Tag: Chocolate

Restaurant Review: Cup & Bar

Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

A few months ago, driving south on MLK Jr. Blvd from my house as I often do, I noticed a beautiful industrial space with high ceilings, white walls, and a garage door. Not long after I first spotted it, I was happy to read that it was going to become Cup & Bar, a coffee and chocolate tasting room, production facility, and café opened by Trailhead Coffee Roasters and Ranger Chocolate.

More delicious coffee PLUS luscious chocolate? What more could you want? The real beauty of it, though, is that the two are paired together in the most spectacular ways. Yes, there are lattés and chocolate bars for sale, but there are also mochas, dirty charlies (a macchiato gone wild, topped with chocolate shavings), flights of drinking chocolate, and coffee mocktails as well as beer and wine. The spot takes it a step further with refreshing bites like avocado toast and small sandwiches, plus house made syrups in flavors like orgeat, anisette, and cardamom mint.

Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

My first visit, a work date with fellow bloggeress’ ErinMeredith, and Mary, was lovely. It was just after lunch, so my sweet tooth was aching for a treat. The Ranger Brownie was delicious – the perfect balance between fudgy and cakey, and the gal working even dug around in the stack of them to find me a corner. How sweet is that? After a couple hours at my laptop, plugging away on some podcasts, I needed a pick me up, so I went for the Cold Fashioned – a mocktail based on the Old Fashioned, but with cold brew instead of whiskey. While I can easily see how it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea – or coffee, as it were – it was funky, cold, and caffeinated, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On my most recent visit with Jonah, we both got a dirty charlie. Right as we sat down, one of the miniature garage doors in back opened up, and a gentleman bearing two tiny spoons dipped in chocolate offered us a taste of Ranger’s most recent chocolate blend, called Wildcard, which was dark and delicious.

I highly recommend a visit to Cup & Bar for an afternoon pick me up of chocolate and coffee. I hear they also do tours and tastings, so you can bet I’ll be back to learn more about the roasting processes!

Chai Truffles

Chai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerChai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Let’s talk about chocolate. Everyone likes it. Everyone. If you don’t like chocolate, I think you might not be a human with feelings. And there is nothing quite like biting into a piece of chocolate that is fudgy, a little melty, and dark enough that it’s got that hint of sharpness to it.

Some of my favorite chocolate to eat is Theo Chocolate, based in Seattle. Jonah and I went on a factory tour a couple summers ago, and man was it a) interesting thanks to our awesome guide and b) delicious thanks to lots of samples. They have a chai flavored bar that is crazy good (so are all of their flavors, really), which I think is subconsciously why I chose to try these chai truffles. Well, that and I had been really wanting to make some easy truffles, and of course I can’t just have a plain chocolate flavor, can I? So with the advice of baker friend Caitlyn and a little research I got to work.

Chai Truffles


1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbl chai blend tea (I used Highland Chai from Tea Chai Te here in Portland)
9 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, ~70% (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
~1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder


In a small pan on the stove, bring the cream and chai blend to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 10-15 minutes.  While tea is steeping, roughly chop chocolate and put it in a heat proof bowl. After 10-15 minutes, uncover the cream and put it over low heat again, bringing it to a simmer.

Strain the cream into the bowl with chocolate, discarding steeped tea. Let sit for about 3 minutes, allowing the hot cream to start melting the chocolate. Add spices and a pinch of salt, and whisk together until chocolate is melted and thoroughly combined with the cream. Taste, and add a touch more spice or salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, until the ganache is firm.

When ganache is firm, prepare to get covered in chocolate. Gloves are not a bad idea. Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Put the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Scoop rough 1/2 tablespoons of the ganache and roll into balls, then roll the ball in the cocoa powder, and set on lined plate. Repeat until the ganache is all rolled into beautiful little truffles, and refrigerate again for at least an hour. Enjoy.

