Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cacao & Cardamom: Q&A with Annie Rupani

Last year, some friends and I attended the Houston Press Artopia event.  We found tons of fabulous vendors, artists, and tasty bites, but one in particular stood out from the rest. While wading through the seas of Houston hipsters, we came upon this this massive spread of gorgeous treats.  The spread belonged to Cacao & Cardamom, the creation of Annie Rupani.  Each individually crafted bite was an absolute masterpiece, it seemed impossible that these itty bitty pieces of art could also be delicious.  Well, when we did finally grab one (or five, or six) to try, we found amazing combinations of flavors that I have never experienced in a chocolate…let alone any other dessert. Szechuan Peppercorn, Lychee Basil, Strawberry Bubblegum...all flavors you can't even imagine together until you give them a try.

Let me introduce you to Annie, the adorable and charming chocolatier behind these tasty little delicacies.  I adored her from the very first time I met her (and not just because she was feeding me chocolate).  Here are the highlights from our Q&A...

When did you first fall in love with chocolate?
I remember my first truffle making class in the basement of a pub in Boston so vividly. I was so intrigued by the head chocolatier and the wealth of knowledge he had pertaining to this interesting fruit, cacao. When it was my turn to get my hands dirty, I took the truffle making job very seriously. After three hours of chocolate-making, I was basically kicked out because the class was over but I just wanted to play with the chocolate a little longer. That's when I knew it was love.

When designing a new flavor, where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from the foods and spices that I've had growing up in a South Asian home, or have explored through my travels and foodie adventures. I love exploring flavors that my pallate hasn't experienced, or flavors that you wouldn't instinctually think to go with chocolate. Tasting chocolate is an experience in itself, but heightening that experience with a special spice or fruit, makes it divine!

What is your favorite secret (or maybe not so secret) ingredient?
My favorite secret ingredient has to be the variety of spices that I toast and ground. There is something very beautiful about the spice as a whole, then toasted, and then made into a powder. The aroma grows and even becomes overwhelming, but really helps create a unique chocolate experience, enhancing the flavor notes that exist within the chocolate.

What is the most difficult part of being a chocolatier?
The most difficult part of being a chocolatier is trying not to eat the chocolate while I'm crafting it. I know it sounds crazy, but I still crave chocolate everyday, at least ten times a day.

What have been your most popular flavors?
I think the most unique flavor that's popular is definitely the Guava Tamarind. The Five Spice Praline comes in second, and the Lychee Basil and Cardamom Rose are a close third.

What's new? What is coming up for Cacao and Cardamom?
We're working on a storefront in the near future, to experience the chocolate first hand any time you want! Not only chocolate bon-bons, but we'll have specialty sipping chocolates, artisan chocolate bars, chocolate and wine tastings, and chocolate-making classes!

The holidays are just around the corner, what are the best gift collections from C&C?
The 16 piece box gives a great balance of flavors from smokey to spicy to salty to sweet--so there's something in there for everyone and it will definitely excite your palate. The 4-tier presentation of the box will also wow your guests, friends, and family!

1 comment:

Josh Urso Design said...

Fine chocolates are such a special treat and even better when you meet the equally lovely artisan behind the scenes! Thank you for sharing this new talent and best of luck to her as she expands to a storefront. Nothing is more fun than popping into a really great chocolate shop and getting a piece or two as an indulgent snack. And sipping chocolate, oh my, we're booking a flight!