These Gooey Caramel Bonbons are just as good as expensive bonbons you can buy at fancy chocolate shops, but they're a fraction of the cost! All you need are some bonbon molds and a few common pantry items to make these gorgeous, gourmet candies in your own kitchen.
The bonbon molds can be purchased online--just google "bonbon mold" to find many different options. Amazon even carries many choices! You can also find them at cake and candy supply stores, and many craft stores like Michael's and Joann's sometimes carry them. You can buy expensive ones, but they can also be as cheap as $2 or $3, so this doesn't have to be a big investment. The yield of this recipe will depend on the molds you buy--if your bonbon molds are small (around 1"), you'll get about 50 candies, but if they're very large or deep, you might get closer to 20-25 bonbons.
I decorated the tops of these bonbons with a quick dry brush of copper luster dust. This is completely optional, but it does help make them look even more professional!
1. The caramel will need time to cool after you make it, so start by preparing the gooey caramel filling. Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir while the sugar dissolves, and brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Once the mixture comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer and resist stirring.
2. While the sugar is boiling, place the cream in a small saucepan over low heat to warm it up.
You don’t need it to boil, you just want it to be warm and not cold from the refrigerator when you add it to the sugar.
3. When the sugar mixture is a deep amber color (about 315-330 F or 157-165 C), carefully pour the warm cream into the sugar. It will bubble and steam at this point, so be careful and stand back!
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the caramel, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the thermometer reaches 245 F (118 C).
5. Take the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe bowl, and let it cool to room temperature. (This process can be speeded up by placing the bowl in the refrigerator. While the caramel cools, prepared the chocolate bonbon molds.
6. You will either need several molds, to make these all at once, or you will need to work in batches. Melt the chocolate candy coating in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.
7. Spoon some of the coating into each of the bonbon cavities, coming up to the top of the cavities. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes, then cover your work surface in parchment or waxed paper, and turn the molds upside down, letting the excess chocolate drip out of the molds and onto the parchment. Use a bench scraper or metal offset spatula to scrape any extra chocolate off the top of the mold, creating a clean edge around the sides of the bonbons. Refrigerate the molds for 10 minutes, until the coating is completely set.
8. When the caramel is room temperature, fill a piping bag with the caramel, and pipe it into the molds, leaving at least 1/8 inch of space on top so you can cover them with chocolate.
9. If the chocolate coating has set, re-warm it in the microwave until it’s fluid, then spoon chocolate over each bonbon, and use the scraper or spatula again the remove any excess chocolate from the molds.
10. Refrigerate the molds once more, for 10-15 minutes, until the coating is completely set. Gently twist the molds to release the bonbons, then invert them and tap the molds so the bonbons are released onto the counter. If desired, take a dry brush and gently brush some luster dust onto the top of each chocolate.
11. For the best taste and texture, serve these bonbons at room temperature. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.