Are you familiar with Recchiuti chocolates? Local confectionary wizard, Michael Recchiuti makes such exquisite and beautiful pieces of edible art that he is known as the Picasso of Chocolatiers. I have been stopping by his stand at the Farmer’s market for years and now his lovely store at the Ferry Building, where we heard about this unusual taste project of soy and chocolate. My SIL Casey treated me to this tour as a belated b-day gift (yay) and so we headed off to the chocolate factory out in sunny Potrero Hill last weekend. Upon entering the building I breathed in deeply, inhaling the aroma of melted chocolate… we followed our noses down the hall.
The room had dramatically high ceilings and was filled with warm candlelight that reflected off glassware along the assembled tables. The windows in back were obscured by tall black cloth, which gave the room the appearance of a tented pavillion.
Strewn about the table were soy beans that we were encouraged to sample. They were small and chewy, like dried and reconstituted edamame? So we began the tasting with the simple soy bean.
This particular taste project was the pairing of Soy and Chocolate, which initially caught my attention because I had once sampled Kikkoman soy sauce infused chocolates that I had found to be very intriguing. However, the focus here was on the soy bean itself as presented by the owner Minh Tsai of Hodo Soy Beanery in West Oakland. While he spoke, footage of his soy beanery and the various processes was projected onto the wall.
At each setting was a small cup of Caramelized soy bean dragée dusted with wasabi and matcha green tea to munch on while we watched the movie and listened to Michael and Minh talk about soy and chocolate.
The next treat was a fabulous Cherry Financier accompanied by soy milk custard. I cheated and used my camera phone which has a flash because my other camera refused to focus with such stark contrasts in the dim light. There I was killing the mood with my flash… however you can see how beautiful the slices of sweet dark cherries look nestled against the chocolate. The soy custard was incredible, it was thick and creamy and delicious and absolutely my favorite bite of the day, even better than the porchetta sandwich at RoliRotti that you’ll hear about one day soon.
The custard was made from okara, an honorable pulp, a high fiber residue left over from the process of making tofu that is supposed to be very healthful. It was bland and reminded me of congealed cream of wheat… but what it did for the custard!
While we watched the footage of the soybean factory and listened to Minh talk about the process, he was busy frothing soy milk for a delectable Soy Frappé, which was a riveting combination of taste sensations with a warm froth on the top of a cool and lusciously sweet layer of caramel shake.
We took a short break then walked down the coolest looking hallway to the chocolate factory…
It was not exactly willy wonka, but this chocolate faucet made me wonder, what would Augustus Gloop do?
We assembled to watch as Michael Recchiuti made bonbons from the okara and topped with some sort of hazelnut mixture. It was fun to watch a simplified version of the chocolate assembly line.
The soy bonbon fillings went through conveyor belt under the chocolate faucet where they were enrobed in dark chocolate.
Volunteers placed pre-made garnishes on the chocolates as they exited the drizzler (that’s the laymen’s term…)
topped with golden coin shaped sticky sesame brittle, it added a delicious crunch and nutty flavor, which was otherwise a bit bland.
… and we also sampled another soy custard filled treat, which was flavored with orange zest, something of a disappointment as I had been imagining something along the lines of ginger douhua (soft tofu pudding)
Minh did a demonstration where he made tofu. It took about 15 minutes and looked so simple.
The freshly pressed tofu was creamy and still warm. I so would have loved this with my favorite toppings as described here.
I know this is not the best photo, but I was tickled to see Alice Medrich in the class. She is one of my idols. I found her cookbook Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts to be a non-threatening approach to creating fairly ambitious chocolate desserts.
They both flambéed fresh peaches with grappa which made for some spectacular pyrotechnics in the room.
The Peach Flambee was topped with a scoop of soy gelato over yuba (another soy product). The ripe peaches were cooked with lots of butter and brown sugar, and topped with heavenly disks of Valrhona milk chocolate
For the grand finale, William served us a gorgeous tomato plate made up of Purple Cherokee slices topped with silken tofu, cocoa nibs, fresh chives and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
All in all, it was a fine way to spend the afternoon, we learned a lot about Hodo Soy Beanery and its various products, we saw the chocolate faucet, ate lots, and then we received some swag! From Recchiuti Confections was small bag of chocolate covered nuts coated with burnt sugar and semi-sweet chocolate, along with a lively assortment of fresh tofu snacks from Hodo. Five spice tofu nuggets, spicy braised tofu and a sample of fresh yuba. I liked them all.
Now I want to go on the tour of the Soy Beanery because I think you get one of those wooden presses to make tofu at home, how cool would that be?