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Local chocolatier takes playfully inventive approach to his craft

Chocolate is notoriously temperamental. Xenon Mallari learned that lesson the hard way — not in culinary school, but through trial and error in home and commercial kitchens around Las Vegas.

He mastered the complicated process of manually “tempering” melted chocolate — alternatingly heating and cooling the liquid at precise temperatures to stabilize it for candy-making. Done right, the process creates hardened chocolates with a glossy sheen and a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Xenon Mallari's distinctive recipes reflect the same type of flavor experimentation that ignite ...
Xenon Mallari's distinctive recipes reflect the same type of flavor experimentation that ignited interest in craft brewing and cocktail mixology. (Vincent Landin)

Mallari’s handcrafted bonbons and bars deliver the delicious hallmarks of the finest artisanal chocolates. But Mallari’s creations are thoroughly modern, not mainstream. They reflect his inventive, often whimsical approach to his craft, starting with his company’s name: Happy Ending Chocolates.

“I wanted a name that would catch people’s attention,” Mallari explained. “If it makes people laugh, that’s great. We’ll laugh with them.”

Mallari partnered with Las Vegas tattoo artist Casey Savage to design the unique, colorful char ...
Mallari partnered with Las Vegas tattoo artist Casey Savage to design the unique, colorful characters that visually pop off the brown paper wrapping. (Vincent Landin)

Mallari’s signature approach to chocolatiering extends well beyond the eye-catching name. His distinctive recipes reflect the same type of flavor experimentation that ignited interest in craft brewing and cocktail mixology. That’s not surprising, considering Mallari, 38, has spent many hours tending bar while developing his chocolate business and earning his business degree at UNLV.

Mallari’s chocolate bars — his bestselling confection — contain his most uncommon combinations, such as dark chocolate with bourbon-soaked cocoa nibs and edible gold leaf. Or dark chocolate topped with cabernet sauvignon-infused sea salt.

“I like to experiment with a variety of ingredients, both sweet and savory,” said Mallari, who offers eight perennial flavors of chocolate bars. Those include more conventional recipes, such as dark chocolate filled with hazelnut cream.

Dark chocolate shells are filled with a hibiscus infused organic mixed berry jelly and peanut b ...
Dark chocolate shells are filled with a hibiscus infused organic mixed berry jelly and peanut butter ganache, which is hand decorated with colored cocoa butter and luster dust. (Vincent Landin)

Each flavor comes in its own comic-book-inspired package. Mallari partnered with Las Vegas tattoo artist Casey Savage to design the unique, colorful characters that visually pop off the brown paper wrapping. One resembles a chubby lucha libre wrestler (dark chocolate with chipotle and smoked sea salt). Another is reminiscent of Wonder Woman wearing a coconut-shell bikini top (milk chocolate with toasted coconut flakes and puffed rice).

Mallaris’ bonbons provide him a different kind of cultural canvas.

He embosses the small squares of filled chocolate with various colorful symbols, ranging from four-leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day to miniature lacy collars to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg during Women’s History Month.

The bonbon fillings are as adventurous as Mallari’s chocolate bar recipes. The St. Patrick’s Day bonbons contain Irish stout caramel. The limited-edition RBG candies meld chocolate ganache with raspberry, blueberry and ginger.

Mallari’s most popular perennial bonbon offers a classic flavor combo: peanut butter and jelly.

You can find Happy Ending Chocolate at locations around town, including Mothership Coffee and Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Or you can have the confections delivered to your home or business. happyendingchocolate.com ◆

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