Dandelion Chocolate Tasting

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We had the pleasure of attending a private tasting at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco where Todd (co-founder) and Cynthia, from my favorite small-batch chocolate maker, gave a comprehensive tour of how they make chocolate. From sourcing cacao beans and sorting nibs to tempering and hand wrapping, the journey was fascinating. So many surprising flavors coming from various regions, including Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Madagascar. If you appreciate the bean-to-bar movement, I highly recommend the tasting or just visiting Dandelion Chocolate. If you can’t get to San Francisco, they do have an online shop where you can purchase bars and pre-order their 2016 Advent Calendar. It’s a fairly large work of art, and inside each San Francisco landmark door is a treat made by one of their favorite local chocolatiers. My kind of countdown! In the meantime, here are some images from the tasting. Enjoy!

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A view from the loft at the San Francisco location.

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After tasting the different Dandelion Chocolate bars, we did an interesting blind tasting comparing other brands including Patric, Åkesson’s, and TCHO as well as some big brand names that surprisingly use cocoa powder instead of real chocolate. I was also stuck by the high levels of sugar used in some of the more manufactured chocolate bars. I couldn’t even finish the small tasting samples, it was cloyingly sweet.

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Inside an actual cacao pod. What does this fruit taste like? The fruit has the consistency of a banana and has a mild citrusy flavor. The Dandelion Chocolate team have worked with cacao producers in Venezuela, Belize, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and more.

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The bean slicer is used to test each cacao for the best quality beans.

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We tasted the blended sugar and cacao from one of the melanging cylinders. The nibs and sugar grind for 24 hours before they are stored in blocks. That’s my spoonful before it was quickly devoured. #betterthanNutella

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The final product packaged in some of the most beautiful paper. When Dandelion Chocolate opened a pop-up in Japan, the local team loved the paper so much, they created a small stationery collection with the designs.

Dandelion Chocolate
740 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.349.0942
Website

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Emo, Selfie-Taking Mannequins

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A sad statement on our current culture or easy last-minute costume? I’m not judging, these mannequins look like they take better selfies than I.  Read article on Complex

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Cruises Far Away

I’ve never been on a cruise, by choice. However, the new ad campaign from Celebrity Cruises has peaked my interest. Bravo on embracing worldly views with gorgeous graphics.

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Ice Cream Social & Gummy Bears

ice-cream-socialTo me, this was the perfect day and set up for a back-to-school ice-cream social. Our kids are spoiled having these awesome moms who put together such a fun and delicious event.

I wanted to thank them but not with the usual flowers or wine. And I wanted to actually make something, a DIY gift. While perusing Pinterest, I found this rosé wine gummy bear recipe on the dessert blog, Sprinkle Bakes. I couldn’t resist.

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The recipe is easy to follow. You’ll want these cute gummy bear molds, but what a bonus (especially if you have kids). A few notes… Measure out the gelatin powder if you cannot find individual .25 ounce packets. Mine came out a bit chewy from too much gelatin. Use a toothpick to add the pink food coloring. Mine were more red. I squeezed out too many drops. The Sparkling Wine candy flavoring oil is a must for retaining an authentic taste.

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Finally, package these little treats in vellum envelopes and seal it with your favorite washi tape.

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Almond Chai Breakfast Clusters

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Our kids started school yesterday, and I am still trying to figure some healthy snack alternatives. Since they both like granola, I’ve been looking for an easy no-bake recipe. I found this one in the Paleo Magazine. Try the recipe “as is” then adjust to your own tastes. Of course, I added chocolate! Sometimes I add more cinnamon and less cardamon. If your child does not have any nut allergies, this savory and filling snack is good anytime of the day. Enjoy!

Almond Chai Breakfast Clusters
Makes 12 clusters (or 24 mini clusters)

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries (I used 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and 1/3 cup of bittersweet chocolate chunks.)
¼ cup creamy raw almond butter (unsweetened)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed

Line 12 cups of a standard muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside. I used 24 mini-muffin tin tray. These hearty treats work well as a two-bite snack with our family.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the almonds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt until the nuts are finely chopped, about 10-15 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Stir in the shredded coconut and raisins. If you are using chocolate chunks, chop them for a few seconds in a small food processor.

In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the almond butter, honey, and applesauce. Whisk constantly until the almond butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and mix in the flaxseed. Pour over the nut mixture and stir to combine thoroughly, making sure all of the pieces are coated.

Use a small one tablespoon cookie scoop and divide the mixture evenly between the 24 mini muffin cups. Press the mixture firmly into the bottoms of the lined muffin cups to create tightly packed clusters. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Store the clusters in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Goodbye Maya Erickson

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This Black sesame-cocoa-cassis-charcoal creation was our favorite. We called it the goth prom dress.

Maya Erickson, the pastry chef extraordinaire who had me loving dessert again, is leaving Lazy Bear. I am so very sad! Wishing her the best of luck. I know she’ll be a success wherever she goes. Read More

More favorites…
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Short Reads: Super PAC, Mixologist, Animal Love

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Images from Modern Luxury, Rally, and NBC New York

Here’s my weekly short reads on my favorite subjects.

The Riddler, a Champagne Bar Backed by Ladies, Is Headed to Hayes Valley
For Bay Area bubbly fans or Champagne-seeking visitors, mark your calendars for The Riddler.

Rethinking the Modern Bartender
Here’s the reason why my husband has become a weekend mixologist.

Hank Willis Thomas on How His Artist-Run Super PAC Will Disrupt the 2016 Election
A refreshing twist on politics, the art-inspired super PAC.

10 Gorgeous Northern California Glamping Sites
Attention Airstream lovers! Glamping NorCal style.

‘Pokemon Go’ Players Walk Shelter Dogs in Indiana
A win/win for Pokemon Go players and animals. This will make you smile.

What blogs or articles are you reading this week?

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