Bonbons And Truffles Are Not The Same Thing

Whether Valentine's Day is approaching or it's a loved one's special day, fancy chocolates are always a favorite item to turn to for a gift. But some chocolate lovers don't realize that those bite-sized chocolate pieces aren't all the same thing. While many refer to those little hard-shelled chocolates filled with liqueur, caramel, or fruit purée as truffles, they're actually not. What you're really eating is a bonbon.

Translated in French to good good, a bonbon is a specific type of carefully crafted chocolate. Simply put, a bonbon is a shiny chocolate shell that can be filled with almost anything, cream-based or not. The difference between a bonbon and a truffle is slight but can be confusing when you see how many items that are really bonbons are called truffles. A traditional truffle, so named because it resembles the highly sought-after mushroom, is chocolate ganache rolled in cocoa powder. The ganache is made of a heavy cream and chocolate mixture, and could be flavored with caramel, orange, liqueur, or something else. If it's not rolled in cocoa powder (or sometimes chocolate flakes or even nuts) and it's covered in a chocolate shell instead, you're looking at a bonbon. 

The French originally used bonbon to describe all small candies

Bonbons have been around since the 1800s in France, though originally all small candies — or candied nuts or fruits — were referred to as bonbons. Modern truffles and bonbons we know today came about in the 19th Century after Joseph Fry invented the solid chocolate bar, which could then be melted down to make a hard coating. 

While there are plenty of chocolatiers who claim a truffle must be coated in a thin layer of tempered chocolate before being rolled in the cocoa powder, others say this isn't a necessary step. Diane Haase, who owns Truffle Me! told Mashed that one mistake everyone makes with chocolate truffles is attempting to do this at home. "It is not necessary to temper chocolate for it to taste amazing. It's all about the look of the chocolate. I temper my chocolate because I have a truffle business, but for making truffles for yourself and friends you don't need to temper it," she said.

Making truffles yourself is even an more special gift than a store-bought box of fancy chocolates. As Martha Stewart's chocolate truffle recipe demonstrates, whipping up a batch of delectable truffles at home is easy. You can make these treats with just five ingredients, no tempering needed.