With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we'll try keep this short and sweet. We're absolutely smitten with these chocolate-covered caramels made by Venice local Sonya Nimri of Rose Avenue Sweets.
It's no secret that her key ingredient is l-o-v-e, but these good old-fashioned caramels are also decadently upgraded with Madagascar vanilla and fresh, organic California cream. Nimri also mixes Belgian and French chocolate to balance the sweetness of the caramels, and then sprinkles her confections with rich Maldon sea salt or a pretty pink dust of crushed rosella and rose.
The sumptuous assortment also includes a dark chocolate turtle with ginger and cookie crumbles and another with tart Montmercy cherries and roasted pecans, each individually wrapped and tied with a rose-colored ribbon that was measured and cut by Nimri's little assistant, her five-year-old son Agrippa.
This heartwarming story behind the storefront began about six months ago when Nimri, an avid crafter who studied costume design at UCLA and built a career making beautiful things and teaching others how to do them too, wanted to find a project that she could do together with her husband Chris.
"We found that after we had kids we started spending less and less time together, meaningful time … So I wanted to do a project that I could do with him," Nimri says.
But what would they do? Nimri was well versed in making jewelry and handbags. She could screen print and made tees and totes as wedding favors for friends. She spent the summer traveling with Duncan, a major craft supplies company, teaching people how to tie dye, but none of these were it, and living in Venice with two small boys (Agrippa has a little brother named James) they couldn't do a project that took up much square footage. At first she tried to make tea, but laughs and admits that it's really hard to blend tea and it "tasted disgusting."
Then over the holiday season, as she made her famous batch of chocolate-covered caramels as gifts for friends and family, as she has done for the past 15 years, the answer was right in front of her wrapped in a holiday ribbon. Now she is working on Rose Avenue Sweets full time and getting a lot more one-on-one time with her man. She even crafted a custom caramel cutter for him by putting 12 pizza cutters on a rod and adding wooden handles at the ends, so each caramel is cut into a perfect square.
"Sometimes we put on the music and we just sit down together and cut and talk about the kids," says Nimri. "It's a nice thing that we do."
At times, the boys are added into the mix too. Agrippa earns 10 cents per ribbon he cuts and gets to practice his counting while James is mostly still taste testing at this point.
So far the response has been overwhelmingly supportive, says Nimri. In the short amount of time they've been in business, Rose Avenue Sweets has sold more than 1,000 of these bite-sized bits of heaven, mostly marketed just through word of mouth and tastings at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market. She also had the "Best Booth" at the UniqueLA Made In America fashion and arts fair in December, and recently started stocking her chocolate-covered caramels with Maldon sea salt at Simon's Market on Rose Ave.
In the coming months, she hopes to bring her treats into more shops and more homes all while spending extra time with the ones she loves.