Kika's Treats, San Francisco
The Vegetarian Gourmet, Alameda
Hway-ling Hsu learned her mastery of brittle and desserts the unconventional way: YouTube Videos and online recipes. Although she grew up cooking with her grandparents, she remembers that her grandmother never made anything sweet except a baked bun filled with black sesame and brown sugar. This is her subtly sweet inspiration for her black sesame brittle. The unshelled sesame seeds in her brittle taste nearly like a deep dark cacao and slightly savory. Although it looks like a sheet of seasoned nori, it remains unforgettably unique. Her line of brittle are cleverly delicious: Dr. Pepper Peanut, coconut almond, ginger cashew, pistachio rosewater, and hazelnut espresso.
Sweetdragon Baking Company, San Jose
CC Made, San Anselmo
Cassandra was born in Shanghai, graduated from UC Davis in finance and international relations, and worked for Bank of America on the foreign exchange trading floor. On a whim, she worked in the pastry line of a restaurant and fell in love with the energy in the kitchen. She discovered that working with sugar is just plain fun – in spite of the fact that “it’s like 350 degrees of molten lava! If it sticks to your skin, you get a bad burn.” She turned her friend and family gifts into a commercial business, CC Made. Her caramel corn features regionally sourced ingredients, including Butte Padre almonds from Ott Farms in Modesto, and organic popcorn from Ed Sills of Pleasant Grove Farms.
Barbary Brix, San Francisco
Melissa and Rob, two friends with sweet teeth, started this business in the Dogpatch neighborhood knowing there is nothing like their product out there. Their caramels are all made from minimally processed sugars adding complex, layered flavors and nutritional value while also having a lower glycemic load (no sugar rushes or crashes). The caramel varieties are gluten free and do not contain refined white sugar, butter, corn syrup, preservatives, or anything artificial. These are quite simply a more healthful indulgence for everyone. You don’t have to be a caramel enthusiast.
In between kickball competitions and creative confectionary inventions, Melissa and Rob play in the kitchen with sugar. They have come up with a few charming flavors. Check them all out here:
Plumeria Flours, Walnut Creek
Inspired by the flavors and local favorites of the Hawaiian Islands, Michelle Francia uses quality ingredients to transform your treasured sweet treats into unique delicious confections. Francia puts the spirit of Aloha into all her creative flavors and you can taste it. When Plumeria Flours first began, they made Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookies. Each has a different hand painted plumeria flower design including chocolate crème, vanilla crème, peanut butter crème, and mint crème. Her gourmet popcorn flavors are delicious like her Seaweed Caramel Popcorn, which is sweet, savory, speckled with seaweed and named after the State Fish of Hawaii, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Check out more of her creations at
Don Bugito, San Francisco
Obessive Confection Disorder, Napa
Some may find edible insects uncultured, but the rest of the world use it as a delicacy dish. Monica, owner and founder of Don Bugito shares her prehispanic delicacies on her food truck in the streets of San Francisco and catered or pop up meals.
Don Bugito started as an art project, when industrial artist created a "wurmhaus" to demonstrate alternative options for a high protein diet and solution to urban farming. After creating a micro farm where mealworms could live, reproduce and be in her small backyard, she wanted to share her creative recipes with the public in the form of Don Bugito's prehispanic snackeria. She includes edible insects in each dish putting San Francisco on the map for cultured delicacies.
Melodi Donahue is a 'Vegan Caramel Whisperer' who reveres the confectionery process, and passionately commits herself to the art of handcrafting delicious sweets using kind practices. OCD confections are made with organic coconut milk, coconut butter, cocoa butter, locally grown seasonal produce, and using the highest possible quality ingredients. She is mindful of the seasons, as well as local sustainability, and so the fresh fruit purees used in their confections are predominantly sourced within a few miles from their kitchen. Eat their caramels & crunchies with reckless abandon because they exhaustively research every source of supply to ensure that their ingredients are 100% vegan. Mel is obsessive so you don't have to be.
Toffee Talk, San Francisco
Catherine (CJ) Hughes grew up in Piedmont in the East Bay. In 2009, she left a twenty-eight year career in commercial real estate, took a two-month breather. She announced to her friends on a beach in Hawaii, it’s time to move on, “Let’s talk toffee!” Her wonderful toffee is named for the spirited word of mouth that comes from those who enjoy it “Toffee Talk – Little Pieces of Conversation.” CJ took a cherished recipe, which she tweaked only a little, originated with her godmother Suzi Soper who made it for family holidays. She then enlisted Ellin Purdom, her cousin, to help with the company.
The whole toffee venture all started at the Marin County Fair. Her toffee won ‘Best of Show’ out of 600-plus confections. She has since received more awards creating more Toffee Talk in town. She uses red walnut, almonds, pecans and peanuts to grace her toffee. She has also introduced Crumble Mumble a combo of chocolate, toffee and nuts for sprinkling over ice cream.
Cristina Arantes, “ Kika” was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, land of cacao, where she spent her days baking and eating all things chocolate. In 1999 she moved to San Francisco where she refined her skills working with the best chefs in the restaurant and baking industry. In 2006, Christina made a list of her favorite treats and decided that it was time to share them with the world. She is a La Cocina graduate and her treats have been voted “Best Cookies” in 2009 SF Weekly Best of San Francisco and named on “50 treats to eat before you die” by 7x7.
