Various definitions for the word bonbon exist. An old word that was recorded as far back as the beginning of the 17th century, the Food Lover’s Companion describes a bonbon as a piece of chocolate-dipped candy, of which the center may be fondant, sometimes mixed with fruit and nuts. According to Alan Davidson of The Oxford Companion to Food, it is the French word for a small sweet or candy. These days the word bonbon generally refers to four categories of sweets, namely sweetmeats made from fruits, nut-based confectionary, chocolates (such as our recipe here) and traditional boiled sugar items.
When making moulded chocolates, there are two important considerations that need attention. The first is the quality of the chocolate, which may require tempering, and secondly, the filling. Following are two possible filling options. The first is for a filling that uses uncooked papaya, with the danger that the filling may ferment if left outside. The second filling is made from cooked papaya, where the natural freshness is somewhat lost because of the heat. The choice is yours, taking into consideration where and how soon after they are made they will be enjoyed.
If one is going to make home-made chocolates, one wants them to be as tasty as possible to justify the effort and expense. High-end chocolate, often referred to as couverture chocolate, has the best taste. However, tempering chocolate and lining polycarbonate moulds requires some experience. Please go ahead and try making these with couverture chocolate, but if you lack previous chocolate making experience, perhaps start with good commercial eating chocolate, such as a South African brand of dark or milk chocolate. These do not need tempering and can just be melted; the chocolate will reset by itself once used. Whatever one chooses, avoid using baking chocolate at all costs – those are not good quality and have an unpleasant mouthfeel and taste.
Ingredients for around 25 – 30 bonbons:
Filling 1 (with uncooked papaya):
200 g drained papaya (see note)
40 ml Amaretto liqueur
2,5 ml citric acid powder
Filling 2 (with cooked papaya):
130 g very ripe papaya, peeled and cut into small blocks
30 ml each lemon juice, orange juice and honey
100 g white chocolate
80 ml cream
400 g chocolate (either white or dark, couverture or high-end commercial eating chocolate), chopped
First prepare the fillings. For filling one, simply beat together the drained papaya, Amaretto and citric acid with the paddle attachment of a freestanding mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy. For filling two, cook the papaya, lemon and orange juice and honey in a small casserole over gentle heat until the papaya has become pulpy. Liquidize and strain through a fine sieve. Melt together the white chocolate and cream and cool slightly. Stir in the papaya purée.
Use silicone chocolate moulds if you are uncertain about tempering chocolate and lining polycarbonate moulds. Melt the white or dark chocolate, either in the microwave or over a water bath. Paint the inside of the silicone moulds with a thin layer of the melted chocolate. Let the chocolate set, and then repeat the process for a chocolate shell that is sturdy and even in thickness. Be careful to keep the top of the chocolate (the end that is open) clean and smooth. Let the chocolate shells set completely and harden. Now fill the cavities with either filling one or two. It is best to place the filling in a smallish piping bag with a medium-small plain nozzle. Ensure that the surface of the filling is smooth, and does not extend above the chocolate shell – remember that you still need to leave space for a thin layer of chocolate over the filling that will trap the filling inside the chocolate shell. Leave the filling to firm up. Cover the top of the chocolate shells with more melted chocolate – a procedure that can also be achieved with a small piping bag and a small plain nozzle. Let the chocolates firm up completely and then carefully unmould them.
If you did not decorate the inside of the moulds with coloured cocoa butter, then simply colour a little melted chocolate and drizzle or paint or splatter some over the chocolates. Any number of other chocolate decoration techniques may be applied.
Note: the overall moisture content of papaya purée may be too high to be used directly as a filling in a chocolate bonbon. To make the heavy papaya purée, peel and de-seed a thoroughly ripe, aromatic papaya. Blend the papaya flesh in a food processor, liquidizer or with a stick-blender in a tall jar, to get a smooth purée (strain through a fine sieve if you are uncertain that your purée is lump-free). Line a sieve with a clean, rinsed layer of high-quality muslin cloth. Pour the purée onto the muslin, cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight, or for a period of two days, in the fridge for the liquid to drain out and the papaya purée to become thick and paste-like.