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BonBonBar 2010 Holiday Newsletter… Blogged

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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Hello,

Happy Holidays!  Even though I have been quiet on the newsletter front, it has been busy at BonBonBar.

The most exciting news is that I have been hard at work writing a cookbook! It is called Beautiful Candymaking, and it is due out in the Fall of 2011 through Sterling Publishing.  The book will feature my take on a wide range of candy recipes — from toffee to fudge to caramel corn — along with candymaking tips/techniques and gorgeous photography courtesy of The White on Rice Couple.

After developing so many recipes for the book, I thought that it would be a good idea to recharge and seek new inspiration for the company’s confections.  So, BonBonBar will be closed from December 23 to February 1 as I eat my way around France, Italy, Brazil, and California.  I am looking forward to returning with refreshed ideas for new products, but it most likely also means that, unfortunately, some candies will be rotated out in the new year.

As always, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm.  Happy customers have always been my favorite part of this BonBonBar adventure, and you have given me the amazing opportunity to run a truly artisan food company that will be going into its fourth year. I am grateful, and lucky.

All the best for a happy and sweet holiday season, and I hope that BonBonBar treats will be a part of it!

Thank  you!

Nina

Founder & Chief Chocolatier,BonBonBar

MORE BONBONBAR NEWS

So far, our candy bars are being featured in Fine Cooking, DailyCandy, and The Huffington Post’s 2010 holiday gift guides.

If you would like to place your holiday orders in advance of when you would like them to ship, please let us know in the comments of the order.

All orders placed during the break will ship after February 1.

A BonBonBar Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I’m sending this message to my email list.  Thought I’d share on here, too… 🙂

Hello,

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for such an enthusiastic welcome back!  It’s been exciting to cook and enrobe in the kitchen again for BonBonBar, and the days are flying by once again.

This is just a quick reminder that orders for Thanksgiving should be placed as soon as possible.  I will be shipping out the last Thanksgiving orders Saturday & Monday to ensure that they arrive in time.

Our seasonal Pumpkin Pie Candy Bars and Pumpkin Pie Caramallow are perfect for the holidays!

Thank you!
Nina
Founder & Chief Chocolatier, BonBonBar

MORE BONBONBAR NEWS

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

If you would like to place your orders in advance online, that would be fantastic to help me plan and prepare.  PLEASE just write in the comments when you would like them to be shipped.

Pumpkin Pie
Candy Bar

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Pumpkin Pie Caramel &
Graham Cracker

Pumpkin Pie
Caramallow
logo

Pumpkin Pie Caramel
wrapped around
Vanilla Marshmallow

Single Malt
Scotch Bar

Chewy Caramel,
Malt Ganache, &
Maldon Salt.

Annie the Baker – Napa

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

If you find yourself in the Napa Valley this season, you may find Annie Baker selling her Annie the Baker cookies at area farmers markets.  And then… you will find yourself addicted to these cookies that are “for those who love cookie dough more than the cookie.”

I met Annie in 2006 when she was the enthusiastic pastry chef of Mustards Grill, and I’m very excited that she’s moved on to start her own company that she’s passionate about and whose products are so delicious.  These cookies combine the puffy moistness of cookie dough and the depth of balanced flavor of a baked cookie.  You can get: Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunk, Toffee Milk Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter with Mini Peanut Butter Cups, and Oatmeal Double Chocolate Chip.

Annie adjusted the ratio of ingredients in her cookie recipes so that they spread and crisp less — and  so retain their doughy goodness.  I’d recommend them all, based on your personal tastes.  I almost want to say that the Toffee Milk Chocolate Chip is my favorite, but then, when lingering over the cookie jar, I proceed to break off a piece of the peanut butter, and then the choc chip, and then the oatmeal…. I feel like it’s a bit extreme to cast my lot with only one.  I don’t usually eat entire sweets at once, but I think I’m averaging more than one cookie at a time with these.

