Candy Shop is a Sweet Dream for Bowie Woman
"Mama Cocoa's Delights" opened its doors recently in Old Bowie.
The license plate frame on the back of her SUV reads “Bad Ass Baker,” a nickname Tamarra Thomas earned in culinary school while training to be a pastry chef.
Now the Bowie resident has another nickname, after opening “Mama Cocoa’s Delights,” a candy and cake shop on 9th Street in Old Bowie.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to start my own candy making business and I got a good vibe here,” said Thomas, who opened the shop eight weeks ago.
The basement space—located a few creaky steps down from the antique shop upstairs—became vacant after Simple Pleasures Ice Café moved to a more prominent location nearby in The Fabian House.
“It’s a tough location,” Thomas conceded. “But I’m getting good word of mouth.”
Specializing in dark chocolate truffles, toffee and brittle, Thomas said candy-making is her first love, although her job making desserts at an Annapolis restaurant pays the bills.
“Candy is how I got started. I realized I wanted to be a candymaker,” said Thomas, an Ohio native who has lived in the Kenilworth section for about seven years. “That’s how I went to culinary school and became a pastry chef. Now this journey has led me back to candy.”
Bowie residents might know Thomas’ treats from the Bowie Farmers’ Market, where she set up a table selling her sweets. Her lollilops were especially popular with the kids at the market. Fewer children come in because it is inside an antique shop, she said, so her bags of almond toffee crunch and hand-rolled truffles have proven to the big sellers at the store.
She also creates made-to-order cakes—from traditional wedding cakes to more unconventional creations. Thomas has made an albino python for a child’s reptile-themed birthday bash and she's even made a confectionery replica of a toilet upon (unusual) request.
“If you can think of it,” she said. “I’ll do my best to get it done for you.”
Thomas is also selling chocolate bunnies, eggs, and other candies for Easter. She will also make complete Easter baskets, she said.
Thomas prides herself on using locally grown and all-natural ingredients whenever possible. She uses Virginia peanuts and she gets her mint and other herbs from Richard’s Hundred Farm in Bowie. The coffee—an ingredient in candies like the espresso chews—comes from Millersville-based company, The Cosmic Bean, she said.
Thomas also says she uses biodegradable plastic on her lollipops. The bright-yellow paper in which the chocolate bars are wrapped are actually misprinted cornmeal bags that would have otherwise been discarded—making it cheaper for her and more earth-friendly too, she said. She was able to buy them through an online warehouse.
“I try to be as green as possible,” said Thomas.
Thomas gets in touch with her creative side when making her chocolate bars, she said. There’s the Island Dream—dark chocolate flavored with ginger, coconut, dried mango, and macadamia nuts—or the Jazzy Java bar, an espresso-dark chocolate bar studded with crisped rice cereal.
“I make the traditional chocolates,” said Thomas. “But the candy bars are an opportunity to explore different flavors, to push the boundaries a little.”
Mama Cocoa's Delights is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 to 5 p.m. Visit the website for online ordering or more information.