Archive for June, 2008

BonBonBar Caramel Survey Results

Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Classic
     
  6%
Cinnamon Almond     4%
Wildflower Honey     18%
Single Malt Scotch     12%
Chocolate     4%
Salted Chocolate Nut     42%
Chocolate Malt     7%
Ginger     6%
Earl Grey     1%
Stout     0%

Which caramel flavor would you be most likely to buy?
Classic     54%
Cinnamon Almond     38%
Wildflower Honey     40%
Single Malt Scotch     26%
Chocolate     31%
Salted Chocolate Nut (Almonds,Walnuts, Pecans, Cocao Nibs)     35%
Chocolate Malt     31%
Ginger     21%
Earl Grey     29%
Stout     22%
Other, please specify     15%
Which other flavors would you also be interested in?

I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised that the Salted Chocolate Nut was the clear favorite in the “most likely to buy” category. Frankly, I wasn’t plannng on offering that with the debut of my caramels, mostly b/c it’s more work due to the roasting and chopping of the nuts, but since people showed so much interest in it, it’s in the mix now. I was already willing to deal with the nut issues for the Cinnamon Almond Caramels, which I have a fanatical love for, so I guess I’ll just do a little more nut work. I was a little bummed to see the Cinnamon Almond at only 4% in most likely to buy, but at least it’s strong in the “interested in” category…. though not as strong as Classic, which really picked up in the “interested in” category. And I’m glad that Wildflower Honey was strong in both categories — it’s the one that I feel is most local, and it’s really tasty.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!!! The BonBonBar Caramels will be available to sell as soon as I can manage.

Market Gourmet in Venice – Where Wholesale is Good…

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Just a little blurb to say that for all of my whining about wholesale, I’ve met some really wonderful people who own and work at stores.   I love walking into Market Gourmet in Venice to restock my products, like I did today.  I’ve done two demos there (and had two cancelled b/c my products sold out, thus negating the need of the demo), and I know the people there and they know me.  It makes such a big difference!  After I drop off my products at a store, it can be oddly hard to figure out what happens to them beyond whether they sold or not, and whether employees are aware of them –  I’m just not there, and it’s not like I can stakeout the joint. But when I go to Market Gourmet just about everyone who works there who sees me makes a point to tell me about customers’ reactions — like how someone has been calling them daily to find out the availability of my bars, how people are so happy when they buy them, how a lot of people are buying two at a time (great when your smallish products are $5-6/ea), how my products fly off the shelves, and how I’ve developed a following.  It’s just so very nice.

Come to think of it, Metropulos and The Candy Store are also very good about sharing customer (and employee) reactions.  The only difference is that they’re out of town, so I don’t get to see them in person.  And at Chefmakers, I hear about and see customer reactions all the time… but I do work there, so it has an advantage. But it’s that communication and awareness of each other as human beings and business people that makes wholesale good.  Otherwise, when it’s impersonal, careless, or purely based on the bottom line, it’s just draining.

I’d never been to the Market Gourmet before I went to give them samples of my products, and actually, when I’m not looking for the people, my eyes wander on the shelves.  There may be lots of cupcake and frozen yogurt shops in LA, but true, well-rounded mom and pop gourmet stores are few and far between so if you can, check it out… and if your eyes wander to the shelf where my products are placed, so be it… and tell them that I said hello… 🙂

The Salted Caramel Nut Birthday Cake

Friday, June 6th, 2008

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Salted Caramel Nut Birthday Cake: Nutty Crunchy Caramel, Caramel-Milk Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate Walnut Chiffon Cake, Salted Caramel Nut Filling with Roasted Almonds, Walnut, Pecans, Cacao Nibs, and Maldon Sea Salt.

Another birthday, another custom-made cake for Chad. I like this little tradition. Last year, a little while before his birthday, he idly mentioned wanting an orange creamsicle cake, so I came up with one. This year, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, and he said “Caramel” and wanted the rest to be a surprise. And really, how cute is that? He’s been awash in the sea of caramel that I’ve made in the past year, and given a choice to have anything he wants, what does he do but tilt his head up, take a look around, and confidently declare, “More, please.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he has actually been pretty caramel-deprived recently. I’ve gotten better at making and appropriating my confections, so there aren’t as many rejects up for grabs as there used to be. He’d been asking for the Caramel Nut Bar especially recently with little success, so I decided to make it into a cake. It occurred to me afterwards that it’s really a tricked out version of The Snickers Cake that I used to like from Jerry’s Famous Deli until I started making my own desserts….

