Like a Kid in a Candy Store
When it comes to any place that?s food related, I?m easy to spot, usually excited like a kid in a candy store. Well, just imagine if I were actually in a candy store. Or a chocolate shop. Or a date shop even. It was certainly the case when I was recently at Economy Candy in New York City, exchanging oohs and aaahs with Dorie Greenspan about our favorite candies and growing nostalgic as we shared memories of our family’s top picks.
More oohs and aahs followed when simply walking the streets of Manhattan, taking in all the sights and smells of the city. Smells?! Perhaps not quite what you expected, but I’m talking about one aroma in particular. Nuts 4 Nuts! I don’t actually like nuts in baked goods, but when they’re crisp and coated in sugar on their own, or mixed into chunky sweet granola, what’s not to like? And who can really resist that smell of vanilla sugar that wafts from these nut stands below their orange umbrellas, those nuts caramelizing away, tantalizing you to buy those small, white, wax paper bags for a couple of dollars?
Now imagine those nuts with chocolate.
I was online customizing my own chocolate bars, a totally fun concept by the German company chocri that now ships to the United States (using chocri.com) and Switzerland (using chocri.de). You choose your base chocolate (extra thick, organic, fair trade chocolate from Belgium): dark, milk, white or even strawberry, and then you select up to five toppings (there are over 100!) from categories such as fruit, spices, confections, decor and… nuts. And there they were, roasted almonds and roasted peanuts, both appearing to be candied in the photo, but their description just said “roasted.” So I asked. The reply: “Thanks for uncovering that – they’re both like those that you would get at a New York Nuts for Nuts stand, roasted and caramelized.” (The descriptions on the website have since then been changed.) And so, on to the ingredient list they both went for my first bar.
What else did I want to add? I love chocolate with coffee, so ground coffee beans were the next ingredient. And it worked perfectly for my New York bar, as I pictured New Yorkers buzzing up and down the streets with take-out coffee cups in hand. To top it all off, I chose sea salt, to balance the sweetness of the caramelized nuts and the deep flavor of the coffee. Only, I hope next time the salt will be better distributed, or simply lighter. Even taste tester #2 and my right-hand man (=husband), who would add salt to salted butter, thought it was way too salty. With ingredients selected, the final step to putting together my chocri bar was getting to name it! What did I choose? ”Nuts for Nuts in NYC,” but of course.
For my second bar, I decided to go a little crazy. I stuck with dark chocolate as base again, my preference. I wanted this bar to be pure fun, colorful and of course tasty too. There I was once again, like a kid in a candy store, clicking on all the lists of ingredients, in a virtual chocolate factory, creating my very own chocolate bar. Dragées (think mini M&M’s or Smarties) went on there, along with dehydrated strawberry and raspberry. I loved this combination. I chose nougat too, but was extremely disappointed when it resembled milk chocolate, neither the classic chewy French confection I love and thought it was, nor nut brittle which I was told it more resembled. With a chocri bar-code on the back of the packaging, you can reorder your previous creations. I probably wouldn’t do the same bar again; perhaps keep the dragées and dehydrated fruit, and add organic salt pretzels in the place of the nougat and hazelnut brittle, which was likewise disappointing. Mmm, now that sounds good to me.
As you have seen, I enjoy mixing and matching when baking, playing with cookie recipes, making ice cream sundae concoctions and most recently “make-your-own crumble.” Now it’s “make-your-own chocolate bar.” So what would you put on YOUR bar ?