No high resolution image exists...
Several years ago, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn opened her wholesale chocolate operation, Couture Chocolates by Ginger Elizabeth, on nothing but a $5,000-limit credit card. After a name change to make it simpler, and a lot of dedication, her Midtown store Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates is now one of Sacramento's premier chocolate boutiques.
Hahn studied under famous chocolatiers like Jacques "Mr. Chocolate" Torres, Daniel Budd and En-Ming Hsu, and opened her store at the age of 24. Today, her store produces about 3,000 French-style square-cut truffles per week (22 kinds in all), cakes and a handful of other chocolate-based foods.
Hahn grew up in the foothills, but it was a course at Culinary Institute of America's Napa campus at the age of 16 that convinced her to pursue a culinary career. She studied to be a pastry chef in Santa Barbara, Manhattan and Chicago before deciding she would pursue chocolate, her "first love."
"I love the art, the beauty of (chocolate) and the other aspects like science and agriculture," Hahn said. "You have to study under people. It's a very specific trade."
Now 28, Hahn has mastered the French truffle. Acclaimed dessert author and blogger David Lebovitz has said her chocolates are some of the best he's ever tasted. She's even made a sculpture of interlocking chocolate orbs, displayed in the store, which took over ten hours, she said.
"Making chocolate into something that would resemble art is difficult," she said. "Making a perfect mousse or ganache for a truffle is just as hard to achieve perfection."
Several years ago, Hahn began teaching chocolate tasting classes in her store, but they quickly outgrew the shop's 200 square feet of retail space. Busy with a 6-month-old baby, she stopped teaching them altogether.
So when Hahn decided to start classes up again, the two classes both filled up within a week: first a holiday cupcake class scheduled for Dec. 5, then a Nov. 14 holiday dessert class. Held in a penthouse in the L Street Lofts across the street from the chocolate store, Hahn will demonstrate how to make the treats, and participants will taste them.
Since the class sold out so quickly, and there are over 10 people on the wait list for the cupcake demonstration, Hahn expects to hold a second Dec. 5 class after the first one. If that ends up happening, be sure to check the discussion section of this story for details. Otherwise, the next demonstration will be right before Valentine's Day, Hahn said.
One thing she would like to teach people about chocolate is how much work it takes to farm it.
"It takes so many families of farmers in South America and Africa to let us enjoy this beautiful chocolate," she said. "Sometimes the farmers don't get a taste of fine chocolate, they just eat it (in) fruit (form)."
Hahn recommends the Palet d'Or, literally "ring of gold," which is a bittersweet ganache made with chocolate from the Lake Maracaibo region in Venezuela. They can be purchased here, or at the retail store, 1801 L Street., Suite 60.