Friday, December 28, 2012

Creamy Cocoa Bonbons

Beautiful and simple, Cocoa Bonbons.
There are many holiday themed delights to be found in the Time Capsule, but this one caught my (adult) attention because of its quick and easy nature. Indeed, the entire process took me less than half an hour, and produced a sweet, fudgy treat – perfect for taking to a cookie exchange or popping in your mouth by the handful after a vigorous round of holiday shopping.

Several years ago, I watched Martha Stewart scoop chilled chocolate ganache into homemade truffles and was smitten. Although truffles are not really difficult (ganache being a concoction of chocolate, butter and cream, which is melted together, then chilled), they are messy, time consuming and relatively expensive. Three things I try to avoid this time of year.

From humble beginnings ...
Likewise, I have long desired to turn effortless fudge out of my kitchen at the holidays. Sadly, the last time I made fudge that did not seize, split or fail to set was in 2008. (Interestingly enough, that was my daughter’s first Christmas. How the heck did I have time to make fudge that year?)

So here I found myself, once again, knocking on the door of the mid-'80s. And, once again, the Time Capsule did not disappoint. This recipe, cut from my childhood paper, The (Everett) Herald, gloriously straddles the line between fudge and truffle, with the benefits of both economics and time on its side.

Let your cream cheese soften at room temp before whipping.
I was initially dubious that the cream cheese base would overwhelm the cocoa and sugar flavors, but I needn’t have worried. What it does do is lend a budget-minded creaminess, and, I’d like to think, a smidgen of health that isn’t to be found in more traditional truffles.

The process itself couldn’t be simpler – take softened cream cheese and mix in cocoa, confectioners sugar, a bit of butter and vanilla. Mix until combined, chill, than shape into bite-sized bliss. Voila! Holiday treats that keep your sanity and pocketbook intact. I’ll celebrate that combination!

Creamy Cocoa Bonbons

3 ounces cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

The finished batter, before chilling.
Soften cream cheese in small mixer bowl. Add sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla and mix. Shape into ½-inch balls (you may need to chill this to make it handleable). Chill again completely. Store in refrigerator. Makes 2 dozen bonbons.

·      I used reduced-fat cream cheese. This time of year, I would rather splurge on my full-fat stuff where I’m really going to taste it. If you are parsimonious in other dietary pursuits, by all means use the regular stuff.
·      I rolled the finished bonbons in confectioners’ sugar, chilled, then rolled again – rather the way you make good fried chicken by coating it twice. I found this allowed the sugar to really stick to the chocolate.
·      “Handleable” is their word, not mine.

Why Don’t You …
·      Experiment with flavors? It boggles the mind really how far you could take some variations: almond extract with crushed almond coating; mint extract with crushed candy canes; vanilla and extra cocoa powder; almond and coconut; crushed potato chips or pretzels …
·      Whip up a batch for your sweetheart at Valentine’s Day?

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