Chocolate dessert adventure in San Francisco

Introduction

Dear dessert followers, we hope you are all doing well.  In these anxious times, we think we all need a little chocolate, yes?  Even if we can’t quite yet resume our dessert adventures, at least we can continue to dream and bookmark for the near future… one day soon.  So where shall we go for a chocolate adventure, you ask?  We are going to say what many dare not say about the chocolate scene in NYC.  It is not great.  In fact, finding a great chocolate place in NYC is akin to finding a needle in a (concrete) forest.  Yes, we have reviewed the city’s prettiest chocolate bites perfect for the celebratory milestone or romantic gesture (see here).  But otherwise, sorry, New York, the West Coast does it better (and certainly, London and Melbourne, too).  Here’s our round-up review of five of our favourite chocolate places sampled during a trip to San Francisco just a few months ago — a city of shimmering sunsets over misty water, of valleys of tents housing vagabonds, of a fabulously rocking Asian food scene (somewhat better than NYC, yes!), all infused with a curious concoction of car exhaust fumes and the minty fragrance of eucalyptus.


Recchiuti Chocolate

  • ☑ Dessert destination:  Several locations, of which we visited the location at the Ferry Building, Embarcadero, S.F.
  • ☑ Short and sweet story:  Best for dark chocolate lovers.  Recchiuti lays claim to perhaps being the most expensive, most haute-couture of the chocolatiers in SF.  Viewed through a glass counter, each small brown black patch of chocolate is laid out in a meticulous fashion, like perfectly aligned and carefully labelled fossil specimens against a stark white backdrop.  The sampler box that we purchased featured four signature flavours: burnt caramel, lemon verbena, sesame nougat and butterscotch caramel.  Dark chocolate lovers will appreciate Recchiuti’s chocolate more than us.  For us, the chocolates tended towards the extreme earthier tones of the chocolate spectrum, thus somewhat overwhelming each piece’s inner taste.  They would perhaps be well-paired with a strong brandy, cognac or whisky.


Dandelion Chocolate

  • ☑ Dessert destination: Several locations, of which we visited the location at the Ferry Building, Embarcadero, S.F.
  • ☑ Short and sweet story:  Best for small-batch chocolate collaborations.  Dandelion is a cafe-cum-chocolate delicatessen.  As a cafe, it offers a range of chocolate beverages and a few cafe-style sweet treats, of which we sampled the “S’mores,” being a slightly rubbery cube of marshmallow with a chocolate centre and a gingersnap biscuit base.  As for the delicatessen dimension, there are bean-to-bar collaborations and cylinders of chocolate cocoa beans for sale, as well as cookbooks and kitchenware.  We purchased an addictive bag of black sesame studded into shards of toffee brittle, a twist that gave the classical home-style confection a sharp modern edge.


Jade Chocolate

  • ☑ Dessert destination: Financial District, S.F.
  • ☑ Short and sweet story: Best for the most exquisite chocolates in SF.  Jade is the creator of the most memorable chocolate bites we found during our trips to S.F.  The chocolates here are distinctive for their creative East-meets-West flavour profile, where you will find the likes of Hawaiian lilikoi, Thai basil, pineapple black pepper, sakura lemonade, miso caramel, Thai red curry, sunflower butter, mint ginger, and even a sake bomb!  The chocolate used can be any of milk, white and dark, with the dark thankfully not as overpowering as that used by Recchiuti, you can certainly, actually taste the intriguing souls of each piece here.  Jade Chocolates are also distinctive for their striking appearances – crafted in a variety of shapes from sphere to cubes to hearts, sometimes imprinted with patterns, sometimes hued in ombre tones.  If you are looking for a souvenir gift, you certainly can’t go wrong with a box from Jade.


Socola Chocolates

  • ☑ Dessert destination:  Soma, S.F.
  • ☑ Short and sweet story:  Best for most electric flavours.  Located on the outskirts of the CBD area, we discovered Socola on a walk after a l-o-n-g business meeting.  Socola’s chocolates are not as aesthetically beautiful as for example, the chocolates from Jade, but by golly, they surprise and surpass other S.F. chocolatiers with their very pronounced flavours.  For example, we detected cloves in the “Pumpkin Burnt Caramel,” cardammom in the “Masala Chai”, and the prettiest fragrance in the “Jasmine Tea.”  Aside from the latter two tea flavours, which are spectacular, the must-try from Socola though, has to be the “Sirracha Flying Rooster.”  We have had chilli chocolate before, but this was a big kick of spicy.  We needed a glass of milk afterwards.  What a wake-up treat, though, from all the other soporific chocolate we have had in NYC!


Ghiarardelli

  • ☑ Dessert destination:  Multiple locations across S.F, but do visit the original factory near Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • ☑ Short and sweet story:  Best for memory-making.  In our eyes, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with tourist hotspots, especially when such hotspots involve dessert. 😛  And, there is perhaps no chocolatier more S.F. than Ghiarardelli.  At any of its locations throughout the city, you are always offered free samples, and a little trinket tramcar filled with Ghiarardelli makes for a cute gift for friends and family.  At its original factory site, we ordered a large waffle bowl cupping two large scoops of lush chocolate and rum raisin icecream.  It’s a most memorable way to complete a chocolate tour of S.F.


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