If the names of the creations from Dude, Sweet Chocolate don’t make you look twice, the flavor combinations will.
Fungus Amoungus toffee (earthy porcini mushrooms, roasted pumpkin seeds and dark Colombian chocolate), Crack in a Box (candied hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia and soy nuts, all in a deep, dark South American chocolate) and Chubby Nuts (salted, candied nuts rolled in both white and dark chocolates, then dusted with powdered sugar).
They might sound whimsical, or even weird, but in the hands of Dude, Sweet Chocolate owner, Katherine Clapner, they are also wonderful.
Clapner, a former pastry chef who has worked with such star chefs as Dallas’ Stephan Pyles, set up her artisan chocolate factory in the artsy Bishop Arts district in Oak Cliff, on the south side of Dallas, just two years ago. Since then, she’s earned a reputation as making some of the best chocolate confections around. (She won “best chocolatier” from both the Dallas Observer and D Magazine last year.)
Her idea was to pair really great chocolate (often single-origin, made with cacao beans from just one area) with unexpected accents. Things like blue cheese, mushrooms, even tobacco. And while some people may find a few of her flavors to be a bit of an acquired taste, a true chocophile will be in chocolate heaven. These are rich, deep, intense chocolates, subtle and never too cloying or oversweet.
My favorite? Probably the aptly named Crack in a Box. It really is addictive – a dark, not-too-sweet chocolate bark, bursting with candied nuts, with a caramel undertone and just enough sea salt for a slightly savory contrast.