It will be strange this year with our Bon Soo Winter Carnival limited to virtual events in this time of COVID; however, if you want to make it a little bit more real, not to mention yummy, consider this recipe for Amaretto Bonbons which was the grand prize winner back in 1985 at the second Bon Soo Bake-Off held at what was then the Holiday Inn on the waterfront.
It was a big deal, with the first prize being a fully equipped kitchen utility centre. Our friend and great cook, Réjeanne Santoro, was the winner with these delectable, truffle-like chocolate candies. They are relatively easy to make, and you can enjoy them now, in honour of Bon Soo, or carry them over to Valentine’s Day where they will be appreciated every bit as much.
While the recipe calls for Amaretto liqueur and almonds, we have also made them with hazelnuts and the appropriate liqueur, Frangelico. You can try one or the other… or both! Other liqueurs such as an orange or a coffee liqueur would also work nicely, and you could experiment with other nuts, such as pecans.
Réjeanne Santoro’s Bon Soo Amaretto Bonbons
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup fruit sugar
- 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
- 1 tsp. boiling water
- 1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
- 1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (we buy the Christie’s Nilla wafers and crush them.)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
- cocoa, sugar, or chocolate shot, to coat.*
With a rack in the middle of the oven, pre-heat to 350° F. To toast almonds, place on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for eight to 10 minutes, or until done. Stir often, making sure they don’t burn. When toasted, place the required amount in a small processor to chop finely.
Then in the food processor, grind the vanilla wafers until finely ground so that you have the desired amount of ground wafer.
In the top of a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, corn syrup, fruit sugar, coffee and boiling water. Heat over hot – not boiling – water in the bottom half of the double boiler, just until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat. (Alternatively, you may place the ingredients in a large glass bowl and melt them in the microwave on low heat).
Add in the liqueur, wafer crumbs and nuts, and stir well. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to chill briefly. Don’t leave it in too long, or it becomes difficult to work with. You could just leave it on your counter until it is workable.
Shape the mixture into balls about 3/4” (2 cm) in diameter. Roll in cocoa, sugar, or chocolate shot. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.
This recipe makes 24 bonbons.
* We generally roll our bonbons in fruit sugar. You need to roll them in something so that they don’t stick to the plate. You could also place them in individual candy or truffle paper cups before storing them. 'Chocolate shots' are the little chocolate sprinkles used to decorate cakes.
The bonbons are a great treat on their own. I can imagine they would be great with a cup of coffee, but if you wanted to serve something alcoholic, I would recommend the liqueur you used in the bonbon.
Disaronno Originale Amaretto, $30.95, for 750 ml is perhaps the most well-known of the almond liqueurs and has elements suggestive of almonds, vanilla and sugar. It is also available in the 375 ml format for $18.95. It has 28 per cent alcohol by volume.
The Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira, $27.90, is slightly drier and carries 25 per cent alcohol.
Baileys Almonde, $31.95, is a dairy-free cream version with just 13 per cent alcohol. Some will like its creamy texture, but I don’t think I would use it in making the bonbons…but I could be wrong!
With hazelnut liqueurs, which hail from the Piedmont region of Italy, Frangelico, $29.50, is the only one on our shelves. Hazelnuts are blended with roasted coffee, cocoa and vanilla, and it carries 20 per cent alcohol. Available online at lcbo.com is the Quaglia Nocciola Liquore, $45.45, for 700 ml. It has 25 per cent alcohol and very good reviews.
If you wanted to try orange liqueurs the three mainstays are Grand Marnier, Cointreau and Triple Sec. The Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge is an amber-shaded cognac blend and is more expensive at $50 per 750 ml. Orange zest and spice prevail here. It can also be found in smaller formats, as well as in other more expensive versions.
Cointreau, at $41.95, carries similar flavours but is clear and perhaps cleaner tasting. Like the Grand Marnier, it is 40 per cent alcohol by volume. The 375 ml. bottle is $20.95.
The two Triple Secs are Bols and Meaghers. Meaghers is an Ontario producer but is also associated with DeKuyper. That has me thinking that both of these are actually Dutch products. Here again, we have a clear liqueur featuring orange peel and citrus, but the alcohol levels vary. The Meaghers has 35 per cent and costs $26.50 for 750 ml, while the Bols is just 24 per cent and retails for $18.55.
