For the past two years, Annie Rupani's Cacao & Cardamom chocolates have won first place in the dessert/cheese plate category at the Rodeo's Best Bites competition, an honor bestowed by area food writers and local celebrities. It's no small feat, especially considering Rapani is only 25 years old.
Even more impressive: Today, only 18 months after launching Cacao & Cardamom out of her parents' kitchen and rented spaces around town, Rupani is opening a storefront of her own. Cacao & Cardamom will open its doors at 11 a.m. at 5000 Westheimer, Suite 602, in the Centre at Post Oak.
Rupani has been able to build a name for herself and her chocolates in a short time because her creations are so unique. Her signature flavors include guava tamarind and cardamom rose, and each chocolate is beautifully decorated. They look more like small jewels than edible treats, but one bite and you'll be transported to one of the faraway lands from which Rupani draws inspiration.
"Chocolate has captivated my world and has inspired me to use my experiences, travels and culinary insight to create unique handmade confections," Rupani writes on her (gorgeous) website. "I hope that by savoring our chocolates you are reminded to live in the moment and be more mindful of your present experience, delving to wherever the spices and chocolate may take you."
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Rupani is of Pakistani descent, so she was very familiar with spices like cumin, fennel and cardamom growing up. During college, she studied abroad and was able to visit Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and China, where her interest in the culinary arts became a passion. After graduation, while studying for the LSATS, Rupani picked up a few books on chocolate-making as a distraction. Further distraction came in the form of a six-month sojourn in Pakistan working for her family's charitable foundation, but while there, Rupani found her mind occupied with thoughts of chocolate. Before returning to Houston, she took a week of chocolatiering classes at a school in Malaysia, intent on using the newfound knowledge back in the United States. Now, infusing the flavors of her heritage and travels into chocolate is a full-time job.
In addition to being passionate about chocolate, Rupani is also passionate about health--interests that at first seem contradictory. She's made it work though, committing to add fewer than 2 grams of sugar to each piece of chocolate, and to keep each piece around 45 calories or fewer.
The storefront will also offer a line of vegan chocolates as well as chocolate-covered fruit like figs, apricots and dates. Ever the travel-lover, Rupani will sell chocolate bars sourced from all over the world, too.
Stop by the new shop today to see what Rupani has created and cultivated, or check out her website to order Cacao & Cardamom products online.