I learnt how to make this bon-bon when I was about 10 years old when an auntie of mine, knowing that I loved to cook, invited me to join her to do a course to unveil the secrets on how to make Brazilian sweets. Until I actually saw how to make it I thought this sweet was something that only an experienced professional could make. But they are not that difficult. It is just a matter of following a few little tips and most likely you will get it right.
The strawberry bon-bon is just one of the thousand kinds of bite-sized sweets that we love to eat. Specially made for birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries, the bon-bons can be made with fresh fruits (such as strawberries and grapes), dried fruits or nuts. Then they are often covered with a layer of condensed milk and then enrobed with some type of chocolate, icing or marzipan.
In Brazil, there are lots of women who have small home-based business and are specialised in making savoury and sweet fingerfoods for parties and they play a big role in Brazil’s food culture. As they are made in large quantities, these little treats are very time consuming to make and require years of experience, love, and a good dose of patience to obtain even results. These women show a lot of creativity when making the sweets in special and they are considered an art form. The top layer can be decorated like cupcakes with different colours, patterns, shapes and textures, using many different pastry techniques. In addition to that, these days it is possible to find in Brazil paper cases of any shape and patterns that make the sweets look very pretty and delicate on a table. In fact, going to a kid’s birthday party or a baby shower seems like a travel to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: colourful, magic and mouth-watering, those sweets look like they are dancing on the table and singing eat me, eat me! Not to talk about the smell of chocolate that floats in the air…
Now to the secrets:
1) Wash the strawberries and dry them VERY well with paper towel. If they are not dry enough the condensed milk will not stick to the strawberry and it is going to be impossible to cover the fruit.
2) Cut off the strawberry stalk very close to the fruit but without actually removing the stalk. If the stalk is pulled, the strawberry is going to bleed and damage your sweet.
3) For the same reason, use strawberries that are absolutely fresh and have no bruises.
4) Use cooking chocolate to coat. Regular chocolate bars do not work for this recipe.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1 tsp plain flour
10 – 12 fresh strawberries
100g caster sugar
300g cooking milk chocolate
In a small saucepan pour condensed milk, sieved flour and mix well. Add sieved egg yolks and mix until combined. Turn the heat to low-medium and using a wooden spoon stir continuously for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and completely comes off the pan. Make sure the paste does not stick on the bottom of the pan to avoid burning. Continue stirring vigorously for a further 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately transfer the paste to a small plate or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours of until cool.
Carefully remove the leaves of the strawberries and in case there is a stalk, cut it very closely to the fruit but without removing the base of the stalk. This is to make sure the strawberries will not bleed after coated. Quickly wash the strawberries under running water and dry them very well with paper towels. Place strawberries over a paper towel and reserve.
Line a baking paper onto a tray and spray with vegetable oil. Grease your hands with a little butter and scoop approximately 1 ½ tbs of the paste. Roll into a ball and place over the tray. Repeat with the remaining paste. As your hands get sticky, you might need to wash them well, dry and grease again.
Grab a ball, flatten it on the palm of your hands and put a strawberry in the middle. Gently and evenly cover the whole fruit with the paste, making sure you follow the shape of the strawberry and leave no air. Place it back on the tray. Repeat until all strawberries are covered.
Pour sugar in a bowl and coat sweets with sugar placing them back on the tray. Line a piece of foil over a bench that is going to be used to dry the coated strawberries.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave for approximately 2 minutes (stirring a couple of times) or according to pack instructions. Alternatively you can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a water bath making sure the bowl does not touch the water.
Quickly throw a sweet into chocolate gentling moving it with a fork to coat all sides. Remove the coated sweet from the melted chocolate, but as you remove it gently tap the back of the fork on the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. With the help of a knife slide the bon-bon over foil. Repeat this process until all strawberries are coated. You might have to re-heat chocolate for a few seconds if it starts to get too thick. Allow sweets to set until chocolate is hard again and place them in paper cases. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
Makes: 10-12 bon-bons (depending on the size of the strawberries)