real life test kitchen: custom chocolate bars

finished bars

Ever since I married my darling husband, I’ve entered a whole new world of holiday madness: Chrismukkah. Yes, we celebrate both. That means coming up with gifts to put under the tree, gifts to put in a stocking, plus a gift for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Needless to say, my gift budget has gotten a little out of control in recent years. But I spotted some custom-made candy bars out there in the world recently, and decided to try my very own DIY version. Turns out, it’s easy, thrifty (especially if you don’t buy $20 chocolate as I did), and a huge hit at my house.  –Becki S. Click for custom chocolate bars!

Becki’s Custom Chocolate Bars
Recipe: Yields 2 finished bars

8 ounces of good chocolate (use bar or drop chocolate if possible; chips contain stabilizers that make them tricky to melt and re-form)
½ tsp flavorless vegetable oil
Mix-ins: the sky’s the limit here. I made three different bars, using combinations of salted pretzels, dried cranberries, Cocoa Pebbles, iced animal cookies, Whoppers, M&Ms, macadamia nuts, sea salt and more. A local chocolatier I chatted with suggested coffee grounds and Pop Rocks. In other words, if you can dream it, you can add it.

First, build a mold. Rather than buying a mold (too easy, and too expensive), I decided to hit the hardware store. I bought a strip of balsa wood about ½” wide, and a box of brad nails, and headed home. Balsa wood is incredibly soft, so it’s very easy to use for this. I cut four strips of balsa wood (it cuts with scissors) to create a rectangle, and held them together by pressing the brad nails into the wood at each corner (no hammer required – they go in just like thumbtacks). Put the mold on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and weight the parchment on the edges to help the mold lie flat (it will be very lightweight).

To melt the chocolate, put it in a microwave-safe bowl, add the vegetable oil (it gives the finished bar a nice sheen), and microwave on high for 20 seconds. Remove the bowl, stir, and return to the microwave for another 20 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate comes out about 90% melted. From there, stir until it melts completely. Pour into the mold, which will be wobbly – press the mold down as you pour, and don’t worry if some oozes out the bottom. It will all work out!

Next, add your mix-ins – don’t be stingy, but be sure you don’t go too heavy on the first mix-in, or you’ll never be able to fit more in. Also, start with the largest-sized mix-in first. When you’re done, press lightly on the mix-ins to get them to really settle into the chocolate. Put a little something across the top of the mold to weight it down (I used a pair of kitchen tongs), and put the cookie sheet in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes. Remove the bar from the mold, and repeat as desired! If your chocolate firms up, another 15 seconds in the microwave should get you back in business.

To package, I just used simple glassine bags I conned from the bakery at my local Whole Foods (thanks, guys!), and made up the labels in Microsoft Word. The whole process, while it sounds crazy, took less than an hour, and I ended up with a happy (if slightly sugar-coma’d) husband.

From our partners

So inspirational, a more modern take on your Great Aunt’s custom chocolate box, raisins optional!

Anything with Cocoa Pebbles in it, I’m down with. I find that if you put some Pebbles in a sandwich bag, and mash them in the bag (with a wooden spoon, say), you have a nice dry grainy topping you can sprinkle on a lot of things…

Sarah C.

These are amazing -right down to the thoughtful packaging – that’s a very lucky husband right there! Delicious!

aww, thanks all! so glad you approve. at the rate at which Husband is devouring these, i’d say they were a hit :)

my kind of DIY » shoppingsmycardio

[…] moonlighting over at shelterrific this year, you’ll know i’ve been taking on a bit of DIY goodness this season.  since i’m feeling all warm and crafty inside, i couldn’t resist sharing […]