"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sugar Notions: Candy Bar Cloning

(click to enlarge photos: Taken at Granville Island public market in Vancouver, BC. BELOW-
 Taken at Knott's Berry Farm)

Everyone loves candy. More or less, that is.

I personally enthuse over candy a great deal, but I don't have it often. Retail shops (including many of the small mom and pop stores in quaint areas) like Dylan's Candy Bar, Sweet Factory, Candy Warehouse, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and The Swiss Colony give me a complete sugar rush emotionally.  I'm literally THE kid in the candy store when I either browse online or walk into one of these places.
However, when I go to my local supermarket and walk down the aisles and one of them happens to be the candy aisle, I almost always slow down a bit to browse what's there -- to see all of the enticing, sugary delights displayed in assortments of colorful and blithe packaging styles. These days, from supermarkets, I rarely drop any candy into my basket.

Picky, I am. Candies are edible opiates, all with different properties, and each proper for consuming during a particular mood.  More often, I find myself gravitating toward gourmet and homemade pastries and confections over the refined stuff, but once in awhile, when I get a desire for something commercial and sweet, I go for Twix candy bars.

Without sounding like a commercial, I must say that Twix bars have this undeniably addictive texture. It's quite easy to engorge on several of these candied cookie sticks. When you first bite into a Twix candy bar, your tongue experiences a thin, delicate, and luxe milk chocolate coating. Then your teeth plunge into and your taste buds begin to experience a gooey second layer of rich, elastic, buttery caramel that envelops around your tongue. Last, you get a satisfying crunch of a crisp, cookie biscuit. Altogether, these sacchariferous textures create a decadent, full-bodied, velvety experience that leaves you wanting residual fixes.

So, I got to thinking, "What if I tried making mock Twix bars at home?" I've never made anything like this and there are so many ways to approach such an honorary recipe. I know I'd have a lot of fun trying, regardless of my results. It'll be my time to play mad sugar scientist.

For the recipe, I'd need:
  • a milk chocolate ganache for the coating
  • a chewy, but frim caramel sauce or nougat for the middle
  • a nice crunchy, stiff, sweet cookie or biscuit layer for the core
For the ganache, I'd need to incorporate just enough cream into the milk chocolate, so that it is ideal for dipping, and firming up at room temperature. The caramel sauce recipe would also have to be one where the caramel solidifies enough at room temperature but keeps a malleable and chewy texture, like a traditional caramel square or chew that comes in a customary candy wrapper. A hard shortbread or butter cookie recipe would be perfect for the innermost layer. I've seen some people use dessert or club crackers, but I prefer a cookie recipe. I normally go for chewy cookies with crispy edges, but this kind of texture would not be best for what Twix candy bar rendition. Having that finishing crunch texture is important as the last but integrating sensation. Plus, this cookie dough would have a mellowed, salty sweetness to balance the uber sweetness of the chocolate and caramel..

When I make the cookie dough, I'll try shaping the cookies into small sticks or logs, either by hand or with an appropriately-shaped cookie cutter. If I purchased some lollipop sticks, it might be a good strategy to place them halfway into the center of each cookie stick once they are taken right out of the oven, which is when they are still pliable. Not sure if this would work, as I might not be able to remove the sticks later, after using them as dipping aids. As the cookies cool down, they might become firmly fixed. I guess I'll have to see what happens. I don't have the luxury of factory grade machines that effortlessly and seamlessly coat candies all over.

If this works, then when each cookie is cooled, I can begin dipping each stick into a warm caramel sauce. Once that layer is firm and room temperature, the last task would be to dip each caramel-coated cookie stick into a waiting pool of milk chocolate ganache.

Hopefully, all of these steps will lead to a successful result that pays at least somewhat of a respectful homage to the original Twix candy bar. If not, I'm still going to be swinging like a candy-coated, chocolate monkey on a peppermint bark tree...with a lab coat on donning pink cotton candy insignia.

Stay tuned...


  1. We have Twix here in the UK but they remind me a little bit of a millionaires shortbread on the go. Maybe something to think about when your making them?

  2. Yeah, that is a good idea to consider the Millionaire's shortbread bars, in terms of designing them (like a flat square bar). I've never tried them, but I've seen a lot of recipes for them online and in a few cookbooks, and they do remind me of Twix in flavor profile and composition.

    Do they taste very similar Twix bars? I've never seen any bakeries in California that sell them.

    I am also wondering if I will have to temper chocolate in order to make these mock bars. I've never tempered chocolate before; it's another thing I've always felt a bit intimidated by, because so many claim tempering chocolate is a difficult thing to do. LOL

    But, as a brave baker, I can't let that get in the way of experimentation. I will be posting both successes and failures on this blog.

  3. Good luck on this endeavor! I wish I could work on it with you. I love tempering chocolate even though it can be a frustrating, tedious process.

  4. Thanks, Memoria! That would be very fun to work on the tempering with you, especially since you have more experience with the process. I'd learn a lot. Too bad, we don't live in the same location. You're still in Texas, right? I'm in Los Angeles. :)

    I have my chocolate. It's Callebaut chocolate - milk chocolate. It's not as expensive as Valrhona, but still not cheap. LOL

    So, I feel a little apprehensive experimenting with it. But I guess that's the point, to experiment with what I have, as I'll never learn and master otherwise.

    I have a few more entries to update with recent stuff I've baked, but I will be getting around to tempering chocolate soon enough and will be posting the results.