The Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival on Sunday, January 24 features more than 30 vendors including Dolce Bella, Flipper Fanny’s, and Original Sin Desserts — three companies founded by female graduates of UCSC! For all event details, read overview. It’s a benefit for re-entry student scholarships at UCSC sponsored by the Women’s Club; tickets start at $5 for three vendor tastings.
Dolce Bella Chocolates is a family-run business. All of Dolce Bella’s chocolates are made onsite at its Saratoga kitchen; a retail shop is also at this location. Or you can buy these chocolates online and at selected farmers markets. Many fresh ingredients used in the chocolates are grown across the street from the kitchen/shop at a community garden plot. Just-picked raspberries, citrus, and herbs bring vibrant flavors to the chocolates. For tastings at the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival, Dolce Bella will be serving a variety of seasonal hand-made chocolates plus toffee and caramels. Two customer favorites are Meyer lemon (white-chocolate ganache made with fresh Meyer lemons and Tahitian vanilla in a dark-chocolate shell) and Masala (fresh ginger, toasted cardamom and black pepper in bittersweet ganache in a dark chocolate shell). Dolce Bella will also be selling products including a molded heart box (perfect for Valentine’s Day) and chocolate assortments. The company’s awards include First Place for “Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience” and Second Place for Top Artisan Chocolatier” at the 2009 San Francisco Chocolate Salon. Chocolatier and owner Audrey Vaggione is a graduate of both UCSC (biology) and the California Culinary Academy (baking and pastry arts).
Flipper Fanny’s Cookies is a Santa Cruz company founded and owned by UCSC graduate Catherine Graham, who is also the head baker. At the Chocolate Festival, Flipper Fanny’s will be sampling its signature product, a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, in exchange for customers’ tasting tickets. Four-ounce versions of this cookie will also be for sale ($2.50 each). You can buy Flipper Fanny’s products online or at stores such as New Leaf and Shopper’s Corner. The company’s goodies include other cookies (such as peanut butter or carrot cake), brownies, and vegan and non-vegan cupcakes. Owner Graham was a successful journalist in San Francisco for many years. Her lifelong love has always been baking, and on her 50th birthday she gave herself the gift of quitting writing to bake full time — her dream job!
Original Sin Desserts is a Santa Cruz company founded and owned by UCSC graduate Tanya DeCell. Original Sin will be sampling its signature product, Chocolate Sin Cake, in exchange for customers’ tasting tickets at the Chocolate Festival. It will also sample a selection of Chocolate Cheesecakes including Chocolate Chipotle; as DeCell states, “spicy/smoky pairs really nice with dark chocolate.” All of the Original Sin sweets being sampled will also be available for customer purchase. The company is committed to top-quality ingredients including Guittard chocolate and Nielsen-Massey pure Madagascar vanilla. Baker DeCell uses only hormone-free dairy products, and most desserts are made without any hydrogenated oils. Original Sin had a retail storefront in Capitola (with bakery and deli items) that closed in late December. It will open a new location in the future, but in the meantime you can still place orders for custom cakes, catering, and wholesale business (see web site).
Hope to see you at the festival, and remember I’m publishing daily articles this week highlighting vendors — including what they will serve on Sunday! If you’d like to be emailed every time I post a new article, subscribe at my home page. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @tfatemiwalker.