Tequila-spiked chocolate sauce and an anatomically-correct chocolate heart are just two of the eyebrow-raising varieties of high-quality, elegant chocolate treats concocted by cocoa sorceress Chef Katherine Clapner at Dude, Sweet. Clapner’s creations are definitely enchanting—her “Potions” especially tend to spellbind, with their seductive, not-too-sweet combo of liquors or wine, agave syrup, honey, cane sugar, Valrhona cocoa powder and chocolate.
Clapner wasn’t born with magical powers, though—she doesn’t even hail from the kingdom of chocolate. She crossed over from the land of pastry, where she worked her magic for over twenty years serving as Executive Pastry Chef at Stephan Pyles restaurant, working directly with Chef/Owner and New American Cuisine pioneer Stephan Pyles, as well as stints at the Savoy in London, Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, and other renowned restaurants.
Having sufficiently conquered the realm of pastry, Clapner decided it was time to settle into a chocolate-y takeover. The idea came to her where many great ideas are born—a dive bar called Lee Harvey’s located just south of downtown Dallas, Texas, where Clapner and CFO Redding May were regulars. She pushed her chocolate wares at farmers markets until eventually deciding to open a store in 2009. Dude, Sweet was officially born, and Clapner got to work flexing her sweet skills in new and challenging ways to create chocolate confections that are consciously un-precious—Dude, Sweet is all about the eating.
Whether it’s the whacky savory ingredients she sneaks into the treats, the unfussy Dude, Sweet attitude, or something a little more mystical, Clapner clearly has a lot of folks under her spell—and it’s spreading fast.