The Sweet Life: Droga Confections
This San Francisco based confectioner makes her chocolate concoctions addictive by using all natural ingredients sourced from within the great state of California. It’s only appropriate that candymaker Michelle Crochet named her company Droga, which translates to drug — after one of her impossibly delicious treats pumps through your veins you’ll think she’s a heroin. Oops, we mean heroine.
What inspired the creation of Droga Confections?
“The inspiration came from my mom’s rebel rocky road recipe, the same year she was pregnant with me, she recreated the recipe by substituting salted peanuts in for walnuts and the new treat was instantly a hit. Droga started as a small side business where I was only selling the rebel rocky roads. Consequently enough, I had the chance to work for Williams-Sonoma as a buyer where I got to travel around the world searching for only the best products to sell which helped me learn about food, the ingredients, the taste, texture, quality, and flavor. This was also a big part of helping me expand.”
Droga is Italian for the word drug. What goes into your sweets to give them a drug-like addictive quality?
“They are made of the best ingredients I can find. I lived in Italy for some time where the food is unbelievable. I wanted to know what it was that made the food so addictive. What I found is it’s all about the ingredients and the time and effort put into making the meal. When making honey caramels I find the best honey and I exclude corn syrup, for the rebel rocky roads I make my own marshmallow with only the best local organic ingredients. Sometimes I’ll taste test 25 different peanuts to find what tastes the best when mixed with the chocolate and all the other ingredients. Also the time and effort I put in only results in the best candy I can make.”
What type of candy would you say you’re obsessed with?
“Pure chocolate — it’s an addiction. Sometimes I like to spice things up with add-ins but there is nothing better than pure chocolate.”
Your mom’s famous rocky road creation was one inspiration to the Droga Confection line, has she inspired any other Droga creations?
“My mom is very involved in my work; she does a lot behind the scenes at Droga. Lately my family will do taste testing for me. Inspiration tends to come from all over and the latest is from my sister.” [There is something in the works but Michelle won’t spill the beans.]
Do you plan on expanding to have your own storefront?
“Having a storefront is an exciting goal. I am planning to work up to that, having a premium new confections store where consumer can buy candies that are made with clean and fresh ingredients. A place for people to go and buy candies that are made to be good for them, a place where their concerns for what goes into them is met. It is definitely something I can see for our future.”
What would you say is the mission of Droga Confections?
“To bring delicious confections to as many people as possible and also to take into account what is important to the people who are eating them. To let people know that they are indulging in clean and pure ingredients. So really to create great tasting confections, keeping in mind what is important to consumer. We are very green and very aware. We take pride in supporting local green.”
Could you give us a short insider view of what it’s like to own a candy company? We’re all very jealous.
“It’s really fun! I’m always looking for inspiration, and I am able to get my hands dirty in melted chocolate, what could be better? On the other hand I am on the phone with new customers, managing sales, and doing research. It is a lot to juggle but when it’s something you love you make it work. [I'm] learning to love the business side as much as the creativity side.”
Maya Angelou’s Banana Pudding
Just for fun, I thought I would send Poor Taste readers a recipe that I just recently made over the Memorial Day weekend. It’s not chocolate, but a sweet treat and was a big hit with the crowd. It’s Maya Angelou’s Banana Pudding. We added coconut and fresh pecans and it was delish! Also love her spirit.
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
3 cups milk
8 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups vanilla wafers
4 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt; stir until blended. Mix in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and boiling. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then whisk in about 1/2 cup of hot custard until blended. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan of custard; cook over medium heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla until blended.
Place vanilla wafers on bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Top with layers of banana slices and custard. Repeat layering, ending with custard.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar; increase speed to medium and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks.
Spoon meringue over hot custard immediately, making sure that meringue touches baking dish on all sides (this prevents it from shrinking). Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
This interview is the fourth installment of The Sweet Life series, in which we profile some of today’s most extraordinary independent candymakers.