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Dude, Sweet Brings us Back to Basics with the Purest Dark Chocolate Creations

By Marina Jokic

Located in Plano, Texas, Dude, Sweet Chocolates puts a unique yet simple twist on desserts. The high quality artisan creations direct our gaze on the simple, unadulterated product instead of distracting us with embellishments. The packaging is austere and rustic, altogether unpretentious. "Kraft paper packaging, brown labeling, and simple, clean design shift attention to the chocolate, which stands on its own," insists Katherine Clapner, Co-Founder and Head Chef.

Clapner has an extensive pastry background, allowing the store to also offer consulting and catering services. For instance, just last year, Clapner took on the lead role with several major national chains in redesigning their dessert offerings, which has helped bolster her profile and brand name.

The store traces its roots to a dive bar just south of downtown Dallas, Lee Harvey's, where Clapner met her business partner Redding May. Their first collaboration involved sending artisan chocolates as client gifts. After that, she ran with the idea, pushing her chocolates at farmer's markets and other community and corporate venues. In 2009, Clapner came up with the concept of opening a store, and the first location came to life that December.

"Dark chocolate for me is really what chocolate is- milk and whites are watered down versions," Clapner says. Milk chocolate has its place but not in Clapner's world. Dark chocolate has far more personality and strength in profile to partner with a broad range of ingredients and flavor profiles, she adds.

One of the appeals of Dude, Sweet Chocolates is their bold and distinctive flavors, hopscotching between sweet and savory and anything in between. A couple of their best sellers are the Albatross blue cheese and sea salt fudge, the Fungus Amongus porcini, pumpkin seed toffee, and passion fruit and rosehip truffles. These kinds of fortuitous flavor combinations are the products of incredible culinary experience and vision, which Katherine has mastered.

The team at Dude, Sweet Chocolates is a lean machine. Since they operate on no line of credit or investments, they have to really cut down on unnecessary business expenses. For instance, the packaging was born out of necessity and became a brand marker. Clapner emphasizes that her business is entirely about what is inside the box. "I use the best ingredients I can get my hands on which is often costly. If we went nuts on the packaging, the price point to the consumer would be silly," she exclaims. To date, Dude, Sweet Chocolates has four successful locations for customers to enjoy- a testament to the effective management and high standards of its management and staff.

All photos taken by Manny Rodriquez

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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