Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
I'm proud of San Diego's own chocolatiers, and my two top favorites are Chuao and Eclipse. Because Eclipse is closer to where I live, it's my go-to place for last-minute desserts. Meaning, when I'm tasked with bringing a treat to a dinner party and my man (a.k.a. "live-in pastry chef") doesn't have time to bake, I stop into Eclipse for something exotic and delectable. It's not cheap, but fine things seldom are.
Gone are the days of simple milk chocolate with the occasional almond. These days, we like salt and spice with our sweet. We take things up a notch. Hershey's got nothing on the rousing ingredients smaller chocolatiers are experimenting with. Eclipse's truffles come in complex combinations such as Pomegranate Sage, Blackberry Goat Cheese, Basil Absinthe, and Lavender Poppy.
This time, I went for the Chocolate Rococos, or what I refer to as logs. My favorite is the Chili Burnt Caramel. The logs are great as gifts, or to cut up and share among friends.