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Dennis and I are big fans of Eclipse Chocolate's sweet and savory delights, which puts them at the top of our list for chocolate in San Diego. Recently, owner and chocolatier Will Gustwiller introduced a new way for chocolate fans to get up close and personal: Build-A-Bar Workshops. Build your own yogurt or ice cream has always been fun for us... now here was the chocolate lover's dream, other than owning Charlie's Chocolate Factory! We've always enjoyed the unique chocolate bars as well as cupcakes from Eclipse so couldn't resist the opportunity to spin up our own version! No experience was necessary in this casual chocolate-bar-making environment.
Check out the bar of ingredients! Over 30 different items are available to mix into your chocolate. My mind was swarming with possible combinations. They even let you sample the ingredients beforehand.
All instructions are written down or demonstrated, but Will and his staff also offered pairing ideas to assist in everyone's creative genius. Or... just go for the gold to create YOUR magical combo!
Here was our final list of ingredients for each bar:
- basil sugar, strawberries, vanilla sea salt (Lynn)
- white chocolate, sea salted pretzel, raspberry hibiscus sugar (Lynn)
- caramel butter toffee, candied coca nib, basil sugar (Dennis)
- ginger sugar, vanilla sea salt, toasted macadamia (Dennis)
Make sure to write your name on the bar so you get your creation back! After turning in our sheets, the staff fulfilled a few orders at a time.
As part of the experience, one complimentary house wine, craft beer or cafe drink was selectable per person. I gravitated toward the sea salt caramel cafe drink, a DELICIOUS, molten chocolate lake. I pushed the rosemary mint chocolate drink towards Dennis since that was more towards his tastes.
Beer Battered Fish $12 + side of Garlic Parmesan Biscuits $5
Our dinner (ordered separately) arrived shortly after and we hungrily dug in! Imagine red hearts hovering over my head as I blissfully munched on the moist fish and perfectly flaky batter. My new fried fish love! We were slightly distracted by the chocolate activites which led to rock hard biscuits when I finally got to them. Luckily, with a little coaxing from the microwave heat, these fluffed out wonderfully as leftovers the next day. Eat them ASAP!
Pulled Pork & Grits $12 + side of Bacon Wrapped Dates $5
The slow roasted pork was fork tender but my love for roasted red peppers didn't translate well flavorwise into polenta form. The wrapped dates were every bit of sweet and savory that you'd expect from decadent bacon and pulpy fruit!
We were mid-way through the meal when Dennis's name was called out! The tables were small so we quickly scarfed down a few more bites before clearing the space!
Here's our setup ready to go. This is for one person to make two bars (using two of the six molds). Additional bars can be made for $10 each.
After adding the mix-ins to the chocolate, you spoon it into the mold. One little lesson we learned... fill your mold while the chocolate is warm! Our slight food eating delay created a lumpier texture as seen above... *sad face*
The good news is, despite the uneven texture, the chocolate still tasted delicious! After the plastic mold was filled, I scraped off every chocolate bit into the 'add-ins' cup to snack on. No wasting of chocolate here!
After cooling in the fridge for twenty minutes, the chocolate bars were returned! Chocolate edges cleaned up well with a butter knife and we were shown the proper way to wrap the bar.
Our take home goodies were two large handcrafted bars per person!
Two happy campers pictured above. The process was simple, the ingredients used were high quality and we enjoyed spending time together during our date night. You're not creating chocolate by hand but instead you are using the same high quality chocolates and ingredients they incorporate into their own bars. The cost of $25 a person for this creative workshop was around the same pricepoint as buying two large gourmet chocolate bars and a drink so we thought it was worth it. The sessions have a maximum of 30 guests and are open for 3 hours. Check their Build-a-Bar website for upcoming sessions.
Also, did you know Will won the CHOCOLATE challenge on Food Network's Guy’s Grocery Games? He was on TV! I met a famous person! How often do you get personal assistance from someone like that? For reals, he is super nice! =)
Disclaimer: We were invited to the event here and the build-a-bar experience was complimentary (we covered our own food costs). We were not otherwise compensated or commissioned and all opinions stated are our own.
Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro
2145 Fern St
San Diego CA 92104