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CocoaNymph Chocolates and Confections has a brand new line of seasonal, handmade truffles.
Rachel Sawatzky, owner of CocoaNymph Chocolates and Confections, is busy whipping up a batch of her new Cuckoo truffles—one of six new seasonal chocolates available this summer—when I walk in the door of her charming cocoa cafe on West 10th avenue.
“This piece that you’re about to try,” she says, “is the freshest chocolate you’ll ever eat.” And probably the most unusual too.
3739 West 10th, Vancouver
CocoaNymph has been “moving towards using as many local ingredients as we can,” and Sawatzky has been scouring local farmers’ markets for fresh ideas.
A friend suggested she try making a chocolate with sorrel, a sour leafy green vegetable that resembles spinach, so she decided to give it a whirl.
“I believe we’re the only chocolatiers in the world who’ve ever done this,” she says about using sorrel in a chocolate. “It has a deep, sour earthy flavour and chocolate has an earthy flavour so putting them together is kind of cool.”
Cool indeed. The Cuckoo truffle, with a layer of sorrel ganache topped with a layer of sorrel jelly and dipped in milk chocolate, has been flying off the shelves.
“I honestly didn’t expect to have to make more than one batch,” says Sawatzky. “I thought I’d make one and it would trickle out, but it’s been selling like crazy because it’s so unique. We named it Cuckoo because the Italian name for sorrel is cuckoo weed and it’s a wacky flavour, so I thought it was the perfect name.”
CocoaNymph’s currently available seasonal truffles, $1.95 each. Clockwise from top left: Trina (strawberry, milk chocolate ganache, white chocolate cream cheese, dark chocolate shell), Jennifer (blueberry, balsamic vinegar, dark chocolate ganache, dark chocolate shell), Cuckoo (sorrel jelly, sorrel ganache, milk chocolate shell) and Ruby (rhubarb, champagne, ganache, milk chocolate shell). (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
All of the chocolates have a story behind their name and in addition to Cuckoo, Sawatzky is unveiling five more seasonal truffles using BC-grown produce: Ruby (rhubarb), Trina (strawberries), Jennifer (blueberries), Emma (peaches), and Silvi (apples). Cuckoo, Ruby, Trina and Jennifer are available now, Emma will be available as of early August, and Silvi will be available towards the end of the month.
Sawatzky’s arts and science background has lent itself to her crafty and unique chocolates.
“I have a degree in microbiology and a degree in English literature, so I have a creative side and a technical side, and [chocolatiering] really married those things for me quite beautifully.”
Sawatzky’s foray into the chocolate world began one Christmas when she decided to make truffles for friends as gifts. They were such a hit that her friends requested to buy the chocolates from her as gifts for their friends.
The idea took a year to take hold, but the following Christmas, as a full-time student with a full-time job and only 80 dollars to her name, she did what any reasonable person would do: she spent it all on chocolate.
“I used my last $80 to buy a bag of chocolate to see what I could do with it, and with the goal of selling 300, I ended up selling 3,000. After that I was hooked and I just kept on going. Since then I’ve trained in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Minnesota, New York, Montreal, and most recently in Italy last fall.”
Stop by the cafe for a dairy-free hot chocolate made with coconut milk, or take home a treat from the selection of nuts, marshmallows, toffee, hot chocolate powder and, of course, truffles. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
Only a few years after her holiday truffle success, Sawatzky opened her current shop in West Point Grey with 12 truffles, developed her bar line the following year, and then started making toffee, nuts, marshmallows and hot chocolate powder.
Sawatzky is also developing a legion of chocolate-making enthusiasts by offering a few Chocolate Lover’s workshops per week, where students learn the history of chocolate and how it’s made and receive a lesson on truffle decorating. And, of course, when the lesson is over they get to take home their delicious creations.