Archive for the 'Candy Bars' Category

The Bourbon Candy Bar is Here plus Haiti Relief

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Below is the email that I sent out to my mailing list today.  I’m very excited about this candy bar.  Although I’d conceived of it as a lighter Valentine’s Day-like candy originally, it ended up taking up the tones of bbq — with salt, pepper, and corn.  Oh well… I think it works. 🙂



The Bourbon Candy Bar is here!  For its launch, we are honored to be using George T. Stagg Bourbon in this bar. This 141.8 proof bourbon is renowned for perfectly balancing intensity and finesse.  It is made in small batches that are released to the public only twice a year.  When our supply runs out, we will switch to another bourbon.  We have rounded out this bar with caramel, salt, black pepper, dark chocolate, and a corn wafer.

We are also using this opportunity to raise funds for Haiti relief.  10% of all product sales until Midnight on Sunday, January 31, will be donated to the American Red Cross for Haiti.  Advance Valentine’s Day orders placed during this time will also be included.

Thank you!
Founder & Chief Chocolatier, BonBonBar


I am planning to conduct candymaking classes soon in Berkeley, possibly starting in March.

Season’s Greetings from BonBonBar

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

This is the text from the BonBonBar email newsletter that will go out tomorrow…  I’m not sure that I’ll have time to post again until after the holidays — so Happy Holidays everyone!



I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season, perhaps enhanced by handmade candy bars, caramels, and marshmallows!

BonBonBar received its first online order two years and one day ago.  During all of the adventures and surprises that have unfolded since then, I’ve been consistently amazed by how lucky I am to have such fun and kind customers.  So, I also wanted to thank you for making this such an exciting and rewarding experience.  I have learned much and enjoyed much since Dec 2007, and I am looking forward to 2010!

Thank you!
Founder & Chief Chocolatier, BonBonBar


Pumpkin Pie Candy Bars and Caramallows will be available into January.  I like having them around.

Due to popular demand, the Malt Bar will most likely return at some point in 2010.

BonBonBar will be on vacation during the last week of December 2009.  All orders placed during that time will ship upon our return.

Kitchen Space

Monday, November 9th, 2009

With the re-launch of BonBonBar, I am now working out of my fifth shared commercial kitchen since I started the company in December 2007.  Moving into a new kitchen is almost like moving into a new home, with all of the hopes and plans for organizing the soon-to-be-gone empty spaces, but a kitchen is also something like an instrument, whose nuances and tricks you have to learn to play along with.  From the beginning, everyone I rent from is very aware that I essentially have a pretty simple two track mind that revolves around considerations of temperature (68-72F, please) and odor (none… please? 🙂 ).  I try not to be abrasive about it, but it’s pretty much all I talk about in a musing sort of way at first because it’s pretty much all I think about until I get comfortable with the space.  I’ve never worked out of a kitchen used only for candy or is continuously temp-controlled, so I’ve had to make my niche wherever I am.

I thought that I’d write a few thoughts and experiences about working in commercial kitchens.  I remember when I first starting working in commercial kitchens, everything seemed so heavy duty and intimidating.  Now, I’m used to it, and when I’m in a home kitchen, everything seems so small and cute!


I’d say that I’ve rented one HUGE kitchen, two medium kitchens, and two small kitchens.  While the larger kitchens are impressive and great for setting up multiple stations, I’ve come to really respect the simple efficiency that I’ve felt in smaller kitchens.  There’s a lot to be said for being able to put ingredients directly onto the table from the fridge, to place them near the appropriate equipment after weighing them out, to cook at a stovetop, to turn around to pour out the result, and then to step a couple feet to the side to wash the dishes.  And repeat.  In the larger kitchens, you spend so much time traveling between the different areas that you lose time… and have time to think about losing time.

And as much as I try not to, I have a tenacious habit of spreading my stuff out when I work, and the larger kitchens act like enablers to that.  Though speed racks, which hold multiple sheet pans, are a great way to keep things condensed, and mobile, since they have wheels.


Some people assume that a candy company needs just a little space as if the making and distributing of candy has to be a sylph-like enterprise.  But stuff adds up — cases of chocolate, cambro containers of ingredients, pots, tools, chocolate melters, cutting boards, sheet pans, gift boxes, mailing boxes, candy pads, labels, molds, finished products, foil pouches, etc.  So, a decent amount of storage space is also necessary, usually under work tables, in metro racks, or in speed racks.


Wonderful for getting a sense of the day and the neighborhood.

Bad for working at night and perhaps being watched.


I love wood-topped tables.  They don’t warp from heat (important because I cook and pour out a lot of hot caramel; I put the pans on wooden cutting boards on stainless steel tables).  They’re not not as loud when you place things on them.  They feel good when touched. My current kitchen is my first that has one instead of all stainless steel.


I grew up using electric stovetops and used induction burners in culinary school, so it took a little while getting used to the powerful flames of commercial gas stovetops that have been in my kitchens.  My current kitchen only has a large stock pot burner, so I’ve been using induction again when I need to heat smaller pots and I think I’m falling in love all over again.  They’re so smooth and efficient, they’re like the silk of the kitchen burner options.  I’d only use induction burners if I could, but my biggest pot would need a more expensive burner with a larger heating surface, so now I’m using a combination of the stock pot burner and the induction burner.

