We actually never knew that cacao trees only grow within 20 degrees of the equator, despite what feels like an established-at-birth chocolate obsession! That’s a pretty specific area, with a certain climate, soil and level of shade. And even after all that, a cacao tree doesn’t really produce very much of the flavor-packed beans that get turned into chocolate. Chocolatier Casey Hickey understands just how remarkable and complex this little plant is (she named her company, Twenty Degrees Chocolates, after that limited growing area where all the magic happens!).
Casey always had a passion for baking, and when she dove headfirst into pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she gained a greater appreciation for chocolate while training and studying under a prize-winning master confectioner. Her inspiration expanded into other sweet and savory treats, always inspired by her travels around the world, always taking the ingredients seriously while having a little fun with flavors and decorations.
Casey and her husband Mark sell these confections (and Mark’s homemade wine!) at Petit Philippe, a tasting room they opened in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sweet fact: The idea for this storefront was conceived just hours before Casey and Mark got engaged! D’awww.