the shape of wafer
May 3, 2018 9:14 AM   Subscribe

“Should anyone spend five days trying to make three homemade Kit Kats? Seems dubious.” Join Bon Appetit editor Claire Saffitz in the test kitchen of my dreams as she attempts to make gourmet Kit Kats from scratch.

Previous attempts: Pastry Chef Attempts To Make Gourmet Cheetos. Pastry Chef Attempts To Make a Gourmet Twinkie. Pastry Chef Attempts To Make Gourmet Gushers.
posted by roger ackroyd (54 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is AWESOME. :)
posted by Melismata at 9:19 AM on May 3, 2018


kissing fingertips at the title. well done!
posted by mochapickle at 9:23 AM on May 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


I hope they do not begin with either kits or kats.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on May 3, 2018


(complex hand gestures indicating me and that kit-kat? we gon frick)
posted by boo_radley at 9:43 AM on May 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


Kit Kats are the one product that make me break my personal Nestlé boycott.

God damn you delicious, delicious Kit Kats.
posted by papafrita at 9:49 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


pls clarify if linked vid has full frontal kit kat or not thx
posted by poffin boffin at 9:56 AM on May 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


papafrita, I have good news for you: Kvikk Lunsj.

It's even better at Kit Kat than Kit Kat.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


full frontal, down the upsies and sides, plus chill plate and hot sheet pan action
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


three homemade Kit Kats

Kits Kat
posted by rhizome at 10:40 AM on May 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


It seems to me there is a conflict here between the conception of the gourmet kitkat and being true to the conception of the kitkat as non-gourmet. The essence of the video is replication, there is no general strategy to improve the flavour or experience. At the end the tasters say it is better than the standard kitkat but this seems to come from the better quality chocolate she uses, not from a direct effort at improvement.

I found this strangely enjoyable though.

I guess it probably says something about Adam Smith's thinking on economics.
posted by biffa at 10:55 AM on May 3, 2018


1. Bite of Kit Kat, handful of popcorn. The best combination.
2. All of the Bon Appetit channel videos are pretty great. Good recipes, high production values. Aside from the regular recipe videos (which are great, did I mention that?), the back-to-back chef videos are silly fun.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:21 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


She should have gone to the Kit Kat flagshipstore in Ginza first. I've seen them made before my very eyes. Also they are around 8 bucks a piece. I missed this though :(
posted by ouke at 11:26 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Kit Kats or Big Kats?

I am of the (probably minority) opinion that Big Kats > Kit Kats.
posted by hanov3r at 11:29 AM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I live near the Nestle factory in Toronto and can sometimes smell them making the wafers, which smells vaguely like burnt toast, presumably the second baking step to crisp them up.
posted by sfred at 11:31 AM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Aren’t Kit Kats essentially just off-the-shelf wafer cookies covered in barfolate? Seems to me she’d have an easier time replicating a generic wafer cookie — as opposed to some sort of proprietary Kit Kat centre — and then just covering it with Hershey’s earwax.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:33 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Kit Kats or Big Kats?

Big Kats or Baked Kits Kat?
posted by rhizome at 11:49 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I ate watched the whole thing.

I knew they were going to have to get a stroop-waffle iron or wafflecone maker or something like that, there's just not really any other good way to do this.

The industrial version of the KitKat wafer is the way it is because of the cheaper ingredients and the uses of oils and starches instead of butter and traditional pastry ingredients. This is why an Oreo is an Oreo. It's not actually a cookie. It's the same difference between those styrofoam-like sugar wafe ice cream cones and a waffle cone.

And the industrial process they use to make their wafer likely involves a continuous web of wafer dough being fed between huge rollers at very specific temps and humidity and then baked in a continuous process tunnel oven with zone temp control. The wafers are likely cut with food safe ultrasonic knives and rolling slitters, too.

I bet the "crumbs" they use are mainly collected from the very small kerf wastage from the slitting/cutting process - they would be about the right mesh size for that use as is. I would bet they would not actually be crumbling whole or large-shaped wafer pieces because they would have the baking process refined to have zero wastage, and a baking line producing bad or broken wafers would be immediately halted and repaired. The industrial process of crushing wafers would add a whole new line and sieving process with it's own wastes, too.

Industrial food companies that practice 5 sigma and ISO 9001 standards tend to have wastage rates that require a few decimal places to express. There's no "whoops, we broke these wafers, so let's crush 'em up." The crumbs are coming from a process or handling in the line.

