Archive for October, 2007

My Candy Bars For Sale… Soon

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Plans are afoot. A commercial kitchen has been secured. Paperwork has been filed. More paperwork will be filed. Much work is being done in preparation. Barring any insurmountable obstacles, I’ll be going to market with my candy bars. I’m planning on selling them through retail outlets and the internet.

It’s a little scary, but I’m very excited that I’ll finally be able to offer them to the public. And I’m excited that the wholesome ingredients and carefully-crafted recipes that I’ve assembled will hopefully be bringing pleasure to anyone interested enough to buy them.

To start out, I’m planning on offering two bars: the Malt Bar and the Salted Caramel Nut Bar.

I’ll be the only person in the kitchen… and I think it’s best to try to keep my sanity by focusing, rather than over-reaching. I love both bars, and they’re representative of what I believe in for my confections.

The Malt Bar is an enrobed bar with a malt ganache on top of shortbread. The ganache contains organic cream, milk, and malt syrup, and the shortbread is made with my favorite California butter. It will probably come in dark and milk chocolate.

The Salted Caramel Nut Bar is a molded bar with a selection of California-grown nuts, probably Scharffen Berger cacao nibs, and Maldon Sea Salt in a slightly oozy, buttery, and creamy caramel filling. The cream is organic in this, too, and it contains some of the wonderful nuts sold at the Santa Monica Farmers Market as well as almonds from Northern California. It will probably come in dark chocolate.

Originally, this bar was supposed to come with peanuts and cashews, but I want to represent California as much as I can, so I’m using the best that I can find around me. And even that’s a hard choice. It looks like it’ll be pistachios, pecans, and organic almonds.  Edit:  Or walnuts, pecans, and almonds.
The Spiced version of the Caramel Nut Bar (with organic cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and coriander) might be available for the holidays.

The other bars will continue to be developed and released when the time is right.

I may offer Vanilla Bean Marshmallows and Passion Fruit Marshmallows at first, as well.

This is truly going to be a bootstrapping effort, so if you have ANY help that you can offer, PLEASE don’t be shy. 🙂

And don’t worry — I’m not done contacting my volunteer tasters. I’ll still need forthcoming bars to be sampled, and I might send out some Malt and Salted Caramel Nuts for fun, too.

The Coconut Bar, Again

Thursday, October 18th, 2007
You can now purchase my handmade candy bars and marshmallows at http://www.bonbonbar.com/
1

The thinner white chocolate bottom made all the difference. The passion fruit in the marshmallow and the coconut in the ganache balanced, and so did the dark and white chocolate.

What a relief.

The Coconut Bar May Have Just Gotten Even Cuter

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

*You can now purchase my candy bars and marshmallows at http://www.bonbonbar.com/
This may be the new, white chocolate-coated bottom…

1

Hehe… Now it looks like a coconut all around.

1

It used to look like this inside, and was composed of Passion Fruit Marshmallow, 70% Dark Chocolate Ganache with Shredded Coconut and Rum-Soaked Macadamia Nuts enrobed in Bittersweet Chocolate:

1

This bar has been a challenge for me because I love passion fruit, but I’m usually lukewarm about coconut — and the white chocolate that usually accompanies it. But since it’s almost too easy to make this look like a coconut through and through, I can’t very well rename it The Passion Fruit… unless I go at it with a hair dryer.

So, now I’ve been thinking about how to balance this bar as best as I can with a stronger coconut flavor, and today might have been a breakthrough. I thought about how I like coconut best when it’s creamy like in a piña colada, and how white chocolate can make for a creamy ganache… and can be good when it’s well-infused with flavor.

For this version, I made the passion fruit marshmallow that I like so much in the bar, and I paired it with a creamy, coconut-infused white chocolate ganache, with just a touch of rum.

I ate one before I sealed it by “backing” it with tempered chocolate… and I liked it. A lot. The smooth combination of my light ‘n fluffy marshmallow and creamy ganache really did remind me of drinking a piña colada — and the crackly molded chocolate that surrounded them even brought chipped ice to my mind (albeit, my very active mind) and prevented the sweetness from being too cloying. And even better, the passion fruit and coconut flavors were playing well with each other, bringing out the best in each other.

I’d left quite some room btw the top of the ganache and the rest of the shell b/c I’d originally planned to make that “backing” layer a mix of shredded coconut mixed into white chocolate. I was loathe to give up the creaminess, though, I so backed half with the coconut/white chocolate mixture and half with just white chocolate.

