It’s been a long time since I tried my luck with bonbons. Six months, to be precise. Every weekend I kept adding it to my list of little culinary adventures, but somehow postponing it to that uncertain time called “near future.”  But it finally happened. I tricked myself by making the filling first, so that I had to put it to use. Psychology 101. It worked. If you are not interested in making bonbons, consider the filling for macarons or sandwich cookies. I had some leftover and made a small batch of macarons to take care of it. They turned out into “Funky Rose Macarons” and I share photos in the end of this post.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the shells:
300g dark tempered dark chocolate for shells
100g cocoa butter
1/2 tsp titanium oxide
two colors of fat-soluble dye of your choice
gold pearl dust (optional)
150g tempered dark chocolate for closing bonbons

for the filling:
160g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 70%)
56g heavy cream
35 g mango purée
7 g light corn syrup
7 g butter,  soft   ⅛ ounce
1/8 tsp ground coriander

Start by making the filling. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Pour the cream into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the mango purée and corn syrup.   Cook over medium-high heat until the cream mixture reaches a rolling boil. Pour onto the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir slowly to incorporate.  Once the ganache cools to about 95F add the butter and the coriander.  Place the ganache in a piping bag, and it can be piped into tempered shells once it is at 88F. You can make the ganache in advance and warm gently to use.

Make the shells. Clean your mold with alcohol and rub every cavity very well with a cotton ball or a make-up pad. Heat the cocoa butter very gently, preferably don’t let it go over 115F. Add titanium oxide and blend it vigorously with an immersion blender. In the composite photo below, you’ll see that melted cocoa butter is translucent, yellow. Once you add titanium oxide it will turn white and opaque, that’s what you need as a starting point to add any color you want.  Divide the cocoa butter in two portions, add the color you want (make sure it is fat-soluble or your cocoa butter will seize). Add each color to a piping bag (do not cut the tip).  Now, gently roll the bag on a surface, back and forth, back and forth, so that the cocoa butter cools and tempers.

Check the temperature every few minutes, it will cool reasonably fast. If you have an infra-red thermometer, that’s the easiest way to do it. Once the temperature drops to 92F it will be ready to add to the molds. Simply use a gloved finger and paint each color inside the cavities. If you want to add some gold tones to it, once the cocoa butter sets, you can brush lightly with pearl dust.

Temper 300g of dark chocolate and fill the cavities. Tap the mold to release any air bubbles, then invert the mold to let the excess chocolate drip (do that on top of plastic wrap so you can collect the chocolate to use again later, or to do some decorations while it’s still tempered. I made some spider webs, because…. that’s the spirit!

Let the mold sit inverted and suspended over your countertop (the easiest way to do it is to use those silicone dough strips so that the mold does not touch any surface. After one hour at room temperature, you can flip the mold and fill the cavities with your prepared ganache (make sure it is not over 88F so that your shells won’t be melted and lose temper). Make sure to leave a little space for the chocolate that will seal the bonbons.

Now temper 150g chocolate and use it to cover the shells. Right before you pour the chocolate, heat the surface of the mold with a hairdryer very very briefly. You do that to melt just a bit the edge of the shells. Pour the chocolate and place a sheet of acetate covering the whole mold. Hold the top with one hand, and use the other hand to scrape the acetate very hard, so that all excess chocolate will drip out and the acetate will be stuck to the mold.

Ideally, wait for 12 to 24 hours to un-mold, but you can also leave it for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the freezer for exactly 15 minutes. The shells will contract and be ready to un-mold then.  Be brave and bang the mold hard on a countertop, the shells should pop out. Full crystallization of the chocolate will happen over time, just leave it at room temperature.  Marvel at the random pattern of colors you got.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had some issues with the painting of the mold, my colored cocoa butter kept forming a puddle at the bottom instead of painting nicely on the sides, although the temperature seemed “spot on” (to quote Paul Hollywood). So I kept cleaning it all with cotton balls (it was nightmarish) and trying again, and again. Finally, in complete despair, I stuck the clean mold in the freezer for 5 minutes and that worked like a charm, because the cocoa butter then set exactly where I wanted it to be.  Of course, when making bonbons you are “in the dark” about the whole process until the very end – the thrilling moment of un-molding the beauties.

If you read my first adventure with bonbons, at that time I had some problems closing the shells. This time I used a different method, much more efficient. Pour the tempered chocolate on the filled molds, and press a sheet of acetate (cut to size) right on top of it, then scrape it firmly using one of these tools of a cake smoother. The chocolate will crystallize beautifully on the acetate, giving a nice shine to the bottom of the bonbon.

I wanted to dye the shells orange and red, but realized I did not have fat-soluble orange dye, so I went with pink and red, which would be more appropriate for a raspberry filling. But I am so happy with the results, the shells turned out super shiny and not a single bonbon cracked during un-molding. The gold dust did not show too well, I was afraid of over-doing it, next time I will add more.

The bonbons had a very thin and delicate shell, very uniform all the way around. All in all, it was a successful project. The kitchen looked like the aftermath of a paintball fight, and I was that player who was killed 9 times, but it was all worth it!

As I mentioned, I had leftover ganache. I kept it at room temperature, and next day whipped it with a handheld blender so that it was easier to pipe. Macarons were made using the Broma Bakery recipe (Swiss-meringue based), and orange food dye.  Half the batter I did the macaronage to the normal level and piped round shells. Half the batter I kept a lot thicker and piped with a Wilton 1M tip in rosette shape as I did in the past. I painted the edges of the petals with black, gold, and copper pearl dust dissolved in vodka. In some shells I used an air-sprayer with black dye, but I thought those turned out a bit too dark.

The tempered spider web decorations were also put to use on cupcakes.  I will be making a blog post in the near future (yes, that time frame I am so fond of!).

I hope you enjoyed my third adventure int the world of chocolate bonbons.
I have the feeling it won’t take me six more months to try again…

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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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