Archive for March, 2008

This is the Real Food Network

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

I wish that every time someone complained about the quality of the shows on the Food Network that they would be required to cap it off with, “Watch KLCS on Saturday aftenoons instead!”

I’ve been watching it for a while (though many of the shows are currently in reruns), but I just got super-excited by the sight of José Andrés hosting his own show, “Made in Spain.” I remember that he was one of the more fun — and amazingly talented — Iron Chef America winners. I have one of this cookbooks. I read it from cover to cover and made some dishes, and now I get to watch him on TV.

There are also shows w/ Mark Bittman, Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia Bastianich, a Scandinavian cooking show whose name escapes me, Rick Bayless, Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, Ming Tsai, and others. Though they all have their own look and style, they all stress the importance of good ingredients and technique, and also share a sense of place and conviviality in regards to food. It’s real cooking and people, and it’s fun to watch.

I get KLCS as channel 3 on my TV in LA. I’m not sure if other PBS stations carry the same programming… at the same time… but I hope so.

Off to make chocolates….

A Favors Favor

Friday, March 28th, 2008


It’s hard to believe that BonBonBar has been in business for over 4 months now. The weeks go by so quickly, and before I know it, I’m off to the kitchen again on weekends to cook sugar, make ganache, temper chocolate, and everything else besides. Thankfully, I’m getting used to the production routine –and it’s becoming a routine in a good way, in that I can make everything almost by instinct, and if I or the ingredients stray, I just feel that something is off and I can usually figure out what it is.

Sales are becoming somewhat more consistent, too, but the seasonality of chocolate is always a concern. If unprotected in the summer, it simply melts; and it’s not too soon for me to deal with this — it was 85F in LA this past weekend (I survived it, and was grudgingly grateful for the practice run in heat with little pressure). I’ll be able to ship Ground and USPS in the summer in Southern California b/c it takes 1 day, but for other areas of the country, it’ll have to go overnight, which will cut down on sales given the expense. All boxes will contain ice packs and insulation, too, which I am researching now.

Also, the summer holidays aren’t exactly chocolate-friendly — few traditionally have truffles for 4th of July… Or marshmallows for Labor Day.

But it occurred to me that people often make their own very special holidays in the summer that chocolate and confections can fit very well into — and that would be weddings.

I think that handmade candy bars and marshmallows could make for fantastic wedding favors — they’re unique and tasty; people tend to get excited about them, and that would be a great way end the wedding day. The labels could be customized with the couple’s names and colors. And for some bars, I can do them as “fun-size” as well as of full size. As long as the reception is indoors, they should be fine. I also want to introduce products like wrapped caramels for the summer that aren’t as sensitive to heat as chocolate.  I could make different shapes for marshmallows, too, if clients want.

My confections could also work as favors for baby showers, dinner parties, or any other type of party for that matter.

Now, my question is, does anyone have any leads for how to get exposure for this, especially in Southern California? I think it would rely on word of mouth to an extent, but I am thinking about who to contact with samples to reach more people — wedding planners? bridal shops? who else? And who specifically?  Or where to post about it online, or maybe advertise online?  I can send samples in to bridal magazines, but the turnaround time, if I make it in at all, will be much longer.  I don’t have much experience with weddings or their resources — Martha Stewart and TheKnot are the extent of it.

If anyone has any contacts, ideas, or leads about anything having to do with wedding and party favors, please email me at nina[at] or leave a comment. Thank you!

Weekly BonBonBar Photo: Unbacked Caramel Nut Bars

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008


My Caramel Nut Bar is made using heavy duty polycarbonate molds with 7 bar cavities to a mold. After I line the cavities with tempered chocolate, I make my nutty, salty, buttery caramel filling, and let it cool to 87-85F before I pipe it in using a pastry bag. At that temperature, the caramel is just viscous enough to flatten out in the cavity without melting the chocolate lining. This step has to be done with a bit of care because if there’s caramel on the sides of the cavity or pieces of nuts protrude over the height of the cavity, then the bars won’t seal properly. To seal them, tempered chocolate is poured onto them, and scraped off — the idea is to have the “backing” chocolate adhere to the molded chocolate, and caramel and nuts only get in the way at that point. Of course, I do sometimes get caramel on the sides of the mold, and I’ve found it’s most effective to scrape it completely away to get to “clean” chocolate underneath… with the tines of a fork. Carefully.

And on Sunday night… I happened to have some extra treats for myself that I had the Easter Bunny guard. Isabella’s B-Nana Cookies are too yummy to be left alone! 2

BonBonBar in an AP Article

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

The NYTimes and others picked it up, and you can check it out here… My bit is near the end, but it’s a start. 🙂

Weekly BonBonBar Photo: The First Official Tray of Orange Bars

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

And the bars in the front weren’t even set yet.

The Orange Bar is actually two “fun-size” candy bars in one package, in the grand tradition of bars like Almond Joys. I’ve found that people sometimes like to savor the bars over a period of time, so I thought that this size would make it easier and neater to save some for later. It also makes them easier to dip, since dipping a large bar in chocolate can be something like pulling wet jeans out of a swimming pool.

And here’s the new look of the boxed assortment, now with a full cast of characters.