What is better than tasting desserts made of chocolate? How about tasting five chocolate desserts custom-made by five amazing pastry chefs all using Scharffen Berger chocolate?
That was exactly what I and around thirty-four other lucky food bloggers got to experience in San Francisco during a special media-only bakery-crawl tour put on by Scharffen Berger Chocolate to help kick off their “Elevate a Classic Dessert with Scharffen Berger Chocolate” Contest.
The contest grand prize is $10,000 and is open to all bakers using Scharffen Berger Chocolate to create a new spin on a classic dessert. The bakery-crawl tour was designed to give all of us food bloggers some “baking inspiration” as well as a look (and taste!) at some amazing pastry chefs around San Francisco.
The event started at the Scharffen Berger Chocolate store in the Ferry Building Market on San Francisco’s beautiful waterfront. While waiting for everyone to arrive we were all given lots of tasting chocolates to get the mood started! Soon we were off to a motorized trolley car parked out back where we all loaded on and were handed a bag to stash all our goodies and a print-out of the days events.
The first stop on the tour was Anthony’s Cookies located in the Mission District. Anthony’s Cookies is a simple yet delicious concept of home-made cookies and milk: locally sourced and organic Straus Family Creamery Milk to be exact! Anthony Lucas, the owner of Anthony’s Cookies, was there to greet us as we exited the trolley and stepped into his delicious smelling storefront.
He explained the cookie that he baked especially for us: Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie with Walnuts featuring Scharffen Berger Semi Sweet Baking Chunks. The cookies were crisp on the outside and moist on the inside with the perfect amount of chocolate chunks throughout. Before we left Anthony’s Cookies we were each given an extra cookie to take with us for the road.
We excitedly arrived at our second location on Filimore Street: Citizen Cake owned by well-know Food Network star and author Elizabeth Faulkner. Ms. Faulkner greeted us as we all filed into her retro-style ice cream parlor and proceeded to make us a Chocolate Gelato Sundae With Chocolate Cake Crumbles and Marshmallow Cream.
The gelato, chocolate cake and chocolate sauce were all made with Scharffen Berger Chocolates. This dessert was not overly sweet so the flavors of the bittersweet chocolate were able to really shine through. Ms. Faulkner uses a liquid nitrogen machine stored behind the counter to make small batches of gelato used in her magnificent ice cream creations.
She said that the liquid nitrogen helps keep the gelato texture smoother than if it was made in a typical ice cream maker. It was pretty impressive to see all the “fog” rolling out of the mixer as she made up a batch of gelato right in front of us.
Soon we were back on the trolley headed to our next stop located in beautiful Ghirardelli Square: Kara’s Cupcakes. Kara’s Cupcakes is known for fantastic cupcakes made with locally sourced ingredients which are actually listed on a large sign as you walk into the pretty storefront.
Kara’s Cupcakes made us each a cupcake named “The CandyBar”: a chocolate cupcake made with Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder filled with caramel and topped with a milk chocolate peanut butter ganache frosting sprinkled with a little sea salt. This cupcake was such a tasty little treat: who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate together!
We were soon on the trolley traveling back to where we began at the Ferry Building Market, which also happened to be home to our our last destination: Miette. Miette is an absolutely charming french-style bakery filled with beautifully decorated “mini” cakes and cupcakes, cookies, candies and other delectable desserts. Because we were running behind schedule, we were all quickly given a take-out box filled with the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten!
This cake was called Scharffen Berger Triple Chocolate Cream Cake, a spectacular layer cake made entirely with Scharffen Berger Chocolates. The cake was filled with a light and fluffy chocolate chantilly cream mixed with roasted cocao nibs and covered in a rich, glossy chocolate ganache. This was truly the highlight of the trip as this cake was moist and delicious the day after the event when I finally was able to enjoy it.
After saying goodbye to Miette we all walked over to an outdoor cooking area set up for none other than the Top Chef: Just Desserts 2010 Winner Yigit Pura. As we all settled into our chairs, Yigit began making a Scharffen Berger Chai Tea-Spiced Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze. Yigit was such a fun guest chef and answered questions while preparing his dessert. Our cupcake was a simple spiced chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache topping decorated with some gold leaf and tiny chocolate pieces.
One of the tips offered by the winning chef was “try not to piss off your cake” by over-mixing, which creates a tough cake or repeatedly open the oven to check on the cake, which prevents the batter from rising properly. He explained that he doesn’t even open the oven until the last couple of minutes of baking to rotate his cakes for this very reason.
Before I knew it the day’s amazing chocolate-filled event was coming to a close, and our tour guides gave us each a fun goodie bag filled with Scharffen Berger baking chocolates to try our hand at baking some chocolate creations of our own.
You can enter Sharffen Berger’s “Elevate a Classic Dessert with Scharffen Berger Chocolate Contest” here. Good luck!
All photos in this post are kindly provided by Scharffen Berger .