Archive for the 'Recipes – Dessert' Category

BonBonBar 2010 Holiday Newsletter… Blogged

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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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!


Founder & Chief Chocolatier,BonBonBar


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).

Red Wine-Grape Pie

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The alternate title of this post: Please Allow Me To Complicate Your Recipe…

I’ve seen tv shows and recipes about Grape Pie here and there over the past few years, and I’d been dying to find a rare place that makes it until I realized that it’s just like any pie that can be made with access to the right ingredients.

The most recent recipe I’d glanced at was in the Sept issue of Bon Appetit, from a bakery in Brooklyn, and with a vague memory or what it actually called for, I bought a few pounds of grapes when I was at the market on Wednesday. They say that they prefer Concord grapes, but since they’re hard to find, to use red grapes instead and add in 2 Tbs of concord grape concentrate. This partially applied to me. The Santa Monica Farmers Market has Concord grapes, but they’re $5/lb. I also saw Minukka Grapes (often used for raisins) this week for much less and they had a nice flavor, so I bought mostly Minukkas.

The recipe tells you to chop them in a food processor a little, drain them, and discard the 1.5 cups of grape juice. But my momma didn’t raise that kind of fool (hi, mom!). Who could discard fresh grape juice? It was completely delicious to drink — almost light, not as sour or sweet as commercial juice — but I had something much craftier in mind. Since I knew the recipe called for 2 Tbs of strongly flavored liquid, I poured a cup of red wine (syrah) and the grape juice into a pot and boiled to reduce it down to probably about 3 Tbs. Yes, I am the type of fool who reduces 2.5 cups of liquid to 3 Tbs to mix into a fruit pie.

The red wine added an intriguing depth to the pie, and of course, I felt all clever about the subtle play on grape-hood. Port would be a great choice, as well, if you want that flavor instead. A sauce, sorbet, or ice cream would also be an excellent form of wine/port to match with the pie, too, in lieu of the reduction.

Chopped grapes release a lot of liquid, so in this recipe, it’s bound up with quite a lot of cornstarch. Without the wine, I think that the cornstarch would have muted the pie’s flavor a bit much. As it is, there’s something elusive about a good grape flavor. For me, it’s really in the afteraste — after you crunch through the sweetness, that smoldering earthiness of the grape comes through. I’d been a little concerned about the possibly squishy texture of grapes in a pie, so I liked that this one chopped up the grapes. It was similar to a cherry pie.

I so wish that Concords could be more widely available to the public. They’re the grapiest grape that I know of, and are purely delightful.

And you’ll notice in the linked recipe that the pie is matched with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream. I happened to have some leftover in my freezer, and eating cold lemon verbena ice cream melting on a warm slice of pie was one of my defining culinary moments of this summer.

The Salted Caramel Nut Birthday Cake

Friday, June 6th, 2008


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).