Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charles Chocolates Factory

Charles Chocolates has a lot going for it, even without a Willy Wonka. Founder Chuck "Charles" Siegel first started making his own chocolate as a young man after his Italian girlfriend complained that American chocolates were just not on par with its European counterparts. (I don't know about you ladies out there, but any man willing to dig his hands into confectioner's sugar to make you happy is a keeper.) Chuck opened his first chocolate company in 1987 in San Francisco, then later on established Charles Chocolates.

I went for a tour and tasting on site in Emeryville, courtesy of the UCSD Alumni Association. What I especially love about Charles Chocolates is the company's perfectionist attitude. Each confectionary delight is handmade in their factory, using fine chocolate and organic ingredients. The resulting flavors and textures are simply decadent, and sometimes surprising. And all chocolates are shipped within three days of creation.

The factory ... where all the magic happens!

Our wine for the event -- 2006 Wente Merlot. This was a full-bodied wine that hit the palate with flavors of blackberry and smoky tobacco, so it paired very well with our gourmet chocolates.

And now onto the actual candy...

Far left: Blood Orange Yankees (blood orange marmalade, 65% bittersweet shell)
Far right: Kahlua Truffles (bittersweet ganache mixed with kahlua)

Lemon Marzipans (organic Meyer lemons, organic almonds, 65% bittersweet shell)

Marzipan is basically a sugar and almond paste. Here, it was mixed with lemons and then coated with bittersweet chocolate. As a result, the candy was both sweet and slightly tart, with a pleasant crunch from the nuts.

Ginger Truffles (bittersweet ganache blended with candied ginger)

Raspberry Hearts (raspberry ganache, 65% bittersweet gilded gold shell)

It's every woman's dream ... hearts, gold, and fruit filling! The company also makes a Passion Fruit Heart with a gilded silver shell, and a Mojito Heart infused with mint, lime, and of course, Jamaican rum.

Triple Chocolate Almonds

And if you're having trouble making a choice from their wide variety of candy, you can pick up one of their beautifully-packaged gift sets.

The Tea Collection

Tea-infused truffles, with Chinese characters indicating which tea flavor awaits inside. And even the box is made out of chocolate!

Wine-Infused Pate de Fruit

I like candy. I like wine. This is genius! Flavors included: Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Champagne.

So if you ever feel like having some gourmet confections, keep Charles Chocolates in mind. And feel free to send me a truffle or two!

Charles Chocolates
6529 Hollis Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 652-4414


Alex said...

gasp...an UCSD event? wow

Passionate Eater said...

I am so glad you were able to go to this tour. I heard that they have permanently discontinued the Scharffenburger tour and are relocating the factory abroad. :( At least they still have some good chocolate tours in the Bay Area.

Hiro said...

wow... at first I thought it was the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tour until I read it thrice to see "Charles". SO does that mean a UCSD Alumni founded the place?

But anyways.. wow do they look ever so good.

foodhoe said...

I've only seen the outside of the building. That does look like a wonderful chocolate workshop... I love gilded chocolates!