The second destination on our “San Francisco Day of Fun” happened to be conveniently located down the street from Craftsman and Wolves. So from one delicious place to another (and with very full bellies), we made our way to Dandelion Chocolate, which was abuzz with the grinding of cacao beans.
What makes Dandelion Chocolate so special is that they are one of the few small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers in America. They source their cacao beans directly and make their chocolate bars completely in house.
Unlike industrialized chocolate bars, Dandelion Chocolate crafts small batch chocolate that focuses on the flavour of the bean itself to provide its unique taste instead of additives to flavour their chocolate. Dandelion Chocolate is made only from 70% beans and 30% sugar, not even cocoa butter, vanilla, or lecithin, which are commonly found in other chocolate bars.
Thus, the beans, themselves, provide the characteristic flavour of each chocolate bar, similar to the distinct flavours that wine and coffee have. Chocolate is one of the few foods that is both fermented and roasted, providing a variable flavour profile.
Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring, the co-founders of Dandelion Chocolate, started out in a garage, growing their own small cocoa plants and roasting beans in their ovens. I always find it so interesting how artisans begin their craft — especially those that start from simple beginnings.
These are the giant cacao pods that contain the cacao beans.
The melangers, shown below, crush the chocolate nibs with stone rollers inside of large stone bottomed bowls. The nibs are mixed with sugar in these bowls for approximately three days until they are smooth and the correct micron size for optimal taste.
The chocolate is then tempered so that the crystals in the chocolate align and stabilize. If an untempered bar of chocolate is left out for too long, it will bloom (or turn white and gritty).
The chocolate bars are hand-agitated and then cooled.
The bars are wrapped by hand in foil and then wrapped in pretty paper that is hand-made in India.
Unfortunately, we were not there when a tour was being held, but there’s a great little video on the website that explains the process, as well as these cool chalkboards that lined the walls.
Of course, my favorite part was all of the tasty treats that were made from their chocolate!
And once again, so beautifully and artfully displayed! I love these wooden blocks and trays and modern signage.
My friend bought one of these “Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies” to take home for my son because she knows how much he likes Jason’s chocolate hazelnut butter — she’s so sweet! I, of course, had to sneak a bite — so good with the gooey inside and sprinkle of sea salt on top.
My friends bought a s’more to share with her girls at home — she said it was delicious, but too small to share between the three of them.
We would have wanted to try more, but were so stuffed from Craftsman and Wolves — better planning next time!
Now that is a good-looking peanut butter jelly sandwich!
Cherry nib scone served with jam
They also serve some decadent chocolate drinks to pair with their treats.
Next time you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area looking for something sweet, be sure to visit Dandelion Chocolate on 740 Valencia St. in the San Francisco Mission District (which I’m realizing more and more has such a cool food-scene — Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite Creamery, Delfina) — I’ll have to come back more often! Thanks, Dandelion Chocolate!