|Andrea Pedraza, owner of CocoAndrea in Dallas, holds a boxe of custom chocolates she recently made for a client.|
831 West Davis St., Dallas
The next stop on our tour was Cocoa Andre, where the owners like to say that the only machine they use to make chocolate is the refrigerator.
“Everything is hand-made,” says Cindy Pedraza, who started the shop with her mom Andrea in 2009. “Everything chocolate has been touched by my mother in some way.”
Before opening CocoAndre, Andrea worked for Rex Morgen for 25 years, known as one of the original Dallas Chocolatiers. However, Morgen sold his company and within a few years it closed, leaving Andrea unemployed.
Meanwhile, her daughter was laid off from her job in construction management
“So we were like, ‘Let’s just see what we can find,’” Cindy says. “I’m like, ‘I’ll support you, I’ll be there, I’ll help. I’ll do the paper work and you do what you do best, make chocolate.”
And onward they went, with only the money they had in the bank to help them get started. Now, they have a beautiful little shop featuring bright lime green walls.
“Everything has been a work in progress,” Cindy explains. “With our money from the holiday, we bought a new door.”
They offer 24 different flavors of truffles, and the homemade batches usually taste different from month to month. Cindy’s current favorite is the strawberry passion fruit, which was a little more tart than usual in February — just the way she likes it. It’s a blend of white chocolate ganache with strawberry and passion fruit enrobed in dark chocolate.
They also make a spice rum truffle — a dark chocolate truffle blended with Jamaican rum — and a “Cacauhati” — a Chile truffle made with Taza chocolate ganache infused with chipotle pepper and sprinkled with a hint of chipotle.
The shop also offers an extensive collections of chocolate moulds, from life-size shoes to cowboy hats to chocolate in the shape of Texas. Prices at the store range from $1.25 to $55.
“The best reaction was from a five-year-old, and he was like, ‘This is the best chocolate of my entire life that I’ve ever tasted,” Cindy recalls with a smile. “I was like, ‘you’re only five,’ but that’s cute.”
Andrea says she starts her day pondering the chocolate challenges that lie ahead, such as creating a truffle that blends poppy seeds and chili seeds. A native Central American, she likes to think of her work as bringing ingredients from the Americas to America.
‘It’s a place where we feel the chocolate,” she says. “That is what artisan means to me, working on the small scale.”