Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dolce Bella Chocolates

I hadn't tried Dolce Bella Chocolates before the San Francisco Chocolate Salon, and I'm so glad I have now. As you know, I'm more of a purist when it comes to chocolate, but Audrey Vaggione's smooth ganache fillings are to die for. Dolce Bella was definitely on my scorecard at the Chocolate Salon.

Audrey Vaggione, chocolatier and pastry chef , was at the show with lots of different samples of her elegant, smooth, truffles and chocolates. She graduated from the California Culinary Academy in Baking and Pastry Arts in 2005 and, after gaining experience in several Bay Area pastry kitchens, launched Vaggione Pastries, making custom desserts, wedding cakes, and chocolates. She found making chocolates melded her interests: growing fresh food, cooking, decorating, and science, and she soon began shipping chocolates, making them in rented space in a commercial kitchen and selling at farmers’ markets. Suddenly every “for lease” sign was calling out to her and the search for her own space began. The new Dolce Bella Chocolates kitchen and store location is in Saratoga on Cox Avenue across from the garden in which Audrey grows most of the flavor ingredients in her creations.

Dolce Bella Chocolates takes freshness to a whole new level. Berries, citrus, flowers, and herbs are picked the very morning, sometimes within minutes of being incorporated into cream and butter ganache and piped into a molded chocolate shell. The results are fresh flavors rarely found out of the garden.

Even traditional ingredients such as caramel are made from scratch; no extracts, preservatives, or artificial colorings are used in the making of the chocolates. Contrasting chocolate or gold luster dust, a ground mineral powder, are used for decoration.

Dolce Bella uses E-Guittard chocolate, locally made with old-world traditional methods since the 1860s.

Dolce Bella Chocolates Store, 18828 Cox Ave, Saratoga, California 9507, Phone (408) 866-8351

Can't make it to Dolce Bella or a local farmers' market (Mountain View and Saratoga), order online.

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