Pastry chef Katherine Clapner wears a cupcake tattoo on her forearm, but she’s surprisingly uninterested in cake. Her preferred medium is chocolate. And with her Bishop Arts District chocolate shop, the amusingly named "Dude, Sweet Chocolate," she intends to push the limits of her art.
Clapner, who worked 10 years as executive pastry chef for Stephan Pyles, has two basic concepts for the shop. "First, there are the dudes," she says. "The dudes" are Clapner’s savory chocolates — roasted beet and olive oil, Maker’s Mark mint julep, Spanish paprika and smoked cocoa nib.
And then there are "the sweets." They include candided carrot and ginger, honey and lavender, apple butter and Jack Daniels, and almond butter and raw coconut.
Clapner says she loves working with chocolate because it’s limitless. Plus, you can eat one chocolate to soothe a craving (or sample many, many of them), while "a piece of cake is such a commitment," she says.
Dude, Sweet Chocolate, which could open as early as Friday, will use organic and local ingredients as much as possible, Clapner says. They’ll serve hot chocolate, push-up pops, tea truffles and eventually, carob treats for dogs. And while the menu has its mainstays, if you pop into the shop, you might get to taste something really unusual. "It’s whatever I want to make on any given day," Clapner says.