Five Must-Eat Treats at the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival

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The 14th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, September 12-13 at Ghirardelli Square (900 North Point at Polk), finds more chocolate-themed food vendors than ever before. Careful: If you don't pace yourself, the sugar rush will overtake you before you get to taste the cream of the crop.

A $20 ticket buys 15 tastings. Cut to the chase with these five recommended stops first; everything else is just icing on the (chocolate) cake.

1. Pacific Puffs' Chocolate Cream Puff: This new Cow Hollow outpost makes Beard Papa look like a total amateur. Decadent enough to share one with a friend and still feel satisfied.

2. Kara's Cupcakes' Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes: Two words: Bittersweet buttercream. And Kara's has an outpost right in the Square if you can't make the festival.

3. Kika's Treats' Brazilian Honey Cakes: Locally made at the La Cocina incubator kitchen, these delicately sweet cakes are coated in a sinful dark chocolate. Small but deadly.

4. D'Sweets' Chocolate Custard Tart: This San Mateo-based company bakes up a light, fluffy, and creamy tart from a time-tested family recipe.

5. CJ's Stix and Bits: Made in Novato, these chocolate and toffee pretzel confections nail the sugar/salt balance with ease.

Bonus mention: Crown & Crumpet's Tea Party: The Square's lively tea house will offer a special selection of three types of chocolate tea served with tea-infused truffles, chocolate-hazelnut tea sandwiches, and chocolate chip scones for a separate $12 ticket.

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