The Mindful Indulgences chocolate truffles flavor list—balsamic beet, cayenne cashew, curry coconut—doesn’t read like a typical dessert menu. Nicole Davis, who designs and makes the chocolates, wants to “infuse real food into sweets.” Since her South Shore company’s March inception, Davis has been incorporating nutrient-dense spices and natural flavorings into almost all of her organic, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free truffles.
The results are truffles with taste and texture that are satisfying and decadent, though very different from conventional truffles. The flavors are more pronounced than most chocolate connoisseurs might be used to, but subtle enough to not overpower the rich, quality cocoa. With a texture almost like a perfectly crafted cake pop, these chocolates don’t melt onto your fingers, and the filling doesn’t ooze out once you’ve taken a bite. They are designed to be eaten slowly and, well, mindfully.
As all good chocolate should, Mindful Indulgences truffles satisfy for more reasons than one, with flavors that range from comforting to energizing. Eating the mint mocha truffle is like getting a visit from a reliable old friend, while the turmeric ginger truffle is like hanging out with your peppy aunt who never sits still.
Each chocolate is individually wrapped with clear plastic and ribbon, and customers receive their order in a handsome plum-colored box. Davis’s close attention to the details of presentation and texture stems from her training as an artist.
“The different stages that [the ganache] goes through when I temper it and infuse different ingredients and then hand-craft the spheres, it’s very similar to my practice as a sculptor with making molds, pouring molds, and figure modeling with clay,” she says.
A 2013 Rebuild Foundation culinary internship helped Davis connect her fine arts training to her interest in food and food justice, and introduced her to Catering Out of the Box Kitchen in Pilsen, where she still makes her chocolates. Soon after the internship ended, she began to experiment with making truffles. Spurred by her friends’ enthusiastic reactions and requests for more, she decided to launch a business.
Though the majority of sales still come through word of mouth, Mindful Indulgences now offers events catering and regularly sets up shop at the weekly Healthy Food Hub market at Harvard Elementary School at 75th and Harvard. Davis has no ambitions to set up a permanent storefront, but she does have a Big Cartel online shop and plans to expand her range of desserts this year to include gelatos and sorbets.
Davis sees herself as part of an increasingly visible group of creative entrepreneurs who are fusing their artistic lenses with new business practices on the South Side. She also sees consciously sourced and shared food as way to help communities of color thrive.
“Food is very political,” she says. “If one is very intentional about what they consume, there is power and agency in that.”
Mindful Indulgences was founded on this concept, one that ties nutrition to a larger vision of social justice.
“Of the different ways that people are systematically oppressed and disenfranchised, food is humongous,” Davis says. “It’s so key to developing wellness, just internally for oneself. And also, breaking bread with people, sharing meals with people—there’s nothing like it,” she adds, pointing to the community-building function of food.
To this end, Davis specifically seeks vending opportunities at smaller events and markets. At these, she is be able to talk to her customers about the health benefits and origins of her chocolates’ peculiar ingredients, and—just maybe—introduce them to the charms of a paprika pistachio truffle.