Socola Chocolatiers and Giveaway!!

socola

We stumbled upon Socola Chocolatiers last month when searching for a birthday gift to send my sister Niki, of La Pham Nikita. We were immediately intrigued with Susan and Wendy Lieu, the dynamic sisters behind the Oakland based business and ordered a dozen. Needless to say, my sister loved them and in the following weeks of email correspondence as well as a telephone interview with Susan, we found out more about their story and the success behind Socola.

Sôcôla Chocolates
photo courtesy of Kitchen M

Just like our families, Susan and Wendy’s parents were boat people, escaping from their village of My Xuyen in the Mekong delta of Vietnam in 1981 following the Vietnam war. Their father’s first job was delivering newspapers–mine was a janitor, cleaning toilets. Their mom was a seamstress, mine a meatwrapper. But blossoming out of their parents sacrifices, Wendy went on to UC Davis to earn a degree in managerial economics while Susan went to Harvard to study sociology. Growing up speaking only Vietnamese in the house and eating/making primarily traditional Vietnamese foods (one of their favorites is ca kho to), the sisters began experimenting with “American” foods as teenagers, and what started out as a hobby of making chocolate truffles for holiday gifts 8 years ago has blossomed into an award winning business and thriving passion.

socola

The sisters come from a long line of dessert makers–to this day, their relatives in Vietnam still sell traditional Vietnamese desserts in the local village market. While this provides a honest living in Vietnam–and perhaps could be a source of family pride that Susan and Wendy are continuing here in America, it’s hard for some in the Lieu family to imagine these well educated, independent, and industrious young ladies–who can probably be whatever they want to be ( i.e. the stereotypical doctor/lawyer/engineer/dentist/pharmacist that most Vietnamese parents encourage) are also making sweets in America similar to their relatives in Vietnam. Although this is slowly changing, as Susan puts it, “perhaps there’s a generational difference” in how they view success. Perhaps this skepticism maybe appropriate at first when they started out selling as a hobby at their local farmers market, but today, it’s hard to argue with their passion and new found success as you can find their delicious creations at Whole Foods in northern California, Bi-Rite Market, SF, Alameda Natural Grocery, and of course online and perhaps a chocolate and dessert shop next year.

Primarily self taught, but using their cultural heritage as well as extensive travels throughout the world, the sisters create unique and “delicately daring” flavors of artisan truffles. We thoroughly enjoyed their signature selection of Burnt Baby Burnt, Give it to me Guava, Vietnamese Coffee, and Guinness with a bottle of champagne on the beaches of Carmel this past weekend. My favorite was the Give it to me Guava–the fruity and fragrant guave pate was great with the slightly bitter 72% ganache. Kim is a Vietnamese Coffee fiend so it was a no brainer that her favorite was Vietnamese coffee made with condensed milk and French chicory grounds.

Sôcôla Chocolates
photo courtesy of Kitchen M
Made from organic ingredients, every truffle is made by hand with no preservatives. The sister’s make small batches at a time with entire process taking several days. But despite this, they are still able to use their craft to support many charitable organizations and events, particularly those within the Asian Pacific American community as well as abroad. Susan recently spent a year in Vietnam helping with sustainable cacao production among local Vietnamese farmers. 

What started out as a hobby has now become a dream as well as an identity for the Lieu sisters. Truly, a unique Vietnamese-American dream and identity that’s built from their labor of love to make the best chocolates and bring happiness to those who enjoy them.

socola

Luckily for our readers, Susan and Wendy have generously provided a box of their signature selection. Socola has truly unique flavor combinations so check out their site. But to win, please leave a comment along with an email and state what flavor combination you might suggest to Wendy and Susan by Thursday Nov. 19 midnight pacific time for a chance to win. We’ll use a random number generator and send it to you priority mail [many apologies to our international readers–but due to the perishable nature of the chocolates, only US entries please]

But don’t fret if your number isn’t chosen, you can still enjoy a 20% discount off their special holiday selection, ordered before Dec. 10th with the code: BEARONRUG

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58 Responses to “Socola Chocolatiers and Giveaway!!”

