Each East End hamlet and village has its own quirks and flavors—but what if those flavors were captured in a chocolate bar?
One small business—mali b. sweets in Greenport—has done just that, churning out sweet candy bars whose ingredients are specific to six South Fork locales: Montauk, East Hampton, Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton.
A little more than a week before Easter, one of the biggest chocolate-consumption holidays of the year—Miche Bacher, the owner and chef at mali b. sweets, which uses all-lowercase letters in its name for aesthetic preferences, explained how the character of each place is marked by an essential ingredient.
“Montauk is known for its fishing and lobstering, but you can’t put lobster or fish in a chocolate bar,” she explained with a laugh, as a blender of butter cream frosting whirred in the background.
But the easternmost hamlet is also known for its crunchy granola surfing community, she continued. Voila: granola, a chocolate-friendly pairing.
The Montauk bar is made of house-made granola—whipped up right at the Front Street shop—and dark chocolate. Its wrapping features a lobster boat. And, like each of the other bars, there is a nugget of history on a back sticker. Montauk is not only home to the largest commercial and recreational fleet in the state, but it also boasts the oldest cattle ranch in America and the first lighthouse in New York, it states. The relevance of the granola is highlighted in another point: “Montauk Indians were nourished by roots, berries and herbs they gathered, hence, granola!”
Although the shop—which opened about a decade ago under the name Sacred Sweets—makes wedding cakes and various other confections, and the frosting in the blender was intended for a wedding cake, chocolate will be its sole speciality going forward.
“You put too much energy into too many things and nothing gets what it deserves,” Ms. Bacher, 45, reasoned.
That means even more attention for the Hamptons bar collection.
The East Hampton bar is lemon and crystallized ginger in a dark chocolate blend wrapped in windmill-adorned paper.
“When you think of East Hampton, you think of it as a summer community,” Ms. Bacher said. “Citrus is a bright flavor that evokes summer, and lemon and ginger is a sophisticated combo.”
Though one might think of the village’s style as sophisticated, its layout of streets—in grids to anticipate future growth—evokes sophistication for Ms. Bacher.
Moving west through the collection brings one to Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, which actually share a flavor, however unique: potato chips and milk chocolate.
The salty-sweet blend pays homage to the importance of the potato in those two places’ history, Ms. Bacher said.
“Sagaponack means ‘land of the big ground nut.’ Ground nuts are potatoes, so we put potato chips in that bar,” she said.
The added crunch in those two candies comes from local potatoes, she added happily.
The Sag Harbor Whaler bar, meanwhile, is made of sea salt, caramel popcorn and dark chocolate.
The village is historically known for its whaling industry, but whale meat—like lobster and fish—is hardly a chocolate-worthy ingredient, but sea salt lends a taste of the sea.
And Ms. Bacher also turned to the cinema, a neon-glowing Sag Harbor icon, and its popcorn association to arrive at Sag Harbor’s flavor. The caramel, she said, is a nod to the sugar industry, which arose after the whaling ends ended.
Finally, Southampton, the westernmost village featured in the collection, is made of milk chocolate and coffee bean crush. Its wrapper sports an oceanfront lifeguard stand.
“Southampton is about classic Americana, the shops, the people,” the friendly chocolate-maker said.
Because Southampton has British roots—taking its name from the Earl of Southampton—coffee, the “anti-tea,” serves as a little taste of independence, Ms. Bacher said.
“Tea is very British and America is very coffee,” she said. “We thought that using the anti-tea was a way of saying ‘Bye-bye, Britain, we’re America now.’”
The Hamptons bar collections are sold online at www.malibsweets.com, as well as at The Wharf Shop in Sag Harbor, Loaves and Fishes in Bridgehampton, The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, and a few locations up-island and in Manhattan. Each bar typically sells for $9.
Despite her newfound business focus on chocolate, Ms. Bacher said she does not have immediate plans to add bars for other South Fork spots.
She has, however, received requests for Amagansett. If Bridgehampton and Sagaponack have bars, why can’t Amagansett, she recalls hearing from customers.