A Candy Bar Made at Home

*You can now purchase my candy bars and marshmallows at http://www.bonbonbar.com/

Malted Caramel Chocolate Bar: Malted Caramel Ganache, Vanilla Shortbread, Milk Chocolate.

Shape matters. Sometimes I think that molds are the secret weapons of the pastry world. They can make the difference between a mundane dessert and an exciting one… and the difference between a rustic candy bar and a sleek one. A sleek candy bar, btw, has been my goal for many months. I was elated to find a candy bar mold at JB Prince in New York, and I’ve been dying to use it.

Although my mold lends itself to a Caramello-type bar, I was fixated on the idea of making a candy bar with a Twix-like structure — a cookie topped with gooey sweetness and coated in chocolate — but with some twists of my own. So, I fancied it up a bit by incorporating a ganache into the caramel, and adding malt powder. If I could have found the Twix cookie recipe, I would have used it because I find it delicious… but I couldn’t. A common shortbread seemed too buttery, but I couldn’t come up with another cookie that even came close to the right texture; an animal cracker recipe by Nancy Silverton was a tempting runner up, though. I wanted to coat it in milk chocolate, and malt and caramel are great accompaniments. More complex flavors, like fruits, herbs and spices, seem to go better with dark chocolate.


I like the way it turned out a lot… especially since I was concerned about how it would be constructed. Here’s what I did:

  • Temper chocolate w/ seeding method. Used a small brush to spread some chocolate in the molds (polished w/ cheesecloth) to prevent air bubbles. Quickly — pour choc into mold, tap mold on counter to get out air bubbles, pour choc out of mold, scrape excess off, invert to set.
  • Make ganache by making caramel w/ malted cream, mixing into chocolate. Let cool to 80F. Pipe into mold, estimating how much would be right proportionally, and smoothing out.
  • Make shortbread dough. Chill (it should have been for 3 hrs in fridge; I did much, much less in the freeze, b/c I didn’t want the ganache to firm up even more than it already did). Bake a slab of it, estimating its height so that it would fit into the candy bar mold (btw the ganache and the layer of chocolate that would seal it). Meanwhile, measure width and length of space in bar for cookie. When dough golden on the edges, remove and cut into strips with my multi-cutter dough divider and into proper length with a paring knife. Let cool almost completely. Press on top of ganache in mold. Let cool completely.
  • Temper chocolate again. This time to cover the bottom of the candy bars, pouring chocolate on and scraping off excess and letting set.
  • Unmold by tapping on counter, twisting mold, and letting them fall out as their wonderful pristine selves.

In the future, for efficiency’s sake, I could make and bake the shortbread, melt chocolate for tempering, make the ganache, temper the chocolate while the ganache is cooling, line the molds with chocolate and let set, pipe in the ganache, lay shortbread on top, and cover w/ still-tempered chocolate. Let set over night and unmold.

I probably should have waited to sample them b/c the ganache won’t be fully set up until tomorrow morning… but it was too tempting… and worth it. The ganache is still a little soft and the chocolate seems a little snappy from being molded, but I like that contrast of textures. The malt flavor comes through nicely, and I like the crunch of the shortbread. It’s a fun grown-up candy bar.

Malted Caramel Ganache: I based it on Sherry Yard‘s Caramel Ganache recipe. She uses bittersweet choc, milk choc, sugar, corn syrup, and cream. First off, I was happy that it didn’t have butter b/c I dislike butter-laden ganaches, and there would be plenty of butter in the shortbread anyway. Also, I liked the combination of chocolates b/c it would add some complexity. She uses 4 oz of each, but I used 4 of milk and 3 of bittersweet b/c I wanted it to be a little softer than the “medium” consistency she says it would have; my way, the increased ratio of cream to chocolate would make it softer. It came out darker than I would have liked, though, so next time I would use 5 of milk and 2 of bittersweet. Also, she calls for the cream to be boiled before being added to the caramel… and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate malt powder into it. The instructions on the malt powder said to use 3 tbs in 1 cup of milk, so I used 3 tbs in the cup of cream that I used.

Btw, a ganache is usually an emulsion of cream and chocolate (and often invert sugar and butter), and I love how caramel can be used as an augmentation of cream.

She recommends letting the ganache cool to 70F before piping it, but I knew that I didn’t want air bubbles between the ganache and the cookie so I piped it at 80F. This was probably still too cool, because it was almost fudgy in consistency at that point. To compensate, I pressed the strips of shortbread on top while they were still warm to make sure that the ganache would form fit to the cookie. The ganache couldn’t have been too hot when piped into the mold, or else the choclate would have melted around it.