  1. 1

    Nina — November 18, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

    I bet the truffles are delicious! What a great story behind it as well.:)

  2. 2

    Jessica Lee Binder — November 18, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

    OMG, I really want to try the Vietnamese coffee!!!

    Hmm, my suggestion is a red bean filled white chocolate truffle. I don't really like white chocolate that much but I think it would be really pretty, and why not shoot for a challenge. =)
    You know my e-mail….Jessica@[my website].com

  3. 3

    {kiss my spatula} — November 18, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

    love this post and the lieu sisters for making their dream a reality amidst the all too-well-known generational gap and unnecessary pressures from family elders. we all know what that feels like! 😉 give it to me guava and vietnamese coffee already sound like my favorites!!

  4. 4

    d. — November 18, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    looks so good! i'd wanna try all the chocs! 😛 anyway…. truffles – pear, durian 😉 coconut and mango (think sticky rice thai dessert)
    truffles with anything really! it'll be a treat!

  5. 5

    Elissa — November 18, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    I'd have to pick one of each so I could taste them all! Something including kaffir lime would be heavenly for a future flavour combination. Email: elissasuhr(at)gmail.com. Elissa

  6. 6

    Anonymous — November 18, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    wow these look just scrumptious. I would put a box together with my favorite island flavors:
    Luscious Lychee, Give it to me Guava, Black sesame Tamarind and also a burnt baby burnt caramel top it off.
    saralyn.schiek@gmail.com

  7. 7

    Rose — November 18, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

    Great post, what a lovely story as well! I'd love lemongrass / white chocolate combo or sesame seed / fig.

  8. 8

    Mai — November 18, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

    I want to try them all but the Vietnamese Coffee sounds intriguing. How about Green Tea or Mangosteen flavor. Not in combination but separately.

    mai.tessa.nguyen(at)gmail.com

  9. 9

    Fresh Local and Best — November 18, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

    I love their story! What a wonderful pair of accomplished women!
    I'm certain that these sisters have run the gamut of interesting and exotic flavors. I'd love to see them make a cardamon and pistachio truffle.
    christineinnewyork (at) gmail.com

  10. 10

    Margaret — November 18, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

    Reading this makes me think of the sticky rice balls in ginger syrup sold in the dessert stalls of Vietnam. So my suggestion for a flavor combo would be a filling of sweet sticky rice with crystallized ginger. Another would be mango with chili…a Mexican combo that makes me think of walking through small towns at dusk:-)

  11. 11

    Kitchen M — November 18, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

    LOVE their chocolate!! mmm… I don't know about flavor suggestion. I like tea flavor chocolates, but I know they already have those… Maybe Chai spiced?

  12. 12

    Gastronomer — November 18, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

    What a coincidence! I was just about to feature a Vietnamese chocolatier on my site as well! Look out for it tomorrow 😉

    I love the name Socola! That's totally how Viet people pronounce chocolate.

    I would suggest a Che Troi Nuoc chocolate! Mmm!

  13. 13

    Sarah — November 18, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

    My suggestion is a cherry and coconut truffle.

    sarah at northernlightsaquatics.com

  14. 14

    sheau311 — November 18, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

    wow those look amazing!

    how about a buddha hand truffle? or a cabernet truffle?

  15. 15

    Teresa — November 18, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

    Oh, those look so good, and what a great story. Last week my neighbor made blackberry truffles that were incredible. Maybe they could try blackberry! Thanks.
    TRigell at aol dot com

  16. 16

    Temperance — November 18, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

    what a tough choice, there have been so many great suggestions already, so how bout this one, pandan/ white cocolate around a fruit center, or something suprising with peppers

    Tblackthorne@gmail.com

  17. 17

    Lauren L — November 18, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

    I would suggest a honey and chamomile truffle! laurenello@gmail.com

  18. 18

    Jan — November 18, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

    Wow, I love chocolate so a new chocolatier is great news. I had a beet truffle from Walla Walla that was very good. How about a version of that?
    1952silver@gmail.com

  19. 19

    Bethie — November 18, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    Ginger and Dark Chocolate!