Look for her under the yellow and black Steelers tent at the St Helena and Napa farmers markets!

And check out Oxbow Market while you’re in Napa, which houses vendors such as The Fatted Calf (zomg!!!!!!!!!!), Hog Island Oyster Company, Kara’s Cupcakes, Three Twins Organic Ice Cream, Model Bakery, and Taylor’s Refresher, and wine, cheese, fish, and meat.  Sitting outside by the river with lunch, a glass of wine, and a bag of cookies is pretty fabulous…  For a valley with such a lovely landscape, it can be surprisingly hard to find a cozy place to relax and enjoy it outside.

The Single Malt Scotch Birthday Cake

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Single Malt Scotch Cake: Chocolate Chiffon Cake, Caramel Filling, Scotch Simple Syrup, Scotch Milk Chocolate-Caramel Frosting, Maldon Salt.

It’s hard to believe, but this is Chad’s 4th documented birthday on this blog.  One year ago, there was the Salted Chocolate Nut Cake.  Two years ago, there was the Blood Orange Creamsicle Cake.  Three years ago… I barely knew how to make cake… so we went to The French Laundry.

And now, it’s Chad’s 30th birthday, and here it is: the Single Malt Scotch Cake.

Chad had made a few reverential comments about the Salted Chocolate Nut Cake during the past few months, so I’d schemed to make it again, but with Scotch in the frosting for variation.  When asked directly about his choice of cake this year, he said he wanted a cake a modeled after the Scotch Bar.  My eyes lit up and I told him about my hybrid idea, but no, he wanted a straight translation of the Scotch Bar — nothing more and nothing less than Scotch, chocolate, caramel, and salt.

The structure of the cake is actually pretty similar to last year’s, and has the salient properties of the Scotch Bar to boot.  Chad even had the great idea of “enrobing” the cake with a dark chocolate shell, but I couldn’t get around to doing that, and I’m also not crazy about cutting chocolate-covered/wrapped cakes.

The cake is a Chocolate Chiffon baked in angel food cake form, and it included the Walnut Oil like last year, because I thought that it would add a subtle note of interest and is perhaps healthier than all Safflower. I was a little bummed because I overbaked the cake enough to make it a little dry (I baked it 15 mins longer than the prescribed 60 mins b/c it kept making a foamy sound whenever I pressed the top, and it didn’t really bounce back much).  Luckily, the moistness of the caramel and frosting made up for it, but still, I guess this is what happens when you’re a rare cake-maker.

I brushed a Scotch Simple Syrup to imbue the cake itself with flavor; ratio of sugar to water 1:1, with Scotch to taste (and taste!).  The kind people at Talisker sent me a selection of Single Malt Scotch when they found out that I use Talisker in my candy bar, so I decided to use the Caol Ila 18 year. It’s smoky, but oh so smooth.

For the Caramel Filling, I again used the caramel recipe that I make my Caramel Nut Bar with, but omitted the nuts. Just as I was about the make it, though, I realized that the nuts gave it structural support, and caramel fillings are usually in the form of a buttercream — not a straight caramel.  My CNB filling is basically a modified caramel sauce, and I decided to go for it to try it as a cake filling.  But I decreased the amount of cream in the recipe by 15% and increased the amount of butter by 15% (honestly, this wasn’t even planned, I just rounded up and rounded down, and just did the math now).  I reasoned that the standup quality and shortness-giving properties of the butter would make for a sliceable frosting-like caramel.   I also added 15% more glucose for a little bit of thickening.  It worked nicely, though it would have torn up the cake if I’d tried to spread it on; instead, with gloved hands, I flattened a bit of caramel at a time and put it on the cake. It was still quite soft when cut into with a knife or fork, though, so it was just the right consistency — not chewy or tough.

