The San Francisco Bay Area is aggressively, teeth-baringly, button-bustingly proud of its local chocolate. But unlike some of the other reasons for which Bay Area people love themselves too much, this one is totally justified. Everywhere you turn within a few miles of SF, you bump into either another indie company making its own amazing local chocolate or a restaurant making amazing things with this amazing local chocolate.
Granted, the cacao beans are not local — just as the coffee beans that also inspire eye-popping pride around here aren’t local. But what locals do with these non-local cacao beans is like the difference between heaven and Hostess Ding Dongs.
Kudos to San Leandro’s TeaRoom Chocolate Company:
In the Specialty Food Association’s prestigious 2013 sofi awards, The TeaRoom’s luscious non-GMO Chamomile & Honey organic white chocolate bar has been selected as a finalist in the category of Outstanding Chocolate.
If The TeaRoom wins this award, it will join a raft of past honors that the company has been racking up for years. These include six Gear Awards in 2008 and seven in 2009. In 2010, The TeaRoom scored two “Top Gear of the Year” awards (Gold), three “Great Gear of the Year” awards (Silver), and four “Seal of Excellence” awards (Bronze), all in the “Organic Treats” category. Among other honors, The TeaRoom’s Earl Grey tea-infused bar won a silver sofi award in 2009, silver medals in the Best Milk Chocolate, Best Flavored Chocolate, and Best Flavored Chocolate Bar at last month’s San Francisco International Chocolate Salon.
The TeaRoom’s head chocolatier Heinz Rimann was a chef at five-star hotels in his native Switzerland, then at Hong Kong’s world-renowned Peninsula Hotel before moving to the Bay Area. The TeaRoom began as a purveyor of loose-leaf teas, but Rimann became inspired by the idea of merging his knowledge of tea with his knowledge of chocolate. The result is a range of products including truffles, drinking chocolate, and bars flavored with such exotica as green maté, honeybush caramel tea, Earl Grey tea, Masala chai, and jasmine tea.
“We are extremely honored to have been selected as a finalist for our the Specialty Food industry’s top honor. … Onward and upward,” TTR’s Ethan Ash wrote us yesterday, soon after the sofi finalists were announced.
Learn from a master chocolatier! The TeaRoom offers this recipe for Masala Chai Mousse:
6 TeaRoom Black Masala Chai Milk Chocolate bars
1 pt heavy whipping cream, preferably organic
1 medium-sized pot
2 stainless-steel bowls, 1.5 to 2 quarts capacity
electric or hand mixer
spatula (spoon will do if you don’t have a spatula)
glass bowl or individual glasses for serving
Fill pot half with water; bring to a boil. Break chocolate bars into 3-4 pieces per bar; put all pieces in 1 stainless-steel bowl. Whip cream in other stainless-steel bowl until lightly whipped — not too stiff; don’t overdo it. Place stainless steel bowl containing broken chocolate in the pot with the hot water; melt chocolate; do not let the water boil or let the bowl touch the water. Stir chocolate until melted — approximately 104 degrees F. Remove melted chocolate from hot water pot. Add only 1/5 of the whipped cream to chocolate; stir firmly with whisk; put bowl back on the hot water for a few seconds to smooth the mix. Add another 1/5 of the whipped cream; beat strongly again. If necessary, put again back on the hot water to mix chocolate & whip cream well. Add the remaining 3/5 whipped cream; mix delicately. Put mixture in large glass bowl or individual containers. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!