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A Taste for Chocolate

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Sugar Lander Annie Rupani’s sweet life as a chocolatier

Written by Crystal Rawls | Select photography courtesy of Jay Marroquin

Sugar Land, TX News - Chocolate has a way of soothing the nerves. Art expands the mind for unlimited expression. Combine the two, and taste becomes more than a sense – it becomes an experience.

It was this experience that changed the course of Sugar Land native Annie Rupani’s life. She had her goals neatly outlined and was on track to becoming a successful lawyer. But her life soon took a sweeter turn.

Annie Rupani’s life as a chocolatier is an extension of artistry and displays her talent for combining flavors with aesthetics
Photo by Deborah Smail

One Dream Leads to Another
“I wanted to do something in government and public service,” says Rupani, who participated in mock trial in high school at St. Agnes Academy. “That’s what really turned me on to law. [Public service] just made sense, and it called out to me.”

As an undergraduate student at Boston University, Rupani studied religion and anthropology to round out her pre-law studies while working at the governor’s office. She also earned internships at the United Nations and House of Congress.

After graduation, Rupani decided to take a year off before returning to law school. “My parents have a foundation, The Rupani Foundation, in Pakistan, and I decided to go there.

It was in a rural area, so there was very little for me to do. So I was finishing up my law school application and reading about chocolate.”

A Fork in the Road
Rupani’s chocolate curiosity continued to flourish when she enrolled in a 10-day continuing education course at a pastry school in Malaysia. “Even up to that point it was just for fun,” she says.

The laborious process of creating chocolate delectables came naturally to Rupani. “Most of what I learned was from me reading books while studying for the LSAT,” she laughs. “A lot of pastry chefs hate using chocolate because there is a process of tempering, where you have to bring chocolate to a certain temperature, and then bring it down, and then bring it back up again…it just came so easy to me.”

The first time Rupani did, it worked. She never had issues with it. “There are several ways to temper. I figured out the best way for to do it. Now I’ve been doing it for over a year, it really feels like it is just an extension of me.”

After her stint in Malaysia, Rupani began to experiment with flavors, shapes, and colors. “I love cardamom. I would put it in my tea every morning when I was in Pakistan. So, I put it in white chocolate with a little rosewater.” Her mother, Farida Rupani, suggested the taste reminded her of mithai, a traditional Pakistani dessert. “I thought, ‘If I can make this taste like mithai, then why can’t I make more of it?’”

Rupani attended a 10-day continuing education course at a pastry school in Malaysia

Art and Chocolate
She experimented with non-traditional tropical fruits such as lychee and guava, and even herbs and spices like basil and curry. Soon, her love of art became part of the chocolate mix.

“It was all really experimentation. I would buy the molds that have the shapes, and then decide which shapes go with which flavors. Then, I try to make the color go with the flavor and try to incorporate different painting techniques on the chocolate, like painting it with my finger. I want to make sure that aesthetically, it’s a little bit of everything…chocolate is my medium for art.”

Rupani believes that chocolate has richness deeper than only satisfying a sweet tooth. “There’s more to chocolate than it being something that you just throw in your mouth. It’s an experience,” Rupani says. “There are layers of flavor.”

Carving a New Path
It wasn’t easy to make the decision to forego law school in favor of creating and selling chocolate. “I didn’t end up turning in my application [to law school]. Something didn’t feel right about me turning it in,” says Rupani. “Every single lawyer I talked to was turning me off from it. I was just discouraged.”

Breaking the news to her parents was her next hurdle. “Initially, they were definitely not excited. Of course, they “But I think the thing with occupations and titles is more the image they portray…the entitlement of your career, what that one word says about what you are.”

Eventually, the Rupanis embraced their daughter’s choice of occupation. “Now, my mom is my right hand; she helps me with everything. They are kind of mentoring me; they are very much my support line.”

As her business grows, Rupani pours the passion from religion, anthropology, and public service into her work with chocolate. “There’s nothing black and white. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. You have to accept there is gray area in everything. It’s something I’ve had to realize in my career. It’s knowing that I’m doing something right and being passionate about what I do at all times and making sure that only good can follow from that.” To learn more about Rupani’s chocolates, visit cacaoandcardamom.com. SLM

CRYSTAL RAWLS is a freelance writer and confessed chocoholic.

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