Visiting Shane Confectionery, the old-school Old City candy shop, always feels like stepping into a real-life Willy Wonka chocolate factory, but on a recent visit, we discovered what might be its most adorable work yet: three teeny-tiny pies — apple, pumpkin, and shoofly — nestled in a box no bigger than a child’s fist. The latticework on the apple pie evenly crisscrosses the top. The pumpkin tart’s tan crust looks hand-crimped. The sandy layer atop the Pennsylvania Dutch dessert is unmistakably crumb topping.
In fact, these are not pies but bonbons, rendered in meticulous detail by Shane’s chocolate-works department, led by head chocolate maker Kevin Paschall. Though each is flavored individually, all are contained in a caramelized white chocolate shell, made with organic cocoa butter, cane sugar, and whole milk powder. (Technically, Paschall notes, the milk solids in the bean-to-bar chocolate are thoroughly toasted, but “caramelized” sounds better.) They set the white chocolate shell in a peanut butter-cup mold to get the picture-perfect pie crust.
From there, the bonbons get filled. The pumpkin center consists of white chocolate-pumpkin puree ganache. The apple’s ganache filling is infused with freeze-dried apples and warm spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice). Both conceal a thin honey-vanilla shortbread-cookie layer that mimics the crunch of a good pie crust.
The outlier is the shoofly pie bonbon, which doesn’t have any cookie inside, but does have a legit crumb topping, made with flour, butter, and brown sugar. Underneath, there’s a ganache of white chocolate and “a staggering amount of blackstrap molasses,” Paschall says. “It took more molasses than we thought was humanly possible to get the right flavor.”
Though these bonbons are the very definition of looking too good to eat, keep in mind that they’re made with fresh dairy — Paschall wouldn’t sell them in the shop past six weeks (though they’re fine to eat after that time). Luckily, he won’t have to worry: The last 100-box run sold out in about four weeks. A new 100-box run should hit Shane’s shelves today.