As I suspected, it did not take me too long to go back to making bonbons. This time I tried something new: transfer sheets to add a design to the top of the chocolate. As with anything new I try, there was a bit of trepidation, but I am very happy with the way they turned out, especially since it was my first time.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Making Artisan Chocolates)

magnetic mold with 24 slots (I used this one)
chocolate transfer sheet (many available at

for making shells:
300g tempered dark chocolate
150g tempered dark chocolate for sealing

for lime ganache:
180g milk chocolate, chopped
56 g heavy cream
juice and zest of 1 small lime
1 tsp corn syrup
7g butter
pinch of salt
4 drops of lime oil (I used the one from this set)

Make the shells by coating the mold lined up with the transfer sheet with 300g tempered chocolate. Use any leftover amount to make chocolate decorations or save to re-temper when closing the bonbons. Let the mold sit inverted for a couple of hours while you prepare the ganache.

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Place the cream, lime zest and juice, and corn syrup in a heavy small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil . Immediately pour through a sieve over the chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes then stir slowly to incorporate. Using a probe thermometer placed in the center of the bowl, check the temperature. Once the ganache has reached 95°F add the butter, and lime oil, and mix to combine. Pour the ganache into a piping bag and pipe into the molded shells, filling each shell three-quarters full. Gently tap the filled shells against the counter or table to release any trapped air bubbles. Let the ganache sit for a couple of hours at room temperature to dry (you can also leave it overnight).

Temper the chocolate for sealing. Right before using, warm up the edges of the open shells with a hair dryer or heat gun. You do that to make it easier for the shells to glue to the bottom. Place the tempered chocolate on top, and a little acetate sheet covering the base. Press the acetate very hard with a scraper as you hold it firmly on the top side, scraping all excess chocolate down. You can again collect it to make decorations, if you work fast. Let the shells sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then place in the freezer for exactly 15 minutes. You can also just leave them at room temperature for 24 hours for full crystallization to take place.

Remove the acetate, open the box, marvel at the design, and bravely invert the mold banging to release each bonbon.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Magnetic molds are not cheap, I admit. But they are very easy to use and once you invest in one, you can just get different designs for the transfer sheets and have a lot of fun with them. You can match the design with the filling, or go with a seasonal motif. I have a snowflake design that will be perfect for this coming winter. A very nice video on how to use magnetic molds can be found here. It helped me a lot to make this batch.

If you are a seasoned bonbon maker, nothing that I will state now will be a surprise, so feel free to skip it. But if you are new to the technique or a total “bonbon virgin”, here are some tips that I’ve learned so far, through messy mistakes.

#1 Cover the surface of your countertop with plastic wrap. I have a commercial size roll that is very convenient for that. The chocolate that drips can be easily collected from that surface and re-used.

#2 Before you start working, gather EVERYTHING you’ll need. Scraping tools to clean the molds, paper towels, small piping bags or paper cones ready to collect excess tempered chocolate, a surface to pipe chocolate decorations with any tempered chocolate you might have leftover.

#3 Prepare the set up to invert your mold above the surface of your countertop. Ideally, the tops of the shells (which will become the bottoms) should not touch anything, so sitting the tray over a cookie drying rack is not a good idea. Make sure you have the spacers or anything you use to raise up the mold set with the right placement, because once the mold is inverted and the chocolate is done dripping, your life will be much easier if it’s all ready to go.

#4 Tempered chocolate waits for no one. Make sure you won’t be interrupted by anything or anyone once you start working.

#5 Guitar sheets (acetate) are the best surface to pipe chocolate decorations, but they are hard to see once you set them over a surface. I simply run a black marker on the edges, so that the acetate margin becomes visible. Then I don’t have to worry about where to pipe. Small details help a lot when you are a newbie working with chocolate.