Vanilla Shortbread: Based on Claudia Fleming’s. I used 1/2 tsp of vanilla instead 1 tsp of vanilla b/c vanilla’s expensive and I’m running low and I didn’t want vanilla to dominate anyway… But the salt seemed to really assert itself more in the finished cookie. Thanks to the magic of candy bar engineering, it didn’t taste salty at all in the candy bar b/c of all the chocolate around it. If anything, it probably kicked up the flavor of the caramel and chocolate a bit.

Milk Chocolate: I used El Rey, sold in chopped blocks at a local supermarket, Vallergas.

I also used my chocolate bonbon mold to use up excess tempered chocolate and ganache…


22 Responses to “A Candy Bar Made at Home”

  1. sam Says:

    That looks incredible – like a homemade Twix or something.

  2. fattypr Says:

    OH MY GOD! I haven’t even read the post yet–just looked at the pictures– but all i can say is oh my god!!! home-made chocolate bars! I seriously need to move closer to you to help you with these creations of yours; the pictures just don’t cut it (though they are nicely shot).

  3. Jen Says:

    These look fantastic! Any chance you’ll be implementing an e-commerce component into your blog any time soon?

  4. The TriniGourmet Says:

    Wow! I had no idea it was possible to make such professional looking candies at home. You’re amazng! 😀

  5. Alice Q. Foodie Says:

    Wow, I had no idea you could combine malt, ganache and caramel – Sounds like a deadly combination! Twix cookies have a crunchier texture than a shortbread, but I’m sure what you made probably tasted better.

  6. Hilary Says:

    Very, very impressive! I would love to be able to buy something like this; it sounds better than most of the items found in fancy chocolate shops!

  7. Nina Says:

    Thanks, everyone! I have sooo many ideas for homemade candy bars, so I’ll be playing around with them for a while. Making them is a lot of fun — and when the first one popped out of the mold, I felt the same sense of wonder and accomplishment as when my first loaves of bread emerged from the oven in culinary school back in January. It’s like magic.

    I’m also looking into ways to sell them… Stay tuned. 🙂

  8. shuna fish lydon Says:

    Let me know as soon as you start selling these. I will drive up there myself to get me some of those! I love working with malt, it is such an interesting ingredient.

  9. veronica Says:

    your chocolate was “snappy” because you tempered your chocolate properly. Although more noticable with dark chocolate, well tempered chocolate of any type will have a “snap” when broken. Congratulations to you! Might I ask why you used cheesecloth to clean your mold?

  10. Nina Says:

    Veronica — Thanks.

    I was taught in culinary school to use cheesecloth to polish the molds. I clean them in water.

    Also, I’ve found that molded chocolate has a more pronounced snap than regular tempered chocolate.

  11. lizelle Says:

    this is soooo very cool! i am gonna try this because i love twix-like stuff. (btw, have you tried the different versions of kit kats? japan has tons of flavors!!) where did you get your candy bar molds? i made a matcha ganache and vanilla bean caramel last night and i’ll use your tricks you mentioned for molding chocolate. thanks!!!!

  12. Nina Says:

    Lizelle – I’ve only read about the different kinds of kit kats… Wish I could try some! I bought the mold at JB Prince in New York, link is in the text. And that ganache and caramel sound great. Matcha is on my (long) list of things to play around with.

  13. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » Spicy Caramel Nut Candy Bar… With Cocoa Nibs Says:

    […] I waited for the caramel mixture to cool to 85F before I filled my molds; any higher, and the chocolate could melt. I then began the painstaking process of using the ends of two butter knives to deposit the caramel mixture bit by bit into the molds b/c it wasn’t pourable. In the future, I could add more cream to make it more runny, but I do like it the way it is so maybe I’ll try to think of a better method. In any case, since it’s only one filling, it’s much easier to engineer than a ganache and cookie combination, like with the Malted Caramel Ganache and Vanilla Shortbread Candy Bar…. which reminds me — I need to start thinking of snazzy names for these things. […]

  14. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » I Went Out for a Candy Bar… And Came Back with 14 Says:

