Next time I visit San Francisco, I’m going straight to the Dandelion Chocolate Factory & Café in the Mission District to get my own single-origin chef’s tasting menu or a brownie bite flight paired with European drinking chocolate! I’m envious of all the photos I’ve seen posted on Instagram recently!
When I was putting together the list of bars that I wanted to try for the Eating the Chocolate Alphabet series, I knew that I had to include Dandelion based on all the information I had read about them. As an added bonus, they are located in my home state of California!
As is the case with many small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers, Dandelion had to be inventive with the machinery and equipment that they would be using. Fortunate for us, the two founders are “technology nerds” who seem to have a talent for re-tooling electronics. What started as a garage or basement experiment for the fun of it has turned into a booming business where sometimes they simply can’t produce enough chocolate bars to satisfy the demand. To learn more, check out this article from Chocolate Noise: http://www.chocolatenoise.com/dandelion-chocolate/
So, until I have the chance to visit them in person, I’ll just have to make do with this 2014 harvest 70% bar from San Francisco de Macorís in the Dominican Republic which only has 2 ingredients: cocoa beans & cane sugar. Dandelion avoids extraneous ingredients so that the unique flavors and characteristics of the bean can be highlighted.
I love the thick and rustic cream colored hand-made paper from India that they use for the outer wrapper, which I believe are also hand silk-screened with gold colored accents. My only wish is that the pasted on labels were easier to remove so that the wrapper could be recycled in a creative way…it’s just too pretty to throw out!
One thing that caught my eye is that the wrapper featured the names of two employees who helped with this particular bar: Kaleb was recognized for writing the roast profile description and Greg received kudos for directly sourcing the organic beans. I was fascinated with the unique fermentation and drying technique used for these beans: http://www.dandelionchocolate.com/our-beans/oko/
Am I alone in feeling like a klutz when opening the carefully hand-folded foil wrappers? If only I could re-create the crisp, neat origami-esque folds after sampling the bar. Maybe the solution is to eat the entire bar in one sitting so that I don’t need to worry about wrapping the leftovers?! 😉
The simplicity in design is also evident in the mold that they use, which produces a bar with 18 rectangles, each with 5 squiggly lines that make me think of ocean waves.
The squares were easy to break apart (I blame the current heatwave for the lack of sharp snap). This released a pleasant roasty aroma that gave me a hint of what the chocolate would taste like. To me, the chocolate had tart, fruity notes (like cranberries) in addition to an earthy flavor. While it wasn’t gritty, there was definitely a thicker (less smooth) mouthfeel.
I just had to laugh when I read a recent post from the Dandelion blog about the challenges of chocolate “fatigue” when tasting chocolate day in and day out…but someone has to do it & I’m glad they are “sacrificing” themselves to ensure continued quality 🙂
If you’re like me & want to plan your San Francisco culinary “wish list” in advance, check out: https://www.dandelionchocolate.com/