Meet Stephen and Rebecca Cobb, and their well-researched, thoroughly experimented-with, and meticulously created, Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Lovingly made with the simplest, absolutely best ingredients, these incredible little treats just melt in your mouth. Pick one up in the ‘Grab n Go’ fridge section of either Co-op store, Eastside or Westside, and before you sample its crunchy chocolate cup and creamy center sweetness, be sure to read the label: “Cacao*, Peanuts*, Local Raw Honey, Raw Coconut*, Cinnamon*,Vanilla Bean*, Himalayan Salt (*Certified Organic).” Not only are the ingredients well-researched, they are also thoughtfully brought together to insure that each cup is gluten, dairy, soy and GMO free. And once you have that label off, and are prepared to dive into this scrumptious delicacy, take a moment to look inside for a surprise. It may be a thought-provoking quote (such as: “Never mind what’s been selling, it’s what you’re buying (and receiving undefiled).” ~Fugazi~), or it may be the sharing of some serious research into our food system (such as this: “The chocolate you’re eating is made with a blend of fairly-traded raw and roasted cacao, supporting organic farms in Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, and Indonesia.” ~The Cobbs~). Then go ahead. Munch away!
As for Stephen and Rebecca, the folks who bring us these sweet treats, they resettled in Olympia almost three years ago from Southern California. Both were ready to remove themselves from the crowded and busy urban life, and began to look into a few good places to live in the Pacific Northwest. Rebecca grew up in the LA suburbs and both she and Stephen yearned for a home that gave them a small-town feel yet offered cultural diversity. Both Portland and Seattle were still too big-city for them, so after travels through Bend and Ashland Oregon, they took the advice from someone at a party and came to explore Olympia. Having not one, but two Co-op markets with local, organic food was, they both admitted, one of the big draws for them. Speaking of her first impression, Rebecca said of her experience upon first entering the Eastside Co-op, “they were kind of quirky, but great! I could feel it when I walked in–how much intention was being put into what’s being selected (to carry for sale). I could just feel the love.” It is with the same loving intention, toward quality products that are not only healthy, but also environmentally and socially sustainable, that Rebecca and Stephen create their ‘naturally naughty’ little treats.
Because Stephen had portable work, telecommuting with a company based in California that sells refurbished networking hardware, he and Rebecca were able to make the move to Olympia. Soon Rebecca found work as office manager at a holistic health care center, also offering her expertise in Feng Shui and Life Coaching. And now, Stephen is able to work at home part time with his computer job and devote the rest to researching and experimenting with the creation of delicacies for their new company. Rebecca, in addition to being consultant for Stephen on what she sees that he is aiming to accomplish, also serves to take care of the business end of Cobb’s. It is obvious that they are a great match for this endeavor. “We’re partners in this food business,” says Rebecca. “We cook together, but I consider myself the sous chef–he’s the mastermind.” Stephen adds, “we respect each other’s tastes in food, so I appreciate getting her feedback–she picks up the subtle nuances. She also puts the swirls in the Peanut Butter Cups, he adds.” (Check them out! It’s like looking at the creative swirls from a coffee barista!)
Stephen and Rebecca began playing with their diets in California, but once they arrived in Olympia, Stephen specifically noticed his need to remove gluten from his list of edible foods. Wanting to find healthy treats for himself that would also please Rebecca, he began what he came to refer to as their ‘food hobby.’ Eventually, as their new friends began sampling his experiments in the world of sweets, it became apparent that they needed to take it to another level. “There’s magic in the stuff he makes,” says Rebecca, “so our friends encouraged him to do more.” Thus was born, back in September of 2013, their first Open House Cafe. Four were held once a month, right in their home, with menus, seating and being served, until December. Then they took a break, and are now hosting them again on a special-occasion basis, asking only for donations . The kitchen is curtained off, much like a restaurant, and while Stephen is preparing his specialty dishes, Rebecca is serving their friends with complimentary drinks. “We try to make it fun and cozy,” says Rebecca. Besides covering the costs of making full-size desserts, Stephen points out that “Rebecca likes to do home decorating, and we like to socialize at least once a month. It feels good to be doing this out of our home.” Cobb’s has a Facebook link on their website: www.cobbstreats.com, where you can learn more about upcoming events.
As for the Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Cups themselves, they are so far the only item being sold at the Co-op. They are being produced in a certified kitchen downtown, and were chosen partly because they are unique and amazing, and partly because they lend to minimal packaging and longer shelf life in a way that many other treats do not. Some of the desserts they have been creating are better suited for delivery, without a lot of packaging, to local restaurants. Wasteful packaging is a big concern for both Stephen and Rebecca. So, while a few new creations are in the works for possible sale through the Co-op, others may go to different local outlets. “We are trying,” Rebecca says, “to find the best fit for each product.”
The ingredients for all of their desserts speak to the intense research that Stephen has done to create the kindest-to-humans-and-the-planet treats that he can. As noted on the Cobb’s website, “For the picky bellies out there – in general, we don’t use grains, starches, gums, or anything artificial or refined. Fruit and local raw honey are the only sweeteners we’re commercially working with. Everything’s as organic and locally sourced as possible, more raw than you’d imagine, and free of gluten, dairy, soy and GMOs.” The nuts and seeds used are soaked to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest, although some–peanuts, pecans and hazelnuts–are roasted for flavor. Rebecca points out that Stephen is “meticulous” in his research to find out how we, as consumers, use various ingredients these days, where they come from, how they make us feel, even how they are shipped and handled. “Is what we are eating,” Stephen asks, “something we have been eating for thousands of years, or something new, created or refined and processed in a lab?” He prefers to use products that our human physiology has evolved with other the millennia. For more info from his research, check out their website, or the labels on those Peanut Butter Cups!
Devoted as they are to offering high quality products for us all, it is no wonder that one of their favorite expressions is “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!” So the next time you find yourself in the ‘Grab n Go’ fridge section at the Co-op, check out what the Cobb’s are calling “these gourmet, Himalayan-salted dark chocolate, raw honey sweetened, raw coconut-infused, cinnamon and vanilla-kissed peanut butter cups.” Because they truly are “out of this world.” And if you are interested in sampling more of their dessert inspirations, check out their website, CobbsTreats or look to Facebook for information about upcoming samplings, cafés, and other new dessert experiments.
By Desdra Dawning, Co-op member