When the whole world comes crashing down, there’s still scrap chocolate,” Alex Clark, owner of Hamtramck-based Bon Bon Bon, says with a warm smile while doling out samples from her new fall line to a small group of us.
She’s referring to cast-off morsels of cocoa, which she’s just invited us to pop into her shop to enjoy anytime life requires a bit of sweet relief.
Named one of Forbes’ 2016 “30 Under 30,” Clark opened her flagship bon bon shop in 2014, and later a second local storefront on the ground level of the Chrysler House in Downtown Detroit’s financial district.
In celebration of National Chocolate Day on Oct. 28, you might want to pop in for a visit.
Delightful delicacies, which measure about 2 inches long and 1-inch wide, each bite-sized bon bon is bursting with Clark’s whim and creativity. For instance, Caprese may seem a surprising concoction for a chocolate confection, but she serves us one for a sampling of “something weird” at an intimate introduction of her new fall flavors.
According to a recipe posted in the room, its ingredients include “red tomato confiture, basil ricotta ganache (from Acre Farm), with dark shell and balsamic glaze.”
Other seasonal sweets she’s conceived include Cider & Donuts, Pumpkin Spice is Cheesy and Fried Green Tomato. Clark manages to cram fun and inventive flavor profiles into every petite, handmade treat.
“Chocolate is amazing because it’s one of the only things out there where you can have the very best of it for $3!” she says. “You know, you can’t have the best meal, outfit, even pencil for $3. But at Bon Bon Bon you can have two bites of some of the [best] chocolate you could ever dream of. It’s good and it’s accessible and I feel like that makes it very special.”
She hands us a bon bon named the Salty Sap, which she describes as “a textural experiment that went really well.” The salty/sweet caramel creation leaves our tongues tingling.
“There are so many good things in our chocolate,” Clark says. “Good jobs and good ingredients and good people — and the truth is the world’s not always that good … It’s amazing to have Bon Bon Bon and be able to use it as a platform to share good things with other people.”
A teller of tiny, sweet stories, Clark acquired her sweet tooth from her grandfather. “He used to skip lunch and eat two king-sized chocolate bars instead!” she fondly recalls.
Earlier this year, Clark purchased a larger space on Joseph Campau, just down the street from the shop’s original Hamtramck location, in order to increase production capabilities. The move also indicates her intention to remain in the area long-term.
“What’s exciting about having our business in Detroit is the quality of the makers and the established urban farming community here. In conjunction with the diversity of Michigan’s agricultural economy, this means that we, collectively with [the local] restaurants, have access to all of the resources we need.”
She hopes to have the new store open in time for the holidays.
By Reisa Shanaman, Special to the Jewish News