Kika’s Treats handcrafts premium dreamy bits of premium chocolate-coated heaven in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The operation is best known for its unique award-winning treats, such as the Caramelized Graham Crackers and Brazilian Honey Cakes. She only uses the finest quality, locally-sourced and natural ingredients."
A native of Switzerland and Australia, Margaret Riesen was raised in a multi-cultural setting. Her earliest recollections include living on her grandparents’ small farm in the Bernese countryside in Switzerland, where chocolate is one of the four food groups, and where the whole family worked together to put food on the table. Daily tasks included milking the cows, making yogurt, turning the hay, gathering fruit, and preserving the harvest through drying and preserving. A long-time California resident, Riesen brings her culinary pizzazz and passion for fresh, healthy, fabulous foods to her following of satisfied clients and eager culinary students.
The Vegetarian Gourmet began as a vision to delight its customers with innovative, seasonal, internationally inspired menus. Chef Margaret Riesen brings her love of food and her passion for fresh, organic ingredients from her native Switzerland and international heritage. She loves the challenge of creating spectacular meals which appeal to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Menus are seasonal and celebrate the bounty of the Bay Area’s organic harvest, and feature specialties from the Mediterranean rim, the Americas, India, Southeast Asia, and selected European cuisines.
2201 Shoreline Drive, PO BOX 6064, Alameda, CA 94501 | (510) 463-4BOX (4269) | LittleShopArtisanBox@gmail.com
Read on to find out more about these artisans.
Chunky Pig, Oakland
Gina Conedera has had an obsession with all things sweet since the age of 19. She didn’t attend culinary school but fostered her skills under very constructive apprenticeships in Portland, Oregon. With over 10 years of sincere determination under her belt, she is a proud Pastry Chef. Four years ago she moved to the Bay Area and worked as a executive pastry chef with B44 & Barlata Tapas Bar. Because of the struggling economy, she lost her position. Gina then started a company Pavé Consulting so that restaurants can consult her so that they can avoid cutting jobs with an efficient and delicious dessert menu.
Pavé Consulting specializing in pastry and dessert menu consulting for restaurants and bakeries in the Bay Area. But this passionate pastry chef couldn’t keep out of the kitchen too long. Soon enough, Gina worked with a recipe to develop Chunky Pig Candied Bacon Caramel Corn.
Chunky Pig's (retail division of Pavé Consulting) products were born of the desire to marry 3 favorite things: Sweet, Salty & Pork. She partners with local Peter’s Kettle Corn and uses Twice Candied Niman Ranch Nitrate~Free Bacon for her quality ingredients.
Snake & Butterfly, San Jose
Snake & Butterfly refines a premier organic, fair trade cocoa beans in small batches. This family operation hand-roasts and hand-pours a wide variety of award-winning bars and confections since 2007.
Snake & Butterfly is one of the more ecologically-sound businesses in Campbell. They support the farmers who grow their raw ingredients in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner, and pay a fair price for the highest quality chocolate and ingredients. Their beautiful packaging also has a low environmental impact.
The family of Snake & Butterfly work together closely. Vincent "Papa Vince" Flores, daughter, Celeste Flores and husband, Benjamin Bulik. James Hull and his wife, Mara Privitt, are the newest additions to the Snake & Butterfly family.
Olamola Confectionery is the fruit of Monica La O’s longtime dream of having her own baking business. As a little girl, Monica spent hours watching her grandma perfect croissants before picking up a whisk herself in high school. Since completing her degree in Food Science from the University of California, Davis, Monica has baked and sold custom desserts that have won hearts and inspired addictions. After years of positive feedback and honing her craft, Monica decided to team up with her dad and brother to produce artisanal sweets for local California markets and beyond.
Olamola Confectionery’s product line features her meringue kisses, bite-size meringues that have a delicately nutty texture unlike traditional meringue cookies. All meringues are handmade in small batches from carefully selected ingredients. Each one is deceptively light but soulful.
Olamola Confectionery, Los Altos
Li'l Puffs, San Jose
After 15 years immersed in the tech industry, Linda Santoso rediscovered her passion for baking and decided to pursue a Baking Arts & Pastry diploma at the Professional Culinary Institute. She founded Li’l Puffs in 2010 creating multiple flavors of homemade marshmallows like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mango, pineapple and a number of other flavors, along with vegetarian and vegan varieties. Li’l Puffs Marshmallows are made in small batches and without any flavor enhancers, coloring, or preservatives to bring you the freshest and purest product.
Linda Santoso geeks out on food chemistry and experiments with new flavors and recipes. When Linda is not in the kitchen she is usually outdoors gardening, playing tennis, and exploring new places in the Bay Area with her husband, Anson and new addition to the marshmallow team, Li’l Baby Emily.
Kristian Salvesen was born and raised in Norway. He moved to the Bay Area about 7 years ago to be with the love of his life. A couple of Christmases ago he was back in Norway visiting his family eating chocolate covered marzipan, wondering why it is so difficult to find chocolate covered marzipan in the US. The wondering turned into pondering and soon Nuttyness saw the light of day.
Nuttyness makes premium chocolate covered marzipan from pure California almonds, infused with unique flavors and enrobed in heavenly dark chocolate. Nuttyness uses only natural ingredients. Currently available in 6 delicious flavors; Pure Almond, Almond Hazelnut, Almond Pistachio, Lemon Ginger, Coffee Vanilla and Orange Cayenne. Find Nuttyness bars in select stores around the Bay Area.