Magical Candy Bars Anyone Can Make at Home

I’ve been looking for a candy bar for adults for a long time and I think I’ve finally found it. The Lübeck marzipan on the dessert menu at Koloman, a French restaurant in Flatiron, has the scent of an almond cake, the crunch of brittle, the softness of a good macaron and the waves of chocolate that say a candy bar .

I asked Emiko Chisholm, the restaurant’s pastry chef, to come to our test kitchen to show me how to make this magical confection.

Luckily for us non-bakers, her recipe requires few equipment, just a little mixing, shaping, baking and garnishing. Marzipan, sugar, honey and egg whites are mixed into a stiff dough, rolled into logs, dipped in finely chopped almonds and baked. At this point, your kitchen will take on an intoxicating almond scent.

If there’s a challenge with this recipe, it’s finding the smoked salt and the best marzipan or marzipan you can find. Emiko uses Lübeck marzipan, which contains 52% almonds. I couldn’t find an online source, so I tried three different almond pastes, which had an almond content of around 50%; it was my favorite. Maldon smoked salt is available here.

As I learned after testing Emiko’s recipe myself, the results are binary. If you’re precise and patient, like Emiko, your marzipan bars will look like pretty bricks. If you’re loose around the edges, like me, your bars will look rustic and homemade.

Emiko has been baking professionally since she was 17, first in a small place near where she grew up in upstate New York. Mark Tasker, the head baker at Balthazar in Soho, was a regular customer and one day he asked her if she would like to come work for him in the city.

“I worked my way up from a baby who knew nothing about pastry to becoming a sous pastry chef,” Emiko said of her rise, first at Balthazar, then at Augustine and now at Koloman. Throughout her journey, she has had mentors who are experts in traditional European baking. Mark’s work was influenced by a German baker. Its current boss, Marcus Glocker, focuses on Austrian and Eastern European pastries. Another dessert on Koloman’s menu is the Esterházy Torte, a Hungarian cake made with 13 layers of almond and hazelnut sponge cake.

A marzipan dessert presents certain risks on a menu. “Everyone knows about marzipan fruits and they are pretty nasty,” Emiko said. “Marzipan therefore does not always have the best reputation.” (Review the SNL parody if you have time!) But she knows her powers as a background flavor and texture. She uses marzipan as a base for cakes, creaming it with sugar and butter. She also puts it in ice cream bases. And of course, it’s stolen from him.

After baking her marzipan bars, Emiko uses a scraper to clean up the uneven edges of the bars so they are perfectly straight. She brushes the top with apricot jam, diluted with a little water and warmed into syrup. The finishing touch is precisely arranged thin diagonal stripes of melted chocolate and a pinch of Maldon smoked sea salt.

While she was making the chocolate, I tried to imagine myself making this at home.


“Could you just use a spoon to dip in the melted chocolate and swirl it on top? I asked. Emiko paused uncomfortably. “Yeah, you could,” she said with a shrug. So you can do it my home cook’s way, just know that when you do, a small part of a hard-working pastry chef’s soul will die with your sloppy swirls.

Click here for the recipe.

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