German’s chocolate was not invented in Germany or by Germans. In 1852, a man named Samuel German invented the first practical sweetened chocolate bar. Samuel German was employed by Baker’s Chocolate Company, America’s oldest chocolate company. Very little else is known about Samuel German. According to some accounts, he was an American baker, and according to other accounts, he was an Englishman who emigrated to the U.S. If you look at the package carefully (pictured below), you will see that the label doesn’t say ‘German Chocolate.’ It says ‘German’s Chocolate.’ Note the apostrophe and ‘s’ after the word ‘German.’ Before Samuel German’s invention, chocolate bars were unsweetened. Unsweetened chocolate bars are made for baking and beverages, not for eating.


The recipe for this popular cake was invented by a woman in Texas named Mrs. George Clay. She worked for the Baker Chocolate Company, which makes German’s chocolate. Her recipe first appeared in print in a Dallas newspaper in 1957. She called her dessert ‘German’s chocolate cake’ because German’s chocolate is the principle ingredient. The cake was an immediate hit. The recipe was reprinted in newspapers all over the United States. Within 1 year, sales of German’s chocolate shot up by over 70%. Over time, most magazines and cookbooks dropped the apostrophe and ‘s’ after ‘German’ when reprinting the recipe. Today, most cookbooks and bakeries just call it German chocolate cake. It is now widely believed all over the world that German chocolate cake is a traditional German dessert, which it is not. Ironically, many restaurants in Germany now sell German chocolate cake because American tourists expect and demand it. Many German restaurants in the U.S. also serve German chocolate cake for the same reason. Several U.S. presidents have served German chocolate cake at state dinners for German politicians in the mistaken belief that German chocolate cake is a German dessert. The first U.S. president to do this was Lyndon Johnson, who served German chocolate cake at a state dinner to honor German chancellor Ludwig Erhard in 1963. Erhard had never seen German chocolate cake before and asked what it was. The most recent U.S. president to serve German chocolate cake to honor a German statesman was Barrack Obama. I don’t know if Donald Trump has ever served German chocolate cake at the White House. It is widely known that he has a sweet tooth. Trump’s favorite candies are Starburst and See’s chocolates. Incidentally, See’s gets their chocolate from the same place I do – the Guittard Chocolate Company. And remember, ‘National German Chocolate Cake Day’ is June 11.

How To Make A Hard Chocolate Shell For Ice Cream.

chocolate-shellThis recipe only contains 2 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make. If you want an excellent chocolate sauce that instantly hardens into a shell when poured over ice cream, here’s the secret: coconut oil. At room temperature, coconut oil is solid but spoonable; however, it becomes hard and brittle at colder temperatures, like the temperature of ice cream. You can buy coconut oil at many supermarkets and Trader Joe’s. To make a really good hard chocolate ice cream topping, place in a microwaveable bowl 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) of coconut oil and 1 cup (6 ounces) of semisweet chocolate.  Microwave at 50 percent power in 30 second intervals, stirring the mixture between the intervals until the mixture is thoroughly combined. That’s all there is to it! You can store your chocolate topping at room temperature and spoon or pour it over ice cream. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more coconut oil or microwave it slightly to warn it up. You can also use this mixture to make chocolate covered frozen bananas on a stick and other frozen desserts. (A jar of this stuff also makes a very nice Christmas gift from your kitchen!)

This chocolate topping tastes much better than the bottled chocolate ‘magic shell’ toppings sold in supermarkets. This recipe is made with real chocolate. Nearly all of the commercially made products you find in supermarkets are made with inferior ingredients like palm oil. It’s cheaper to make this stuff that way, but predictably, it doesn’t taste as good. At the bottom of the pile, there are chocolate shell products sold at dollar stores that are made out of something called ‘natural chocolate flavor.’ I don’t know what it is, but isn’t made from cocoa beans.

New in the Chocolate Room.

California Granola. I am making a new granola mix. It contains almonds, raisins, walnuts, and dates. I call it California Granola because nearly all of all the almonds raisins, walnuts, and daCaliforniaGranolates grown in the United States come in California. I have it in 8 ounce and 16 ounce jars. Most people, even people here in California, don’t realize how much of our nation’s food comes from California. Nearly 100% of the following crops come from California: apricots, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, figs, garlic, grapes, kiwifruit, nectarines, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, plums, pomegranates, and strawberries.

Is There Lead In Hershey Bars?

