If you already love the in-house brewed coffee and scrumptious baked goods at Avoca, theres yet another reason to stop by the Fort Worth coffeehouse. Dude, Sweet is in the house. (Fans, commence salivating.)
Avoca has been serving and selling products from the Bishop Arts-based chocolatier since its opening in March 2011. But now, Dude, Sweet has an official home inside Avoca, taking up residence at the large shops lower bar. And, just in time for Valentine's Day.
Dude, Sweets funky, artisan chocolate made by chef Katherine Clapner is a serious dark chocolate lovers dream. Ive sampled just two of their products (so far; give me another week, and Ill plow through the rest): first, Crack in a Box, ($10) which is made with hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts, 72 percent South American chocolate with raw coca nibs; its then poured into slabs and cut into a bark. Nutty, salty, deep, dark goodness.
But as a non-coffee drinker, the thing that makes my toes curl is Dude, Sweets drinking chocolate. (One size, 8 ounces, is $2.71)
Ive been on the quest for great hot chocolate ever since Starbucks discontinued its Signature Hot Chocolate (dont even get me started on the regular hot chocolate theyve left me with rotgut.). Ive had a terrific cup at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts, but it doesnt quite match the transcendent, liquid love in a cup from Dude, Sweet. Katherines mad-scientist combo: Valrohna cocoa powder, cane sugar, dried milk powder and 72 percent South American dark chocolate. (They also sell it by the canister for $18, with Vanilla Russian marshmallows)
At this writing, Dude, Sweet at Avoca is my hot chocolate standard-bearer. Just dont try to order it with anything other than whole milk; youre liable to be shunned. Something about proper mouthfeel, and yadda yadda yadda. Who am I to argue with a chocolate goddess?
When you stop by, youll see Jennifer Tunay, manager in training at the new branch, which opened Feb. 1. She says the plan to set up shop inside Avoca was organic. Avoca is doing the same sort of things with their coffee as were doing with our chocolate, so it was just a natural kind of progression for us, she said.
Their biggest sellers are the Crack in the Box, Chubby Nuts and the Albatross Fudge (a foodies chocolate named after a Monty Python skit, its is a sweetened condensed milk fudge using Valrohna Abinaio 85% dark chocolate from Africa, and dehydrated blue cheese.)
Most undersung product? The chocolate potions, Tunay says. Think of them as adult chocolate syrups. Its a 72 percent South American mixed-origin chocolate, and agave nectar, with such adult add-ins as Riesling, tequila and bourbon.
I asked what makes their chocolate so damn good. Our chef, Katherine. Everything is entirely her fault, Tunay laughed. I love working here, she added, because I can show people that you can have dark chocolate, and its awesome, and good for you, and this is purely Texan.