Chocolates (bon bons)

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Making chocolates at home definitely takes some commitment. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. But was it worth it? DEFINITELY. 

I made these for Christmas to hand out to all my friends and family. These would also be perfect for Valentines Day coming up. Making your own is way more personal, and shows that you put the effort into their gifts. It’s also a budget friendly way of giving gifts to all your acquaintances. I say acquaintances because you can easily double the recipe for just a little more time out of your day, and hand them out to everyone you know! I made really small amounts of each flavor, and still ended up with 15 boxes. 

My mother in law sent me a picture of a box of chocolates she got on sale (4 pieces) and it cost her $15.

4 pieces?!

On sale?!

And she said mine were way better 🙂

 *note: you should always use a scale when working with chocolate. Different brands will have different shapes and sizes of chocolate pieces, resulting in different volume vs. weight.

Alright so first thing first. 

CHOCOLATE.

I used trader joe’s pound plus chocolate for the milk chocolate. I don’t use milk chocolate as much as I use dark, so I went with this:

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It’s very affordable for about $5 for the bar, with over a pound of chocolate. They also have dark chocolate, but these chocolate seem to be too thick to work with when melted. You have to add cocoa butter, but more on that later.

Let’s talk about quality because this is really important. You absolutely can NOT use chocolate chips. You actually should never use chocolate chips, EVER, unless in cookies (even then, only if you really REALLY have to).

Most people think that quality chocolate is too expensive, and way out of their price range, so lets talk numbers.

 

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Does this look familiar? I got this off Walmart’s website. So $2.64 for 12 oz. That is 22 cents/oz.

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This is the chocolate I use for dark chocolate. It doesn’t come in any smaller sizes, which is the only downfall. But chocolate doesn’t go bad! Just make sure you keep it in a cool dry place (just like all your dry goods). Imagine how long this box will last you. This is the same amount as 14.5 bags of those chocolate chips.

*note: I bought this chocolate at a chef rubber store, so I didn’t pay shipping.

16oz = 1lb

This chocolate has 176oz.

at $56.55, that comes out to 32 cents/oz.

Just 10 more cents per ounce. And that’s for COUVERTURE. Couverture means that it is a higher quality chocolate with higher cocoa solids content. This results in a chocolate that melts if your mouth with an absolutely wonderful creamy texture. Now THAT is quality.

That semi-sweet stuff?? That’s not even real chocolate. Have you ever tried melting that stuff? There’s so much gunk it there that it still holds it’s morsel shape when it’s melted! When it  comes to chocolate, there is no such thing as semi-sweet chocolate. It’s either dark, white, or milk.

Plus think of all the things you can do with REAL chocolate. Converting from chocolate chips to real chocolate opens so many doors to possibilities such as bonbons (obviously), homemade candy bars, gourmet hot chocolate, cake pops (no more candy melts HORRAY!!) chocolate decor, etc. Plus, when you glaze a cake with ganache made from real chocolate, people notice. I’ve had people say “I don’t care what flavor cake, I just want that ganache on it”.

 

Ok rant over.

I hope I’ve convinced you to go buy some good quality chocolate, because you’re going to need it to make those chocolates! 😉

 

If you want, you can split this up into two days to make things easier. The first day, make all the different flavored fillings. Second day, temper your chocolate and either dip or fill molds.

*note: any of the ganache fillings can be chilled in a bowl and shaped into balls before dipping, resulting in truffles. I chose to cut into squares to get them done faster.

 

DAY 1

First flavor:

Peanut Brittle Ganache

coated with milk chocolate 

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Ingredients:

100g milk chocolate (chopped)

24g heavy cream

1 tbsp peanut butter

3 tbsp ground peanut brittle 

pinch of salt

 

Brace yourself. This one is like recipe inception. Here’s a recipe in a recipe.

First you need to make peanut brittle. Since you’re already doing so much work with making the chocolates, you can choose to buy the peanut brittle. I made my own, which was very simple. I adjusted this recipe from all recipes.

