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Born Again Candy Bars

Meryle Evans - November 2013

Los Angeles—At dinner one night, pastry chef/chocolatier Susie Norris and food writer Susan Heeger, both candy bar lovers since childhood, were reminiscing about their favorite treats. The result? Hand-Crafted Candy Bars, an enticing collection of recipes for grown-up, all-natural confections. Substituting top-notch ingredients for the stabilizers and preservatives in commercial counterparts, their recipes for born-again bars, with alluring photos by Joseph De Leo, include classics-inspired dark chocolate dipped almond coconut bars, PB & chocolate cups, and “Over the Moon,” a familiar sounding combination of milk chocolate, caramel, chocolate nougat, and barley malt syrup. There are techniques and recipes for all of the basic components—nougat, marzipan, marshmallow, etc.; suggestions for dressing bars for desserts; and ideas for playing around with textures and flavors. Check out green tea truffles, or the tart cherry jungle, chock-full of dried fruits and fresh nuts.

The candy bar–as–dessert concept has been an alluring option for pastry chefs like Christina Tosi, whose candy bar pie (layers of “salty” caramel and peanut butter nougat in a chocolate cookie crust) has been a favorite at Momofuku Milk Bar, and Sally Camacho, whose deconstructed Ovaltine candy bar concocted for a Quickfire challenge on Top Chef Just Desserts was featured on her menu at WP24 in Los Angeles.

Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef at Waterbar and Farallon in San Francisco, whips up a variety of whimsical candy bar–inspired desserts, explaining that, “While most supermarket versions taste too sweet, the ingredients and flavor combinations give us a good starting point for our creations.” Among her favorites: a Snickers-like milk chocolate mousse with caramel/peanut filling in a chocolate crust, and the peppermint pattie—a white chocolate peppermint mousse on a brownie covered in a chocolate glaze.

The candy bar was also a solution for Deana Lezcano, pastry chef at 3800 Ocean at the Palm Beach Marriott, who arrived in New York City for a James Beard House dinner in July with her grand finale already assembled—a Valrhona Manjari candy bar with apricots and crispy wafers.