I am thrilled with these bonbons, but as I mentioned, it was a not a fully smooth process. I did not work fast enough with the tempered chocolate and it started to thicken and refused to pour freely from the cavities in the mold. I had to be pretty “assertive” with it, hitting the mold with a wooden spoon like crazy, sending chocolate in many directions, some not exactly over the plastic covering the countertop. I thought that the shell would end up too thick and maybe not even close perfectly, but considering the circumstances, I think it turned out pretty good.

After last year’s adventure in the tent – realizing how Paul Hollywood judges the concoctions – I became a lot more concerned with being able to clearly taste the main flavor. Case in point: if you say a bonbon is lime-flavored, it better taste like lime… I think that’s where the oil is important. It is concentrated and dissolves nicely in the ganache. Lemon extract is nice but not nearly as potent. The lime ganache had a nice citric tone, and perfectly creamy texture. I am looking forward to my next batch of bonbons, hopefully with less trepidation…

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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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In case you’ve missed my big announcement:
12 days to showtime!

Want to say it as a native? Pay attention to the nasal sound of PÃO… and repeat after me…

Pão de mel translates literally as “honey bread.” However, it is definitely not a bread, and honey might not be the first flavor that comes to mind once you take your first bite. I admit the name is misleading, but I am thrilled to share this recipe with you, because it is a real classic in my home country. It has flavors I adore (that ginger, spicy thing), enclosed in a nice chocolate shell. The ones I grew up with were a bit on the dense side. My family had no tradition of baking, so I only had pão de mel that you get in stores, wrapped in plastic for who knows how long. This version is so good, very soft, tender, sweet and spicy. I made two kinds, the traditional, covered with a shell of chocolate, and a little departure from the classic, in bundt shape. You decide which one you like best.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

1 egg
250mL whole milk
90 g  sugar
270 g honey
30 g butter, melted and cooled
240 g all purpose flour
7 g baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch process is fine)

for the filling;
dulce de leche (store bought or homemade)

for covering:
tempered bittersweet chocolate, about 500 g

Mix the egg with milk, sugar, honey and butter in a large bowl. Whisk well. In another bowl, stir in the remaining dry ingredients and sift them slowly over the egg mixture in three portions, stirring well after each addition until a smooth, homogeneous mixture is formed.  Place batter in fridge for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, turn the oven on at 360 F. If using non-stick mini cake pans, you don’t need to do anything. Otherwise grease and flour the pans lightly.  Ideally you need a 6 cm round tin (a bit less than 2.5 inches). Pour the batter halfway through the tin, do not fill more than half.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Unmold the still warm rolls and let them cool completely on a rack. Cut them in half and stuff each with the dulce de leche.

Temper chocolate and cover each little pao de mel.

Alternatively, bake the batter in mini bundt pans, fill the central hole with dulce de leche and decorate with a drizzle of tempered chocolate. Mini bundt pans will take slightly longer to bake. Cool them in the mold before unmolding.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to make your own dulce de leche, there are many methods to do so. Pressure cooker, slow oven, even the microwave. I opted for sous-vide and must say it was perfect. Simply pour the contents of 1 can of condensed milk into a bag, seal it and cook it at 185F for 12 to 16 hours. When the time is up, simply cut the bag and pour the contents into a container. Into the fridge ready for any dulce de leche emergency.

Homemade dulce de leche is a real treat, I highly recommend you give it a try, but of course, the canned product will work well too. Pão de mel can be frozen for a couple of months without the filling and chocolate covering. You can also simplify the process and skip the filling. The simplified version is actually more common to buy in Brazil. But normally, when people make them at home, they go the extra mile. A very sweet mile, if you ask me.

Which version was better, classic or mini-bundt? I honestly have a hard time deciding. The mini-bundt is a lot easier to make because once you un-mold the little cakes the hard work is done. You can conceivably even get by without tempering chocolate, just melting it gently and drizzling it all over. But of course, the traditional version is the one that brings fond memories of my past. It’s your turn now, make both and let me know what you think…

For those interested:  this is the pan I used to bake the cakes. I love it!

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