    […] From a production standpoint, it’s pretty involved. It’s one of the few molded mass-market chocolates — especially bold b/c sharp edges and fine patterns are more prone to cause air bubbles in the chocolate. So, they probably make it by: baking pellets of cookie and coating them with a certain protective layer to prevent moisture from softening the cookie (you can see that white sort of substance around the cookie; Twix does the same with a darker substance; I’ll have to do the same for my cookie bars, like the Malt bar, by hand), lining their molds with chocolate, making and injecting enough caramel to leave room for the displacement caused by the cookie, pushing the cookie down into the caramel, and then backing it with more chocolate. Many cookies protruded out through the back a little, but I guess it’s okay as long as it doesn’t prevent other squares from stacking next to it in the package. And they have to make a lot of these to fill a packet, and packaging them is a little more work than packing a single bar. […]

  15. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The Beer Bar Says:

    […] I like that, except for the potato chips, all the mix-ins can all be cut into roughly the same size and are similar colors, so there’s little predicting what you’ll get in one bite and every bite is slightly different, even crunch-wise. I find that the corn nuts produce an especially alluring flavor combination with the chocolate. The ganache provides a creamy refreshment to the crunch and a beer aftertaste… just like washing down some snacks with some beer (…and chocolate). The ganache on the bottom works as a nice change; and Chad’s been eating recently-made Malt Bars upside-down anyway. […]

  16. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » My Candy Bar Business Says:

    […] So, what bars am I going to offer? The Caramel Bar. The Malted Bar. The S’More Bar. The Coconut Bar. They’re all in, but are being minorly or majorly tweaked. I have six other main contenders, and loads of back-up ideas. You’ll be hearing lots about them. […]

  17. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The Orange Bar - In Progress Says:

    […] A meringue layer is fun in a candy bar. It starts off crunchy, but then dissolves in a lovely way. So, it seems like a counterpoint to the creamy ganache at first, but then it almost becomes part of the ganache for a clean finish of texture and taste; this is similar in theory to a dacquoise cake (but the meringue softens once it’s constructed in that). Although I like shortbread in the Malt Bar or Banana Bar, it wouldn’t work for this bar — the butter and flour give a flavor and texture that are very different. […]

  18. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The Scotch Bar Says:

    […] Spiced Caramel Nut Bar S’More Bar The Coconut Peanut Butter Bar Coffee Bar Malt Bar Banana Bar Beer Bar Orange Bar […]

  19. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » Sweet Napa’s Television Debut — on Shark Week Says:

    […] Well, this charming comparison is part of the Discovery Channel’s new Perfect Predators program, produced by Tigress Productions. And whose candy bar will illustrate the point? My very own… […]

  20. So Close… - Sweet Napa Says:

    […] No matter how much is done, these bars won’t be completely ready for sale on the internet until everything is completely ready. So, I wait with baited breath for my 5-ply candy pads, my website design, my website photographs, and my marshmallow packaging (more layerboards, only bigger this time! from this fantastic company) and label design. Just like my efforts that took months to prepare (or has it been over a year already?), all of those works are being done to order, so I understand they also need time and take care to prepare. It’s so easy for a week to go by at a time, but with the holidays coming up, I am getting anxious about getting in on orders. My bars, and their packaging, are ready to sell in stores and I’m pursuing that, but at this point, many stores already have their holiday inventory ordered (my first choice retailer included, darn it). So, for December, my goal is to build word of mouth through individual sales and to pursue corporate gift orders for larger volume sales.  And to keep calm.  And to appreciate all the wonderful people who are helping me out in so many different ways. Anyway, for Thanksgiving, I indulged in some good old-fashioned dessert-makin’ (in addition to candy bar samples, of course).  I made a trifle with Butternut Squash Mousse (based on this brilliant recipe; I used less gelatin and whipped cream b/c it was in a bowl and served with whipped cream), Fresh Ginger Cake (another brilliant recipe here; a combo of blackstrap molasses and Lyle’s golden syrup worked just fine for the mild molasses called for), and Bourbon Whipped Cream (I actually winged that one, just like in the olden days of plated desserts). How wrapped up in candy bars am I? I didn’t even take a single picture! But it was delicious, by popular sentiment. The butternut squash was roasted, pureed, frozen, and strained before being incorporated into the mousse. The sweet squash flavor was so smooth and lasting. I wonder if this would even work for canned pumpkin — to freeze, thaw, and strain it for a more intense flavor. The freezing step separates the water from the starch puree, so just like smaller fruits usually have a more intense flavor due to less water content, this butternut squash puree made for a particularly tasty dessert.  And a pleasant distraction… […]

  21. Jessica Sheldon Says:

    These Look Amazing.
    I didn’t actully think you could make chocolate buy hand at home.
    I haven’t been reading it yet but look at the pictures.
    They look so perfetional :D.

  22. Nina Says:

    Thank you, Jessica!

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