Chocolate Bonbons

October 10, 2019

This post will be a little different to my regular posts but I’d like to explore and work with something new. Some of you might already know that a few years ago, I decided to quit my previous job in the advertising industry and to moved to Paris to work on my pastry diploma. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in 2016 and returning to Hong Kong where I spent roughly 2.5 years working at The Peninsula, I realized that making pastries in a professional setting is very, very different from making pastries at home.

Some of the things I struggled with and had to make a lot of compromises while trying to recreate things I learned from school and work at home include:
1. Not having enough refrigerator/freezer space
2. Working with a different oven
3. Having to make sure I have all the ingredients I need at home
4. Not having the professional tools and equipment for what I want to
make (eg. marble countertop)

This is why while most videos and websites teach you to temper chocolate on a marble table or by using the seeding method, this post will teach you how to temper chocolate using hot and iced water baths.

I normally start off by making sure I have all the tools I need: (1) Chocolate Mold (2) large mixing bowl for tempering the chocolate (3) contactless thermometer (4) spatula (5) scraper (6) the chocolate you need for tempering chocolate (7) optional: scale

I also make sure I have my hot water bath and iced water baths ready before starting. One thing to note is that you should never let your chocolate come in contact with water. This will pretty much make your chocolate not usable. However, people add water to chocolate in some situations when they want to make their chocolate thicker (eg. making chocolate decorations).

I like to measure out about 200g of couverture chocolate to make one tray of chocolate bonbons.
Place the chocolate over the hot water bath (or bain-marie, as they used to call it in school). You’ll notice that my bowl is sitting on top of my pot and this is because I’m actually using the steam from the boiling water to melt my chocolate instead of letting the bowl come in contact with the water. It’s not as crucial in this step but you’ll see why I heat my chocolate this way in a bit.
The chocolate will start to melt and continue to stir throughout this process. You want to make sure all of your chocolate is the same temperature.
Once the chocolate is completely melted, in this case around 58 degrees celsius, you can then transfer your chocolate over to the iced water bath. Most websites will tell you that melting your chocolate to 45 degrees is sufficient but this sometimes depends on the chocolate that you’re using. With Valrhona, my chocolate tends to be over 50 degrees by the time it’s fully melted and smooth.
I like to use ice packs to cool the water instead of using ice cubes. This prevents the water from getting too cold (which will cool your chocolate too fast). Continue to stir the chocolate (remember, even temperature throughout) and once you start seeing a thin layer of chocolate starting to stick to the bottom of the bowl, take it out of the iced water bath, continue to stir the chocolate and it’s time to measure the temperature.


I recommend continuing to measure the temperature even when your chocolate is in the iced water bath because you want to make sure it only cools to around 28-29 degrees celsius. If your chocolate cools to below this temperature, you would have to start the entire tempering process all over again.
After cooling the chocolate to 28-29 degrees, place the bowl back onto the pot to warm the chocolate back to 31-32 degrees. At this point, I’m not turning on my stove. I’m simply using the remaining steam from the hot water to heat the chocolate. This will warm the chocolate a bit slower, making sure your chocolate doesn’t heat up too fast. This is also why I prefer not to let the bowl come in cotnact with the boiling water in the pot because if the temperature goes above 33 degrees, you will have to start the process all over again. You’re already at the last stage of the chocolate tempering process! You don’t want to start all over again!
Once your chocolate gets to 31-32 degrees, your chocolate is ready to use. You can choose to pipe or pour the chocolate into your chocolate mold, making sure the surface is flat.
Flip the mold over and let all the excess chocolate drip out. I normally tap the side of my scraper against the chocolate mold so my chocolate coating will be even thinner.
After scraping out all the excess chocolate with the mold flipped upside down, your mold will look nice and clean with a thin layer of chocolate coating.
After the chocolate coating hardens and dries, pipe the filling about 80-90% full. I started making chocolate bonbons at home because I had a major craving for hojicha bonbons but couldn’t find any. That’s when I decided to start making my own. For this batch, I decided to pipe a hojicha ganache (of course).
Pour / pipe tempered chocolate over the ganache and scrape off the excess chocolate. This time, scrape the chocolate off rightside up. DO NOT flip your mold over! This layer will close the bottom of your bonbons.
I normally leave my mold inside of my refrigerator until the layer you just added has already set. I also flip my mold upside down to check whether the chocolate is ready to unmold. You’ll see the chocolate in the left column are starting to detach from the mold while the rest of the chocolate are still stuck to the mold. Wait till your chocolate are detached (left column) before flipping your mold over, tapping the mold over a tray to unmold the chocolate bonbons.
And… voila! All ready to eat now!

I used to think tempering chocolate at home is very time-consuming and takes a lot of effort. After switching to using the water baths to temper the chocolate, I realized it’s easier than what I imagined. It definitely took a few tries and took me some time to get used to this but I’m so happy that I can finally satisfy my cravings for hojicha chocolate bonbons now!

Here are a few points I want to point out again:
– Chocolate temperature: (1) Over 50 degrees (2) Cool to 28-29 degrees (3) Warm to 31-32 degrees.
– NEVER let your chocolate come in contact with water!

Have fun and feel free to share what flavors you made with me!

Happy tempering,

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