Almost 18 months after launching Cacao & Cardamom, artisan chocolatier Annie Rupani has finally found a home for her boutique chocolate company. She opened the doors on her store on Friday, July 4, at 5000 Westheimer Rd. (Suite 602) in Centre at Post Oak, situated between Grand Lux Café and Nordstrom Rack across the street from The Galleria.
Rupani, a 25-year-old Texas native of Pakistani descent, founded Cacao & Cardamom in late 2012. Her decadently designed handcrafted chocolates are made with ingredients and spices inspired by her travels around the world. She has been selling them online and by phone, relying on social media and grassroots marketing to generate exposure and sales. She made a name for herself food events and festivals around Houston, such as Rodeo Houston’s Best Bites competition, where she won top honors in the dessert category in 2013 and 2014. She forged intricately detailed business plans and recipes while experimenting in her parents’ home kitchen and borrowing or renting spaces for mass production.
Now, she’s able to make her chocolates in a 1,400-square-foot shop, which she designed in tandem with local architect Iqbal Nagji. Contemporary and chic, it features warm shades of chocolate brown and wood with splashes of bright cacao pods. Rupani’s colorful chocolates – including Signature flavors such as Guava Tamarind and Cardamom Rose – are on display in a large glass counter at the front of the store, imitating a jewelry case. Behind that is a full production facility and tempering machine flowing chocolate at all times. A window allows customers to peer inside at the chocolate-making process as smells of chocolate envelope the shop. The store will eventually have indoor seating for 10-15 with additional patio seating.
A health-conscious chocolatier, Rupani does not add sugar to her chocolates aside from touches of caramel and honey. Each piece contains 45 calories or less and 2 grams of sugar or less. She will offer a vegan/ayurvedic line of chocolates at her shop, along with chocolate-covered dates, apricots, figs and mendiants. She will also serve three flavors of hot chocolate including Madagascarian, Gianduja (hazelnut) and caramelized white chocolate. The shop features approximately 100 unique chocolate bars sourced from all over the world, including Germany, Vietnam, Spain, Hawaii, Hungary, Mexico, Slovenia, Austria, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Sicily, Amsterdam, Italy, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Grenada.
Born in Austin and raised in Sugar Land, Rupani graduated from St. Agnes Academy and Boston University, where she majored in Anthropology and Religion. She was named Miss Pakistan World 2010 and studied abroad in London and Jordan, discovering a passion for the culinary arts in her travels. While studying for the Law School Admissions Test in 2011, she took breaks by reading about chocolatiering and began experimenting with chocolate-making. After taking the LSAT, she spent six months in Pakistan working for her parents’ charitable foundation and attended a week of chocolatiering courses at a pastry school in Kuala Lumpur before returning to Houston and founding Cacao & Cardamom.
Information and photo provided by On The Mark Communications.