Ingredients:

1/2 c sugar

1/4c corn syrup

2 tbsp water

1/4c dry roasted peanuts

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp baking suda

 

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil. Do not stir until you see some color. 

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As soon as it starts to turn brown, add baking soda, and butter and stirIMG_1715.JPG


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Spread on a silpat and let cool.

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Alright, recipe inception is over, lets go back to making chocolate.

Take a piece about the size of your hand and grind it up. The picture below is of my mini food processor, so take note I didn’t grind up too much brittle. I saved the rest for my husband 🙂

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You don’t want it too fine because it will dissolve and leave you with no crunch in the chocolates. Pulse until they’re the size of coffee beans. Sorry I forgot to take a picture.

Meanwhile, heat the cream with the peanut butter and salt. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved and the cream is simmering. 

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pour over the chocolate and wait a minute before stirring.

IMG_1722.JPGOnce the cream and chocolate is emulsified, add the 3 tbsp ground peanut brittle and mix.

Pour into desired mold. I used a box I bought at the dollar store lined with wax paper. The box was about 4x4inch and the chocolate came up about 1 inch high.

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Tap to evenly distribute the chocolate and flatten it out.

IMG_1724.JPGLet it set until firm.

 

 

Coffee Caramel Ganache

covered with dark chocolate

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp salty caramel sauce (recipe below)

100g dark chocolate

24g heavy cream

20g corn syrup

2 tbsp coffee beans (crushed)

 

All the ganache recipes have the same process to them. The only difference with this one is that you heat the cream and flavorings (corn syrup, caramel and coffee):

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Steep for 30 minutes- turn off heat and cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes to really infuse the flavors into the cream.

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Strain before adding to chocolate.

Wait a minute before stirring together, and pouring into mold. Chill.

 

Earl Grey Tea with Orange Ganache

covered with dark chocolate

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Ingredients:

100g dark chocolate

24g heavy cream

20g corn syrup

2 tbsp early grey tea

1 tbsp orange zest

 

Same process as coffee caramel flavor

 

Salty Caramel

covered with milk chocolate

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This salty caramel sauce recipe can be used for everything. Put it in your coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream, etc. I just keep a jar of it in my fridge, which keeps for at least 2 weeks. Feel free to cut recipe in 1/4 if you don’t want so much extra. Use this caramel for the caramel coffee ganache recipe above.

For these chocolate, you need to have molds. The caramel sauce is too soft to be dipped, and therefore have to be filled into molds, but more on that in day 2.

Ingredients:

1 1/2c granulated sugar (300g)

2 tbsp corn syrup (40g)

5 tbsp butter (70g)

1/3c water (78g)

3/4 tsp salt (.7g)

1/2c heavy cream (112g)

 

Scale out all your ingredients so they are ready to go. You can scale the water and cream together.

Wet the sugar and corn syrup with just enough water to cover. Make sure there are no granules of sugar on the sides of the pot. Boil on high and don’t stir until you see some color on the edges.

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Once it starts to color, go ahead and stir to evenly distribute the color. Hold the caramel up out of the pot to judge the color. You want it to be a light amber like the picture below.

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As soon as it reaches the color, quickly pour the cream and water into the pot. Be very careful because the caramel will sputter and the steam coming up will be very hot.

Stir until the caramel is all dissolved, and add the butter and salt. Stir until all combined, cool. 

Strawberry dark chocolate ganache

covered in dark chocolate

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Ingredients:

75g strawberry puree

40g water

65g sugar

13g corn syrup

2g pectin

50g chocolate

15g heavy cream

Puree the strawberries or weight out puree. Add in a pot with water and corn syrup.

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Heat strawberry puree to 122°F

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Mix pectin with sugar and add to the strawberry puree. Bring to a boil

Add heavy cream and bring to a boil again

Strain over chocolate and mix until combined

Pour into desired mold and let set before cutting and enrobing.

 

Almond Clusters

Covered with dark and milk chocolate

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Ingredients:

slivered almonds

 

This recipe is very basic and super easy. There’s no need to measure anything out, just make as much as your heart desires.

