Experience the Build-a-Bar Workshop at Eclipse Chocolate

Dennis and I are big fans of Eclipse Chocolate's sweet and savory delights, which puts them at the top of our list for chocolate in San Diego. Recently, owner and chocolatier Will Gustwiller introduced a new way for chocolate fans to get up close and personal: Build-A-Bar Workshops. Build your own yogurt or ice cream has always been fun for us... now here was the chocolate lover's dream, other than owning Charlie's Chocolate Factory! We've always enjoyed the unique chocolate bars as well as cupcakes from Eclipse so couldn't resist the opportunity to spin up our own version! No experience was necessary in this casual chocolate-bar-making environment.

Huge ingredients bar at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

Check out the bar of ingredients! Over 30 different items are available to mix into your chocolate. My mind was swarming with possible combinations. They even let you sample the ingredients beforehand.

Instructions and wrappers at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

All instructions are written down or demonstrated, but Will and his staff also offered pairing ideas to assist in everyone's creative genius. Or... just go for the gold to create YOUR magical combo!

Here was our final list of ingredients for each bar:

  • basil sugar, strawberries, vanilla sea salt (Lynn)
  • white chocolate, sea salted pretzel, raspberry hibiscus sugar (Lynn)
  • caramel butter toffee, candied coca nib, basil sugar (Dennis)
  • ginger sugar, vanilla sea salt, toasted macadamia (Dennis)

Make sure to write your name on the bar so you get your creation back! After turning in our sheets, the staff fulfilled a few orders at a time.

Hot chocolate at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

As part of the experience, one complimentary house wine, craft beer or cafe drink was selectable per person. I gravitated toward the sea salt caramel cafe drink, a DELICIOUS, molten chocolate lake. I pushed the rosemary mint chocolate drink towards Dennis since that was more towards his tastes.

Beer Battered Fish and Garlic Parmesan Biscuits at Eclipse Chocolate

Beer Battered Fish $12 + side of Garlic Parmesan Biscuits $5

Our dinner (ordered separately) arrived shortly after and we hungrily dug in! Imagine red hearts hovering over my head as I blissfully munched on the moist fish and perfectly flaky batter. My new fried fish love! We were slightly distracted by the chocolate activites which led to rock hard biscuits when I finally got to them. Luckily, with a little coaxing from the microwave heat, these fluffed out wonderfully as leftovers the next day. Eat them ASAP!

Pulled Pork and Bacon Wrapped Dates at Eclipse Chocolate

Pulled Pork & Grits $12 + side of Bacon Wrapped Dates $5

The slow roasted pork was fork tender but my love for roasted red peppers didn't translate well flavorwise into polenta form. The wrapped dates were every bit of sweet and savory that you'd expect from decadent bacon and pulpy fruit!

We were mid-way through the meal when Dennis's name was called out! The tables were small so we quickly scarfed down a few more bites before clearing the space!

Chocolate molds and mix-ins at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

Here's our setup ready to go. This is for one person to make two bars (using two of the six molds). Additional bars can be made for $10 each.

Chocolate molds and mix-ins at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

After adding the mix-ins to the chocolate, you spoon it into the mold. One little lesson we learned... fill your mold while the chocolate is warm! Our slight food eating delay created a lumpier texture as seen above... *sad face*

The good news is, despite the uneven texture, the chocolate still tasted delicious! After the plastic mold was filled, I scraped off every chocolate bit into the 'add-ins' cup to snack on. No wasting of chocolate here!

chocolate bar creations at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

After cooling in the fridge for twenty minutes, the chocolate bars were returned! Chocolate edges cleaned up well with a butter knife and we were shown the proper way to wrap the bar.

chocolate bar creations at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

Our take home goodies were two large handcrafted bars per person!

Successful date night at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

Two happy campers pictured above. The process was simple, the ingredients used were high quality and we enjoyed spending time together during our date night. You're not creating chocolate by hand but instead you are using the same high quality chocolates and ingredients they incorporate into their own bars. The cost of $25 a person for this creative workshop was around the same pricepoint as buying two large gourmet chocolate bars and a drink so we thought it was worth it. The sessions have a maximum of 30 guests and are open for 3 hours. Check their Build-a-Bar website for upcoming sessions.

owner and chocolatier Will Gustwiller at Eclipse Chocolate Build A Bar workshop

Also, did you know Will won the CHOCOLATE challenge on Food Network's Guy’s Grocery Games? He was on TV! I met a famous person! How often do you get personal assistance from someone like that? For reals, he is super nice! =)

Disclaimer: We were invited to the event here and the build-a-bar experience was complimentary (we covered our own food costs). We were not otherwise compensated or commissioned and all opinions stated are our own.

Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro
2145 Fern St
San Diego CA 92104
(619) 578-2984

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Shana's picture
Submitted by Shana (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 12:26pm

This is SO COOL!! I'm going to look and see if there is anything like this in Oklahoma! I will be sure to visit this place some time in the future! Thanks so much for the info!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:19pm

There's got to be some kind of chocolate making class available in Oklahoma. It'd be a shame if there wasn't! ;)

Stacey Billingsley's picture
Submitted by Stacey Billingsley (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 12:54pm

What a great place! I would want to eat all the chocolate. I will put this place on my list of places I want to visit in San Diego!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:20pm

And the beaches! And Balboa Park! This is a great city to visit with plenty of good eats too!

Lauren's picture
Submitted by Lauren (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 1:12pm

Oh this is review is amazing!! So exciting to meet a celebrity and get chocolate on the same day!!!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:21pm

Our local chefs are celebrities in our city. I appreciate what they do! So does my stomach!

Kimberly C.'s picture
Submitted by Kimberly C. (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 2:49pm

Oh my goodness that place looks like magic to me! It is going on my bucket list for the chocolate bar alone!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:22pm

These chocolate bars are worth stopping in for! My customized bars were so delicious, especially the one with pretzels in it. Winner!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table's picture
Submitted by Laura @ Sprint ... (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 3:20pm

This looks like a blast! There is a place back home in ATL that does this - I'm so glad to have found one here. Can't wait to check it out!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:23pm

Eclipse is doing their cupcake extravaganza soon around fourth of July weekend. You should check them out for that too!

Jody's picture
Submitted by Jody (not verified) on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 3:31pm

That looks like an awesome place! I would love to make my own candy bar!

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:23pm

Be your own chocolate chef! Everyone's dream! ;)

Soo@hungryones.com's picture
Submitted by Soo@hungryones.com (not verified) on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 2:35pm

That's awesome you got to make your own chocolate! I like the looks of the fried fish too.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 4:24pm

We loved the flakey batter of the fish here. I need to eat more around town so I can find the best fried fish!

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