Many commercial ovens are convection ovens, but I don’t use the convection setting.  I only use ovens for two things — to roast nuts (which I roast as low and slow as I can to get the best depth of flavor) and to bake cookies like shortbread and graham crackers, which I’m just used to baking without convection and don’t take a lot of time anyway.


Cool, big toys are great unless they’re not being used.  Then they just take up space.

For my marshmallows, I recently bought my first hobart mixer, which is the standard for commercial mixers.  In my last kitchen, I used someone else’s hobart when they weren’t using it.  Like most commercial equipment, it’s heavy and powerful.


Chocolate work and storage is best for me between 68-72F degrees.  To maintain that, it’s a matter of storage upstairs/downstairs or front/back depending on the time of day, or near a door or around a corner from the oven, or in a separate AC’ed conference room, or using gel paks and coolers.

Fans can help a lot to move heat, as well as a cross-breeze from having the front and back doors opened (if there are both), or the hood above the stove (if there is one).  Kitchens tend to stay fairly warm — if they’re on the smaller side, the heat generated from the multi-door refrigerators and freezers can be significant.  This can be a good thing in the winter, if it would otherwise be too cold.


Chocolates, like many foods, can absorb odors from their environment.  Sweet or savory odors, I try to protect every component and confection with wrapping or moving to a different/protected space.  Garlic, salmon, peppers, etc, are obviously bad, but any strong odor is bad.  For instance, the other day, I knew that I had to make strawberry jam, which is like unleashing the loveliest, lushest strawberry patch in your kitchen, and that I had to dip Scotch and Coffee Candy Bars as well as cut marshmallows.  I made the strawberry jam last, after everything was packaged and stowed because I didn’t want the lingering odor to affect the candy that I’d work with in the open air.

On a related note, I especially take care to isolate the coffee for my Coffee Candy Bar so that it’s as far away from other ingredients as possible — it’s so potent!  This is also one reason why I’m reluctant to do anything with chilis.

Equipment and tools can also retain odors.  I smell every cutting board before use, whether they belong to me or not (I use them for cutting, but also as handy flat surfaces).

The ONE time I let my guard down, I wound up with a painfully large batch of Garlic Malt Bars due to a contaminated spatula that someone had borrowed without asking (this is also the ONE time that happened) and that I was so grateful to get back that I used it without smelling it.  I was working with someone on a diet that day, and I didn’t taste one until we were packing up.  Then I had to start over.


In some kitchens, the space was only for my company during my time, and in others, there were others around.  In the beginning, I only worked at night and alone, but as things progressed, I sometimes have helpers or work at the same time as others from other companies.

As in many other aspect of the business, the people make all the difference — btw having fun or slogging through.  On good days, it’s almost festive to have a group of people in the kitchen skipping along with their work and it’s also instructive when you can compare notes or help each other out, but on bad days, a bad attitude or a complainer can bring everyone down.  And that’s when iPods are especially handy, though not foolproof…

BonBonBar is Back for Halloween!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Here’s a copy of what will be going out to my mailing list…


BonBonBar is up and running again!  We are now accepting orders to start shipping on Wednesday, Oct 28 — just in time to treat yourself and others for Halloween!  To commemorate the occasion and to thank you for your loyalty, we’re offering 10% off orders placed by this Sunday at Midnight PT. Coupon Code: sfbay

I’ve spent last the two months settling into Northern California… which has meant seeking out delicious food and thinking about how my confections could fit in.

The fantastic array of coffee roasters in the SF Bay Area has led to the creation of the Coffee Candy Bar.  We use organic, shade-grown Blue Bottle Coffee beans to infuse a layer of ganache that is topped by Chewy Caramel.  Maple-Roasted Walnuts provide subtly sweet and nutty notes to the finish.

Based on my discovery of organic ginger at the Berkeley farmers market, I’ve designed the Ginger Candy Bar, which matches the House-Candied Ginger with a zesty Lemon Almond Nougat.

And with the holidays approaching, I couldn’t resist bringing back the Pumpkin Pie Candy Bar, with a Spiced Pumpkin Caramel and Graham Cracker enrobed in Dark Chocolate.  I like the Spiced Pumpkin Caramel so much that I’m also making a Pumpkin Pie Caramallow by wrapping it around our Vanilla Marshmallows.

I want to thank you for your support and enthusiasm for my artisan company throughout the hiatus!  I’m thrilled to have the company back, and I hope that you enjoy our new confections as well as your old favorites!

Thank you!
Founder & Chief Chocolatier, BonBonBar


We are now accepting holiday orders.  Please email to discuss your needs.  Ordering early ensures a stress-free holiday gift season.

The Malt Bars, Cherry Bars, Orange Bars, and Hot Chocolate Mix have been rotated out of the current selection of confections to make room for the new ones.  I am truly sorry for any disappointment.  They may be rotated back in at some point.

Coming Soon: NorCal BonBonBar!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I’ll post more soon, but thought I’d let you all know that, if all goes well, BonBonBar will be up and running in time for Halloween treats!  The Pumpkin Pie Bar will be back, along with new Coffee Candy Bar and Ginger Candy Bar…

Pumpkin Pie Bar: Pumpkin Caramel & Graham Cracker enrobed in Dark Chocolate