Magical Candy Bars That Anyone Can Bake at Home

Pastry Chef Emiko Chisholm shows us how to make this marzipan-chocolate confection.

September 15, 2023
Photo by Karen Levi

I’ve long sought a grown-up candy bar, and 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 chewiness of a great macaroon, and the waves of chocolate that say candy bar.

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

Luckily for us non-pastry-chefs, her recipe requires little equipment, just some mixing, shaping, baking, and topping. Marzipan, sugar, honey, and egg whites are blended to a stiff paste, rolled into logs, dipped in finely chopped almonds, and baked. At this point, your kitchen will take on an intoxicating almond scent.

If there is a challenge with this recipe, it’s sourcing the smoked salt and the best marzipan or almond paste you can find. Emiko uses Lübeck marzipan, which contains 52 percent almonds. I couldn’t find a source for it online, so I tried three different almond pastes, whose almond content hovered close to 50 percent; this was my favorite. Maldon Smoked Salt is available here.

As I learned after testing Emiko’s recipe on my own, the results are binary. If you’re precise and patient, as Emiko is, your marzipan bars will look like neat bricks. If you’re loose around the edges, like I am, your bars will look rustic and homespun.

Emiko’s been baking professionally since she was 17, first at 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’d like to come work for him in the city.

“I worked my way up from a baby, who didn’t know anything about pastry, to pastry sous chef,” Emiko said of her ascent, first at Balthazar, then at Augustine and now Koloman. Throughout that path, she’s had mentors with expertise in traditional European pastry. Mark’s work was influenced by a German baker. Her current boss, Marcus Glocker, leans toward Austrian and Eastern European pastry. Another dessert on the Koloman menu is an Esterházy Torte, a Hungarian cake with 13 layers of almond and hazelnut sponge cake.

A marzipan dessert presents some risks on a menu. “Everyone knows marzipan fruits and they’re kind of nasty,” Emiko said. “So marzipan doesn’t always have the best reputation.” (Do brush up on the SNL spoof if you’ve got time!) But she knows its powers as a background flavor and texture. She uses marzipan as a foundation for cakes, creaming it with the sugar and butter. She also puts it into ice cream bases. And of course, it goes into her stollen.

After baking her Marzipan Bars, Emiko uses a bench scraper to clean up any uneven edges on the bars so that they’re perfectly straight. She brushes the tops with apricot jam, diluted with a little water and warmed to a syrup. The final touches are thread-thin diagonal stripes of melted chocolate, piped exactingly, and a sprinkling of smoked Maldon sea salt.

As she piped the chocolate, I tried to imagine myself doing that at home.


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

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Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


Cathy Z. November 26, 2023
I read a comment where the other person had a bad result with this and realized I too used the same almond paste which was like 4 percent almond or something of that nature. My bars came out non bar like and spread out, but if you make this mistake-just roll everything in a ball and it makes nice snacks/cookies.
Amanda H. December 1, 2023
I like that you made lemonade from lemons!
nina September 17, 2023
Haha. I even love the "nasty little fruits".