For Andrea Pedraza and her daughter Cindy, co-owners of the chocolate shop CocoAndré, nestled in a quaint house in the Bishop Arts District, chocolate is a nod to their family history. “It’s always been in our blood, part of our culture,” says Cindy.
The duo infuses their Mexican heritage into their work. CocoAndré’s calling card is undoubtedly its molded chocolates. The high-heeled shoe became a signature piece. But also chocolates shaped like pan dulces (Mexican breads) and piñatas. This is their third year making cactus-shaped chocolates for the holiday of love, where the tunas (cactus fruit) are tiny hearts.
A chocolatier for three decades, Andrea grew up enjoying drinking chocolate, pure, rich cacao and sugar. That was her base when she trained with the Swiss chocolatier who would be her mentor. (She’s always laughed that chocolate has come full circle, from Mexico and the Aztecs through Europe in the age of monarchy and back to the New World.) In the arid Altiplano town of Matehuala, where she grew up on the desert side of San Luis Potosí, prickly pear cacti abounded. Her family harvested and cooked the nopales (paddles), and the creamy, white honey from the blossoms in springtime was a delicacy. The fibers became ropes.
“When they are in bloom, they’re the most beautiful and delicate,” she says. “The colors—the hot pinks and yellow and orange.”
“They resonate with people,” Cindy says of the whimsical or holiday-themed molded objects her mother uses as a creative outlet. “You’re telling more of a story when you do that.”
This Valentine’s Day, her mother is proving that the desert still holds her heart.
Available as table top-sized confections or small potted cacti. $35 for a large chocolate cactus.