[it-rotate group=”0″ class=”alignleft”]
Larry and I started off the weekend spending a gorgeous afternoon in San Francisco with the folks from Scharffen BergerÂ® Chocolate. I have a long history with Scharffen Berger – I did an Operations Management project on the company when I was getting my MBA. We toured the factory in Berkeley, made a video, wrote a huge paper and did a presentation. It was one of my most enjoyable projects. Imagine my dismay when my beloved local bean to bar chocolate company was bought by a giant conglomerate (Hershey). I didn’t give up on the chocolate, and decided to give them a chance to do things right. The chocolate never changed. Then they closed the Berkeley factory and I was positive the quality and flavor would go downhill – but it hasn’t. It’s still a really good chocolate, one of three I bake with (besides Valrhona and Amano).
Scharffenberger has a contest every year, and this year there’s a $10k prize. It’s called Elevate a Classic Dessert – the idea is to put a new spin on a classic dessert (using Scharffen Berger chocolate, of course!). To kick off the contest, we joined a group of local bloggers in a fun afternoon of visiting bakeries and meeting pastry rock stars. And stuffing our faces.
The Scharffen Berger staff couldn’t have been nicer, and they did a great job putting the event together. We boarded a trolley for our bakery crawl, starting out at Anthony’s Cookies in the Mission where we met Anthony and had his tasty double chocolate cookie. Then it was off to Citizen Cake to meet pastry rock star Elizabeth Falkner and have an ice cream sundae (ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen!), and then on to Kara’s Cupcakes for a wonderful chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter ganache (by the way, Kara’s is one of the few places I’ll actually buy a cupcake, they’re great). We ended at Miette, who thankfully gave us a giant slab of chocolate cake in a to-go container. So rich, but the the flavor of the chocolate really came through – especially in the ganache.
Scharffenberger saved the best for last – a baking demo by Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura, who was utterly charming and gracious. He made a chai-spiced cupcake that melted in the mouth. I love chocolate with the warm spices of chai.
Are you ready to enter the contest? All you have to do is remake a favorite classic dessert recipe by adding your unique twist (you must use at least one Scharffen Berger chocolate productâ€” including bars, chunks and cocoaâ€”as an ingredient). Plus, each entry must include a short, 100-word essay that shares why or how your recipe elevates or modernizes a classic dessert. The contest is open now and ends 11:59:59 PM Pacific time on January 2, 2012. Check out Elevate a Classic Dessert for additional details on the contest. I already have a couple ideas brewing – anyone else thinking about entering? Did I mention first prize is $10,000?