When it comes to chocolate, there's no denying that it's an art form. And one of the most intricate, challenging, and rewarding aspects of that art is the creation of chocolate bonbons. These small, bite-sized delights are made with the finest ingredients, expertly crafted and molded into beautiful shapes, and filled with a wide range of flavor combinations.
But while chocolate bonbons might seem like a treat reserved for the most skilled chocolatiers, the truth is that with a little bit of practice and a lot of patience, anyone can learn the art of making chocolate bonbons. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the process of making these exquisite treats, from selecting the right ingredients to mastering the techniques required to create beautiful and delicious bonbons.
Part 1: The Ingredients
The first step in making chocolate bonbons is to select the right ingredients. As with any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use will have a major impact on the final product. Here are some of the key ingredients you'll need:
Chocolate: Of course, the most important ingredient in any chocolate bonbon is the chocolate itself. For the best results, you'll want to use high-quality chocolate that has a smooth, creamy texture and a rich, complex flavor. At Kixocolatl, we grow our own criolla cocoa to create our chocolate bars, so we know firsthand the importance of starting with the best ingredients.
Cream: The filling in chocolate bonbons is typically made with a combination of cream and other ingredients, such as fruit purees, spices, or liqueurs. Using fresh, high-quality cream is essential to achieving a rich, creamy texture in the filling.
Butter: In addition to cream, many chocolate bonbon fillings also include butter, which helps to give the filling a smooth, velvety texture. Be sure to use unsalted butter to avoid any unwanted flavor notes.
Flavorings: The flavorings you use in your chocolate bonbons are limited only by your imagination. Some popular options include vanilla extract, espresso powder, citrus zest, and even chili powder.
Part 2: The Technique
Once you've selected your ingredients, it's time to move on to the technique of making chocolate bonbons. This is where things can get a bit tricky, as there are many steps involved in creating these delicate treats. Here's a basic overview of the process:
Tempering the Chocolate: The first step in making chocolate bonbons is to temper the chocolate. Tempering is the process of heating and cooling the chocolate to a specific temperature range, which helps to ensure that it has a smooth, glossy texture and snaps cleanly when broken. There are several methods for tempering chocolate, including the seeding method and the tabling method.
Molding the Chocolate: Once the chocolate is tempered, it's time to mold it into the shapes you want for your bonbons. You can use a variety of molds, from simple square or round shapes to more elaborate designs. Be sure to tap the molds gently on a flat surface after filling them with chocolate to remove any air bubbles.
Filling the Bonbons: After the chocolate has set in the molds, it's time to fill the bonbons with your chosen flavorings. This is done by piping or spooning the filling into the chocolate shells, being careful not to overfill them.
Sealing the Bonbons: Finally, you'll need to seal the bonbons by covering the filling with a layer of tempered chocolate. This can be done by piping more chocolate onto the top of the bonbons or by using a pastry bag to drizzle chocolate over them.
Part 3: Filling the Chocolate Shells
Now that your chocolate shells are cooled and hardened, it’s time to fill them with delicious ganache or other filling of your choice. Here’s how:
Step 1: Prepare the ganache filling. This can be done while your chocolate shells are cooling in the fridge. Ganache is typically made with chocolate and heavy cream. You can use different types of chocolate and add flavorings like liqueurs, extracts, and spices to customize your ganache.
Step 2: Take the cooled chocolate shells out of the fridge and gently tap them on the counter to release any air bubbles.
Step 3: Using a piping bag or small spoon, fill each chocolate shell with ganache, leaving about 1/16 of an inch at the top. Be careful not to overfill the shells as this will make it difficult to seal them.
Step 4: Once all of the chocolate shells are filled, use a small offset spatula or your finger to spread a thin layer of tempered chocolate on top of each one to create a seal. This will prevent the ganache from leaking out of the bottom.
Step 5: Place the filled chocolate shells back in the fridge to set for another 10-15 minutes.
Part 4: Decorating the Chocolate Bonbons
Now that your chocolate bonbons are filled and sealed, it’s time to add some decorative touches. Here are some ideas:
- Sprinkle with sea salt, crushed nuts, or cocoa nibs
- Drizzle with melted chocolate or caramel
- Dip in melted chocolate and roll in coconut, sprinkles, or crushed candy
- Use edible gold leaf or edible glitter for a touch of glamour
The possibilities are endless, so feel free to get creative and experiment with different decorations.
Part 5: Storing and Serving the Chocolate Bonbons
After all the hard work, it’s important to store your chocolate bonbons properly to ensure they stay fresh and delicious. Here’s how:
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat.
- Avoid storing in the fridge as this can cause the chocolate to bloom or develop white spots.
- Serve at room temperature for the best flavor and texture.
Now that you know the art of making chocolate bonbons, you can impress your friends and family with your skills. And who knows, you might even be inspired to start your own artisan chocolate business one day!