TCHO rolled out its new line of confections last week, a four-part collection of classic truffles that has been a long time coming. We already know TCHO by their splashy square chocolate bars that stare us down in the checkout line of Falletti's, as the base of Blue Bottle's mochas, and as the sublimely rich filling in Starter Bakery's unpronouncable and delicious butter bomb: the Kouign Amann. TCHO lends its goodness to a ton of other food artisans, but this time the crafting is all in-house.
The brains behind the new goods are Zohara Mapes and Ryan Holmes, known internally as "The Pro and the Rookie." Mapes has been seriously playing with chocolate technologies in her kitchen since before she came to TCHO's bean team in the company's early days, and Holmes is a culinary school grad, properly trained in pastry production, whose devotion to chocolate is cemented with a tattoo of Quatzalcoatl -- the Aztec god fabled to have brought chocolate to mankind -- adorning his right side. Together, they make some seriously delectable art.
We stopped by to sample our way through the confections. They're very TCHO: geometrically sharp, hip, and simplistic with the faintest whiff of whimsy. Our first taste was the honey confection, a menacingly dark, 99% cacao shell, quickly and softly tempered by a rich honey ganache. In the bourbon flavor, TCHO's "nutty" chocolate, made purely from cocoa that is characteristically nut-nuanced, gets an alcoholic punch with a gentle infusion of Woodford Bourbon that makes us want to cozy up fireside in a big 'ole leather chair. Yerena Farms raspberries from the Ferry Building farmers' market add a smooth and jammy twist to TCHO's "fruity" PureNotes chocolate, and lastly, the Blue Bottle Mocha gets condensed into a small, conical triumph that turns the drink inside out in a happily choco-centric marriage.
Collectively, the confections are aligned well with TCHO's obsession with celebrating the natural nuances of chocolate. The confectionary flavor pairings are subtle and thoughtfully integrated, letting the chocolate sing, not drown. They have a luxe quality, but simplicity keeps them humble. There are no preservatives, all sweetening is done by honey. Chocolate with this much integrity has a short shelf life, so they are always fresh. You can get your fix at Pier 17, and if you ask enough questions you're likely to get the full service tasting and chocolate run down by all the cacao-crazy "TCHOsen" ... including the Pro and Rookie, if you're lucky.