San Francisco International Chocolate Salon this year was better than ever. I was lucky enough to be a Judge which meant I got to taste a lot of the chocolate, truffles, and specialities prior to the Salon. I know, it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.
Lots of categories and lots of winners, so that means you can do mini-chocolate salons and tastings in your home. You can do a blind tasting with different parties focusing on different categories or several categories. Provide the first, second and third place winners. Yum. Then you can do it again. Or...Come of the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon next March...or to a Luxury Chocolate Salon near you: Seattle (July 11, 2010), Los Angeles (October 2010), Chicago or Las Vegas.
Following are the winners at this year's San Francisco International Chocolate Salon in multiple categories. For the complete list of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention, go HERE.
Just an FYI. I will be reviewing several of the Chocolate companies and chocolatiers individually over the next few weeks starting with the overall most Gold (Best) Awards: William Dean Chocolates. They're awesome!
Best Dark Chocolate: Individual Product Award: Amano Artisan Chocolate: Madagascar, 70% Dark Chocolate Bar. This was my personal favorite, and a bit harder to find in retail shops than some of the other Amano Dark Chocolate Bars (Amano Montanya 70% and Amano Ocumare 70% were tied for second place and their Jembrana 70% took third place). Actually the Madagascar 70% Dark Chocolate tied with the Guittard: Complexite Bittersweet Blended 70@ Bittersweet Chocolate. I love to use the Guittard in my flourless chocolate cake, and I've also used Amano's Montanya and Ocumare. I save the Madagascar for eating. Needless to say, Amano Artisan Chocolate won First Place in Product Line Award: Best Dark Chocolate.
Best Milk Chocolate: I'm not a big Milk Chocolate Fan, but the Guittard: Kokoleka Hawaiian 38%-Hawaian Milk Chocolate won First Place. Guittard won the Product Line Award.
Best Truffle: First Place: Coco Delice tied with William Dean Chocolate: 10 Piece Box of Chocolates with William Dean Chocolates for Product Line Award. I thought the Coco Delice truffles were fabulous. Very smooth. Vice Chocolates: 8 pc Variety Truffle/Caramel Box were quite good, and I'm a big fan of Vice, a local chocolatier.
Top Artisan Chocolatier: Amano Artisan Chocolate. No big surprise. These people know how to make chocolate.
Best Traditional Chocolates: Dolce Bella: 12 piece box of bon bons tied with Gateau et Ganache: 4 Piece Assorted Chocolate Bonbons in the individual product award with Saratoga Chocolates winning the Product Line Award. I voted for Saratoga Chocolates last year, visited their new shop in San Francisco, and thought this year's chocolates were sensational.
Best Flavored Chocolate: Jade Chocolates Genmai Bar tied with Vice Chocolates' Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig &Anise, both high on my list. Jade Chocolates won Best Product Line Award.
Best Gift Set: William Dean Chocolates
Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience: William Dean Chocolates
Most Delicious Ingredient Combinations: William Dean Chocolates: 10 piece Box of Chocolates
Best Flavored Chocolate Bar: Individual Product Award: Vice Chocolates: Dark Chocolate Bar with Fig &Anise. Product Line Award: Jade Chocolates.
Best Dark Chocolate Bar: Individual Product Award:Amano Artisan Chocolate: Madagascar 70% Dark Chocolate Bar. Product Line Award: Amano Artisan Chocolate
Best in Salon: Amano Artisan Chocolate, Vice Chocolates. William Dean Chocolates
Best Presentation & Packaging. I must say of all the topics, this one hit home to the artist in me. Some of the packaging was just so outstanding, you didn't want to open the boxes. Many of the chocolates themselves were such fabulous works of art you didn't want to eat the, but I did. Best Product Line Award: William Dean
Best Milk Chocolate Bar: Individual product Award: Amano Artisan Chocolate: Jembrana Milk Chocolate Bar: Product Line Award: Amano Artisan Chocolate
Most Gifted Chocolatier/Chocolate Maker: William Dean Chocolates.
Best Comfort Chocolate Product: Individual product Award: Kikas Treats: Caramelized Graham Crackers in Dark Chocolate, Product Line Award: Her Coconess tied with Kika's Treats
Best Toffee, Snack or Confection: Individual Product Award: Clarine's Florentines
Product Line Award: Clarine's Florentines (My all over favorites since they were new to me)*
Best Organic or Fair Trade Products: Individual Product Award: Alter Eco Fair Trade: Dark Quinoa Chocolate; Product Line Award: Alter Eco Fair Trade
Most Artistic Designs: Individual Product Award:William Dean Chocolates: 10 Piece Box of Chocolates, Product Line Award: William Dean Chocolates
New Product Award: Individual Product Award: Jade Chocolates: Terracotta Bar tied with Clarine's Florentines; Product Line Award: William Dean Chocolates
I blogged about chocolate caramels before, but I must say again that Her Coconess Pink Flake Salt Caramels were my personal favorites. Clarine's Florentines were the first product I received, and I loved the crispiness, sweetness, dark chocolate with just the right amount of gooeyness. Fabulous, and I've already bought more. I see these as a weekly staple.
FOR THE ENTIRE BEST OF THE SALON--SECOND, THIRD, HONORABLE MENTION, GO HERE.