For the frosting, I made the same Caramel-Milk Chocolate Frosting.  I’d planned to decrease the amount of cream to compensate for the added alcohol, but completely forgot.  But I forged ahead, adding Scotch and tasting until it was potent enough… 1 Tbs… 2 Tbs… 3 Tbs… Then the idea of adding a 1/4 cup of Scotch somehow seemed like way too much extra liquid — let alone, Scotch — to add… So I added 1/2 Tbs more.  3-1/2 Tbs = Perfect.  The milk chocolate frosting alone tasted slightly peculiar with the Scotch, but the sweetness balanced out with the dark cake and caramel filling.

When I finished frosting the cake, I thought it looked fine in its homespun way, with its ebb and flow of spoon-backed frosting that I like.  But then I realized that it wasn’t done yet…. And so I finished the cake with Maldon Salt, which I now think of as “adult sprinkles.”

It’s best to sprinkle the salt on for each piece as it’s served, though, because  if left overnight, the smaller salt grains will absorb moisture and break down into salty little puddles.

I like these Candy Bar Cakes.  They remind me a little of Pierre Herme’s style (or maybe it’s not just him?) of having set flavor combinations that are translated into different forms under generally the same name.

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Here’s the recipe!

This is the Single Malt Scotch Candy Bar in cake form — with scotch ganache frosting, caramel filling, chocolate chiffon cake, and plenty of Maldon Salt.  For the tastiest cake, use an assertive Scotch, such as Talisker Caol Ila 18 yr.  The peatier and smokier, the better.

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE

1/2 cup + 1 Tbs (50g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
3/4 cup (6oz) boiling water
1 3/4 cup (175g) unbleached AP flour, such as King Arthur
1 3/4 cup (350g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup (3.75 oz) Safflower Oil, preferably organic
6 ea (120g) egg yolks, preferably organic
10 ea (300g) egg whites, preferably organic
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325F.

Whisk together cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth.  Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine flour, all but 2 Tbs of the sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk for 1 minute.  Add oil, egg yolks, cocoa powder mixture, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.

Using a stand mixer, whisk egg whites until frothy.  Add cream of tartar.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Slowly add rmg 2 Tbs sugar.  Beat until firm peaks.

Mix 1/3 of egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Gently fold an additional 1/3 of the egg whites into batter.  Gently fold in rmg egg whites until just blended.

Pour batter into ungreased 10″ aluminum tube pan, preferably with feet.  Run a thin knife through batter to break any large air pockets.

Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Invert pan on feet (or over a glass bottle) until cool, about 2 hrs.

SCOTCH CHOCOLATE FROSTING

18 oz milk chocolate
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 3/4 cup whipping cream, preferably organic
1/4 – 1/2 cup Single Malt Scotch, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine milk and bittersweet chocolates.

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, stir enough water into the sugar so that it looks like wet sand. Place over medium heat.  Brush sides with wet pastry brush to thoroughly dissolve any sugar crystals.  Boil without stirring until syrup turns an amber color, about 7-8 minutes; it may be necessary to swirl the pan to ensure even cooking without scorching.  Turn off heat.

Slowly add whipping cream while stirring slowly– being very careful of vigorous bubbles. Stir over medium heat until any hard caramel bits dissolve.

Pour caramel over chocolate.  Let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Stir in Scotch, tasting until preferred strength is reached.  Chill until completely cool, about 2 hours. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before continuing.

SALTED CARAMEL FILLING

1 cup (200g) sugar
2/3 cup (5.25oz) cream
2 Tbs butter, very soft
1 tsp Maldon salt

In a medium pan, stir enough water into the sugar so that it looks like wet sand. Place over medium heat.  Brush sides with wet pastry brush to thoroughly dissolve any sugar crystals.  Boil without stirring until syrup turns an amber color; it may be necessary to swirl the pan to ensure even cooking without scorching.  Turn off heat.

Slowly add whipping cream while stirring slowly– being very careful of vigorous bubbles. Stir over medium heat until any hard caramel bits dissolve. Pour caramel into a bowl.  Stir in Maldon salt. Let cool.  Stir in butter.