I tried both versions, but lo, the magic was gone. Both were too overpowered by the cloying flavor of white chocolate, and the shredded coconut just added to the confusion.

But it’s all about balance. I’m hoping that a thinner layer of white chocolate on the bottom will help, and my form and function ideal will be met. If not, I’ll keep experimenting. If it turns out the white chocolate just doesn’t work taste-wise on the bottom, I’ll have to nix it, no matter how cool I think it looks. I could also try a milk chocolate coconut ganache w/ a white chocolate backing, but the cocoa flavor may be overpowering.

I’m not a huge fan of Malibu rum, so I’m seeing if I can make it better — I have a jar of rum infusing with coconut. That might perk up the coconut flavor… in a few weeks. 🙂

Incidentally, I often think about my candy bars in the context of entremets cakes. I didn’t really enjoy making those in culinary school at the time due to the mousses and bavarians that never quite sparked my taste buds (largely due to their reliance on eggs and gelatin), but I valued them as studies in self-contained layered desserts. Each layer in an entremet cake has its own flavor and texture that must almost be balanced with every other layer, with additional consider of how thick each layer should be in proportion to the others and how they should be arranged. So, for this bar (whose shape happens to mimic a traditional frozen bombe), I really have to concentrate on getting it to come together in all the right proportions.

Pomegranate Pumpkin Pie

Monday, October 8th, 2007

The genesis of this pie went like this:

Me: “I wonder what I should make with my pomegranates.”

Chad: “I want pumpkin pie.”

Silence, as an illustrated timeline materializes in my mind — on the far left, under “Now,” a few gleaming arils of pomegranate swirl about. A long red line connects them to a slice of pumpkin pie on the far right, under “Late November.”

Chad: “I want pomkin pie!”

Silence, as I arch an eyebrow in his direction.

Chad: “I bet it shows up on Google!”

Silence, except for my typing.

Chad: “No, not pompkin — pomkin.”

And there it was, this pumpkin pie recipe from POM that calls for pomegranate juice.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’ve always expected more from pumpkin pie than I’ve gotten out of it. Despite the variety of spices, sugars, and crusts that can used with the pumpkin, the pie usually comes off as a bit stodgy. The bright tartness of pomegranate could be just the thing to make it pop.

Then again, I had two bright red organic pomegranates from the Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market that were possibly the best pomegranates that I’ve ever brought into my kitchen. Maybe they were too good to bury in an arguably stodgy pie. Or maybe I should give the pie its best chance. And snack during preparation. And hope that the pie only required one of my two pomegranates.

So, I made pie dough, chilled it, rolled it out, lined my shallow pie pan, chilled it, baked it, and then got on with my pomegranate work. I put on gloves, inserted my knife into the open end and twisted it to open it without slicing through the arils, and turned each half upside down and freed the arils with my fingers; I’ve heard about the underwater trick, but for some reason, I just never feel like trying it out.

Fresh pomegranate juice is easily marred by astringency from the membrane, seeds, and pith, so I tried to make it as easy as possible for the juice to run free from danger. I picked out any extraneous matter from the bowl of arils, and then briefly ran them in my food mill so that the juice slipped off without breaking their large seeds.

One pomegranate yielded the necessary half cup of juice, and the rest of the recipe involved simple mixing manuevers. Pumpkin pie is essentially a custard with a crust, so similar to a creme brulee, it comes together quickly and cooks in the oven for a while.

1

I can’t completely recommend this recipe, b/c our debate over whether the pomegranate is noticeable and what flavor it contributes exactly has reached an impasse of uncertainty. Chad is unequivocal about being able to taste it, but can’t describe what it contributes exactly. I think that there is a sour tinge that makes the pumpkin more interesting and points up the spices, but it’s elusive. I’m sure that you could eat this pie in ignorance of the pomegranate presence.

But it’s a tasty pie nonetheless, and if you have some leftover POM, you should give it a try. It has a pleasant creamy texture that’s also all the more interesting given the complex flavors behind it, and negates the need for whipped cream. It makes me think that grated lemon or orange peel may also be welcome in pumpkin pie… and that a few pomegranate arils as garnish on top of a regular pumpkin would be very good, and would require less work and pomegranate, to boot.

So, I still have one more gorgeous pomegranate… which I hope to pair with walnuts to make the fesenjan-inspired dessert that I’ve been kicking around since last year.