This is another Yes and No. The State of California is threatening to sue Hershey for failing to put Prop. 65 warning labels on their chocolate bars telling consumers that Hershey bars contain lead. Well Yes, there is lead in Hershey bars, but Hershey doesn’t put lead in their chocolate. Why would they? The fact is that all cacao beans contain a small amount of lead. As Hersheys explains: “All foods that are grown in nature contain small amounts of elements and minerals, such as cadmium and lead, which occur naturally in all soils because they are found in the Earth’s crust.” You may have seen stories in the press over the past year about this and thought about switching to a different brand of chocolate. That won’t do any good. There is a trace amount of lead in all chocolate. In addition to Hershey, California has also filed or threatened to file Prop. 65 lawsuits against Trader Joes, Green and Black, Lindt, Whole Foods, Kroger, Godiva, See’s, Mars, Theo, and Ghirardelli. There’s no decision yet. (P.S. – There is also a surprisingly large amount of nicotine in eggplant, but that’s a story for another day.)

Snob Appeal Chocolate and Hamantashen



Would you pay $14,000 for a box of 6 chocolate truffles? Believe it or not, that is what Ross Ltd. is charging. Ross is located in Kazakhstan, an oil-rich country with petro-millionaires and billionaires, although most people living there are dirt poor. The prices that some rich people are willing to pay for snob appeal products always amazes me. Have these people nothing better to do with their money? If you want to know what could possibly justify a price of $14,000 for a box of chocolates, the answer is simple – NOTHING! To see what these truffles look like, go to: $14,000 Truffles.  

hamantashenHAMANTASHEN. I’ve got handmade raspberry and apricot filled hamantashen in the chocolate room, bottom-dipped in semisweet and milk chocolate. Because they are handmade, no 2 are exactly alike. This is a seasonal item and will only be available for a short time. The word ‘hamantashen’ means ‘Haman’s pockets’ in Yiddish and German.P.S. – I don’t often make make chocolate truffles. They are too time consuming. However, if you are willing to pay me $14,000, I will make up a very nice box of truffles – just for you!


Woulr You Pay $260 For A Chocolate Bar?

toakA 50 gram (1.8 ounce) To’ak chocolate bar sells for $260. Each To’ak chocolate bar is packed in a wood box and comes with a 115 page guidebook. By contrast, my chocolate bars do not come with a guidebook. You have to figure out how to eat my chocolate bars all by yourself and without written instructions. To’ak chocolate bars are made from a very rare and genetically pure variety of cocao bean called Nacional. Nacional cocao trees were thought to be extinct. The variety was nearly wiped out in 1917 by an outbreak of witch’s broom disease; however, a few of these trees were recently discovered growing in a remote area of Ecuador. There aren’t many of these trees. Despite the high price, To’ak chocolate bars are selling well. Nearly all the To’ak chocolate bars that will be available this year have already been sold. To order To’ak chocolate bars, click here: $260 Chocolate Bars.

nokaNoka. To’ak chocolate bars sounds like the kind of thing that dot-comers buy when they sell their companies or have IPOs; however, To’ak chocolate bars are far from being the most expensive chocolate bars ever sold. Noka chocolate bars sold for $850 a pound, but Noka went out of business after the financial crisis of 2008. A lot of companies that sold ridiculously expensive luxuries went out of business at that time. They used to sell Noka chocolate at the Neiman Marcus store at Union Square in San Francisco. Back when Neiman Marcus was selling Noka chocolate, I went over there to see the Noka display for myself. While I was there, a young man bought 2 boxes of Noka chocolates. Each box weighed 3 ounces and sold for $130. He paid cash. The guy didn’t look rich. There were holes in his Levis. He looked like he might be a busboy at a coffee shop. I remembered staring at him as he made his purchase. As he left. I wondered what he was going to do with the small bag of chocolates that he put in his backpack and paid $260 for. I wondered if he was going to eat the stuff on a bus going home. Above is a picture of my hand with a $10 Noka chocolate bar in it. (Really! That actually is a picture of a $10 Noka chocolate bar.)

If you prefer boxed chocolates and money is no object, may I recommend Debauve & Gallais’ Le Livre. Le Livre (‘book’ in French) is a collection of 35 individual chocolate pralines and ganaches packed in a box designed to look like an elegant book. It costs $550. If that is too expensive for you, you can order the Petit Livre (small book) for only $330. To order, go to: Debauve & Gallais.


