Chocolate Bon Bon Drop Cookies

bonbons2_450w

Ah, the joy of the holiday cookie tray. I adore the holiday cookie tray! I even love the boxes of butter cookies that appear on store shelves just before Halloween, heralding the season. Is it the variety of shapes only seen once a year? Is it the fact that each is in it’s own special space of white ruffled paper, pretty ballerinas all in a row? Or maybe it’s the …

size of the cookies. Cookie trays are typically made of smaller treats, just a bite or two so that you can sample several without breaking the calorie budget. Yes, I think that may be a big part of the attraction for me. Being able to sample 4 or 5 different cookies makes me feel like a princess being served delicacies on a silver platter, each more unique and tasty than the last.

Cookie trays also hold great memories for me. Coming from a very small family of just 5 people (no aunts, no uncles, no cousins) I’ve always adopted family where I could. When we first moved to Barre, Massachusetts we adopted my Gramma Coppolino. Gramma Coppolino lived across the street from us, and had lost her husband the year we moved in. It may have seemed odd for a French/Scottish girl to have a first generation Italian noni, but it worked for me!

We would visit her on Sundays after church, and make sure she was doing well. She nearly always had delicious treats to share. I had my first pizzelle at her house, as well as nutmeg logs and the best pizza ever, bar none. If Gramma’s family couldn’t be with her for an occasion, we would get together and eat and share. I still have some of her recipes and make them every year.

So, how do Gramma Coppolino and cookie trays fit together? Well, she was a great cookie baker, but it’s really through her daughter Mary. For those of you in New England, this may ring some holiday bells, as Mary Bevilacqua was one of the founders of the Wellesley Cookie Exchange, one of the first major cookie exchanges, or cookie swaps in the country.

The Exchange, as it is known was written up in most every newspaper in New England and has made numerous appearances in Yankee Magazine and other national publications. For those of you who are new to cookie exchanges, each person brings a few dozen special cookies, along with the recipe and these cookies are passed around. Each person takes a few of each cookie, and when you leave you have a tray full of many, many delicious cookies and new recipes to match. It’s a lovely way to share your special recipes and traditions, plus for the time and effort of baking one batch of cookies, you end up with all of your cookies for the season. Genius!

Gramma Coppolino of course went to the Exchange every year, so she baked and baked and baked beforehand. We always received beautiful trays of cookies and treats which I’m sure were a big part of the reason I love to bake.

And then one year, my mother and I received an invitation to the Exchange. I mean to THE EXCHANGE!  I don’t remember too much about the actual day, I was only about 13, it’s more like feelings I have. I remember a warm house, full of laughing women in their holiday best. I remember twinkling lights and holiday greens with touches of gold. I remember tray after tray after tray of the most lovely cookies, and stories from each lady about the cookies she had chosen for that year.

What I don’t remember is what cookies we brought, it may have been my mother’s lemon bars, but I do know that if I had had the recipe then for these Chocolate Bon Bon Drops, they would have been there, with the best of the best of the season. These deep chocolate cookies have a sandy, shortbread like texture and the thick vanilla glaze melts on your tongue. With their tiny size, about as big as a silver dollar (remember those?), you can have more than one with your tea or coffee, and still try a few other goodies too. Let’s make Chocolate Bon Bon Drops.

img_0713.JPG

Combine all of the cookie dough ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and blend on medium speed until a soft, smooth, cohesive dough is formed. The dough will move in one mass and clean the sides of the bowl. Easy clean up for you!

img_0714.JPG

Shape the dough into a disc, about 3/4″ thick. You won’t be rolling this dough, but the even thickness will help the dough chill evenly.

img_0715.JPG

Wrap the disc well in cling wrap and press it out a bit further if desired. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.

img_0738.JPG

When the dough is well chilled, it will have a consistency close to fudge, or baked brownies.

img_0836.JPG

Using a teaspoon scoop or your hands, shape the dough into small balls, about the size of a large gumball. You can roll the balls smooth, or leave them rough. It won’t make much of difference in the final cookies.

img_0837.JPG

Space the cookies evenly on a parchment lined pan. Leave about 2 inches between the cookies. These cookies will dome up nicely, like little chocolate bon bons. They don’t spread much, but you still want to leave space so that the air can circulate around them evenly.  Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes.

