Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chewy chocolate chip cookie barsWhen I started baking professionally, whenever a recipe called for chocolate, we grabbed whatever chocolate we could get in bulk, lopped off a chunk, and used that. At the time, there wasn’t much consciousness about chocolate and all the differences that there are today. (I know, I sound like a dinosaur!) Often “European” chocolates were talked about as being of the best quality. But when I started at Chez Panisse, we had blocks of Guittard chocolate, which I’d never heard of but it tasted good when I snuck a bite. I noticed on the label that it was made locally, just south of San Francisco, where it’s still being made today.
This was before the bean-to-bar chocolate movement started in America (also in San Francisco), and I also remember when Robert Steinberg unwrapped a small morsel of chocolate he’d made, that didn’t look like much – just a tiny blob of chocolate, to start his company. I thought he was nuts because no one cared that much about artisanally made chocolate, or so I thought, but his company went on to become a big success, launching and inspiring others in America to start making chocolate from beans they sourced themselves.
Chewy chocolate chip cookie bars
But before all of that started, there was Guittard. They’ve been making chocolate for nearly 150 years and Amy Guittard is part of a fifth generation of bean-to-bar chocolate makers within the same family.
Her great-great grandfather Etienne Guittard was French, and left France in the mid 1880’s, coming to San Francisco to cash in on the gold rush, like many others. He’d brought French chocolate to sell, which was so successful, he went back to France, bought a bunch of equipment, and returned to set up his own factory in San Francisco.


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