Behind Bars

In amongst the lavender-vanilla truffles and the marshmallow pies and the chocolate-coated caramels with sea salt have been, all along, the simple chocolate bars.

Yes, we make them. Straight-up chocolate, either milk or semi-sweet. (And we can make you a bittersweet if you like, but not many do.) We make them with the same special blend of three different brands of chocolate — two from California and one from France — that we use in the rest of our recipes. And we have beautiful one- and three-ounce molds with the Kakao logo.

We also make bark, a thin piece of chocolate with delicious things sprinkled on top. Think ground coffee (an excellent morning treat) or crystallized ginger (a superb after-dinner digestive) or toasted almonds (really, this is great anytime).

But what about flavored bars? Could you not add those delicious things to the bars? Certainly. But how, exactly?

Let me first explain how to make a bar. You need tempered chocolate, which has been prepared in such a way that it forms the cocoa butter crystals that give quality chocolate a hard snap and a shiny finish. In tempering you heat the blended chocolate to a certain temperature, ‘seed’ it with already tempered chocolate to stir in the crystals you want to start forming, and then cool it down to a certain temperature. Then you pour this tempered chocolate into the mold to form a bar.

My first thought was to sprinkle the mold with the flavoring and pour the chocolate over it. I tried that with the ground coffee, and ended up with something that reminded me of The Terminator’s face at the end of the movie. Not a good idea.

Maybe if I poured the chocolate into the mold, and then sprinkled the flavor on top. That worked, but only gave me a layer of coffee on the bottom of the bar — good, but not great.

The method I knew would work (and seriously, you knew it would be the best way as soon as you understood what I was doing, right?) was to blend the flavoring into the chocolate, and then pour it into the bars. A bit more complicated because you need separate batches for each flavor, but well worth it.

Except for the almonds. You really need to pour the chocolate into the molds, and then push the almonds into the chocolate. It’s the only way. Truly.

Ready to try some? The barks and bars are available at Local Harvest grocery at 3148 Morganford, 63116, and directly from Kakao at the Tower Grove Market on Saturday mornings and Maplewood Market on Wednesday evenings. See you there!

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