Chocolatiers in America: Bon Bon Bar

Goodlifer: Chocolatiers in America: Bon Bon Bar

Did you ever wonder why it is that, in an era of sophisticated, artisanal, fancy-schmancy chocolates, people aren’t producing good-quality candy bars? I know I have. Most of the time, if I want a candy bar, I’m stuck with something sold in a supermarket—too sweet, none too fresh, and laden with who knows what kind of ingredients.

Nina Wanat of Bon Bon Bar addresses this often-overlooked critical issue with her handmade candy bars. You won’t find any artificial ingredients (such as high-fructose corn syrup) here; instead, local and organic ingredients are used whenever possible. The difference between these and the candy bars you are probably used to eating is like night and day. People who judge candy bars only by their size will be disappointed; Ms. Wanat’s bars are not enormous. But I defy you to tell me that these bars aren’t special after biting into one.

Orange Candy Bar, Malt Candy Bar & Scotch Candy Bar.

Orange Candy Bar, Malt Candy Bar & Scotch Candy Bar.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar, Caramel Nut Candy Bar & Passion Fruit Marshmallows.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar, Caramel Nut Candy Bar & Passion Fruit Marshmallows.

Caramels come in many interesting flavors, among them Single Malt Scotch, Salted Chocolate Nut & Wildflower Honey.

Caramels come in many interesting flavors, among them Single Malt Scotch, Salted Chocolate Nut & Wildflower Honey.

Her Orange Candy Bar is a bottom layer of roasted pecans in honey nougat topped with a layer of orange-infused, salted caramel. The whole bar is dark-chocolate-enrobed and topped with a slice of housemade candied orange peel. The Peanut Butter Candy Bar is a clever row of five dark chocolate “pockets”, each filled with peanut butter from organic Valencia peanuts. Two “pockets” are topped with strawberry jam, two with caramel, and one with honey. Check out the Scotch Candy Bar and the Caramel Nut Candy Bar, too, and round out your order with some of the epiphanic Passion Fruit Marshmallows.

The shortbread cookie inside the Malt Bar has to be pre-coated with tempered milk chocolate before the ganache can go on top of it.

The shortbread cookie inside the Malt Bar has to be pre-coated with tempered milk chocolate before the ganache can go on top of it. It is an important step that keeps the bar crunchy and prevents moisture migration between the cookie and the ganache.

The chocolate left over after candy bars are dipped is cleverly reused. Wanat pours it on parchment paper, lets it set as a slab, then chops it up and melts it again.

The chocolate left over after candy bars are dipped is cleverly reused. Wanat pours it on parchment paper, lets it set as a slab, then chops it up and melts it again.

These special confections are sold online, at the Brentwood Farmers’ Market in Los Angeles, and in a handful of retail stores in California, New Jersey and Virginia.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
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