Locally owned: Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

Chocolatier Ginger Elizabeth Hahn figured out her career path at a very young age. Since then, her singular focus, education and training in the culinary arts led her to open Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates five years ago in Midtown. Ginger, Julia and Yan can cook When Hahn was 5, Julia Child and Martin Yan’s TV cooking shows left her spellbound. Before long, Hahn was putting on cooking demos for her family and clipping recipes from Bon Appetit magazine. In pre-Food Network days, she watched the “Great Chefs” programs, but because the chefs never bothered to detail the ingredients, she experimented in the kitchen and figured out recipe measurements on her own. Hahn’s mother was also a great influence. Her mother baked desserts and pastries from scratch and on one occasion made a cobbler using wild blackberries. Hahn has a vivid and visceral memory of the taste of the wild berries and marveling at how adding eggs, butter, flour and sugar to a simple fruit could be so transformative. Shortly thereafter, Hahn attended a weeklong culinary camp for teenagers in Napa, Calif., and knew that she had found her life’s path. She next enrolled in culinary school at Santa Barbara City College and after graduating, went on to study in the pastry school at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Pastry training While in the […]

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Ancient Future: Spiritual sanctuary seeks to satisfy & soothe

Right in the heart and commotion of the Midtown bar scene, a calming, peaceful urban sanctuary for the body, soul and spirit serves Mayan spice chocolate French toast with a side of Tibetan bowl sound therapy, or perhaps a cocoa butter massage, to people seeking nourishment and relaxation. This multi-faceted center of well-being, Ancient Future, is located at 2331 K St. and opened its doors and its arms to the public on July 1. “It’s been rewarding seeing the vision come alive and watching people in the space being able to take a nice deep breath and enjoy themselves and one another,” owner Teresa Flint said. “I really want this space to be a gathering place for the community.” Ancient Future, a name that embodies the sanctuary’s overarching theme of melding ancient traditions with new therapies, treatments and thoughts, is a multi-level space that houses many forms of spiritual treatment – a space which Flint said she knew she had to occupy even before she had set foot inside. The entryway, complete with an ornate glass tea distiller, custom pet beds and Flint’s personal vision board (the inspiration behind the entire sanctuary), leads into the outdoor serenity courtyard and practitioner rooms. The courtyard, which is open to the public during normal business hours much like a coffee shop, grows produce that is used on-site at […]

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Best Doughnuts in Sacramento

Chocolate frosted. Glazed old-fashioned. Powdered jelly. Maple iced. Just naming doughnut flavors triggers thoughts of warm, comforting, yeasty smells. Doughnuts are well-known as “one of the best comfort foods around,” according to the Perishables Group, a food consulting firm. The executive chef for Dunkin’ Donuts says a doughnut “puts you in a calm place, if even for a short time.” Clearly, the humble doughnut warrants further attention, and I made it my mission to discover the best doughnut shops in Sacramento. Sacramento has many doughnut shops, so I needed to narrow the field. I explored multiple websites for their “best doughnut” listings and I consulted friends and family. From these sources, I identified the best of the best for my firsthand research. For the survey, I enlisted the expert help of Brian and Alice Bunch, who were in the doughnut business for 40 years, including many years in their own Bay Area store, World’s Fare Doughnuts. If anyone knows a good doughnut, it’s them. I asked for their advice on the type of doughnut I should sample to get the best shop-to-shop comparison. Brian said raised glazed are the best choice because they take the most technique to make. Raised doughnuts must be kneaded and allowed to rise before cooking, similar to bread-making.  In contrast, cake doughnuts are made from a batter mix and poured […]

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Seven recipes for holiday treats

The holidays are a time for family gatherings, but let’s face it – sometimes dealing with Awkward Uncle Andrew is best done with something sweet in-hand. The Sacramento Press talked to local bloggers and pastry chefs about their favorite holiday desserts and compiled the following recipes. Ginger Elizabeth Fudge Brownies – Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates “It’s one of the first recipes I learned to make in restaurants when I was younger, and throughout all the different bakeries and schools and everywhere I’ve been, it’s still my favorite brownie recipe,” said Ginger Elizabeth, owner of the Midtown chocolate shop. “I think it’s the perfect blend of cakiness and fudginess.” The following recipe will make about two dozen brownies 1 1/4 cups + 1 tbsp. butter 3 cups sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5 eggs 1/2 tsp. salt 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 1 pound Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates Bulk Chocolate Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for convection ovens). Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan and set aside. 1. Melt Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates Bulk Chocolate and butter over a double boiler on low heat. 2. Using a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a paddle attachment or by hand, mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix for 1-2 minutes until a little frothy. Add the melted chocolate and butter and mix to combine. 3. Add the sifted flour and […]

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Eat your heart out: Easter desserts in Sacramento

Whether you are hunting for speckled eggs or spending time with loved ones, don’t forget to stop by local eateries for their special Easter desserts this weekend. Get ready for the cuteness overload. Freeport Bakery 2966 Freeport Blvd. Freeport Bakery has a beautiful display of Easter decorations and a variety of creative and beautiful cookies, cupcakes and large cakes. You can purchase bunny, duck or Easter egg cookies in a bag, box, on a tray or by the piece. You can also purchase rich chocolate or golden buttermilk cupcakes, topped with buttercream or chocolate frosting and Easter decorations.  Each cupcake is $2.95. There are a variety of cakes available on their Easter menu, including an Easter Basket Mini cake, an Old-fashioned Lamb cake, a Lemon Zinger, Easter Egg cake, Coconut Layer cake, Princess cake, Champagne cake, Carrot cake, Honey Bee cake, Fudge cake, Chocolate Charlotte, Fruit Basket cake and Individual Fudge Easter Egg cake. Most of the cakes are available in larger sizes and vary in price from $26.95 to $36.95.  In addition to cookies, cupcakes and cakes, Freeport Bakery also has vegetable and lorraine quiche, coffee rings, sweet buttery bread shaped like bunnies, buns and rolls. Owner Marlene Goetzeler said that the menu has gained popularity on Facebook. "We even have a Passover menu," Goetzeler said. TreyBcakes 1801 L St., Suite 70 TreyBcakes gourmet bakery and eatery has […]

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Sacramento celebrates Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day has traditionally been celebrated with a simple dinner for two. Couples exchange cards professing their appreciation for one another, gift the usual candy and jewelery and call it a day. As Valentine’s Day draws closer, many people are looking to celebrate that special day in a more memorable way. Sacramento has a number of exciting events and specials to choose from on Valentine’s Day and the weekend prior. While many make reservations at their favorite restaurants, why not book a Valentine’s Day Lovers’ Cruise, provided by Hornblower Cruises, for a change? “Sacramento’s Cupid’s Valentine’s Weekend Brunch Cruise,” on Sunday, is a two-hour cruise departing from the L-Street dock at 1206 Front St. at 10:45 a.m. General admission starts at $56.64. The brunch features an assortment of food including salads, eggs, ham, pasta, and various desserts. The cruise also offers champagne, a full buffet and live entertainment. A three-hour “Sacramento Sweethearts Valentine’s Dinner Cruise” is also available on Saturday and Valentine’s Day. This particular cruise provides guests with a four-course meal that includes fillet mignon, seafood and ends with a dessert sampler. There will be an assortment of wine available and entertainment from a live band. Tickets start at $99, and reservations can be made by phone (415)-788-7020. By land, Revolution Wines, on 2831 S-St., is reeling couples in with its weekend specials. Admission […]

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Ginger Elizabeth talks chocolate at Time Tested Books

Local chocolatier Ginger Elizabeth shared the farm-to-storefront process of making chocolate Sunday as a part of Time Tested Books’ Living Library series, at Time Tested Books, co-sponsored by Midtown Monthly. “Chocolate is my life, and my mission is to educate the Sacramento region about chocolate,” Elizabeth said. And educate she did. According to Elizabeth, all the chocolate we consume comes from the cacao tree. The farmer grows the cacao tree, which has football-like cacao pod blossoms that grow from its trunk. Each pod yields about 40 beans, Elizabeth said. When it’s time to harvest the beans, they are fermented. Without this process of fermentation, the beans wouldn’t taste like chocolate. After the beans are fermented, they must be dried and then roasted. Just like coffee beans, the roasting is possibly the most important step, Elizabeth said. After roasting, the beans must be crushed and winnowed, or separated into crushed bean shells and meaty insides, called nibs. The nibs are then ground and made into a paste, sugar is added and the chocolate is ready to be consumed. However, this version of chocolate is unrefined and only eaten in other countries, such as South America and Africa, where refined chocolate is unavailable. The chocolate sold in the United States has gone through a concher – a machine invented by Rudolf Lindt, which removes any volatile acids […]

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Port, Chocolate and Cheese

Marni Rubin took her guests on a journey through the tastes, textures and pairings of specialty cheeses, chocolates, ports and dessert wines Saturday. C’est le Cheese owner Jody Lagorio and her husband, Dan Hague, hosted the event at the Lofts on L street. Rubin is a wine educator by trade, teaching class through Wine One One, but she said this class is her favorite to teach, especially around the holidays. She is self educated and she is also a certified wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators. Before teaching she worked as sommelier. “I enjoy bringing people together to enjoy and share food and elevate their knowledge of all aspects of food,” Lagorio said. The guests are greeted when they arrive and brought to the third floor for a reception before the class starts. He said that an Italian cheese is always paired with an Italian wine, and a Spanish cheese with Spanish wine. “We started at the lofts at the Marriott, but we couldn't get as many people in,” Hague said. He said the Marriott had room for only19 participants, and now at the Lofts they are able to seat 27. C’est le Cheese has been hosting classes at the Lofts for about a year now. The class served five wines with chocolate and cheese to accompany each one. Rubin said there are […]

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Ginger Elizabeth cools down ice cream aficionados

In the hot Sacramento summer, knowing how to make ice cream may come in handy when trying to cool off. Thankfully, that’s exactly what was on the agenda for Ginger Elizabeth Hahn’s summer class last Saturday. Thirty-five students gathered at Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates — Hahn’s boutique — which offers classes for $35 per person. The class was located at the 1818 L St. Lofts penthouse kitchen across the street. Hahn, a chocolatier, taught two sold-out classes that day. She first told the class of her training, which includes the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She has worked with world-renowned chocolatiers such as Jacques Torres and pastry chef En-Ming Hsu and had the chance meet and speak with chef legend Julia Child. “I studied at the French Culinary Institute in Chicago too. I’m kind of all over the place, but I love chocolate," she said.  She began the class with a Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream base recipe. Tahitian vanilla is “a little spicier” than normal vanilla and two to three times the price since it is only found in Tahiti. She demonstrated an infusion, which was used for the ice cream base: bringing cream, milk and the vanilla to a boil and letting the vanilla bean steep for five minutes. Throughout the two-hour class, Hahn demonstrated her abilities as students observed, asked questions […]

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Ginger Elizabeth sweetens up summer

Chocolate lovers gathered for their sugar high Saturday morning for a course in cupcake creation hosted by Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates. The class was taught by owner and world-renowned chocolatier Ginger Elizabeth Hahn. Students meet in front of the L Street retail store and filed across the street to a penthouse kitchen classroom in the 1818 L Lofts. Getting a spot in the class was highly competitive. Within 24 hours of the class’ announcement, Hahn said the 35 seats were filled. A second afternoon class was added to accommodate wait-listed students and was filled within hours. In the end, more than 60 people were turned away. "I couldn’t wait to see if my friends wanted to take the class with me," said Tricia Haim, a regular customer of Ginger Elizabeth. "I had to call and get my spot as soon as possible." When the class began, Hahn gave a brief description of her culinary career and spoke about her time studying in New York and France. During the course, Hahn shared her cherished recipes and demonstrated tricks of her trade. She answered questions on all levels, from the most efficient spatula to use to the scientific processes of perfecting caramel. Within two hours, students observed how to make the ingredients of different filled-cupcakes as well as proper assembly. The class ended with a chocolate tasting to […]

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