Charles Chocolates: Local Confectioner
Earlier this month, your humble correspondent (as well as a few other local writers) was invited to a chocolate tasting and factory tour at the local confectionery Charles Chocolates in Emervyille. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity! Who doesn’t want to taste chocolate?
I had seen Charles Chocolates’ wares in local markets before. With its well-designed labels and packaging, their products caught my eye. But with so many choices for chocolates and confections in the sweets aisle at my local market, I did not know how to differentiate them from the rest other than their fabulous packaging (hey, a designer sees what she sees). Firstly, I did not know that they were a local company (a fairly young company as well, although Charles (“Chuck”) himself has been in the business since 1987). Secondly, I was not aware that Charles Chocolates was a confectioner as opposed to a manufacturer, opposed to say, Scharffen Berger. A confectioner makes just what the name implies, confections, and concentrates on creating candies. A chocolate manufacturer concentrates on producing mostly just chocolate.
I must say, Charles Chocolates has the art of confection down.
I learned a lot about the art of chocolate-making during this tasting and tour. No, I didn’t snag any top secret recipes or learned how to make the delectable treats, but I did learn a lot about Charles Chocolates and their products.
…and, honestly? I really liked what I heard. AND tasted!
Charles uses high quality ingredients, all natural, hand-made, and FRESH! They use organic ingredients from mostly local farms (Chuck is very enthusiastic about his local resources, and made sure to drop many names of local vendors that he uses).
A man with a great passion for what he does, I found Chuck quite inspiring. He is very hands-on, creates and tests the recipes and is quite involved in the kitchen alongside his staff. His passion shows in the products that he produces.
My favorite that night? Hard for me to say, but it’s a toss-up between the Peanut Butterfly and the Mojito Heart (both pictured here). Both were very pleasing and harmonious in flavor, and were tastes that I was already a fan of. The Peanut Butterflies (pun intended!) are filled with handmade peanut praliné, which is a blend of peanuts and caramel. Heaven. The Mojito Hearts are surprisingly sweet, for one expects a burst of alcohol based on its name. It contains all the citrusy sweet flavor of a real mojito, with a touch of rum and mint, surrounded by a chocolate swirled shell.
Not to say that the other chocolates weren’t good, though! We also sampled toasted almond clusters (delightfully crunchy), assorted truffles (the Earl Grey one is my fave!), various caramels (my preferred being the dark chocolate fleur de sel) amongst others. Chocolate OD? We came pretty close!
Order some of these confections for yourself and give them a try! Charles Chocolates loves the locals so much, that they offer free shipping within the Bay Area. Simply use the promotional code FREESHIP upon checkout at their website. If you are in the East Bay, you can also specify “Pickup” as your shipping method and pick your order up at their Emeryville location… you can’t get ’em any fresher!
Within the city, Charles Chocolates can also be purchased at Bi-Rite Market, Confetti Le Chocolatier, Bittersweet (The Chocolate Cafe), Gump’s and Cocoa Bella. You can also find them at Whole Foods Markets and various other local stores.
Be sure to consume your chocolates quickly, for they are fresh and without preservatives. I don’t see this as a problem… not at all.
Pictured at the top of this entry is a canister of Orange Twigs and the Fleur de Sel caramels packaged in a handmade chocolate box!