The only thing you need to prep for these on day 1 is to toast the slivered almonds:

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DAY 2

Alright, now that you have all your fillings made, it’s time to temper chocolate. Check out this page to learn how to temper chocolate. 

 

DIPPING

If rolling the ganache into balls for truffles, let sit out at room temperature to that it’s easier to work with. If you’re cutting into square like I did, go ahead and do that. I cut them into about 1 inch squares.

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For dipping the chocolates, I used this big paper clip I had. You can also purchase dipping forks specially made for dipping chocolates. You can also use an actual fork, but it may be hard to maneuver the chocolate off the fork neatly.IMG_1767.JPG IMG_1768.JPG

Dip, and tap on the side several times to remove excess chocolate. Too much excess will result in a pool around your bon bon (a large foot).

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Place dipped chocolate on a transfer sheet, textured sheet, or just plain parchment. Picture below shows the chocolate on a homemade transfer sheet, but it didn’t turn out as well I wanted, so just ignore that.

It might also help to use a butter knife to push the chocolate off the dipping fork from the bottom.

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You can slightly dab the top of the chocolate to leave a mark like below, to help differentiate the flavors.

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There are many ways to make the chocolates look different. You can use different colored transfer papers to add printed patterns or designs. You can also use texture sheets to add prints like this:

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You can paint the texture sheets so it has color and texture, or use molds which I will show you next.

 

MOLDS

For the milk chocolate I used from trader joes, I added about 4 tbsps of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter can be found in specialty food stores such as chef rubber, but it’s pretty pricey. I bought mine at a health food store in the cosmetic aisle. When doing so, just make sure to check the ingredients. You don’t want any fragrances or actually anything else in there besides just plain cocoa butter.

Add the cocoa butter before tempering, when first melting the chocolate. Once melted, it should flow off a spoon quickly, and barely leaving a trace. Add more cocoa butter if the chocolate still seems very thick. The amount of cocoa butter added will depend on how much chocolate you are tempering.

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Take your tempered chocolate and fill the molds 

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Tap the mold on the countertop to release air bubbles. You want to make sure the chocolate gets into all the small nooks and crannies of the molds.

Flip mold over the bowl of chocolate

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I flip it completely upside down on a sheet of parchment to let the chocolate completely drip out, resulting in a thin coat of chocolate. You can tap the mold on the countertop again to help the chocolate drip out.

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Flip back over and clean up the edges with an offset spatula. Let set. 

While the chocolate is setting, fill a pastry bag with the salty caramel. If you’re filling with ganache, you can slightly warm it up in the microwave until it’s easy to pipe. Be careful not to over heat. You don’t want it hot enough to melt your chocolate coating in the molds.

Fill the chocolate shells with the filling, but be sure to leave room for more tempered chocolate. This will seal the chocolates, enclosing the filling inside. 

Top the filling with tempered chocolate like stated above, and clean up the excess chocolate to ensure a clean edge when unmolding the chocolate. I like to pipe the top coat of tempered chocolate in. The neater you work, the less you have to clean up. 

Let set before unmolding.

 

You can also choose to brush the molds with colored cocoa butter before filling, to add color to your chocolates. Another variation is to drizzle colored white chocolate after unmolding like the pink stripes below:

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I like to do the almond clusters last since you need a lot of extra tempered chocolate for dipping or for the molds. With the extra tempered chocolate, I add just enough to coat the almonds. If you accidentally add too much chocolate, no worries. Just strain and let the excess chocolate drip into a bowl leaving you with perfectly coated almonds.

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Using gloved hands, bunch a small amount of chocolate covered almonds and set on a piece of parchment. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt (optional).

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As for the boxes, I found these at the 99cent store. They were called “gift card boxes”. I’m not sure it was a seasonal item for the holidays, but they had a ton of other boxes and tin storage boxes that were perfect for chocolates. I used mini cupcake liners to put the individual chocolates in. 

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Share with all your friends and shrug it off like it’s nothing when they say “OMG you MADE THESE?!?” because hey, all this talent you got going on? No big deal 😉

 

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