Chocolate cookies can scorch easily, so keep an eye on them. If you begin to smell chocolate in the kitchen, they’re done. Do not allow yourself to get distracted!

img_0739.JPG

OKAY! I allowed myself to get distracted by Susan Reid’s onion cheese pizza (recipe coming in a later Baking Sheet). I nearly burned a whole batch of cookies, but caught them just in time.

img_0716.JPG

While the cookies are cooling on their trays, it’s time to prepare the icing. I understand that it’s helpful to have substitutions and options, so I’ll show the 3 different glazes I tried on these cookies and how they differ.  First, measure out 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, and sift it well. I did this once for each of the 3 bowls, so each bowl is equal. Remember, you only need to make one version, whichever suits you best.

img_0717.JPG

1/4 cup of heavy cream is added and the icing is stirred until smooth. Now, which vanilla to use?

img_0720.JPG

First up, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, a kitchen staple. It makes a good icing with nice vanilla flavor. A good go-to for all around vanilla baking.

img_0721.JPG

Next up, the new kid on the block, Vanilla Bean Crush. A mixture of Madagascar and Tahitian vanillas, with vanilla bean flecks.

img_0724.JPG

Slightly thicker than regular vanilla extract, it won’t thin out your icing as much. If you want a flavorful floral vanilla, this is a good choice.

img_0726.JPG

Last but certainly not least, the winner of our taste tests for this icing, Vanilla Bean Paste.

img_0727.JPG

Thick as syrup and full of vanilla bead flecks, this paste gives the icing rich flavor, vanilla at it’s best. Vanilla Bean Paste is my personal favorite for icing, glaze, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. It’s a bit too sticky to use as a perfume, but I have tried!

img_0733.JPG

Clockwise from top left, Vanilla Bean Paste, Madagascar Vanilla Extract and bottom, Vanilla Bean Crush. Chose whichever best suits your tastes and pantry. It’s all vanilla and it’s all good!

img_0852.JPG

With the icing done, it’s time to choose some simple decorations. I’ve totally in love with our new chocolate pearls. These are not chocolate coated “choc-o-late” filling. These are pure, solid dark chocolate by Barry Callebaut. Think gourmet chocolate in pretty shiny pearl shapes. FABU!

img_0741.JPG

For a brighter, cheerier topping try maraschino cherries. You can go whole hog and use whole cherries, but I like to cut mine in half with scissors.

img_0742.JPG

Allow the cherry pieces to drain a bit on paper towels to avoid juice dripping down your cookies.

img_0745.JPG

I like to ice the cookies while they are still just barely warm. It helps the icing flow just a bit down the cookie.

img_0747.JPG

Add your toppers before the icing sets to avoid cracks in the icing. The icing will stay soft and smooth but does get a thin crust on the outside over time.

img_0749.JPG

An alternative to icing each cookie by hand is to place the icing in a heavy zip top bag and snip off a corner.

img_0750.JPG

Use the zip top bag like a piping bag and squeeze a dollop of icing on each cookie.

img_0751.JPG

Don’t worry about the little peak on top. Just push it down with your chocolate pearl topper.

bonbons1_450w.jpg

Look at those sweet little sweets, each packing a big burst of chocolate and vanilla goodness, not to mention good cheer and holiday wishes! Gramma Coppolino, these are for you, I miss you every day.

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Chocolate Bon Bon Drops.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Val

    Wow! I want to have a cookie exchange! My mom and her friends used to do this when I was a kid, but I haven’t been to one in years.

