Scott Buss takes chocolate from bean to bon-bon

Years ago, Baylor’s Scott Buss and his daughter decided it would be cool to make chocolate. They would live in an idyllic little house with a chocolate workshop right there on their property, and ride a Segway back and forth between the two.

Well, he doesn’t have a special workshop exactly, or ride a Segway, but Buss, senior training analyst in the Center for Comparative Medicine, has become a chocolate maker.

“My daughter and I created this little story but then I got into it for real,” said Buss, who has worked at Baylor for 12 years. “Eventually, I figured out that it was something I was pretty good at.”

In fact, he is one of the few people in the country who is both a chocolate maker and a chocolatier. Most people who just like to eat chocolate don’t know it, but there is a big difference.

Chocolatiers are plentiful. These are people who make confections such as bon-bons like Buss makes. Most people who make these start with chocolate that they’ve bought in bulk.

Chocolate makers, however, start with cocoa beans, roasting the beans, grinding them, sweetening and forming into chocolate. Chocolate must typically also be tempered, a precise and elaborate process that includes reaching very exact temperatures, crystallizing fatty acids… more like a science experiment, really.

Buss started out by making chocolate. When he mastered this first step, he then figured he needed to learn to temper the chocolate.

“I ended up with this big batch of tempered chocolate, so I bought molds to make bars of artisan chocolate and even wrapped them. That’s where it all started but eventually I learned about becoming a chocolatier, and I started making bon-bons.”

He took a chocolatier online course from the famous school Ecole Chocolate, and his hobby has taken off from there. “I spend a lot of my free time working on this,” Buss conceded.

There’s actually a name for what Buss does – it’s called “bean to bon-bon.” Bon-bons are small candies of different flavors enrobed in chocolate, and Buss has developed a philosophy when it comes to his own bon-bons.

“Elevating simplicity – it’s a philosophy that works,” he said. “I don’t need to combine the inside of a sea urchin with the flavor of tobacco just to make something different.”

The bon-bons certainly look sophisticated. Buss uses different molds and has perfected beautiful designs for his bon-bons, making swirls in the chocolate and airbrushing different colors onto them. He does all of this in his own kitchen and sells his creations mainly to people who hear about him through word of mouth.

His most popular bon-bon is definitely the salted caramel. “There isn’t anybody in the world who makes a salted caramel like his,” said Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, director of the Center for Comparative medicine and Buss’ boss.

Some of his other bons-bons include Morello cherry, ghost pepper ganache, white chocolate lime ganache with lime pate’ de fruit, chocolate covered marshmallows with peppermint dust, and many more.

Many people at Baylor are familiar with Buss’ bon-bons. He has sold them at the Market Days event held each month on the main Baylor campus in Rayzor Lounge. Frequent recipients of his confections are his colleagues in the Center for Comparative Medicine.

“He approaches all of the work he does with a creative eye – whether it’s his work here in the Center or making his bon-bons. It’s a major, major bonus for everyone here,” Buckmaster said.