On the weekend of September 12th and 13th, Ghirardelli Chocolate held its 20th Annual Chocolate Festival in the heart of San Francisco, Ghirardelli Square. The chocolate company paired up with non-profit organization Project Open Hand to raise money to provide meals for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
Tickets were available online in two forms: $20 for a Chocolate Road Tasting, good for 15 gourmet chocolate tastings; or $50 for the Chocolate and Wine Pavilion Tasting, good for the 15 original chocolate tastings, 12 Chocolate & Wine Pavilion tastings and a souvenir wine glass.
In addition to chocolate tastings, Ghirardelli also hosted a number of events, including ice cream eating contests, chocolate school and various cooking demonstrations. If you weren’t one of the 30,000+ people who attended, here’s what you missed.
Private Chocolatier Session
At this media-exclusive event, Jenna Fu, the lead Chocolatier at Ghirardelli, held a demonstration on how to assemble their Halloween-themed white chocolate ghost.
Meanwhile, she explained to us the qualities of good chocolate: shininess and ability to snap when broken apart. The most astonishing fact we learned: every single ghost chocolate on the shelves this October is handmade by the Chocolatiers. Handcrafted to perfection, for sure!
Chocolate and Wine Pavilion Tastings
Over 50 vendors showed up to donate samples of their products. Large companies, like Rainforest Cafe, Coco-Cola and Torani, as well as local favorites, like Three Twins Ice Cream, We the Minis and West Coast Toffee, gathered in Ghirardelli Square to collectively raise money for Project Open Hand.
We sampled everything from gourmet truffles and scrumptious cupcakes to chocolate coconut water and chocolate tea. Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite must-visit vendors.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares
Volunteers at the first tent upon entry handed out Ghirardelli’s Classic Squares (we got 2 squares per stamp). Flavors ranged from the classic Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling, to the more exquisite Sea Salt Soiree and even our holiday favorite, Peppermint Bark!
#SpoonTip: If you have leftover sample squares but not enough room in your stomach, go back to this tent before you leave to claim these delicious chocolate squares and bring them home.
Cupcakes from Frost Cupcake Factory
Frost Cupcake Factory’s stand was located in the Wine Pavilion area, only accessible by those with Wine Pavilion tickets. It was hard to miss the tall cupcake tower display among wine glasses and bottles, and naturally, we had to check them out.
They offered delicious flavors like Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Black Velvet and Sweet n’ Salty (our personal favorite). We suggest that if you’re feeling like you’ve had a bit too much to drink, use your samples at this stand! We did the same.
Chocolate Tarts from McCormick & Shmicks
McCormick & Shmicks, props to you! These tarts were the perfect pick-me-up among the wide variety of chocolate samples. We enjoyed the flaky yet sturdy tart crust and appreciated the raspberry’s acidity and freshness that complemented the rich dark chocolate filling. This is something we recommend you get back in line for immediately.
Truffles from Fab Delights
Ever had a bad experience with truffles? We’ve been there before, but we were pleasantly surprised by the truffles we had from Fab Delight’s Truffles. Among the wide variety of flavors, we were most impressed by the Masala Chai because of how smoothly the complex spices blended with the chocolate into a simple, decadent truffle.
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival never fails to please a large crowd, and we would like to thank them for having us again this year!
We had a blast trying everything chocolate-y and we encourage everyone to attend next year’s Chocolate Festival as well to support Ghirardelli’s partnership with Project Open Hand, and to satisfy your chocolate cravings.