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More about chocolate

by Gloria Lenhart

Three Chocolatiers: Charles, Recchiuti and XOX

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Top sellers in the Charles line include Toffee Coffee and Tres Cojones (three nuts).

In 2004, Charles Chocolates was launched by Chuck Siegal who started making chocolate creations in the kitchen of San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center. This was actually Siegal’s second venture into the chocolate world; he started his first chocolate company at age 25 with the help of Joseph Schmidt, but later sold it.

Charles Chocolates soon moved to larger space in Emeryville using Guittard chocolate to make their hand-decorated bon bons and signature bars embedded with organic fruits and nuts. Now the company is back in San Francisco, where their selection includes edible boxes made of solid chocolate, triple chocolate covered nuts and other treats. They also create custom designs for weddings, special events and corporate clients.

Visitors to their retail shop can view the chocolate artisans at work behind glass walls. Tours are offered weekdays at 11 a.m. and include a tasting of their most popular bonbons and a sip of hot chocolate. On Sundays and Mondays, they offer a prix-fixe tea service with chocolates, pastries and tea sandwiches served on their dog-friendly patio.

Recchiuti Chocolate (pronounced ree-KYOO- tee, as in cutie pie) is headquartered on Third Street in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, but most know them from their flagship store in the Ferry Building. Started in 1997 by Michael and Jackie Recchiuti, they are known for gourmet treats like a s’mores kit, a red wine chocolate pairing and their decadent chocolate sauces. They also run Chocolate Lab cafe on 22nd St. at Tennessee St. which offers lunch, dinner and weekend brunches with a selection of fabulous desserts. Little Nib retail shop is next door.

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Jean Marc Gorce greets customers at XOX Truffles.

No tour of San Francisco’s chocolate treats would be complete without a visit to XOX Truffles on Columbus Ave. in North Beach. Owner Jean Marc Gorce was an executive chef at leading SF restaurants before focusing his talents on producing authentic, handmade French truffles. Hailed by Chocolatier magazine as one of the ten best chocolate artisans in the country, Jean Marc produces his rustic confections by hand in over 20 different flavors ranging from Champagne to Honey Vodka, from Lemon Ginger to Cashmira’s Favorite, named for his wife. There are also vegan selections made with soy milk.

His tiny shop has become a favorite stop on many City Guide’s North Beach tours, and Jean Marc has been known to offer walkers on Tastes and Tales of North Beach a quick demonstration of truffle making, along with a free sample. You can custom-select an assortment, and for a little more they’ll nestle them in a beautifully hand-painted box. Or order online and ship to family and friends.

Where to find it:


Charles Chocolate
535 Florida St., btwn 18th and Mariposa
Tours and tasting, M-F at 11 am, $10
Afternoon Tea, Sun. and Mon., 12 and 2 pm
Reservations suggested:

Ferry Building (Main retail store)
Also Chocolate Lab Café and Little Nibs store
807 22nd St., at Tennessee
Info and menus at:

754 Columbus Ave.
Info and online orders at:

Chocolate Curators

Fog City News
455 Market St., near First /Battery

2102 Union St., at Webster
Also San Francisco Centre and Valley Fair malls

Something Different

When you are tired of chocolate (is that even possible?) head over to Xanath Ice Cream at 949 Valencia Street between 21st and Liberty for its amazing selection of vanillas. In addition to organic ice creams in exotic flavors like cinnamon apple, saffron or olive oil, they are the retail outlet for Vanilla Saffron Importers. Who knew there were so many different kinds of vanilla? There’s Madagascar, Mexican and Bourbon in whole bean, liquid extract,paste, and flavored sugars. You’ll never think of vanilla as plain again.

Did you know?

It takes about 180 cacao fruits to produce enough beans to make one average-size bar of chocolate.

Chocolate tasters never chew. Instead they let the chocolate slowly melt in their mouth.

Mars is the largest candy maker in the world, with about 17 billion in annual sales. Headquarted in Mclean, Virginia, their M&Ms, Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers and Twix rank among the top selling candies worldwide.

Ghirardelli Square was the first successful re-use of an historic building in the U.S. It was developed in the 1960s by Lurlin Matson Roth, and her son William, heirs to the Matson shipping fortune.

Milton Hershey discovered chocolate making at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. He sold his successful Lancaster Caramel Co. for $1 million in 1900 allowing him to focus solely on chocolate.

Copyright; Used with permission
Photos by Gloria Lenhart

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