TCHO Chocolate: killer bars & baking drops now sold here!
Early on, San Francisco established itself as a hotbed of American-made gourmet chocolate, raising up the likes of Ghirardelli, Guittard, and Scharffen Berger. The city's latest entrant into the market, TCHO--pronounced "choh," as it's the phonetic spelling of the first syllable of chocolate--has taken a tech-geek's approach to the confection, on everything from its design to manufacturing processes. (For example, the company's product development phase involved issuing "beta versions" of its bars for sale with a request for feedback, then, a few days later, issuing a second version. A year and 1,026 iterations later, they had their first 1.0 bars for sale. I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the company's owners was the founding editor of Wired.) Anyway, TCHO is now being sold in Minnesota.
I first tried TCHO's dark chocolate bars for sale at Sugar, Sugar. The bars come in four single-source flavor profiles in two sizes of mod, square packaging. I was as enamored with the chocolate's smooth texture and piercing, distinguished flavors.
The company started distributing to Twin Cities retailers about four months ago, and it recently sent me a sample of the baking drops (Cooks of Crocus Hill carries them; for more TCHO retailers, look here), so I baked up a test batch of brownies using a recipe on the back of the package. The result was so good that I feared my household might binge and succumb to a chocolate overdose, so I brought a few to a friend's house to ensure our safety. The brownies were dense but soft, fudgy, and not at all dry. Often with brownies the complexity of the chocolate can't compare to that of a good bar, but with these, the flour and eggs didn't dilute the chocolate's nuanced fruity, nutty notes.
We're lucky to have a lot of great chocolate made here in the Twin Cities (in fact, my San Francisco friends always ask me to bring them bars of B.T. McElrath's Salty Dog whenever I visit), but if you're a chocolate freak, TCHO's is also worth checking out, and so is this brownie recipe:
TCHO Deep Chocolate Brownies
Recipe by Emily Luchetti, courtesy of TCHO
8 oz. TCHO 68% Cacao Baking Drops, finely chopped
5 oz. (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tspn. kosher salt
1/2 tspn. baking powder
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Melt the chocolates and butter in a double boiler over hot water. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Sift together and then stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out fudgy and not dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Place a cutting board on top of the pan. Invert the pan and board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper.