Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Eclipse Chocolat

I've been hankering for some good desserts for awhile now, since eating four donuts--as good as they are--in one sitting from the nearby Golden Donut (on Governor) just doesn't get me off anymore. I originally intended to drop by Extrarindary Desserts for the 20th time, but a post from Alice Q. Foodie caught my eye. She mentioned a relatively new dessert cafe just around the corner from Mama's Lebanese Deli & Bakery. Y'all know me. I'm always game for trying someplace new...unless its a "recommendation" from my UCSD pals. (Sorry guys. I've been let down every goddamn time.)

The owner and chef of Eclipse Chocolat is a really cool/hip guy. He even posts updates on his creations or upcoming special events on the cafe blog. Some info straight off his profile:

Will Gustwiller is the owner and head chocolatier of the San Diego-based Eclipse Chocolat. Established in 2004, Eclipse specializes in creating exotic chocolate infusions in truffles, solid bars, and other exciting confections. Eclipse strives to expand the boundaries of chocolate flavors while operating in an eco-friendly manner and donating 10% of its annual net profit to the the development of local and regional non-profits and charities.

Seriously. What an awesome guy. He's really interactive with his customers and even asked me for my opinion concerning each dessert on the Spring Tasting Platter. I was flabbergasted, and being the shy guy that I am, I only managed to stammer out a fraction of my thoughts. Well, here's the rest, Will!

There's Will coming out with my plate! To be honest, I didn't even realize he was in the frame until I started writing this blog entry. Darn. I could have snapped a much better photo.

Customers have the option of dining in (and enjoy FREE WiFi!), or buying some of his signature truffles and chocolates to savor at home. As you can see, there's quite a selection of treats. Details of each item can be found on the website:

And a close-up of the fresh pastries:

Boring pictures, I know. This is just to give a general feel of the place. I'm doing a real photoshoot next time since I didn't bring some essential gear during this visit (notice the awful glare?)

Eclipse offers seasonal tasting plates, so I ordered the Spring Dessert Tasting Platter:

White Chocolate-Macadamia Pudding with Butterscotch Rum Sauce
airy white chocolate pudding+toasted macadamia+burnt caramel & muscavado butterscotch rum sauce

Curried-Peanutbutter, Marshmallow, & Milk Chocolate Panini
masala curry infused peanutbutter+vanilla bean marshmallow+36% milk chocolate panini, grilled to order

Frozen Chile-Burnt Caramel Semifreddo
frozen chile-burnt caramel semifreddo mousse+dark chocolate brownie crumb crust+burnt caramel topping

Dark Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise
dense dark chocolate-chocolate chip brioche bread pudding, warmed+vanilla bean creme aglaise

If heaven could be served on a plate, this is one of the many forms you can find it in. The white chocolate pudding was phenomenal. As its description suggests, it was very light and airy but still packed a good whallop of flavor. I didn't find the pudding to taste like typical store-bought white chocolate though, it was kind of a mix (white/dark). I like it better this way. Paired with Butterscotch Rum Sauce and you have yourself a fantastic mix of flavors that complement each other extremely well. Macadamia nuts found on the bottom of the cup lend their subtle flavor to further enhance the dessert's taste and also provide a delightful crunch as a contrast to the smooth pudding--how fun!. You haven't had good pudding 'til you have this pudding. It's so wickedly delicious I think it should be offered as an individual item on the regular menu. I'd order two per visit.

One of my favorite items on the plate was the panini. It's such a simple concept: brush peanut butter on whole-grain bread. Add chocolate and marshmallows. Grill it. But Will took this to a whole new level by blending the peanut butter with a touch of curry to give it somewhat of a more exotic taste. The combination may sound weird, but I assure you, it was the best damn peanut butter I've ever tasted. This is coming from a guy who loves PB so much that he's tried every brand from the supermarket (+ Trader Joe's!) and always keeps three different types in his pantry. I must try to replicate this dessert at home. It can't be that hard...can it...?

Best. Panini. Ever.

The semifreddo was an item I wasn't overly excited about. Don't get me wrong, it tastes great and is skillfully made. But, I personally do not like having spiciness in my desserts. I have to say though, the slight spiciness of this dessert does pair nicely with the curried peanut butter panini. In any case, it was an interesting and complex mix of flavors and though I tried to imagine the dessert without its spiciness, I realized that it would just lose its flair and character. Try it! You may very well like it.

I've haven't had many opportunities to eat bread pudding so my experience is very limited and I won't be able to offer any comparisons or analysis for this item. But I will tell you this: It's pretty damn good. It was like a really soft and moist warm brownie, though not as sweet and with the texture of bread pudding. This would make great comfort food on cold days if you eat eight of them. The vanilla-bean creme anglaise was very light and delicate, giving each bite a hint of vanilla without overwhelming your taste buds. I enjoyed this very much!

BRAVO! Eclipse Chocolat is edging out Extraordinary Desserts as my #1 dessert cafe in San Diego now. I'm a big fan of Western-style desserts, but many establishments just make them way too sweet for my tastes. This is partly why I love Japanese renditions of Western desserts so much. They make them lighter and more delicate. (Remember Cafe Blanc?) Extraordinary Desserts makes fantastic desserts and I do enjoy their creations, but the desserts there are just a tad too sweet. I'm sure many people will disagree with my previous statement, but hey. That's my opinion, so shut up. Also, I personally like to experience as many tastes as possible instead of ordering one slab of cake or a bowl of pudding/creme brulee/etc. This makes Eclipse Chocolat's seasonal dessert platters very appealing to me--I get to tease my palate with a wide range of flavors and textures. Isn't that what enjoying food is all about?

Will gave me a small stack of coupons, so UCSD students, contact me for one so you have an excuse to try out Eclipse Chocolat!

Coupon1 - FREE Espresso, Tea, or Pastry with any dessert purchase.
Coupon2 - FREE Box of (4) Exotic Truffles ($10 value) with any chocolate purchase of $10+.

Hurry! coupons expire on 5/9/08.

Additional visits to Eclipse Chocolat:
The second time.
The third time.
The Blogger Mixer.

Eclipse Chocolat
2121 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, California 92104


Owner, Eclipse Chocolat said...

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! The Seasonal Dessert Tasting Platter changes every 8 weeks to reflect fresh produce. This line-up will be around until the end of April. Stop back in after that for a whole new collection:)

Rumela said...

I love eating breakfast and always try new recipes. I would love to try the Milk Chocolate Panini for breakfast. that looks tasty. Panini is also a healthy food option and can make a satisfying breakfast. The Photos are amazing... I am already feeling hungry.Can't wait to try it.