Downtown boasts all kinds of shops, restaurants, and cultural activities, but something unique has recently opened. B Cocoa Artisan Chocolates had their grand opening August 21st at 809 8th Street serving all kinds of goodies including truffles and bon-bons made in the European fashion. “The Grand Opening was insane,” explained Brooke Willis, chocolatier and owner of the shop. People lined the streets waiting for their turn to try samples of Brooke’s fare.
“We also serve Odd Duck [a local coffee shop] coffee. I figure they have already got that down pat, and they are our favorite coffee; so why not utilize something locally, and we use a lot of coffee. Chocolate and coffee pair well together, so, we use their Mexican origin coffee and we grind that and mix it with caramelized white chocolate to make our caramel macchiato bark. Then we have an Odd Duck truffle, the best-selling truffles in the store, so it is always in the chocolate case, along with at least 12 different other flavors,” she said.
“We get Madagascar origin chocolate, and it has flavors of raspberries and lemon. We aren’t going to use it with something that doesn’t pair well with raspberry and lemons, but we just used it in our Hotter N’ Hell Hundred habanero truffle, because the habanero with that citrus and the fruity of the raspberry and the lemon goes well together,” Brooke shared.
Some of the other delights available are vegan treats like rice crispy treats and vegan chocolates. My favorite was the fleur de sel caramels with Malden salt rakes in a dark or milk chocolate shell. I can tell you by experience that it melts in your mouth with a very satisfying feeling.
All the chocolate they use is of high quality. “A Hershey’s bar is 11 percent cocoa content and our chocolate is 38 percent. So, you are so much more satisfied after a small amount, you can have one truffle that will make feel like you had a whole Hershey’s bar,” she explained.
“It takes about 3 days to make a bon-bon. We first have to take the mold and polish it with alcohol and a cotton ball. Once that is set, we polish it out and then hand paint it with the tempered colored cocoa butter. We then add the tempered chocolate that makes the shell. The next day we make and add the ganache and we let that sit another 24 hours. The next day we cap off the bottom and the following day we are popping them out of the molds. Each mold is hand-painted. the only machines we have in here are a microwave and a tempering machine and other than that it is all done by hand,” Brooke said. The chocolate is put into a tempering machine that melts it and constantly stirs it. That way the chocolate is brought to the perfect temperature so that it can be worked with.
“We opened our first store almost 2 years ago in the Finishing Touch Plaza. We were just going to use that as a commercial kitchen, and it had a little retail space in the front. We thought that we could sell a little chocolate and it worked,” Brooke said with a smile.
“My silent partner is my husband Marc. He is a pilot for Southwest, and he also has a reserve job on the base. He handles the behind the scenes stuff, like the finances, and all the things I don’t like to do,” she said laughing. “I just want to paint the chocolates. He is the thinking guy, and I am the artistic one. He is the reason that we came downtown. I was worried that the new building is twice the square footage of the old one. Marc wanted to us personally invest to make this happen. He said, ‘I believe in downtown, I believe what this city can be, and we need to make this happen. I know you can do this, so we are going to move the store down here.'” Brooke shared. And of course, he believes in Brooke.
“I want people to know that we just wanted to bring something new to Wichita Falls. We love to educate people about something that we love. For me, chocolate is an art, and it is like I am sharing my art with people, and to see them enjoying it is a blessing. And they have enjoyed it, and they supported us, and I am so thankful. We wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t come and enjoyed our chocolates. And now my husband is out of the military full time, and we just bought land 10 minutes outside of downtown. We are building a house and Wichita Falls is stuck with us,” she said with a grin.
“As I mentioned earlier, we have much more space now, and our store is open for people to enjoy. We have couches here where they can come and relax, and we have free Wi-Fi and games. It’s for all ages. We want a place that people can feel comfortable and add a little more to the greatness of Wichita Falls. We don’t want our chocolate to be pretentious. We have a fine product. It is a high-end product, but we aren’t pretentious. Children love chocolate and parents love chocolate. Every age loves chocolate. In the old store, parents were worried when they came in with their kids and the kids were touching the case. I thought, ‘Gosh this is a chocolate shop. We should make it fun so moms can come in and enjoy their chocolates and coffee while the kids play’,” Brooke said. “So, there is a part of the store dedicated to the children—a place they can play with a tepee, games and even a child-sized table.”
Sounds like a great place for one of life’s great things: chocolate!