Food Artisans: Roni-Sue's Chocolates and Moho Cocoa

Food Artisans

A different New York artisan every week.


[Photograph: Stephanie Klose]

Rhonda Kave and her company, Roni-Sue's Chocolates, are a mainstay in the New York food scene, with quirky offerings like the chocolate-covered bacon she calls Pig Candy, a wide selection of classic truffles, and a line of caramel products made with Brooklyn Brewery beer and Martin's pretzels. She does all of the candy production out of her storefront in the Essex Street Market, but her latest venture is taking her a bit farther afield: to Belize. A partner in Moho Cocoa, Kave has recently made the switch to single-origin chocolate for all of her products.

"I've been delving into the main ingredient a little more," she says, "It's allowed me to make a better tasting and more socially responsible product." Moho works with family farms in the Moho River Valley in southern Belize, buying directly from the farmers and then preparing the chocolate themselves.

"It was a little challenging to work with at first," Kave says, since it's made with just cocoa beans, sugar, and cocoa butter, and lacks the stabilizers found in most commercially available chocolate. But it pays off in superior flavor and the knowledge that the farmers who grew the cocoa beans were paid fair prices for their products.

Kave continues to develop new products, including sweet and savory truffles like the Tapas Truffle, which incorporates tapenade, marcona almonds, and crisp capers into a sophisticated and unusual confection. And she's entered into another partnership with the Lower East Side Girls Club, one of her neighbors at Essex Street: they make newspaper roses, which Kave buys from them to decorate packages of Roni's Roses, the truffles with edible roses that she offers for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Moho chocolate bars and the full line of Roni-Sue's Chocolates are available at the Essex Street Market or through her website.