With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to search out sweets for your sweetie, and maybe even for your own sweet tooth!
The Joycup Co.
After seeing a recipe on the back of a cheap candy bar, Danna Dykstra-Coy made her first batch of peanut butter-filled chocolate cups 28 years ago.
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Soon they became her go-to gift for family and friends, and because her middle name is Joy, “they got to be known as Joy’s Christmas Cups,” she said, quipping that “some family members won’t let me in the house without them.”
In the ensuing years, Dykstra-Coy spent 20 years as a crime reporter and then a probation officer. Against the backdrop of those demanding careers, she ultimately realized that “when I made these (Joycups) and gave these, it really did bring me a lot of joy.”
With that vision in mind, she enrolled in the SCORE program for small businesses, spent almost a year planning, and finally launched The Joycup Co. in 2009.
Other than the basic concept, the Joycups of today bear little similarity to Dykstra-Coy’s original batch.
Now they’re made with such ingredients as high-end Guittard chocolate, organic peanuts, organic sea salts, fair-trade vanilla, and fruits and honey from local farmers markets.
They’re also adorned with intricate, often whimsical, and customizable designs that are applied via transfer sheets “printed” with cocoa powder.
“I wanted something that was reflective of our community,” said Dykstra-Coy. “I really want people to take a bite of Joycup and say, ‘This is a bite of SLO County.’ ”
Stewart & Clark Fine Foods at Fiero Café
709 Fiero Lane #35 (behind FedEx), San Luis Obispo | 805-252-YUMM (9866) | www.stewartandclark.com| Fiero Café, 541-2300
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; also at SLO Farmers Market 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday
What do Saveur’s “Top 100,” Dean & DeLuca, The New York Times, Esquire, and the Food Network’s “Food Finds” have in common? They’ve all praised the handmade marshmallows, shortbread cookies and chocolate truffle cookies from Stewart & Clark Fine Foods.
Launched in 1997, the thriving mail-order dessert company moved into a brick-and-mortar facility at Fiero Café in San Luis Obispo in 2009. While co-owners Tracy Fleming and Glenn Landon (the Stewart & Clark moniker comes from the couple’s middle names) and their culinary team are slinging out savory specials every weekday at the Café, it’s also where you can indulge in their myriad of handcrafted sweet temptations.
Stewart & Clark’s signature marshmallows and cookies are now joined by several other goodies such as pies and tarts, lemon bars and whiskey pecan bars, cupcakes and even pound cakes made with local, organic olive oil.
They’ve also come up with both white chocolate and dark chocolate versions of “Party Trash,” which is described on their website as “bits of our cookies, pretzels, dried fruit, marshmallows, nuts and any other thing we think would be good rolled and covered in chocolate.” Now that’s recycling!
The Chocolate Sheep
201 E. Branch St., Arroyo Grande | 591-0166 | www.thechocolatesheep.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Growing up on Cape Cod, Noreen Vance used to beg staff of the little chocolate store nearby to teach her how to make chocolate. When she was 14, they finally relented.
Though her mother would ultimately open a chocolate and ice cream store that Vance worked at, she admitted that she “always wanted my own shop.”
In October 2010, Vance — now the mother of two children herself — closed the door on a teaching career and opened up The Chocolate Sheep, where you’ll also find a herd of toys for sale, as well as soft-serve yogurt.
Among the most tempting sweet treats are sea salt caramels in both milk and dark chocolate, almond bark, and chocolate-dipped fudge. Vance calls the latter a “happy accident” that she stumbled into one day when her fudge batch wasn’t setting up properly — now it’s one of her most popular items.