As for Coffee liqueurs, there are about 10 on our shelves, and the quality and style range is significant. The old standards are Kahlua and Tia Maria, both around $30 for a 750 ml. bottle, and both really at the low end of the alcohol spectrum – 16 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Other, new products have more coffee intensity and are lively, less sweet.
Both Wolfhead Coffee Whisky Liqueur, $34.95 – 30 per cent alcohol by volume – and Kavi Reserve Coffee Blended Canadian Whisky, $29.95 -36.2 per cent – are Ontario products. The Wolfhead with milk chocolate and caramel notes accompanying roasted coffee flavours should be somewhat sweeter than the smooth, coffee and vanilla notes in the Kavi (which is found with the whiskies, not the liqueurs).
The most expensive, and perhaps one of the best examples in this category is the Patron XO Café Liqueur, $43.95, a Tequila-based product from Mexico. At 35 per cent alcohol by volume, it offers impressions of dark roast coffee, nougat and lime, according to the LCBO.
Whichever spin you decide to put on your bonbons, you are sure to enjoy the results of your “grand experiment”, and maybe a tasty liqueur.
Feb. 6 Vintages Release
Writers for winealign.com give their approval to two wines in this category. John Szabo gave a 90 to the Pongrácz Cap Classique Rosé, $18.95, from South Africa for its “full-flavoured palate, the dry styling, the fresh acids and the long finish.” Sault Ste. Marie’s own Sara d’Amato tells us that the Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve Crémant d,Alsace, $18.95, is “bright and zesty” and “driven by acidity but balanced by complex traditional method toastiness and creaminess. Lovely!” – 89.
Boeckel Blanc 2018, $14.95, is a bargain blend from Alsace. Scored a “Best Buy” by the Wine Enthusiast, it should convey “generous plum, baked apple and an earthy tang, all enlivened by citrus.” – 88.
Flat Rock Good Kharma Chardonnay 2019, $16.95, from Niagara is “medium-plus bodied” with a “generously textured wash of palate-pleasing flavours featuring green apple, sweet ripe pear decorated with mouth-watering lemon and grapefruit citrusy tang.” – 90, winecurrent.com.
Ferzo Abruzzo Pecorino Superiore 2018, $17.95 from central Italy is described by winealign.com as showing “ripe fruit and saltiness…Crunchy and doused with plenty of lime to enliven, even spark up the character. Quality stuff.” – 89.
Matahiwi Sauvignon Blanc 2019, $18.95, from New Zealand’s North Island carries intense “nectarine, lime, passionfruit flavours. An attractively-textured wine with a hint of sweetness that’s nicely balanced by fruity acidity- therealreview.com – 93.
Los Haroldos Reserva Malbec 2015, $16.95, from Mendoza in Argentina is a proven winner. Scored 93 by timatkin.com, it is “perfumed, poised and refreshing…with chalky nuances and a long finish.” It is drinking well and should hold for a few more years.
Poças Junior Vale de Cavalos Red 2018, $17.95, from Portugal’s Duoro region, is a “fine ripe blend, rich in tannins and full of black fruit potential. Its structure of ripe tannins will ensure that the wine ages well. Drink from 2022. – 91 – Wine Enthusiast.
Viña Tarapacá Gran Reserva Merlot 2018, $17.95 from Chile has “grip on the palate and sharp tannins as well as lots of tart black fruit and some menthol touches. It’s medium-bodied but still has very good concentration.” - 92 - guiadescorchados.cl.
McPherson MWC Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2017, $17.95 from Victoria in Australia offers “lots of rich and juicy fruit…with crushed dark berries, chocolate and dried meat. Full body. Flavorful finish.” James Suckling – 92.
Simi Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, $26.95 from Alexander Valley in the north of Sonoma is lush and dense with a light tannic burr to the mouthfeel. The flavours emerge near the dry finish with an underlying impression of sweet dark fruit along with some mocha and spice and herbal notes. Give it time to breathe to enjoy it at its best, and then serve it with grilled lamb chops. In all, it is rich, tasty and rewarding.