And watching pastry chefs work is fun. They do a lot of ridiculous things like this. Watching them temper chocolate in a hot kitchen is pretty amazing - and sometimes dangerous, like getting too close to a hyena.

And I just want to share that when she get to the recipe at the end, and I started building a mise en place in my head as she read it off.

The mise en place prep and checklist to do this on a large scale by hand and make, say, 500 of these for a wedding or banquet is utterly appalling.

Even if you had ten of those waffle irons the task would probably consume every workstation in the 10,000 sq ft kitchen I worked in and all four ovens for maybe all day or even a few days, and that's assuming a good staff of about 8-10 people... which isn't usually a thing. For reference the kitchen I worked in was about the size of the one in the video, if not a bit bigger. It was also originally a Bon Appetit designed/owned kitchen.

Hell, just doing the mise en place and workflow for like ten gourmet KitKats with any kind of speed is just giving me weird PTSD flashbacks. I've done a little pastry prep work and it's amazing how much work it can be just to make like two dozen tarts or galettes.

The thought of having to make a few square meters of perfectly uniform and flat cookie wafer like this is probably enough to give most pastry chefs nightmares.

There's a phrase I've heard in kitchens a few times, and it goes like this. "I hear they make a machine for this. Sure would be nice to have one right now."
posted by loquacious at 11:51 AM on May 3, 2018 [48 favorites]


Give me a break.
posted by 4ster at 12:01 PM on May 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


your favorite chocolate sucks
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:06 PM on May 3, 2018


One of the best things I ever learned about Kits Kat (and I didn't watch the video all the way through, so perhaps this is addressed) is what holds the wafers together. If memory serves, I came across this on the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast. There are certain Kit Kat bars that do not pass muster -- misshapen, broken, uneven chocolate coverage, whatever. These are pulverized and used between the wafers of subsequent Kits Kat.

They are fractal chocolate bars.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:15 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Kit Kats are the one product that make me break my personal Nestlé boycott.

Not me, I stopped buying them when Nestlé changed the recipe around 1998, the ingredients used to include extra strong (and expensive) French flour, that was cut along with a bunch of other changes.
Hopefully one day someone will figure out the original recipe and start selling them again under a different name.
posted by Lanark at 12:16 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


And watching pastry chefs work is fun. They do a lot of ridiculous things like this.

yeah, I was just starting a line of thought about these gourmet-reconstruction projects: it's been done with Twinkies, Reese's, etc. Some of the fun comes from "look at this mass-produced product, what if we made it artisanally," and it's always ridiculously labor-intensive and it all seems like kind of a stunt. But then this just all hearkens back to the pre-industrialization work of confectionery, which was ridiculously labor-intensive- that was kind of the point - and it was able to achieve these really particular, sometimes ethereal effects of ingredient transformation that we can pretty much take for granted now, and have for a few cents what 400 years ago you'd have to be royalty to taste.
posted by Miko at 12:19 PM on May 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


There's no "whoops, we broke these wafers, so let's crush 'em up."

Are you telling me that "Oops! All Berries!" wasn't actually the product of an industrial accident?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on May 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


Don't get me started on Crunch Berries not having any flavor anymore, because that's what the barest mention of Crunch Berries does to me.

Or "Crunches Berry."
posted by rhizome at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


I homemake KitKats all the time with my Kit Kat kit, cat, and knit hat.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:55 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Kit Kats are the one product that make me break my personal Nestlé boycott.

Nestle is selling their entire chocolate business to Ferrero Rocher. You can sleep soundly unless you were already boycotting Nutella.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Are you telling me that "Oops! All Berries!" wasn't actually the product of an industrial accident?

"Oops! All Berries!" is the product of Cap'n Crunch (chaotic good) realizing that the capitalist pigs who are the majority shareholders in his company are hoarding crunchberries to drive up the value. In an act of defiance the Cap'n sabotaged his own factory to release crunchberries to the masses, staged as an accident so he cannot be removed from his position as the head of the company.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:02 PM on May 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


also i was picturing twix and not kitkat so a lot of the video was incomprehensible and confusing to me until i realized it was actually my mistake and not a case of collective delusion.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:04 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


yeah, I was just starting a line of thought about these gourmet-reconstruction projects: it's been done with Twinkies, Reese's, etc. Some of the fun comes from "look at this mass-produced product, what if we made it artisanally," and it's always ridiculously labor-intensive and it all seems like kind of a stunt.

