The Honors College, and tons o' fun hanging with Mikey (my friend since 5th grade), and then more fun trying every chocolatier we could find in the city... for research. Yeah, that's it... it was research. No pleasure at all.
Our first forays were to the Recchiutti Confections and Scharffen Berger boutiques in the Ferry Building Market. Scharffen Berger is a great chocolate for nibbling - dark and intense. But, little known outside of the city, they also have a milk chocolate that is truly wonderful. It would be perfect for the Alice B. Toklas chocolate mousse from a few weeks ago.
Lenkin Design. I picked flavors like star anise and pink peppercorn, spring jasmine tea, lemon verbena, rose caramel, lavender vanilla and candied orange peel.
TCHO chocolate factory. Say the first syllable of cho-colate and you now have the pronunciation of TCHO, much like the word for chocolate in the Nahuatl dialect. They have a great tour of the facility offered twice daily - and samples from soft and caramel-like milk chocolate to 99% cacao palettes which, while incredibly bitter, were somehow smooth and unctuous on the tongue.
Sauce for brunch, then trolled the streets for sweets. Our first stop was Chantal Guillon for macarons. Amazing. My favorite flavor there - and maybe of any macaron I have had - was the orange blossom. Everyone spoke French so I did, too. Pourquoi pas? Then it was to Miette just for a look, as we had already peaked at the gingerbread cupcakes in their Ferry Building boutique.
Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate - a chocolatier with beautiful and appealing flavor choices. Ours included fresh mint (really fresh!), citrus tea, lavender, hazelnut praline, Madagascar, fresh lemon and raspberry. While his combinations might not have the complexity of Recchiuti's work, the presentation and freshness were stellar.
Ghiradelli which, at least, comes from the city...
Cheese and Herb Soufflé, it may not be 'the' perfect soufflé but it is tasty, easy and impressive.
Adapted from The New York Times
butter for greasing soufflé dishes
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional for preparing soufflé dish
3 large eggs, separated
2 ounces good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter four 3/4 cup soufflé dishes. Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.
Beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar until very pale and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.
Wash and dry beaters well, then beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a quarter of the whites thoroughly into egg yolk-chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to prepared soufflé dishes* and bake until center is nearly set, about 14-15 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
* At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.