Attempting to make chocolate bonbons from scratch is enough to test anyone's love.
First you have to cook up some fussy filling, and get it into — and to hold — just the right shape. Then you have to temper the chocolate, the ultimate of troublesome and tiresome culinary labors. And don't even get me started on the mess all this makes.
But I was convinced there had to be an easier way. So I started playing. The result is this ridiculously simple — yet outrageously delicious — recipe for quince-filled marzipan bonbons.
First, the coating. The chocolate used to cover bonbons must be tempered. If not, it won't firm up properly and will discolor. The easy way around this is to use so-called chocolate melts, or candy coating. These chocolate-like discs are sold in a variety of colors at baking supply shops and in the baking aisle of many grocers and most craft stores.
These discs melt easily, coat well and require no tempering. You won't mistake them for an expensive dark chocolate, but they get the job done.
For the filling, I was not prepared to make a ganache or other filling. But I wanted something that would be soft, chewy and sweet. Something that could be easily shaped. Something that was almost completely effortless.
That something turned out to be marzipan, a paste made from ground almonds and sugar. It's sold in the baking aisle of just about every grocer and has a soft, puttylike consistency and a deliciously sweet-almondy flavor. It's easy to form into balls and is perfect for coating with chocolate.
In fact, it was so easy to work with, I decided I could take my bonbons one step further and fill the marzipan, making the finished treat that much more decadent. By forming the marzipan into a ball, then shaping it into a cup, I was able to fill the cup, then close the marzipan back up over it. If you can play with Play-Doh, you can handle this.
The filling really could be any thick jam, or even a piece of dried fruit or a salted nut. But I liked quince paste, an extremely thick, jamlike paste often sold near fine cheeses. It has a pleasantly tart-sweet flavor that works well with the marzipan and chocolate.