Yeah, there's a lot of things like this that don't scale down well, or things that fail to translate to general purpose commercial kitchens.

Another example from the same kitchen was the time they tried to make something like 300 pizzas for a huge family reunion or something. They had two people already in the kitchen that knew pizza. They even went and bought 300+ pizza boxes from the local pizza place.

What could go wrong?

Well, apparently everything. It all went pear shaped because a commercial kitchen usually doesn't have a pizza oven. Or pizza racks. Or enough counterspace to work that many skins/peels. Or even enough space to fold and store that many boxes. In the end everyone agreed we should have just bought the pizzas from a pizza place, including the customers and pizza place we bought the boxes from. "Yeah, how'd that go? I bet that was hilarious!"

Keep in mind this is a team and kitchen that can actually nail a black tie banquet or wedding dinner for 500 people with full table and full bar cocktail/bev table service, three choices of protein, a vegan option, salads and desserts, and do it two times a day or more for weeks on end in peak tourist season. I've seen that place turn over all cold/fresh stock in like 8,000 sq feet of freezer and fridge in about 48 hours.

Meanwhile a very small pizza kitchen can turn 500 pizzas in a day with 1/10th the space and workers because that's all they do is pizza and they have the flow and kitchen for it.

So my estimate above about the recipe and mise en place and production for kitchen-made KitKats is based on lessons like the one above. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but this is definitely a kitchen manager's nightmare and the kind of thing where you'd think "Eh, how bad could it be? Give the pastry chef an assistant and get it done, easy." but, no, this one could keep a whole kitchen busy for a while as soon as it went south and not delivering isn't an option because the sales department are liars and idiots and would tell clients we had Moon cheese if it got them to sign a contract.

Even with all the baking racks and hotboxes and stuff we had in that kitchen, making that many perfect wafers for 300 bars with all the rejects and process involved would go pear shaped so fast it'd make your head spin right off.

And, frankly, I love just thinking about how ridiculous the logistics are for this. I've seen that kitchen I keep talking try to do stuff like this and sometimes it actually ended in real tears and really entertaining amounts of chaos and high value levels of WTF.
posted by loquacious at 1:04 PM on May 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Oops! All Berries!" is the product of Cap'n Crunch (chaotic good) realizing that the capitalist pigs who are the majority shareholders in his company are hoarding crunchberries to drive up the value.

I thought it was monkeywrench protest by the line workers to replace all of the cheap nuggets with the more-expensive berries.
posted by rhizome at 1:04 PM on May 3, 2018


No in this case the corporate sabotage came from the top
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:08 PM on May 3, 2018


I bet the "crumbs" they use are mainly collected from the very small kerf wastage from the slitting/cutting process

Hurf Durf Kerf-waste eater :)

Seriously though, great comment.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:10 PM on May 3, 2018


Wonder if you could deconstruct old toasters and pasta makers to jury rig up a machine that made a single ribbon of wafer? On the other hand I guess I'd rather just buy Ruger chocolate wafer cookies and cover them in dark chocolate.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2018


"Oops! All Berries!" is the product of Cap'n Crunch (chaotic good) realizing that the capitalist pigs who are the majority shareholders in his company are hoarding crunchberries to drive up the value.

No and no. It's a 2nd-to-last ditch plan to sell off mass amounts of mono-cropped crunch berries before they expire. Corporate obviously over-produced in order to entice a buyout. The last ditch plan is to grind them up and sell them as a fancy ice cream topping. But I've said too much.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Wonder if you could deconstruct old toasters and pasta makers to jury rig up a machine that made a single ribbon of wafer? On the other hand I guess I'd rather just buy Ruger chocolate wafer cookies and cover them in dark chocolate.

You could, but it would be incredibly fiddly and at the whim of changing temps/humidity. Ben Kraznow (Applied Science YouTuber) learned all about this making his automated chocolate chip cookie machine that could mix individual chocolate chip cookies up to a programmed recipe, and he ran into all kinds of issues with the scaling and environmental issues.

Starting with manufactured wafers would be a quicker way, for sure. Maybe even peeling apart some cheap vanilla sugar wafers and recoating them.
posted by loquacious at 1:21 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ruger Wafer bakery youtube tour.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:27 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


KitKat factory.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:30 PM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


 Industrial food companies that practice 5 sigma and ISO 9001 standards tend to have wastage rates that require a few decimal places to express.