SCOTCH SIMPLE SYRUP

1/3 cup (66g) sugar
1/3 cup water
1-3 tsp Single Malt Scotch

Boil sugar and water in small saucepan until clear.  Let cool.

Add single malt scotch to taste.

ASSEMBLY

Dislodge cake using a long thin knife around the sides and core, being careful to neither cut into the cake nor the pan.  Dislodge the bottom using the knife.

Place cake on a cake board or plate.  Cut cake in half horizontally using a long bread knife.  Place top half aside.

With a pastry brush, dab the top of the bottom half thoroughly with Scotch Simple Syrup.

Using a stand mixer, beat the frosting until it’s spreadable and the color of milk chocolate, about 15-30 seconds. If too thick to spread easily, add some additional cream and beat until integrated.

With a pastry bag (or ziploc bag trimmed at one corner), pipe a thick ring of frosting on the outer and inner perimeters of the cake.  This will be a barrier to prevent the Caramel Filling from oozing out of the cake.

Pour Caramel Filling onto the cake between the rings of frosting.  If Caramel Filling is too firm, carefully stir in more cream, a Tbs at a time.  Smooth with a small offset spatula.

Place the top layer of the cake on top.

Dab the top of the cake with Scotch Simple Syrup.

Make a crumb coat on the cake by spreading a thin layer of frosting all over the cake.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until frosting is set.

Beat frosting briefly again if necessary, to lighten consistency. Spread remaining frosting all over the cake.

If the whole cake will be eaten immediately, sprinkle generously with Maldon Salt.  Alternatively, sprinkle Maldon Salt individually over each slice.  If left salted overnight, the salt will dissolve into puddles on the frosting.

Banana Cake on Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

One of the benefits of doing business mostly by mail and at farmers markets is that I may be busy leading up to a holiday, but the holiday itself is usually pretty chill.  So after the rush of sending out Valentine’s Day orders, I found myself with time to make a cake.  I made the Frosted Banana Cake from Claire Clark’s Indulge cookbook for Chad — and let’s be honest, me.  We had a couple bananas that were ultra-ripe (um, black) that we’d frozen so I defrosted them for it; they were a bit of a water balloonish consistency, but I think still this side of nutritionally safe.  And they made for a great cake!

I wanted something a little different than a regular banana bread, and I was intrigued by her recipe because it uses all dark brown sugar for the sweetener.  She said that she loves the caramel flavor (or rather “flavour,” in her British manner), and while I don’t usually like candies that use dark sugar instead of caramelized sugar, I thought it might be really interesting in a cake, especially paired with banana.  I was also curious to see what kind of texture and sweetness it would give, since all dark brown sugar in cookies makes them sweeter, thicker, and chewier.  But this recipe whips the sugar with eggs and oil before adding flour, baking powder, and the banana, so the mixing method and ingredients (no butter) are quite different.

It all turned out deliciously.  Its crumb is slightly  denser than a standard cake, but lighter than a quickbread.  And it has the loveliest caramel note backing up the banana.  The banana flavor was even more pronounced the second day.  It’s just the right sweetness, and we can barely keep away from it.

I just made a few changes to the recipe.   I added a big pinch of salt, since just about every recipe benefits from its presence and the recipe didn’t call for any.  I also used 2/3 dark brown sugar to 1/3 light brown sugar (I chickened out a little) and 2/3 walnut oil (which I had) to 1/3 vegetable oil (which she recommends).  I also sprinkled fresh macadamia nuts on top, even though she mixes in pecans.  Next time, I may sub buckwheat or whole wheat flour for about a 1/5 of the AP flour…. and maybe add chocolate chips.

And since I made the recipe x1.5,  I stayed good to my vow to wonder “How would it look as it a mini-loaf?” so that I could use my dear E. Dehillerin tins.

The actual cake was frosted with her cream cheese frosting (to which I added more cream cheese since I found the original recipe too buttery for my tastes).