Friday, October 08, 2010

Scharffen Berger’s Chocolate Adventure Contest

A chocolate cupcake with adzuki beans or ricotta cheese? Or maybe saffron or stout beer? If those ingredients sound a bit odd to you, well, how does $10,000 smackeroos sound?

That’s the grand prize for this year’s Chocolate Adventure Contest by premium chocolate maker Scharffen Berger. Last night I attended a launch party for the Chocolate Adventure Contest, now in its fourth year, and pretty much the only reason I RSVP’d to the invitation (thanks Tablehopper!) was I saw the word cupcake on the invite.

For this year’s contest, you’ll need to make a cupcake using Scharffen Berger chocolates and at least one of 14 “adventure” ingredients. Game on!

First, here’s a look at the party, which took place at Orson restaurant in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. Orson, owned by Chef Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake, has an amazing bar in the center of the restaurant. And on this night, the bar offered up four specialty chocolate-themed drinks. I tried the American Pastoral, which totally looked chocolate-ly and is made with rum and pumpkin ale with cocoa powder on the rim.

But I actually should have tried this beet drink just for the pure adventure of drinking a drink warmed up with fire! Who doesn’t like drinking fire water?

There were h'orderves circulating the room, but unfortunately most of them were deep-fried, so I passed on the passing h'orderves. There was this interesting goat cheese ball, though, that looked like little dragon fruits because they were tinted with beet juice.

Scharffen Berger set up a tasting challenge where people got to try last year’s adventure ingredients and had to guess what they were. It was like Top Chef. They gave us three to try and I was only able to guess one (coconut cream). (The two I missed was almond powder and jicama, which BTW I hate so no wonder.)

There was also a tasting table of dark rich chocolates from Scharffen Berger.

And a display table showing some of this year’s 14 adventure ingredients. The actual ingredient lists include adzuki bean, almond flour, bee pollen, fresh beets, buttermilk, coconut butter (or cream or milk), chili pepper, Meyer lemon, molasses, ricotta cheese, saffron, stout beer, Sumatra coffee bean, or sweetened condensed milk.

For inspiration, Chef Faulker displayed some really cute cupcakes she made using some of the adventure ingredients. I was thinking of entering but now I’m intimidated because I could never enter a cupcake so beautiful. But then again, it is $10,000.

The Chocolate Adventure Contest is now open and accepting cupcake recipes. Deadline to enter is January 2, 2011. For more information, visit


Jenster said...

You should totally enter, Ben! Say it with me: $10,000.

Carolyn Jung said...

I think you did pretty well on your taste test. After all, jicama has hardly any flavor, so that would be a tough one.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Bee Pollen sounds like the toughest challenge. What does it taste like?

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's a lot of zeroes! Looks like a fun and delicious event... what did you think of the.cupcakes?

Single Guy Ben said...

Nate, I didn't try the bee pollen, so not sure what it tasted like.

I tried one of the ganache chocolate cake that had a filling like peanut butter but something else, I think the ricotta. It was messy to eat but pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Just came across your posting as I research flavors and such for the competition. A tough one I might say...endless possibilities. What a great event, too bad I did not know about it. Adzuki beans so far I find as a textural element rather than a flavor. Yet again, endless ways to use and combine all ingredients so I am sure someone more well versed in the bean could bring out the nutty flavor better than I.