Muscato caramel truffles from William Dean Chocolates

Moscato caramel truffles from William Dean Chocolates

Today was the annual orgasmic carnival for chocoholics, aka the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion.

Some of my regular readers know that I’ve served as a “people’s judge” (that’s how I call it) in past years, and this year I did double duty as I also gave a Food Photography 101 talk at the salon. So it was a busy day of tasting, photographing and speaking. I would say I was tired but the chocolates I ate pretty much kept me going.

One of my favorite tastes came from Toffee Talk with its new almond pretzel toffee.

One of my favorite tastes came from Toffee Talk with its new almond pretzel toffee.

Scala Bistro's pastry chef Kimberly Bugler has come out with a new line of truffles and it was its first year at the salon. Each chocolate is named for a San Francisco neighborhood. This is the "Castro" truffle with white chocolate and Negroni.

Scala Bistro’s pastry chef Kimberly Bugler has come out with a new line of truffles and it was its first year at the salon. Each chocolate is named for a San Francisco neighborhood. This is the “Castro” truffle with white chocolate and Negroni.

There were the usual suspects showing off their chocolates, and a few newcomers. I always like to know what’s new, and here’s a few that I discovered:

  • Coco Tutti had three new flavors, but the most interesting to me was the “rosemary asiago,” the first attempt by chocolatier Elyce Zahn to make a savory truffle. The rosemary came through nicely, but I’m not sure if the asiago cheese was necessary. It provided a creamy texture but not sure if it’s an exact match to the lovely rosemary flavor.
  • Alter Eco is one of the fair trade chocolate makers, and I enjoyed its new dark salted burnt caramel chocolate bar. Burnt caramel isn’t a new thing, but the bar had an interesting crunchy texture inside that is reminiscent of rice crispies but it’s actually the caramel bits.
  • Toffee Talk is one of my regular favorite makers of toffee, but this year they took it to another level with the introduction of their almond pretzel toffee. Their popular almond toffee is topped with a pretzel. You’re probably thinking like me: “why didn’t they do this earlier?” People have been making chocolate pretzels for years. Toffee Talk says they made this exclusively for a Pixar event, and only recently did Pixar give its blessing to widely distribute it. And I say thank you.
  • Pieces of Chocolate is a newcomer from Danville, and they specialize in spicy chocolate bits. The chocolate candy is probably the size of a dime and shaped like a leaf. I tried their ghost pepper chocolate where a dark chocolate bit is sprinkled with ghost pepper-infused salt. Having the spice in the salt makes sure that the heat doesn’t overwhelm the chocolate.
Choctal single-origin ice cream specializes in vanilla or chocolate flavors made with one bean for one source for each flavor. I loved the Ghana chocolate ice cream that tasted like a Fudgesicle.

Choctal single-origin ice cream specializes in vanilla or chocolate flavors made with one bean for one source for each flavor. I loved the Ghana chocolate ice cream that tasted like a Fudgesicle.

In the afternoon, lines like these were typical as people waited patiently for  a tasting from each vendor.

In the afternoon, lines like these were typical as people waited patiently for a tasting from each vendor.

So that’s another year of the chocolate salon. After nine years, it still draws a big crowd as the lines in the afternoon proved. Here’s a slideshow of some of the scenes from the salon. (As always, you can find this and other slideshows in my Exhibits section.)

5 Responses to What’s New at the 9th Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon

  1. foodhoe says:

    wow, you have been going to this epic event forever! I’ve never even tried, I’m scared of all that sugar power…

    • Ben Ben says:

      Scared of all the sugar? But you’ll eat a whole plate of beignets buried in a mountain of powdered sugar. 😉

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    Now, that’s a chocoholic’s dream come true. I remember going to this a few times. It’s always a delicious time. You end up on a major sugar high — but it’s SO worth it. 😉

  3. Row says:

    Almond pretzel toffee!!! I would have cleared out the entire booth of this product. *sighs*

  4. Ellin says:

    Thanks for the Toffee Talk Almond Pretzel love! We loved sharing it with you last weekend.