  20. 20

    Alissa — November 18, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

    These chocolates look like miniature pieces of art. What about making something spicy…dark chocolate with chili and cinnamon. alissasilver@yahoo.com

  21. 21

    miscelaineous — November 18, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

    The chocolate flavors sound amazing and very unique. I would love to see all my favorite types of chocolate put together:

    White chocolate with a hint of chocolate mint, with a chewy cookie dough filling in the middle, and crunch around the truffles.

    Email: enguyen2@uci.edu

  22. 22

    Jessica — November 18, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

    The Durian sounds amazing! And I'd like to see a coffee liqueur truffle. Or some sort of maple-infused one that reminds me of breakfast.
    jessieclifton@gmail.com

  23. 23

    Nancy — November 18, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    How about a mexican hot chocolate truffle, with chocolate and cinnamon? Yummy!

    tinyoliphant @ gmail.com

  24. 24

    April and Ashley — November 18, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

    Thank you for the lovely giveaway and story! I am about to make Guinness gingerbread so I was going to suggest Guinness and ginger, but surprise, they already have a Guinness truffle!!!!

    So instead how about almond butter and sea salt.

  25. 25

    Anonymous — November 18, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

    Hello,

    I LOVE your site and all the recipes! You guys inspire me to try cooking more Vietnamese dishes, as opposed to just waiting to go home to my Mom's or cousin's to pig out. =)

    I think a mung bean flavor or filling would be delicious!

    atran48@yahoo.com

  26. 26

    Anonymous — November 18, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

    I would like to suggest two flavors that, by themselves are not so unique among confectioners, but combined might properly might produce a rich truffle: maple and hazelnut.

    dsnva@hotmail.com

  27. 27

    Zoe — November 19, 2009 @ 12:29 am

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing with us. As for the chocolates flavors, I like rasberries. So white chocolate with rasberries fillings with a touch of lemon flavor would be awesome.

  28. 28

    bluang3lbby — November 19, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    all those look so good. i may have to order some from myself. my favorite combination for a truffle that i love dearly is white chocolate and champagne. but i would definitely love to try one with that combination with mango also. so my 3 favorite flavors in one.

  29. 29

    Jackie at Phamfatale.com — November 19, 2009 @ 1:24 am

    Who can't say no to chocolate? How about a black sesame and matcha green tea truffle?

  30. 30

    Anonymous — November 19, 2009 @ 2:10 am

    Wow, that's amazing-looking chocolate! I'd like a chocolate-mango-ginger combo or something with lychee :).

    siu00001@gmail.com

  31. 31

    Yen Learns to Cook! — November 19, 2009 @ 3:56 am

    I'm a huge huge fan of Cafe Su Da. Its a must!
    I would love to see a Passionfruit or Lychee or maybe even combined 🙂

  32. 32

    Fran — November 19, 2009 @ 4:05 am

    Nice post and great story. I'd like to have a truffle filled with apricot jam and rolled in coconut. Ok, I've just made myself hungry for a treat. Gotta go now. 🙂

    frantasticfood@gmail.com

  33. 33

    Edda — November 19, 2009 @ 4:07 am

    Ooohh.. guava… I would love to see something made to taste like Bubble milk tea w pearls. With a little surprise in the middle… or even Durian, like the asian durian cakes. YUMMMM

    email – misc197@yahoo.com

  34. 34

    Jess — November 19, 2009 @ 4:41 am

    champagne and blood oranges in dark chocolate

  35. 35

    Susan Field — November 19, 2009 @ 5:03 am

    Butter Rum, Orange Cream Cheese, Lemon Cream Cheese (hum – repeating the cream cheese thing), Butter/caramel/chocolate? Sounds good!

  36. 36

    thirdspacerising — November 19, 2009 @ 5:09 am

    I have to try the ca phe sua da truffle sticking with the delicious ice beverage theme, I would like to try jasmine milk tea truffle. The story is inspiring. kwest333@gmail.com

  37. 37

    Kung Food Panda — November 19, 2009 @ 7:50 am

    Great story, and she's a UCD alumni as well, along with being a Managerial Econ major! LOL

    Those chocolates looks great!

