Thursday, February 7, 2008

BonBonBars: Malt Ganache & Scotch

BonBon Bar BoxI’ve been following Nina Wanat’s blog Sweet Napa for a couple of years now. Mostly because she was writing about making gourmet candy bars but the post that really got me was her details of making a Malted Caramel Bar. If I wasn’t already married, I’d be engaged to the recipe for that bar!

I was further excited when I saw that she’d moved to Los Angeles ... just within my reach. Oh, so close.

And finally, at the beginning of December she launched her company, called BonBonBar and webstore with her first gourmet candy bar creations. These are not knock-offs of consumer bars, these are unique combination bars with fresh ingredients. So fresh that it’s recommended that you eat your bars within two weeks of them leaving the kitchen.

BonBon Bar Box (first layer)I vacillated on whether or not to try them. (I know, it sounds weird.)  The bars are not cheap, at $5 each the price makes me feel like I’m promised a transcendent experience. But she had only two items ... the Malted Ganache & Shortbread Bar (slightly different than the initial malt bar that caught my attention) and a Caramel Nut Bar which sounded fabulous all except for the walnuts. (Drat!) So I thought if I was going to go through the trouble of ordering, I should get an assortment ... I didn’t want to judge this nacent company on a single product.

Luckily I read that she was going to add a Valentines item (and I even voted on her blog) ... a Single Malt Scotch Bar.

I put my order in as soon as I saw it in her webstore. She even had a cool Valentine’s sampler package that included all of her bars: 3 Scotch, one Milk Malt and one Dark Malt plus the Caramel Nut Bar. I made a request to swap out the walnut-laden Caramel Nut Bar with another Dark Malt and they were made to order over the weekend.

Since we’re both in Los Angeles, it took only a day for the package to get here! (And of course the cool weather meant that they were in perfect conditions ... I admit that I get very nervous about chocolate deliveries, even in February.)

BonBonBar Valentines BoxWhen I opened the box I though, this is it? The box is so teensy! But hefty, as I found when I picked it up. Inside were two layers, the top layer had the three Scotch Bars and the bottom layer had the three Malt Bars. (It’s like she planned out all these sizes fitting into things or something ... genius!)

The bars are each packaged in their own cellulose sleeve with a simple label. Through the clear plastic it’s evident that they’re perfectly formed, that the enrobing is well tempered. The only thing missing was the smell.

Honestly, I was happy to see that the bars were enrobed. Some of Nina’s earlier exploits on her blog showed molded bars, which are necessary with certain ingredients, but I prefer an enrobed bar, there’s something about the way the chocolate sits on the center, the way that it falls into place, like a blanket instead of walls.

Malt BarMalt Candy Bar comes in both milk and dark chocolate and features a malt ganache on a crunchy butter shortbread all covered in chocolate. (1.6 ounces)

Biting into the narrow bar, the ganache is soft and yields quickly until I got to the dense and buttery shortbread. Crispy, crumbly. The mix of flavors the immediate hit of dark malt, the cookie and the distinct saltiness ... it was all quite dreamy.

This is what I always wished a Twix would be, super smooth milk chocolate, strong cookie flavor ... well in this case instead of caramel it’s a ganache.

I tried both the dark and the milk chocolate varieties, and to be honest, I prefer the milk. I think milk chocolate and malt are just natural companions. Also, because the ganache and shortbread are a bit on the salty-sweet side, the milk chocolate’s sweetness really balances it all out.

Scotch Ganache & Caramel BarSingle Malt Scotch Candy Bar features a scotch ganache and chewy caramel dipped in dark chocolate with a little sprinkle of salt. (1.5 ounces)

In this bar the caramel is on top and the ganache is the base.

Upon first bite, the caramel is the perfect consistency of stringy and smooth but not too sweet. The first flavor is of a dark single malt scotch ... it’s kind of like tobacco and leather with that ultra-buttery base of deep chocolate truffle ganache. The chocolate shell is sprinkled with a little flaked salt, so it gave little additional hits of salt to the otherwise incredibly consistent experience.

The dark chocolate shell is creamy and not too dry or chalky for the rest of the bar.

Scotch Bar

Just to check my own opinion (and the fact that I still had three bars and that ticking clock of freshness) I took two bars over to the neighbor’s last night (it was just Robin, Amy’s out of town and will probably be quite mad to miss this as she’s the one I usually give the terrible candy to). Robin said, “This is one of the best things you have ever given me to try.” (The other thing that she really liked was the Nutpatch Nougat, so you know she has great taste.)

