When I used to think of bonbons, I imagined someone lounging around, leading a life of leisure with a French poodle, a glass of wine, and chocolate. I would have been hard-pressed to tell you exactly what a bonbon was and I certainly couldn’t have told you how bonbons were made or that it was possible to make them at home!
Things have changed since I received a bonbon lesson from French pastry chef Clemence Pereur at her St. Louis cafe, Like Home.
I now understand that bonbons are confections with a thin chocolate shell and oozy filling that spills out when you take a bite (the sky is the limit when it comes to these fillings).
Clemence says that the hardest part of making bonbons is tempering the chocolate (prepping it so that it ends up smooth and shiny instead of grainy) and that in chocolate school most people messed up the tempering about 1/3 of the time. She explained that this was often due to overconfidence. As long as you check the chocolate temperature with a candy thermometer, you should be fine. I’ve already written a complete guide to tempering chocolate, so if you haven’t read that yet, start there to brush up on tempering and then carry on reading about bonbons.
Before proceeding, also make sure that you have a bonbon mold. Most of us don’t have one of these just sitting around. Luckily, they aren’t too pricey.
How to Make Bonbons
First, you’ll want to temper some chocolate, like we talked about above. The higher quality chocolate you use, the better your bonbons will taste. Temper more chocolate than you will actually need. You can always cool any chocolate that you don’t end up using and use it for another project. Clemence suggests using 500 grams of chocolate for 24 bonbons.
Clemence tempers her chocolate on a marble slab. If you are trained in this method, by all means do it that way; otherwise, it will be easier to use my microwave method.
Next, it’s time to fill the bonbon molds. Don’t be skimpy here. Overflow each depression with luscious chocolate! We want to ensure full coverage.
Use a bench scraper to tap the side of the mold. This gets the chocolate to drop all of the way into the depressions. When you see little bubbles form on top of the chocolate, you know you are good to go on to the next step.
Turn the mold upside-down and tap some more on the side of it with your bench scraper. A layer of chocolate will remain, coating each depression, and the rest should come raining out.
Run your bench scraper along the inverted mold to remove any remaining excess chocolate.
Set the mold in the fridge for about an hour or the freezer for about ten minutes to let the chocolate harden.
Then, it’s time to fill the bonbons. In the recipe section below, you’ll find recipes for three of Clemence’s fillings: Earl Grey ganache, passion fruit caramel (my favorite), and vanilla dark chocolate ganache.
Pipe the fillings into the bonbons almost to the top.
To close the bonbons, spoon tempered chocolate over the top of the mold – just half way across. Then, scrape across the top with your bench scraper onto the uncovered half. If needed, fill in any empty spots with additional chocolate.
Cool as before.
Then, tap the molds on the counter to extract the bonbons!
You’ve got this!
Three Bonbon Filling Recipes
These are three outstanding fillings that you can use for bonbons: Earl Grey, passion fruit caramel, and vanilla dark chocolate ganache.
Vanilla Dark Chocolate Ganache
- 100 grams heavy whipping cream
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 5 grams vanilla extract
- 10 grams glucose you can also use corn syrup
Earl Grey Ganache
- 350 grams heavy whipping cream
- 15 grams Earl grey tea
- 75 grams unsalted butter
- 10 grams trimoline you can also use corn syrup
- 500 grams milk chocolate
Passion Fruit Caramel
- 25 grams glucose you can also use corn syrup
- 250 grams sugar
- 20 grams water
- 100 grams heavy whipping cream
- 100 grams passion fruit purée
Ganache Instructions (for Vanilla Dark Chocolate Ganache and Earl Grey Ganache)
Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. If making Earl Grey ganache, place tea in a tea ball in the cream during the boil. Remove from heat as soon as the liquid begins to boil.
Place remaining ganache ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour hot cream into the bowl and stir until chocolate is melted and all ingredients are fully integrated.
Let ganache rest until ready to use.
Passion Fruit Caramel Instructions
In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, bring glucose, sugar and water to boil until they have a dark caramel color. Do not stir.
At the same time, combine the cream and passion fruit together in another small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat as soon as the liquid begins to boil.
When the caramel is done, carefully mix in the cream and passion fruit.
Let the caramel rest for at least 30 minutes before adding to the bonbons.
Clemence Pereur is 27 years old and from France. She started culinary school when she was 15 years old. After three years of school, she got her culinary degree. She then decided to go to pastry school for a year to the famous Alain Ducasse pastry school and got her pastry degree. Because that was not enough, she decided to go to chocolate school for an additional two year degree. When she got this degree, she went to work at FAUCHON – a really famous pastry shop in Paris. After this experience, she went to work for for Yannick Alleno at his Parisian bistro. Working in France was not enough anymore, so she decided to move to America and did an internship at the St. Louis Club in Clayton, Missouri for almost two years. After this experience, she thought that it was time for her to have her own baby – her own shop! Like Home (Comme à la Maison) is her dream come true. It’s a place to eat good food and to feel like home.