Bean to Bonbon
Specialty craft chocolate makers or bean to bar chocolate makers are constantly expanding into new areas of chocolate making. One area artisanal chocolate makers are expanding to is bonbons.
Makers of delicious specialty craft chocolate bars who also make bonbons include French Broad Chocolate, CXBO Chocolates, and Onyx Chocolates just to name a few.
Over the last decade, specialty craft chocolate has seen significant growth. In the United States, there were about a dozen makers just 10 years ago. Today there are over 200 craft chocolate makers and the number continues to grow.
In such an increasingly competitive market, chocolate makers are looking to diversify into new areas to stand out as the industry and demand for specialty crafted chocolate continues to grow.
What are Bonbons?
You might have heard the phrase "sitting around eating bonbons", but what are bonbons?
The word bonbon comes from the French word bon, meaning good. Add another bon and we have something double as good. The word was first introduced by the French royal court in the 17th century.
People typically confuse bonbons with truffles or candy. The confusion of what a bonbon is may come from the fact that it's used to describe candy not only in French but other languages including Dutch, German and Hungarian. This is why you find a vast number of candies such as lollipops labeled as a bonbon. So are all candies bonbons?
What bonbon really means is any type of sweet confection filled with ganache, praline, salted caramel, nougat, etc, and dipped in chocolate at the very end of the making process. Giving the confection a thin layer of chocolate. Most often bonbons are filled with ganache, which is a mixture of chocolate and cream.
Bonbons can be a variety of shapes, round and square shapes are the most popular. Contemporary chocolate makers often decorate bonbons with bright colors for a vibrant look. Just have a look at the image below of CXBOs Bonbons. Looking at these is giving me craving!
Bean to BonBon
10 years ago there was a huge growth in craft chocolate making. The independent craft chocolate makers marketed themselves as bean to bar. Bean to bar describes the chocolate-making process in which the chocolate maker controls each step of the process. From sourcing the cacao, usually through direct or fair trade to grinding and conching the chocolate.
The term bean to bar was introduced by craft chocolate makers to stand out from large commercial makers. These craft makers broke the model of chocolate companies buying pre-made European chocolate. Pioneers of craft chocolate in the United States include Askinosie, Dick Taylor and Raaka. The number of makers entering the market grows each year.
Large commercial chocolate companies have hopped on the trend of artisanal chocolate, making it hard to distinguish between quality craft makers and big bulk producers. Artisinal chocolate makers are starting to innovate to set themselves apart. One way small craft chocolate makers are innovating their brands is with bean to bonbon.
Chocolate has always been a space for creativity and there is a strong demand for it. When it comes to bonbons, truffles, and other confections, consumers are less interested in the chocolate-making process or the sourcing of the cacao and focus on creativity and taste.
As the bean to bar movement continues to grow and consumers become more aware of the chocolate-making process, bean to bar chocolate makers have an opportunity to demonstrate their creativity past bar making and into bonbons.
Increase in Premium Cacao
Another reason bean to bar makers are starting to make bonbons is due to the increase in premium cacao on the market. The increased demand for specialty crafted chocolate has triggered an increase in premium cacao.
This is positive for the industry but maybe too much for a market still in its growing stages. Cacao producers look to sell their cacao in large quantities typically in tons, whereas small craft producers require only small quantities.
Imagine the cacao producer trying to sell a container of cacao (12 tons) and a small craft chocolate maker requiring a couple of 60 Kg bags. Without an increase in the purchasing of premium cacao, premium cacao will be wasted for commercial chocolate.
To avoid waste of premium cacao and to meet the demand of farmers, bean to bar makers will need to expand their product offering. This trend has already started as bean to bar makers are now taking advantage of this and are becoming, bean to bonbon, bean to egg, bean to truffle and bean to beverage makers.
For example, Askinoise offers a variety of chocolate products, malt balls, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, chocolate beverages, and baking chocolate products. This is a positive as bean to bar chocolate makers diversify their offerings, they will attract a larger market to the bean to bar movement and increase the expansion of the industry. This will help also lead to better buying of premium cacao, supporting the producers of the cacao.
What does this mean for you and me? Next time we buy a specialty crafted chocolate bar, make sure to check out the complete product offering of the chocolate maker, they probably have more to offer. Bonbons are a great treat and one way the specialty craft chocolate movement can continue to grow. I mean why not eat real chocolate past the bar?
From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you get inside the box!
Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars.
Have someone who you appreciate? It also makes as a great gift!
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate shop, it's a selection of what we have curated in our past boxes.
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