Need a special stocking stuffer for the chocolate fan on your list? Bakery Nouveau shops now feature hand-crafted chocolate bars.
“Peacock Series” bars just debuted, in what’s become the realization of a dream for owner and award-winning chef William Leaman.
"Most pastry chefs I know, the ultimate goal is making your own chocolate,” he said.
Leaman was finally able to start pursuing it as a passion when he opened his third – and flagship – Bakery Nouveau location in Burien. The basement of the shop provided an ideal spot for his "Laboratoire de Chocolat" - an underground chocolate factory, where he makes each batch from bags of cocoa beans.
"We want to do the most work we possibly can, because that's just what pastry chefs do. We torment ourselves,” he said, laughing.
The beans are imported from small farms around the world, and Leaman cleans each batch by hand, roasts them, and winnows the beans into nibs using a machine he built with friends.
"It works when you're building things with pennies, peanuts and dreams,” he said.
The cocoa nibs are transferred into a chocolate melanger where they churn for days, before being blocked for 6-8 weeks. In a final step, he conches the chocolate – blending it with sugar and salt.
It’s used for 95% of chocolate-flavored items sold at Bakery Nouveau – from handmade candies and seasonal cakes to croissants, tarts, and espresso drinks.
The signature line of Bakery Nouveau chocolate bars may be Leaman’s favorite achievement.
"To finally reach the mountaintop and say, ‘Okay, we have our own bars now’ - that's something to be really proud of,” he said.
Leaman’s realization of a dream also made his "bean to bakery" a first of its kind.
"We're the only bakery in North America producing their own chocolate from the bean," he said.
Bakery Nouveau has locations in Burien, West Seattle and Capitol Hill. The chocolate bars are available in-store for $7 each.