Category Archives: Chocolate

Bountiful South Bay Bakeries

Divine breads, cakes, cookies pastries and more can be found at the terrific bakeries in the South Bay.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

In our heart of hearts, scrumptious baked goods usually outrank self control, which has been good news for a slew of talented local bakers feeding our jones for all manner of treats, from naturally leavened breads, Paris-perfect pastries and gasp-inducing custom cakes to many enticing specialties. But let’s be clear: baked goods of all descriptions are in abundance in our region, reflecting our diverse population and tendency to celebrate with something sweet at the drop of a hat — or sombrero or turban or beret. Continue reading


(Recipe) Irresistible Cookie Recipe for the New Year

chocolate butterscotch shortbreadThese two-bite-sized butterscotch shortbreads dipped in bittersweet chocolate are unbelievably tasty and make a standout addition to a cookie platter.

I whipped up a cookie assortment for holiday gifts this year and this particular not-super-sweet was the runaway favorite.   Easy to make, this shortbread can be cut tiny or larger, as you please.  Go with tiny because it’s definitely rich. Continue reading

(Recipe) “Lite” Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Like a cross between a chocolate turtle and a salted caramel truffle, these cookies are intense but have very little butter.

These cookies were inspired by a tasty bittersweet chocolate/almond/sea salt bar along with chocolate turtles, but I like hazelnuts so I used those instead. Since they have hardly any butter, they’re less guilt producing than they could be.  At least, that’s what I tell myself! They’re deeply chocolatey because they’re made with bar chocolate rather than cocoa. With fudgy chocolate, crunchy hazelnuts and melted caramel pieces, they’re like the best chocolate turtle candy turned into a cookie, with salt flakes on top to increase the intense flavors. Consider making a double recipe because these cookies don’t last long. This recipe makes about 40-50 smallish cookies. Continue reading

Munching at Local Farmers Markets

(This article appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune on April 6, 2011.)

Barlovento Chocolates is one of the delicious examples of ready-to-eat foods at Bay Area farmers markets

Besides the expected — great produce — some local farmers markets also deliver outrageously good ready-to-eat food.  From to-die-for sorbets and hand-made chocolates to seasoned dried kale that makes regular chips a greasy anachronism, market vendors these days are selling edibles that easily pass any discriminating-foodie taste test.

Besides being delicious, some of these well-received market products have also propelled vendors into new venues, from storefronts and restaurants to appearances in grocery chains.  And such success stories are igniting aspirations among vendors who want to be the next Bruce Aidells Sausage Company (sold by its founder for millions in 2002), Blue Bottle Coffee (now with a roasting plant, online operation and retail presence) or Bakesale Betty (two cafes). Continue reading

Recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Raspberry Dust

This tart recipe is based on one made by renowned French chef Joël Robuchon. It’s simple to make, deeply bittersweet and quite rich.  The berry “dust” is an optional addition and gives the tart a modern edge — “dust” is popular in molecular gastronomy dishes and is made from dehydrated ingredients, pulverized. Garnishing dishes with “dust” is a simple way to zip up your cooking and surprise your guests.  The tart shell includes almonds, but skinned hazelnuts could be substituted. Continue reading

Recipe: Chocolate Brownie Cookies

These sophisticated, super-chocolatey cookies have a different texture and flavor from most chocolate cookies because they’re based on melted chocolate rather than cocoa.

Most chocolate cookies are variations on a similar theme: cocoa, flour, butter, etc.  These wonderful mouthfuls are different and more intense in bittersweet chocolate goodness. The original recipe is by Claudia Fleming, former pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern in New York.  These cookies have much less butter and no cocoa, relying on their unforgettable texture and big flavors from melted chocolate.  I think they’re more enjoyable than brownies, personally. My favorite way to make them is to add some chopped nuts but they’re great any way. Continue reading

Recipe: Low-Fat Pumpkin Pie Cookies

These little cookies are great during the Thanksgiving season — or anytime. They freeze well, too.

These are wonderful, cakey and moist, despite not having any butter or shortening. The “secret ingredient” is white chocolate chips, which might seem odd with pumpkin but it just works.  I found  the recipe a few years ago in the newspaper. It was created by Amy Guittard,  from the local chocolate family. I’ve only slightly modified the recipe.  It could be made vegan by using vegetarian egg substitute. Continue reading