  38. 38

    Karen — November 19, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    Mmmm… I'm a caramel girl at heart. I'd have to go with the Burnt Baby Burnt, Marshmallow Caarmel and Pumpkin Caramel and maybe throw in some Calmyrna Fig for fun. My brother would love the Guinness truffles, I may have to place a holiday order.

  39. 39

    Danielle — November 19, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

    Gotta love chocolate in any way shape or form. I'll suggest a dark chocolate passionfruit truffle.

  40. 40

    Connie — November 19, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    Chocolate = A Girl's Heaven

    My suggestion: Dark Chocolate "Banh Flan" truffle =)

  41. 41

    Rachel — November 19, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

    So many great small chocolate companies on the West coast! Perhaps a truffle with peanut butter and curry spices.

  42. 42

    La Pham Nikita — November 19, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    they were yummy yummy yummy! way to go Viet-sistas!

  43. 43

    La Pham Nikita — November 19, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

    oh, and I'd like a spicy dark chocolate, with those spicy thai chilies!! mmmmm…

  44. 44

    etiam — November 19, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

    Maybe a smoky blue? gorgonzola with dark, dark chocolate..

  45. 45

    Serin — November 19, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

    I've heard great things about them but have yet to try! Looks delicious though!

    serin.kelley@gmail.com

  46. 46

    Jen — November 19, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

    These chocolates look incredible! I love spicy chocolates – maybe jalapeno? Or maybe something with yuzu.

  47. 47

    Jspeed29 — November 20, 2009 @ 1:30 am

    These look great. Thanks for sharing the sisters' inspiring success story. How about matcha green tea and jasmine flavor if they don't already have one similar?

  48. 48

    Linda — November 20, 2009 @ 1:43 am

    OMG, I didn't know about this gem in the bay! I like tropical flavored chocolates….maybe lychee and coconut?

    Linda.Quan@ucsf.edu

  49. 49

    Thien-Kim aka Kim — November 20, 2009 @ 2:32 am

    How inspiring! I'm sure it was hard for them to step out of the role expected of them to make chocolate.

  50. 50

    5 Star Foodie — November 20, 2009 @ 4:07 am

    Incredible chocolates and a great story! My suggestion is a persimmon chocolate.

  51. 51

    alice2 — November 20, 2009 @ 4:27 am

    What a phenomenal story. I love how they allow their travels abroad to inspire their creations.

    email: pigwidgeon2000@yahoo.com

    flavor combination: i'd love to see lemongrass paired with dark chocolate.

  52. 52

    Ravenous Couple — November 20, 2009 @ 8:02 am

    Thank you everyone for entering and all those great suggestions! The winners as determined by random.org are…Ellisa and Truc Vy Zoe! We'll contact you via email and ship it to you..congrats and enjoy!

  53. 53

    squirrelbread — November 20, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

    papaya macadamia! oh yes.

    cheers,

    *heather*

  54. 54

    onecaketwocake — November 20, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

    these look incredible! another flavour could be lavender honey.

  55. 55

    Anonymous — November 20, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

    I love how there are both Eastern and Western flavors; while there are matcha truffles out there, I've never seen Durian truffles or guava truffles!!

    As for new flavor.. I've recently been hooked on Tazo's Vanilla Apricot White tea, so I'm all for the earthy-sweet combination. How about hazelnut (earthy) and apricot (sweet)?

    xuelisa@gmail.com

  56. 56

    TrucVy — November 20, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

    Wow! I won? 🙂 **I am doing the happy dance*** Please contact me at trucvyzoe@gmail.com and I will send you my address.

    thanks again,
    TrucVy

  57. 57

    Anonymous — November 24, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

    Jasmine truffles please!

  58. 58

    Beverly — November 29, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    This is the yummiest sight I have ever came acrossed. Then I read it was a giveaway and could't help myself. I could just wish you could fax me a taste. thanks for the giveaway.
    bevimdmom@hotmail.com

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