    I have a package of the Bensdorp Dutch-Process cocoa — will that work as well as the Double-Dutch, or would the Double-Dutch be a better choice?
    Hi Val, yes, the Bensdorp would be just fine, the cookies will be a little lighter in color, but just as tasty. Hope we get invites to your cookie exchange! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Tom Mix

    Could you bake, cool down, freeze and mail? How long would they stay fresh if not frozen?
    Howdy Tom Mix,
    Yes, you can freeze the cookies UNfrosted. They should travel just fine and will be good for about a week or so at room temp.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Mary Corbet

    Oh, these look terrific! Perfect for a cookie tray. Here’s a question: if YOU give cookies like this as gifts, how do you package them? Soft icing cookies always pose a problem of packaging for me. Anyone?
    Hi Mary,
    These cookies would be best in a single layer on a pretty tray. They are pretty rich, so a few go a long way. If you are shipping, you can ship them un-iced with layers of parchment or waxed paper in between, with the icing recipe included if you wish. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. Mary Corbet

    PS And how did the cherries actually do in the icing? Did the color run? That sort of takes away from the aesthetics of the whole thing, in my opinion…
    The cherries did very well as they were dried off before being set in the icing. No runniness, no blotches. Just yummy cherry goodness. mmmmmmm ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. SoupAddict Karen

    Oh yum … anything with the Double-Dutch dark cocoa, I’m all over. I don’t have the chocolate pearls, but I might substitute a chocolate coated espresso bean. I have coffee-crazies in my family – they’ll love it!

    Reply
  6. quinn

    This is a very tempting recipe…the kind I’m almost afraid to make, for fear I’d eat them all!

    Just curious about the duplicate image with the red/green dishtowel…?Good eye. Which one do you like better? Mary @ KAF

    No foolin’ you guys, huh? I liked the red better, Janet, our designer liked the green better, so I used one of each. Now we are both happy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. Jeri

    Perfect timing! I start poring through my cookie books (and your site) this weekend to put together my holiday cookie list (and the corresponding KAF order, of course). This will definitely be part of the cohort.

    BTW, I just have to share this. I ran out of KAF flour and remembered I needed flour when I was at Trader Joe’s, which used to carry your flour, but now has its own brand. I was too lazy to go to another store, so I just bought a bag of theirs (which, amusingly, they package to look like yours.)

    Well, I just don’t like the feel of it. It’s very clumpy, and I actually found a small clump of plastic in it. It seems to be baking ok, but it’s always KAF after this.

    Reply
  8. Cher

    These are so pretty! That pizza looked pretty good too :-)

    One question — if you are going to freeze the dough for later baking, do you still need to refrigerate before shaping? (Not sure if the refrigeration was to help with the shaping or to help with the baking). I would freeze the dough, then pull it out the night before I wanted it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Mary@ KAF

    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Debra

    I was reading on another post about freezing the dough before baking. Will that work with these? I have a party coming up and plan to have time to bake, just not 5 different kinds in one day– unless I can just pull them out of the freezer. Yes, this dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  10. Sindy Faddis

    Amazingly I have “The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook” published in 1086 sitting on my table next to me as I am reading your post! I found it at a garage sale (I can’t believe any one gave this up). I was making cookies for a friend out of it just yesterday! I think I should try your bonbons though.
    Hi Sindy,
    I put the book on my wish list for this year. You are a lucky duck! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. Erin in PA

    Yummy! And I just ordered the Double Dutch Cocoa in my last order with KA! I personally love the Vanilla Crush with my vanilla treats! We are “supposed” to get our first measurable snow this weekend – I think I may make these while we decorate the house! (I like the red dish towel better – it makes the cookies “pop”!)

    Reply
  12. Jean

    Getting out my butter right now to make these gems. Any thought on adding some espresso powder to up the rich flavor? Also, I bought KAF Black Cocoa and haven’t used it yet — could I use it here? THANKS! Yes and Yes! Yum yum yum! Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  13. Lish

    These look incredible. I love your mouthwatering photos too. The three different versions of the icing had me drooling, and smelling vanilla in my mind. I am looking forward to baking these this weekend with the kids. I am sure they will love licking the icing, and snagging the cherries off the towel! Now I know what I am bringing to our cookie exchange/wrapping party this year!
    Hi Lish, Sounds like a lot of fun to me. I ate a fair number of cherries myself that day. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. Jean

    So I went with the straight recipe as provided and used KAF’s Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa and boy, what a superb difference that heigh-end cocoa made!! Even my husband noticed it immediately! Well worth the cost! Thanks for my new favorite, quick, easy and fancy-looking cookie recipe.

