CocoaBella Chocolates- San Francisco

CocoaBella Chocolates

Rated: ♣♣ (This review is solely on their hot chocolate.)

K and I have sipped a ton of hot chocolate in our time. From instant packets of Swiss Miss to Cacao Sampaka in Barcelona, we’ve probably consumed enough hot chocolate to fill a swimming pool. I was told that CocoaBella Chocolates in the Westfield Shopping Center in San Francisco has a  notable sipping chocolate.

The little chocolate stand at the front of the shopping center sells little pieces of gourmet chocolate, but if you walk to the back of their stand, you can order a full cup of rich, piping-hot liquid chocolate. They have a handful of flavors to choose from – peanut butter hot chocolate, spicy hot chocolate, mint hot chocolate, and a few others. You even have the option of ordering dark or milk chocolate for your drink. I tried to order the peanut butter, but they ran out, even before 12pm! So, instead I got the hazelnut and K got the mint. Ten dollars later, we each had 2 tiny cups of the thick drinking chocolate. I was a little disappointed by the size, but then concluded that I probably shouldn’t be drinking anymore than what I had.

CocoaBella Menu

After my first sip, it tasted like I was drinking liquid Nutella… and that’s a good thing. Though it was a little too watery to my liking, the flavor was still pretty good. The hazelnuts weren’t too overpowering and the texture of the drink was really smooth. K’s mint hot chocolate was okay. The mint was more of a fresh mint than a peppermint. It almost tasted like I was drinking regular hot chocolate after brushing my teeth with toothpaste. Not a great flavor.

CocoaBella Hot Chocolates

Overall, I was disappointed with CocoaBella’s hot chocolate, especially since they’re charging $5 per cup. If you’re looking for some stellar sipping chocolate, try Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate in Hayes Valley for $4.50. Their chocolate is rich, velvety and topped with a home made (and complimentary) marshmallow.

CocoaBella Chocolates
Westfield San Francisco Centre
865 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Neighborhoods: Union Square, SOMA

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Best Discovery This Season: Cookie Butter

Yeah, you read that right. The best discovery this holiday season, thanks to my brother, is Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s.

This spread has the texture and look of peanut butter, but the taste of a cinnamon snickerdoodle cookie. The label describes the “butter” as reminiscent of gingerbread and made of crushed cookies. It also suggests you smear this on pancakes or waffles. How great does that sound? I’ve been eating mine with Ritz Crackers. Something about the salty cracker and the sweet spread just works.

And if you’re wondering what Speculoos is, it is a shortcrust biscuit baked for consumption on St. Nicholas’ feast in the Netherlands on December 5th.

This is a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s, so stock up now before it’s off the shelf!

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Sam’s Kitchen – Tartine’s Lemon Cream Pie

Tartine Lemon Cream Pie

I just love lemon desserts. I had a strong debate last time I was in Tartine between the Lemon Cream Pie and the Banana Cream Pie, and I chose the latter because it’s a restaurant favorite. And once I received the Tartine cookbook for Christmas, I knew I had to make this pie. So glad I did!

Before you follow this recipe, you’ll need to make Tartine’s Sweet Tart Crust.


1/2 cup plus 2 T. lemon juice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cool, cut into tablespoon sized slices or cubes


Tartine Lemon Curd

Heat about 1.5 inches of water to a simmer in a double boiler, or a saucepan that is the right size for a non-reactive metal bowl to fit into so that the bowl doesn’t touch the water but sits just above it. In the bowl, combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt. (Add the egg yolks last and whisk immediately – if you let the egg yolks and sugar sit, they will become grainy.) Rest the bowl on the pan and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and registers 180 degrees on a thermometer, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the water and let the mixture cool to about 140, stirring occasionally.

Tartine Lemon Curd Blend

When the mixture has cooled to 140, strain it with a fine mesh sieve, and use a hand blender in a high sided bowl or bar blender to blend in the butter one chunk at a time, blending continuously, and allowing each chunk to become incorporated before adding the next. It will be pale yellow and very thick. At this point you can add a little lemon zest or up to a tablespoon or so of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. Chill the cream until your tart shell is cool, or if it is, go ahead and fill it.

Tartine Lemon Curd Fill Pie

To assemble the tart (which you should do no more than a few hours before you plan to serve it) cut the tops off of the strawberries and dot the tart shell with them flat side down, points up, about a quarter inch apart. Pour the lemon cream over the top and chill for at least an hour.

For the topping:
2 cups of cream
2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
Beat cream in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment on high until soft peaks start to form. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff.

Tartine Lemon Curd Add Whipped Cream

Dollop the top of the tart with the whipped cream, spreading to the edges with an offset spatula, and dot the top with smaller whole strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Sam’s Kitchen – Tartine’s Sweet Tart Dough

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough

I’ve baked a few pies from the Tartine cookbook, and I have yet to be disappointed. Here’s a basic recipe for sweet tart dough. This crust has the perfect amount of crunch and sweetness. It’s almost like a shortbread.


1 cup + 2 tbsp (9 oz/255 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7 oz/200 grams) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature (tip
3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz/500 grams) all-purpose flour


Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Butter Eggs

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Ball

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 4 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight or freeze 3 for future use (this dough will keep for up to 3 weeks).

Tartine Sweet Tart Fill Pan

To line a tart pan, place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath as necessary to discourage sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm. Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the pan. If the dough is still cool, carefully transfer the circle to the pan, easing it into the bottom and sides and then pressing gently into place. If the dough has become too soft to work with, put it in the refrierator for a few minutes to firm up before transferring it to the pan. If the dough develops any tears, just patch with a little extra dough, pressing firmly to adhere. Trim the dough level with the top of the pan with a sharp knife. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm, about 15 minutes.

If you are making tartlet shells, roll out the dough in the same way, cut out circles according to the size of your pans, and line the pans. The rest of the dough, including the scraps, can be frozen for future use (I used the scraps from forming a 9-inch tart to make a 4-inch tartlet).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tartine Sweet Tart Dough Pie Crust

Dock (make small holes in) the bottom of the tart shell or tartlet shells with a fork or the tip of a knife, making tiny holes 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes for a partially baked large shell or 5 to 7 minutes for tartlet shells. The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque. Check the shell(s) during baking and rotate the pans if necessary for even color. If you want to brush the shell with a glaze (Elisabeth and Chad do this to keep the shell crisp longer), beat an egg with a pinch of salt in a small bowl. A minute or two before the desired color is reached, remove the shell(s) from the oven and lightly brush the bottom and sides with the glaze. Return the shell(s) to the oven and bake until the desired colour is reached and the glaze is set, about 10 minutes longer.

Let cool completely on wire racks. The pastry shells will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: four 9-inch tart shells or twelve 4-inch tartlet shells.

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