What is a Chocolate Apothecary? (and why is it in Brooklyn?)

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for Little Choc Apothecary, a vegan and organic dessert shop in Brooklyn, New York.

Julia Kravets

Taste Trekkers owes it all to its Kickstarter campaign. So to give back, we like to shine a spotlight on other projects.

Meet Julia Kravets. A fashion model, certified skydiver and vegan baker, Julia grew up in Brooklyn. During her career as a model, Julia refused to give up decadent desserts in order to stay in shape, so she challenged herself to create the healthiest, most nutritiously dense desserts she could. She soon became vegan, and did anything she could to learn more about healthy eating.

She soon realized that opening Little Choc Apothecary would help her promote environmental and animal welfare; help local, organic farmers and businesses thrive; spread health, and make more vegan options readily available due to an ever-growing demand for them. It would also cultivate a fun and creative environment in the community. Everything she ever wanted!

1. Tell us the idea behind Little Choc Apothecary.

Little Choc Apothecary is a vegan bakery, crêperie, tearoom and juice bar. We are taking the café concept to a new level, with an exciting, creative approach to wellbeing!

We live in a culture that demonizes desserts, and aims to exclude them from a healthy diet. Eating a tasty treat is considered "cheating", which attaches a negative stigma to dessert. This kind of restrictive association causes people to develop terrible relationships with food, and could lead to eating disorders. It's hard to disagree though; with the amount of refined sugar, bleached, nutrient-free flour, coloring, preservatives, weird unpronounceables, and other unnatural ingredients that go into desserts these days, it's easy to be terrified of them.

Our goal is to put health back into dessert, so people can enjoy delicious sweets while reaping real health benefits. All of our desserts are crafted with the most nutritionally dense ingredients; in place of bleached white flour and white cane sugar, we go for healthy date and coconut sugar, locally ground whole wheat, spelt and nut flours.

We keep it raw when possible, and try to avoid oil, but when we do use oil, it's always richly-flavored, healthy extra virgin coconut oil. Nothing on the premises will ever have any animal products, preservatives, chemical binders, thickeners, colors, flavor enhancers, or other unpronouncables, just a truly one-of-a-kind taste!

Aside from nutrition, health depends largely on surrounding environmental factors, which is why we are determined to run our business on sustainable practices. We want to create minimal carbon footprint by sourcing as many of our ingredients as possible locally, decorating our space with air purifying plants, and even growing some of our own herbs!

We will remain cruelty-free by never using animal products, and ensuring that all of our imported goods (like acai berries) are fair trade.

2. Where do you plan to source your local ingredients?

Little Choc Apothecary

We plan to work with Wholeshare for the bulk of our ingredients. They are a wholesale distributor that works with multiple local farmers to bring us fresh, seasonal ingredients.

For maple syrup, we have a small farm in Maine called F&A Farm, where we occasionally go to help collect sap during the sugaring season; I can't say enough about the honesty, pureness, and quality of the hard work of the farmer that makes this syrup. The love alone that goes into this is enough to make any dessert heavenly!

Another option is Brooklyn Grange, a 2.5 acre organic vegetable farm that is located on a rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard--a quick 8 minute drive from us! Their wholesale account spots fill up quickly, so we won't be working with them when we open this season, but have high hopes for next year!


3. What is your favorite dessert that you serve?

B12 Brownie

This is a hard one! It may have to be a tie between the Peach, Ginger & Almond crumble, and the B12 Brownie.

The crumble is an instant hit; I just love the way the ginger caramelizes when baking, and gives off these wonderful flavor undertones. It's also so delicious and sweet naturally, that all it needs is a small sprinkle of maple syrup for extra sweetness.

AND it's oil-free, so there's no extra fat consumption shenanigans going on here. All of the fat comes from whole almonds, which have complementing nutrients that help your body absorb and process it properly and efficiently.

The B12 Brownie is something I have nearly every morning. It's completely raw, and made from organic pecans, hemp seeds, coconut, dates, and raw cacao. So not only is it a wonderful source of protein, but it's also fortified with the essential vitamin B12, so instead of taking a B12 pill, you can have a brownie! It's my favorite thing to have with my coconut milk cappuccino.

4. Why Brooklyn, NY for you location?

Little Choc Apothecary

This is where I grew up! After winning the green card lottery in 1999, my family and I moved to South Brooklyn from Kiev, Ukraine. After spending my childhood here, I consider myself a Brooklyn girl.

While there isn't much of a market for vegan dessert around the Midwood area at the moment, I think Williamsburg or Crown Heights is a great place to develop, and I plan to open a second location down there eventually!

5. Tell us more about your juices and teas!

Little Choc Apothecary

Our smoothies and juices are all made from organic produce, so instead of getting a concentrated cocktail of chemical pesticides and fertilizer in your drink, you know you're putting nothing more than a nutritious blend of vitamins and minerals into your body. We also have fun "dessert" smoothies, like Apple Pie, Banana Split, and Pumpkin Pie; it's like you're drinking your favorite dessert, minus the bad parts.

As for tea, this is where "Apothecary" comes in in our name. We have over 100 different herbs, which will be combined to make customized, medicinal blends based on our patrons' preferences.

If they like them, our visitors can buy these blends to enjoy at home, or get individual herbs by the oz. to make their own concoctions. So many possibilities!

Of course we don't claim to cure any diseases, but based on research, my own experience, and that of my friends, herbs do a wonderful job at speeding up recovery from an illness, reducing cramps, preventing various infections, and keeping your belly happy and functional when it starts to act up.

Published June 27th, 2014