For the record, Nina did offer me free samples, but I really wanted the whole experience of knowing that I just ate a $5 candy bar so that I could report it authentically here. This is one of the reasons I didn’t have an early review like Serious Eats and Candy Addict (who both loved it too!). I did try a bite of the Malt Bar at the Fancy Food Show last month, as Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates had just met up with Nina and I guess Chuck remembered my prediliction for malt and shared. So it’s not like I was going into this order completely on trust & faith in my fellow bloggers.

Basically, they’re not candy bars at fine boxed chocolate prices. They’re fine chocolates in bar format ... which is why they’re named BonBonBar. Though $5 a bar sounds like a lot, the price per pound is about $51, which is on par with most other fine chocolatier. (And honestly, if these were in little bon bon sizes and I was in some haut chocolatier, I wouldn’t flinch at that price.) Right now you have to order online if you want some (her list of stores is rather short at the moment).

Many of her ingredients are organic and all are all natural (no high fructose corn sweetener either).

It’s not an everyday treat, but if I was given this set for Valentine’s Day, I’d know someone loved me.

Related Candies

  1. Nutpatch Nougats
  2. Chuao ChocoPod Collection
  3. Charles Chocolates Bars
  4. Valerie Toffees & Nougats
  5. See’s Awesome Nut & Chew Bar
Name: Single Malt Scotch & Malt Bar
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: BonBonBar
Place Purchased: online store
Price: $30 for six bars
Size: 1.5 & 1.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Cookie, Malt, United States, All Natural, Organic (some ingredients), Los Angeles, Chocolatier

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:42 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. A whole blog dedicated to CANDY?!!! I’ve died and gone to heaven! Although I just might get myself into trouble here. Seriously though, I’m so happy to have found your blog and these bars look fantastic. What a great job you did. Thanks for the recipe.

    Comment by Madeline on 2/07/08 at 10:38 am #
  2. These look so good!! I’m not a candy bar fan, usually, but these really are just great bon bons in bar form. Thanks for the “research” and sacrifice. I am seriously considering an order for a Valentines present for myself smile. So naughty!

    I was also following her website for a while, especially while she lived up here. I’m so glad that she’s launched her own business. Most impressive!

    Comment by KateC on 2/07/08 at 12:22 pm #
  3. wow.

    Comment by Ezra on 2/07/08 at 6:07 pm #
  4. You haven’t answered the most important question - which whisky did they use? It makes all the difference!

    Comment by pozorvlak on 2/08/08 at 2:36 am #
  5. Wait a sec. Chocolate, caramel, salt, and booze?! That is my dream candy bar!

    Comment by Emily on 2/08/08 at 3:29 am #
  6. That sounds wonderful!

    Comment by Lidian on 2/08/08 at 5:42 am #
  7. If anyone’s wondering what I want for Valentine’s Day ....

    What? No one’s wondering that?

    Comment by The Velvet Blog on 2/08/08 at 5:56 am #
  8. Oooh!  I may have to break down and buy some of these to review.  I’ve seen them on some of the other chocolate blogs, but your review is tipping me over the edge!

    Comment by Julie on 2/08/08 at 6:06 am #
  9. Couldn’t resist with that great a review—I’ve already placed an order.  Can’t wait to try the Scotch Bar.  And because I’m a freak for hot chocolate, I also got one of their hot chocolate kits with the fresh marshmallows.

    Comment by Maura on 2/08/08 at 9:03 am #
  10. “we cover things in chocolate because that?s what sets us apart from animals” AMEN !

    I grew up making/baking and salivating while cooking chocolate souffles cooked in my grandmother’s kitchen in an old fashioned Glenwood stove.
     
    Forty years later I KNOW chocolate is something I choose to NOT give up though my waist line and health demands some control grin

    THANKS Cybele for all the humor, research, and honestly.

    Don’t know if I can find CAFFAREL in the Phoenix, AZ area but I will search later this year.

    I will visit here again and again.
    It’s yummy.

    Comment by Lauressa on 2/09/08 at 7:06 pm #
  11. Have you tried the candy bars from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor?  They’re expensive too, but really darn good.  They have one called a cashew cow that I just love.

    Comment by Randi on 5/07/08 at 7:35 am #

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