I am sure we all agree that social isolation is not easy. I enjoy being home and if I had my choice would rather stay in than go out on a Friday or Saturday night. A perfect evening for us is being cozy at home, cooking together, and just taking it easy. However, there’s something about being forced to stay home, the stress of associating going out with the danger of catching COVID-19 that makes it all pretty draining. Parents of young kids and teenagers have it a lot harder than we do. Those at risk of losing their jobs have it a lot harder than we do. Essential workers, particular those who work at hospitals? Same. So I feel almost guilty admitting that social isolation allowed me to try new things and expand my horizons in baking. Can you call chocolate bonbons baking? Well, not quite but close enough. I’ve always been fascinated by bonbons but too afraid to try. Until very recently, that is.  I share with you my two first adventures.


Recipe from Matt Adlard, at Bake it Better

Huge thank you to Matt because his tutorial (freshly uploaded this month in his online class, see members area on link above) allowed me to make some nice bonbons on my very first attempt. I cannot share his recipe and many helpful tips, but here is a little overview.

I used Callebaut 54% couverture chocolate… and tempered 400g in my little machine, using that to coat a semi-spheric mold with decorating ridges.

I used Matt’s recipe for salted caramel, and poured it into the tempered shells after they set for about 1 hour at room temperature. A little more chocolate was tempered and used to close the semi-spheres, and the whole tray set at room temperature for 24 hours. They un-molded beautifully next day, and we loved the combination of salted caramel with the semi-sweet chocolate.

On my second attempt, I wanted some gold color on the surface and after reading a few recipes, went with a technique of finger-painting gold luster mixed with alcohol.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the gold coating:
2 tsp golden pearl dust
2 to 3 tsp Everclear or lemon extract
for the shells:
350 g Callebaut couverture chocolate 54%
for the filling:
65g Callebaut chocolate 54%
1 small tonka bean, grated
70mL + 170mL heavy cream, divided

Mix the gold luster powder with alcohol in a very small bowl. Dip a gloved finger into the emulsion and quickly smear it inside each little semi-sphere, smooth mold. Allow the alcohol to evaporate sitting at room temperature while you temper the chocolate

Temper the chocolate using your favorite method and coat the gold-decorated molds. Leave them at room temperature for one hour.

Make the tonka bean ganache. Heat 70mL heavy cream to simmering, grate the tonka bean, mix with the simmering cream. Close the lid, let it sit for a few minutes. Bring to simmering again and add to the chocolate in a bowl. After a couple of minutes, whisk the chocolate gently until it dissolves smoothly. Add the remainder of the heavy cream, mix well and cool for an hour or so. Whip the ganache and use it to fill the semi-spheres.

Let the open shells sit for 12 hours or overnight, then temper 100g of chocolate and cover the shells with it. Before you cover it, it is a good idea to heat the bottom of the spheres with a hair dryer to gently melt a bit the edge, that provides a nice tight closure of the base and prevents leaking of the filling later. Let the bottoms crystalize for a few hours if possible, then un-mold them by banging the mold with a lot of authority showing it who is boss. Most chocolates will be well-behaved and jump off beautifully. Some might need some choice words of encouragement. It is a fun process, I swear!


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: My gold painting did not turn out like I imagined. The gold dust I used is really quite potent and I should have applied a bit less. Maybe flickering the emulsion as little dots would have worked better. But it’s the kind of thing you learn by doing.  Also I used two different methods to temper the chocolate. To cover the shells I used my little tempering machine. Then, whatever was left from that messy step I gathered, melted again and since I only needed a small amount (100g), I used Mycryo to temper manually.   I also opted for an alternative way to cover the spheres. I cut a piece of acetate the exact size of the bottom of the mold, spread the tempered chocolate over it and laid that on the spheres. Then I used a spreader to press it hard, leaving the acetate in place until the chocolate crystalized. However, I made a few little mistakes (chocolate was a bit too cold when I finally laid it on top of the spheres), and I scraped the bottom of the mold too soon and took away some of the beautiful shine that bottom layer had.  I hope to fix all these little boo-boos on my next adventure.

Special thanks go to my friend Nancy, who has been pushing me to try and make bonbons for over a year now. I am slow, but finally caved. And she was also the inspiration behind the tonka bean ganache, which is amazing. Cuts the sweetness of the chocolate in a very nice way. She is a fantastic patissière, with a unique sense of elegance and beauty in everything she makes. I am lucky to have her as a source of constant inspiration. Check her instagram page with a click here.

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