, for $25 per person we will be celebrating the following menu:

Black Bean & Shrimp Quesadilla with Roasted Tomato Salsa and Quacamole (optional starter)
Sweet Onion & Chipotle Soup with White Chocolate Crema and Poached Quail Egg
Mole Negro with Slow-cooked Chicken and Cocoa-nib Tamales
Oaxacan Mocha Cake with Chile-burnt Caramel Sauce

RSVP required. Place your reservations by calling the cafe at 619.578.2984 today!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Small Chocolate Bars?

One of the trickiest aspects of fording the path for an artisan food company is dealing with the seasonality of the market. Thankfully, many of you out there are perfectly happy enjoying an exotic chocolate bar on a daily basis, but the reality of it all is that business experiences a sharp influx during the holiday months. Xmas and Vday, of course are the largest, and just like many other retailers, I find myself creating business plans that revolve around 4th quarter sales concepts. This of course extends to my product development and launching cycles.

So I've got two exciting things I'm cooking up (tempering up?) around the production kitchen these days. The first is a redevelopment of my Marshmallow Almond Rococo and Peanut Butter Toffee Rococo that will happen sometime this summer... more info on that when it comes around, but I promise that anyone who enjoys those will be thrilled with whats coming next! More pressing is the introduction of small chocolate bars!

I've actually been making 1oz chocolate bars for the past few years, but only as custom orders for a few local hotels. But the current economy what it is, many people seem to be asking for smaller bites of chocolate, and I am finally giving in to popular demand. The final bars will be one-third the size of the bigger beauties, and for $3 each. I'm hoping to offer them in our top six flavors and also packaged as a tasting set of all six for just $15. Fun, no?

Well this is where you all come in. While I certainly have my views on which flavors are my best, that certainly doesn't make them to all-around most popular. So take a look at the poll on the right margin over there and give us a vote. See it? Just to the right? Come on... give us your feedback and play a part in shaping the new Eclipse. It's only a few clicks away!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Azteca Cinnamon Rolls

I promised a few people (Rich, Sean, Ray, Tanya... the list goes on) that once Vday was behind me and I got my culinary ducks in a row that I would commit to a regular production assistant and my famous Azteca Cinnamon Rolls would return. These babies take two consecutive days to make, so unfortunately they seem to be the first to be dropped from the agenda when things get busy. But with the advent of the lovely Autumn coming in every Friday like clockwork, I no longer have excuses. So they are back! And hopefully everyday!

Gooey, sticky, spicy, and creamy are a few words that can aptly describe these delights. Our decadent variation on the classic, I start the buttermilk dough the day before and allow 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. Then they are topped with cream cheese frosting, and who isn't on board for that?

I warn you, these are addicting.

They are $3 each, or a set of 4 is $10. They are comin' outta the oven in about 35 minutes (that's 10:55 Pacific Standard Time)!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Full-sized Creme Fraiche Cakes!

There's been a little-known secret here in the cafe for about three months now and I think its time to divulge this gem to the masses. Did you know that I bake full-sized cakes? Of course not... I'm telling you for the first time now!

Unless of course you are a certain regular client who practically begged me to make one for the first time a few months ago. Reluctant at first, I ultimately decided to bake off a giant version of our popular Sea-salted Caramel cupcake. It was rectangular in shape, multi-layered, and looked a bit like a large opera cake.

If you know me personally (or even professionally), you probably know that I am pretty stubborn when it comes to what I am interested in doing culinarily. And pastry isn't exactly something I want to be known for (I'm a chocolatier first, after all!), but business is business, and if you can provide people with something they are demanding, then you're a fool to not comply. Thus is my relationship with the full-sized cake.

So finally giving in, I present to you the Creme Friache Torte. Essentially just a large cake in one of the flavors in our Creme Fraiche Cupcakes, this treat is large enough for a party and will comfortably serve 12-16 cocoa-fiends. Available in the following flavors, each is $60, made only to order, and are so far pretty well received.

Chocolate Cakes:
Sea-salt Caramel
Goat Cheese & Fig
Balsamic Pink Peppercorn
Chile-burnt Marshmallow

Yellow Cakes:
Marshmallow Almond
Peanut Butter Toffee

Please allow for 48 hours notice for an order! Here's the Sea Salt Caramel, complete with Exotic Salted Caramels on top!!! Check it: