For Susanna Yoon, working with chocolate and caramel has long served as her favorite culinary activity. The chocolatier spent years perfecting the craft at Thomas Keller’s glitzy restaurant, Per Se, before leaving to open her own confectionery, Stick With Me Sweets, in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.
“I wanted to create chocolate bonbons, but make it more accessible to all chocolate lovers,” she explains.
At her narrow, postage stamp of a store, Susanna specializes in chocolate bonbons and caramels, wrapped and twirled in crinkly plastic. The bonbons, squat orbs of chocolate, are lined up like jewels in a glass case, an amalgamation of white, dark, and milk chocolate. Each piece of chocolate is tended to like a precious work of art: Every bonbon is filled with a slew of ganaches, marshmallows, or cookies, hand-shelled in chocolate, and painted by hand—a process that often takes three days. Some are dusted with a spraying of baby blue powder, others are finished off with neon pinks, yellows, and greens—a cheeky visual clue to what’s sealed inside.
Susanna’s flavors are just as creative and decadent as the decoration. Bite into the speculoos s’more and you’ll be greeted with a shattering of dark chocolate draped over a soft marshmallow crowning a speculoos cookie. Slicing into the liquid salted caramel reveals a pool of caramel, intensely dark and nutty, spilling out of the chocolate. The bonbons change with the seasons, but you’ll find flavors like mint chocolate cookie, bananas Foster, passion fruit, wild strawberry, and matcha green tea.
“We think of our favorite childhood memories, our favorite desserts, seasonal ingredients, and things we love,” Susanna says of the ideation process, “combining different components to create delicious, fun, and surprising flavors.”
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The recipe is developed first, then matched with colors and designs to bring each piece of chocolate to life. “In essence, the design we create serves as the visual identity of the flavors inside,” she says.
Choose your chocolates and they’ll be plopped into boxes that further highlight Susanna’s inherent creativity. The boxes are styled after books and mimic the opening of one, complete with a red-painted spine and white and gray pages. The chocolates are sheathed inside, a colorful trove of prized jewels waiting to be revealed.
Individual caramels, too, are available for purchase. The chewy ribbons are spiked with a variety of flavors—think cassis, raspberry, and yuzu—sliced into pinkie-sized nubs, and individually wrapped.
If a trip to the N.Y.C. store isn’t possible, Susanna ships sweets across the country. But if you can make it in, you’ll be rewarded with the option to purchase a slew of bonbon boxes. The packages overflow with a range of chocolate bonbons, in flavors like wild strawberry, creme brulee, and kalamansi meringue pie. It’s a gift so sweet you’ll not need a holiday dictating when to eat chocolate—after this, you’ll just be digging into bars and truffles all the time.
But for those who are looking for a bit of a DIY project for their loved ones, Susanna has shared her recipe for caramels designed for home cooks. She guarantees the recipe is foolproof and home friendly, studded with silky Plugra butter, plenty of fleur de sel, and an entire vanilla bean. All the ingredients are whisked together in a pot until reaching 250°F, then gently poured onto a greased Silpat (or piece of parchment paper) to cool until firm. The caramel can be sliced into squat rectangles, wrapped like the perfect gift they are, and passed out on Valentine’s Day. Or any day, really—we won’t tell.