Last weekend I was able to help guide the Dallas by Chocolate Tour, a new tour company that shuttles guests around in a luxury bus making a handful of stops only to taste chocolate. In the next few days I will share some of the stops and the chocolates we sampled. This past tour took us to Neuhaus Café in North Dallas, Scardello, who sells some pretty damned good chocolate including Oh* Brownies and paired samples with cheese, CocoAndrē and Dude, Sweet Chocolate.
Today we take a look at Dude, Sweet Chocolate where pastry chef Katherine Clapner hosted the group of chocolate tourists and shared her insight into her own brand.
As the group shuffled into the already busy quarters of the chocolate shop, Clapner greeted the everyone and started fielding questions almost immediately. One guest asked about sea salt caramel.
“I don’t carry sea salt caramel for no other reason than I just don’t like it. When you get to finally do your own thing it is so awesome just to say I don’t want to make it because I don’t like it,’ replied Clapner.
“We run a little bit more savory than most chocolate shops might, and I think that is because I worked as a pastry chef for many years prior to opening my shop. I change my menu here much like a restaurant would. We don’t do the regular caramels, raspberries or champagne. There are plenty of people that do that and I don’t need to put myself on that list,” the chef continued.
And she doesn’t do bacon. Well, sort of.
“If I see chocolate covered bacon one more time I think I will throw up.” But she did recently make a large batch of brownies using her even larger supply of bacon fat that has been taking up room in her valued refrigerator space. Those sold out immediately, but will bring them back when she feels the urge.
What she does feel the love about will soon make its way to the menu of chocolates and will include pork cracklings and foie gras.
Clapner also feels the love about sharing, and is pleased to sample most anything in her shop except her teas. On very cold days you will find a pot of her house-made hot cocoa steeping and on the ready. You also will find three variations of marshmallows currently at Dude, Sweet. One is a chocolate called Cocoa Puffs, C3PO which is cashew, coconut and cocoa nibs, and finally a Vanilla Bean which is sold with her hot cocoa.
What is Katherine Clapner’s house favorite? Anything she made yesterday. On this particular visit it was a foie gras caramel. “I was experimenting and wasn’t sure this would even turn out, but it did,” beamed Clapner on her creation.
Was there something this creative chef totally messed up?
“Yes. There was a batch of chocolate that after I made it went straight into the trash. I didn’t even wait for it to get firm. I don’t want to talk about it,” said Clapner.
After much cajoling she admitted the ingredient was wormwood, the prominent ingredient in absinthe. Don’t despair, she will try that idea again soon.
Katherine Clapner just celebrated her second year anniversary at the chocolate shop. All we can say is dude, sweet.
There will be two additional tours in Dallas in February. Check out the Facebook page for details and to book.