SFMade is a San Francisco non-profit that helps support local businesses that are home grown, produced and made in the city. Their members are a diverse collection of small to biggish companies and many of them are folks who specialize in some kind of food. Every now and then SFMade has special events that include factory tours of local companies. Since I like to see how the food is made I sign up for as many as I can go to (plus they are free) and it's an interesting behind the scenes look at the whole process of making the food stuffs we consume. One such company that opened it's back doors was Kika's Treats and, well, they make baked goods and sweet things so of course I'm gonna go and check 'em out.

This is Kika and she makes treats!

Yes, Kika is her name and she got started in 2006 making chocolate covered treats with the help of La Cocina, a non-profit in the Mission that works as a kitchen incubator for folks starting out in the food business. Originally she made one treat, a square of honey cake covered in chocolate. The idea for the sweet comes from the Brazilian honey cakes of her childhood. From there she expanded her offerings because she really enjoyed chocolate with crunch in it (which really was her reason for getting into chocolate in the first place) and now she makes squares with crispy rice puffs, dark chocolate corn cakes, chocolate covered graham crackers, crunchy caramel chocolates, and assorted chocolate covered shortbreads. Now 8 years on and Kika has grown her business and has her own kitchen located in the Dogpatch neighborhood inside the American Industrial building at the corner of 22nd and 3rd streets. It's a mostly nondescript building that also houses a number of other small food and local manufacturing businesses.

Kika considers herself a chocolatier and not a maker, which means she doesn't start with the cocoa bean but instead gets her chocolate in little discs like the below, from a company in Burlingame called Guittard

They are a mix of 64% dark and 38%. (Percentages in chocolate represent the amount of cocoa to sugar in a chocolate--the higher the percent the less the sugar) These she melts, or tempers to 120 degrees and uses the liquefied form to either mix with crunchy things or pour into the lovely machine called an enrober pictured below.

Things like the honey cake squares and shortbreads (which are baked by one of her fellow building tenants Patisserie Philippe from Kika's own family recipes) start on one end, traveling down a conveyor belt that goes under a shower of chocolate (sounds fun) then into a cooling chamber to solid up the coating and onto a tray to settle. 

Once they have completely cooled and settled they are then packaged up and sent on their merry way to various retail locations across the Bay Area that carry her products and to fill orders she takes online. 

I guess it appears pretty simple and in ways it is, then again it is not. You have to be very specific in your tempering process and precise in baking in order to maintain the consistency that people who
enjoy your product come to expect. That means no burnt shortbreads and no half covered honey cakes people. Plus, even though her business has gotten bigger Kika still only employs 4-5 folks to help her do all this. She is very hands-on and involved in all the processes to creating her product, which if you think about it is kind of important. When something has your actual name on it
you are going to want to make sure it always good. 

As with any good tour we did conclude our look at her kitchen with some samples and I'm always a sucker for baked goods and did enjoy the shortbreads and honey cakes covered in chocolate. They are sweet without being too sweet, that whole dark chocolate thing helps. And that officially concludes our tour of Kika's Treats, though sadly, due to health code regulations we were not allowed to lick the spoons or bowl on the way out, oh well, you can't have everything.