This doesn't apply to the original (and now closed) Haxby Road Kit-Kat plant in York. Though giant in scale it was all down to a lot of human processes. The wafer sheets - stored for a few days to stabilize, as fresh wafer apparently causes chocolate to crack - were hand loaded. Sometimes they broke, and so huge chunks went to waste. The Lion Bar was created as a way to recycle waste from other confectionery lines. The Rowntree factory shop was a monument to mishapes and error. All gone, all gone, all gone …
posted by scruss at 1:51 PM on May 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


So having spent a portion of Tuesday looking at Kitkat wafers in a usb microscope with our 6 year old, I think the crumb is a sugar wash of some sort. The wafer is covered in visible crystals (I assume some sweetener), so when you snap it you get wafer, and crumbs of the sugar coating.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:55 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


it's amazing how old processes with lots of waste and human process developed new ideas and innovation, but when new processes with super low waste or human process get set, the same dang cookie can be in production for 60 years without any changes.
posted by rebent at 1:59 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Are you telling me that "Oops! All Berries!" wasn't actually the product of an industrial accident?

Brought to you from the same place that accidentally brought you Diamond Shreddies?

This was glorious. I wish they included the end price tag for those 3 finished KitKat bars.
posted by Mchelly at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yep Half-Sour Saffitz is a treasure, and 50% of the reason I watch BA. The other 50% was Brad Leone...up until his most recent videos, where he very slowly boiled some live crabs. So, fuck that guy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:52 PM on May 3, 2018


I grew up in York, and we'd get the mis-shapes from Rowntrees all the time. I think I remember Kit-Kats without any wafers in.
posted by vickyverky at 4:00 PM on May 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


there is only one correct way to eat kit kats and that is to buy the matcha flavored ones that is all.
posted by wibari at 4:36 PM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Noticed that she was using Guittard chocolate, which is one of the best (if not the best) made in the U.S. — much better than Ghirardelli.
posted by D.C. at 4:51 PM on May 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


More Chocolaty
posted by unliteral at 5:12 PM on May 3, 2018


Whoa what is this Lion Bar you speak of? I have never heard of it and it looks AMAZING.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:31 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


And OMG. How much do I love Brad? Seriously would watch the hell out of a Claire/Brad/Snarky low-key Other Chef Dude show all day long.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:33 PM on May 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Bananas - have you seen Brad's show, It's Alive with Brad? Also on the Bon Appetit YouTube channel. There's a great episode where he and Claire make sourdough bread.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 7:22 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think I remember Kit-Kats without any wafers in.
Yup. They were good, but the chocolate was pretty sour. The best were Breakaways: a solid chocolate one of those was a delight.
posted by scruss at 8:21 PM on May 3, 2018


Fun to watch all the ideas she had, but for much less trouble than that you could make Michel Richard's improved kit kat, Le Kit Kat. It gets a lot of crunch from cornflakes. The recipe is in the book "Happy in the Kitchen."
posted by perrouno at 8:26 PM on May 3, 2018


Today I picked up a Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter, and discovered the incredible love child of a kit kat and a Reeses cup. Here I am in The Land That Peanut Butter Sweets Forgot, and I have finally found my delicious fix. Highly recommend.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I hear they make a machine for thIs.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:42 PM on May 4, 2018


Meanwhile a very small pizza kitchen can turn 500 pizzas in a day with 1/10th the space and workers because that's all they do is pizza and they have the flow and kitchen for it.

I worked register for an organic-pizza-on-the-farm deal; whole shebang went down in a mobile trailer my bosses got off Craigslist. Kitchen was maybe 10' by 3', you had the wife & her assistant in there assembling pizzas which they would pass through the front window to the husband, who could cook two at a time in the 800 degree brick oven. When pressed -- like, if we accidentally booked a musical act that was much too popular for our weight class (cough cough Dead Horses cough) -- we could bust out a couple hundred (genuinely mouth-watering) pizzas in a night.

This despite the fact that every one of us was a gorram hippy with better crisis management skills than planning ahead skills, so we were constantly running out of something stupid essential to a pizza like mozzarella or crushed tomatoes or DOUGH, and nobody could mise anything en place to save their friggin' lives.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that specialization can be effective in ways that feel like magic. Also that it's very important to separate the layers of a Kit-Kat without breaking them, because that is bad luck.
posted by taquito sunrise at 8:03 PM on May 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


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