New In The Chocolate Room

TRIPLE GINGER COOKIES. These chewy cookies are made with 3 kinds of ginger: fresh, powdered, and crystallized. They also contain molasses and cinnamon and are topped with crystallized sugar. I bottom dip them in dark and milk chocolate. I like Dutch spice cookies like these, but they are often hard to find in stores.

MADELEINES. Most people think of madeleines as cookies, but they are actually small sponge cakes. My madeleines are made using a traditional French recipe. That means there is a lot of butter in them. I top dip them in milk and dark chocolate.

Marcel Proust and Madeleines. Just before World War 1, Marcel Proust published ‘Remembrances of Things Past’. The book became an immediate best-seller. In his book, Proust recounted his childhood memories. He had a lot to say about madeleines and he said it in a way that made everybody want them. Before the publication of ‘Remembrances of Things Past’, most people, even in France, had never seen or heard of madeleines before. Madeleines were only made in a few towns in Lorraine, a province in northeastern France. As soon as Proust’s book came out, people all over the world went to bakeries demanding madeleines. Below is a small bit of what Proust had to say about madeleines.

madeleines“One day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, which I did not ordinarily drink. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing tomorrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the madeleine. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the madeleine.” – Marcel Proust.

Proust was a pretty convincing madeleine salesman, wasn’t he?

Competition With My Free Chocolate Room?

I recently toured Varsity Berkeley Apartments in downtown Berkeley. This is a huge complex. The building runs across an entire block. The building is still under construction, bu they are signing leases now for occupancy in late July. The rent on 2 bedroom apartments ranges from $3,750 to $4,200 a month. Parking is extra. They are advertising these apartments as rentals for college students, hence the name ‘Varsity Berkeley’, but I wonder – how many college students can really afford to pay $4,000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment?

What is a ‘luxury apartment’? The sales brochure says that you will ‘live in luxury’ at Varsity Berkeley. It seems like every new apartment house in Berkeley uses the word ‘luxury’ to describe their apartments, but what exactly does that mean? ‘Luxury apartment’ could mean almost anything and based on my observations, it usually just means ‘expensive.’ If there is a legal definition of the word ‘luxury’, I would like to know what it is. To be fair, Varsity Berkeley has some very nice amenities, including a spacious rooftop garden. They will also have valet garbage collection. That means they will pick up your garbage at your apartment. You won’t have to carry your garbage to a garbage can or a garbage chute. That is not a service that I provide. I do not pick up my tenants’ garbage and put it in their garbage cans for them.

varsityapartmentsVarsity Berkeley has some interesting swag at their rental office. They have free bags of gumballs with the name ‘Varsity Berkeley’ printed on the bag, but I wonder if that is enough to get people to sign leases. I always keep my eye on Berkeley landlords who give free candy to their tenants; however, I am not convinced that bags of gumballs are real competition with my free chocolate room. You know, you can buy a lot of gumballs for $4,000 a month!

Chocolate Fondue Anyone?

fondueIf you would like to serve chocolate fondue at your next party, come and see me. I will lend you my chocolate fondue pots and forks and give you the fondue chocolate. All you will need is cream and stuff to dip in the fondue, like strawberries and bananas.

Chocolate fondue is very easy to make. You just put chocolate and cream in an electric fondue pot and turn the thermostat on ‘low’. When the chocolate is melted, stir it up, and you’re done. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t a simplified recipe. This is the way dessert professionals make it. Chocolate fondue is great for parties! And it is easy and fun to do!

Chocolate News

isisIsis Chocolate will soon be changing the company’s name. Isis Chocolate, a high-end Belgian chocolate company, will be changing its name to Libeert in January. The company has been in business for nearly a century and has a worldwide reputation for superior chocolates, but sales have been hurting because of the Islamic state group in Iraq and Syria with the same name. Apparently some people think that Isis Chocolates is some kind of fundraiser for the Islamic state. Can you imagine anyone believing that? Can you picture heavily armed Islamic terrorists setting up card tables in front of Giant supermarkets and selling their own brand of chocolate bars next to the Girl Scout cookie and the Boy Scout popcorn tables?

aydsAyds. This story reminds me of what happened to Ayds. Ayds diet candy was a popular product back in the 1960s and 1970s. The company claimed that if you ate an Ayds caramel 30 minutes before a meal, it would suppress your appetite. Ayds ads were everywhere, and Ayds sponsored a number of TV shows. However, the company went out of business when the disease AIDS came along. Their slogan seemed to reinforce the erroneous but widely held belief that you could get AIDS by eating Ayds caramels. Ayds slogan was: ‘With Ayds, you’ll lose weight!’