Easy Energy Bites

Easy Energy Bites // Serious Crust

So these energy bite things have been popping up in my life for a while now. I’ve seen them everywhere: favorite foodie websites, blogs, Pinterest (duh, everything is on Pinterest), and on my sister’s Facebook. I tried a batch inspired by Sprouted Kitchen that was peanut butter heavy, but they weren’t really my jam (but maybe peanut butter is your jam, or jelly, as it were). After talking to my sister, she inspired me to try her version. And they were great. They were fruity, jammy, chewy, and a little nutty, similar to Larabars.

The beauty of these is that they could not be easier to make. Also, people have found them really impressive, even though they took a mere pressing of buttons to make. The other beauty of these is that you can make them using whatever you’re in the mood for. On this particular day, dried apricots and cherries were calling my name. But I also wanted a little decadence, so I threw in some semi-sweet chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless. And I like that.

Easy Energy Bites

Note: you will need a food processor to make these. You could try them in a blender, but I’m not making any promises about what might happen.


1 cup nuts (I used almond) – toasting optional
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried fruit (I went for half apricots, half sour cherries)
Optional: 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate, or cocoa nibs


Get out a large piece of wax or parchment paper.

Combine the nuts, dates, whatever dried fruit, and chocolate (if you’re using it) in a food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the ingredients, stopping to separate the dates if they clump together. Now, turn the food processor on for 30 seconds or so. Everything should break down every more to crumbly pieces. Scrape down the edges of the bowl. Process again for 1-2 minutes until a paste starts to form and the ingredients clump together into a ball. Dump the paste/dough onto the piece of parchment or wax paper, and press it with your hands until it forms a square, roughly 8×8. Wrap up the dough, and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

Once the dough is chilled, unwrap it, slice it into bars of whatever size. You can individually wrap the bars if you’d like, but I stacked mine in a tupperware and stored them in the fridge. Note that they don’t necessarily need to be kept in the fridge, but doing so will help them maintain their shape and firmness. Room temperature bars will be softer and pastier.

Weekend Finds 8:30:14

It’s Labor Day weekend! Which means you should probably be outside doing something fabulous instead of sitting inside on your computer reading this. But if you’re doing the latter, that’s ok with me. The time has come for SERIOUSLY SUMMER’S ALMOST OVER AND WE HAVEN’T DONE [insert stereotypical summer activity here] YET, GAH. So, these weekend finds are some things I need to do in the next month, and some things I’m looking forward to.

1. Summer Vegetables and Glass Noodles

Glass Noodle Salad on Food52 // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
I need more hot weather so I can eat more cold noodles.

This summer has been the season of cold noodles with crunchy veggies. I’ve got a few weeks left of summer, so I’m going to try to get one last version in, and it will be this one (or a variation on it) with glass noodles.

2. Restaurant Trends of 2014

Bon Appetit's Restaurant Trends // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Sweet neon signs are a trend I can get behind.

We all know Bon Appetit just put out their list of the top 10 hot restaurants of 2014 (and if you don’t, you should). But they also just put out a list of the top 25 restaurant trends of 2014. Which is pretty entertaining.

3. Pickled Blueberries

Pickled Blueberries on Food52 // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
I love this new take on blueberries.

While I love a good blueberry muffin. Or blueberry galette. Or any blueberry baked goods. But sometimes, savory is good too. Which is why these pickled blueberries pique my interest.

4. Bull in China

Bull in China // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
They’re really just enabling me, at this point.

Guys, my neighborhood is blowing up. Lots of construction, lots of neat places opening up. Included, this one stop shop for bartenders, Bull in China, by a couple local bartenders. I’m certainly looking forward to stopping in, lusting after the glassware, tasting the bitters, and reading all the liquor literature.

5. Fudgesicles

Fudgesicles on Orangette // Weekend Finds on Serious Crust
Cold frozen chocolate on a hot day? Yes please.

If I haven’t already told you about Molly Wizenberg and her lovely blog, Orangette, I’m telling you now. Her writing is wonderful (I’m still working on getting my hands on a copy of her newest book, Delancey), her photos are so beautiful and really she could probably tell a story just with them. But her recipes are delightful. I’m hoping I can make these fudgesicles before the warm weather runs out.