Socola Chocolatier: Winter and Signature Collections

These chocolates should be X-rated. They are so delicious and so adult, you may want to eat them in private to fully languish in the experience. I found myself audibly reacting to the Guava Pâté de Fruit resting on its oh-so-perfect layer of dark ganache. Just superb. If you had told me I would adore that particular combination I would have been highly doubtful, so it’s always important to keep an open mind. This particular little delight is adorned with a white winged alpaca, their mascot and guardian angel.

Before I regale you with the other seven flavors I was lucky enough to try, let me tell you about the Lieu sisters who co-founded Socola Chocolatier. In 2001, when Wendy was 19 and Susan was 16, they began experimenting with chocolate. Within a month they had a farmer’s market stall right in front of their parent’s nail salon in Santa Rosa. They named the company Socota because it means “chocolate” in Vietnamese. After Susan finished her degree at Harvard, she went to Vietnam to work on sustainable cocoa development with USAID. Meanwhile, Wendy studied pastry arts. In 2008 they returned to the kitchen and began concocting their unique truffles.

On to the truffles:

Vietnamese Coffee is typical of the sisters’ deft work. The ganache is ultra-creamy while the thin shell cracks from perfect tempering. On a riff of the classic Vietnamese drink, espresso is mixed with condensed milk and dark E. Guittard chocolate to the benefit of all three.

Rogue Brewery Shakespeare Stout (5%) has the same great textural counterpoint of all their truffles with the lovely addition of stout.

Burnt Caramel may be an homage to Vietnamese Flan. It’s almost a misnomer to call it burnt, as whatever extra caramelizing went into this ends up adding another layer of flavor, rather than standing out in any way you might associate with the word “burnt.”

Pumpkin Burnt Caramel has strong pumpkin flavor and a touch of salt which seems to make the truffle’s finish linger.

Chai Baba Chai is delicately enhanced with chai spices, which balances the flavors, rather than overpowering the chocolate.

Champagne tastes of dark chocolate and is a good counterpart to the three other flavors in this Winter Collection.

Hazelnut Praline is also gently flavored. This restraint prevents the hazelnut flavor from predominating.

Unlike some high-end chocolatiers, the Lieu sisters do not produce a bitter truffle. Theirs are bittersweet. It’s an important distinction, as the lack of sugar is appropriate in an 85% bar, but sorely missed in a truffle.

My two jewelry sized boxes, each containing four small truffles, were an appealing combination of aqua and brown with a thin brown ribbon asymmetrically placed at one end. What a poetic presentation for someone who loves serious chocolate.

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