Oh, and did I mention that another tradition I might keep going is to make his birthday cakes as layered bundt cakes? I feel li’l rebellious doing it. But it’s super easy to frost — easy to get the frosting layer even w/o a high midde, as often happens and just fast in general. As I was frosting it, I remembered last year how I felt so liberated to make the frosting wavy, instead of smooth like how we did it in culinary school… and then I realized that this year I was already taking it a step further by frosting it without having put a crumb coat on first.  Clearly, I’ve come undone.

Crunchy Nut Caramel: Spread roasted nuts on a silpat, caramelized a little sugar, poured it over, let cool, broke into shards, placed, and done.

Chocolate Walnut Chiffon Cake: Man, I love chiffon cakes — so light and moist. I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Chiffon Cake recipe, which was especially fortuitous b/c she doesn’t like the way that the vegetable oil in chocolate chiffon cakes interferes w/ the chocolate flavor… so she substitutes part of it with Walnut Oil… which brilliantly fit into the nut cake that I had mind! And even better, I actually have some — from Rancho Lavina at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, with a slightly toasty pure walnut flavor, it’s one of my favorite kitchen possessions. I used AP Flour instead of cake because I like that little extra toothsomeness; plus it matches better to the caramel and frosting consistency.

Caramel Nut Filling: The caramel nut filling is the exact recipe that I use for my caramel nut bar. Since it’s slightly oozy…. and salty…. and buttery, it was just right.

I thought about making it slightly boozy by adding bourbon… but I forgot. I think it was for the better. But I still drank bourbon on the side, neat, to make up for it.

It occurs to me now that a runny caramel sauce would have been awesome on the bottom a logical culmination of the textures of the caramel. It wouldn’t be necessary, but it would be good. And all I would have had to do was reheat my leftover caramel nut filling and stir some cream in to thin it.

Caramel-Milk Chocolate Frosting: Halved this recipe, and it was easy and yum. And since I use ganaches in my candy bars, it was a logical part of the cake. And since my milk chocolate has notes of caramel to begin with, it was great to use.

And I have to say, this cake was pretty awesome — the moist cake, creamy ganache, silky caramel, salty tang, crunchy roasted nuts and caramel. It has that deceptive lightness that only a rich and complex dessert can pull off, tempting you to go for seconds… and thirds. Chad agreed — he was in awe when he saw the cake, while he ate it, and after he finished it… and during his second slice.. and third… (ok, over the course of 2 days).

Just When I was Beginning to Trust and Admire USPS…

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

So, two weeks ago, I mailed an envelope with two farmers market applications to an office address in the Valley, maybe 10-20 miles away.  Three days ago, I got a call from a woman in Georgia who had ordered a book from half.com, and when she opened her package, she found my envelope in the book.  She googled my company name on the outside of the envelope, and found my phone number on my website.  She was EXTREMELY kind enough to further go to the post office, and ask whether it could be mailed back to California because the postage had not been stamped.  It could be, so hopefully, they’ll get it soon and contact me…

The envelope was a half-sheet-sized brown, heavy-duty kind, and it contained about 10 pages of paper.  It’s not like it easily blended into a book… until someone managed it somehow.

And then I remembered why I don’t usually go to the post office that I sent it out from even though it’s the closest one to me… I have a vague  memory of sending out a priority mail package (usually 2-3 days) from this one last year that took over a week to get to the East Coast…  geez…  Otherwise, I’ve had really good luck with Priority Mail going out from a different post office– it usually gets to destinations in 2 days, and it’s a fraction of the price of UPS.  The catch, apparently: nothing is guaranteed.  Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

BonBonBars For Father’s Day… with a Coupon

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I sent out my first promotional email to my mailing list today…. so I figured I’d republish it here, too…  Orders close this Saturday!

 

Father’s Day 2008: The Candy Bar Edition

Looking for a way to surprise your Dad? A box of BonBonBar’s handmade candy bars will probably do the trick. They may look like the candy bars that he grew up on, but with fresh and organic ingredients, they take the flavor to a whole new level. And whoever heard of Single Malt Scotch in a candy bar? Well, you… and me…. and maybe soon your Dad.

And marshmallows for Dad? Why not… He has a soft side, too.

Please place your order (hopefully using the included coupon) by this Saturday, June 7, at Noon so that the confections can be made fresh and sent to him in time for Father’s Day on Sunday, June 15. All 2-Day shipments will be sent out on Tuesday, June 10, unless otherwise requested.

Nina

 

Save 10%

on orders over $50*
until 6/8/2008.

Use coupon code: fathers

* Price does not include shipping and handling charges, or applicable taxes. Rates may vary.