    Reply
  15. linda

    hi mary…i also purchased the black cocoa- how much would you add to these cookies…a scant?
    thanks!

    With just 1/4 cup cocoa in the cookies, I’d go ahead and use all black – though if you find that too scarily chocolate, use 2 tablespoons. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  16. Marianne from Barre

    Hi Mary Jane!
    These sound delish! I am always looking for a good chocolate cookie to add to my collection. I’m sure Mrs. C would have approved!
    Hope you and yours are doing well. Merry Christmas from Barre!
    OMG!! I’m the worst high school best friend ever!! I never sent a reply to your letter last holiday, but I still have it on my dresser where I can feel guilty about it every day!!! I stole your email address here, and I’ll send you one today, I promise.
    Thanks for checkin’ out the blog. These cookies are great, and the icing is super yummy. xxxxoooo MJ

    Reply
  17. Sue

    I made these cookies yesterday and they turned out great. I loved both components but I think the glaze sort of overwhelms the cookie. My glaze was a little runnier than yours because I used 1/2 and 1/2. They’re easy and festive and my husband liked them a lot. He thought the glaze and cookie combo was super. Actually so did I, but I liked the cookies so much I’d try dusting some with some powdered sugar next time.

    Reply
  18. Sue

    I made these and they’re great. I really like the cookie. I thought the glaze was a little much for them, but the glaze is also really good. Next time I might just dust them with powdered sugar. Yummy, easy cookies!

    Reply
  19. Joann

    Followed recipe exactly, but, instead of the raised drops in the picture, my drops spread out completely flat. What went wrong?
    Hi Joann,
    Did you chill the dough until it was thick and like fudge? If it isn’t well chilled, the cookies will spread. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Sarah

    I baked some yesterday, and they didn’t spread as much as the ones in the picture. They aren’t the prettiest cookies ever (my glaze was thinner, and did not hold the garnish), but they TASTE amazing!
    Maybe a thicker glaze for looks next time but amazing taste is the best part! Joan D@bakershotline

    Reply
  21. Val

    I made a triple batch of these yesterday — came out to ten dozen — and froze them to decorate later. I’m thinking I may have a cookie exchange!

    Reply
  22. Polly

    These comments are VERY helpful. I’ve not tried the recipe yet, but I’ve opted to use Hershey’s dark kisses. They’re easy to find in an everyday supermarket, and hopefully will be dramatic atop the white icing. Also, I’m trying vanilla paste for the first time. Wish me luck!! P.S. Before I start these bonbons, my unopened box of Droste Cocoa doesn’t have an expiration date, and I’ve had it a while. Is it risky to use?

    Not at all risky, Polly. The only thing that happens is it loses its potency, and may become rancid – which won’t hurt you, but will taste unpleasant. Give it a smell before using – you’ll be able to sniff out any rancidity. PJH

    Reply
  23. Jennifer

    The glaze recipe makes enough for a double batch. And with so much vanilla in it, the glaze is more tan than white. Make sure the cookies are cool or else the glaze will run all the way down the sides. I sprinkled red sanding sugar on top and then put on a small peice of red candied cherry. Pretty!

    Reply
  24. sheilad58

    I made these for a meeting & they simply disappeared! I garnished with a few red & green sprinkles & they looked just like tiny Christmas puddings.

    First query: I scooped them onto the cookie tray & they didn’t change shape during baking. I expected a bit of a rise or something since chilling them is supposed to make a difference. But then there’s no leavening in the recipe. Should there be?

    Second query: after chilling the dough was so hard that I nearly had to chisel it apart to roll it into balls. Did I do something wrong? And would #2 have caused #1?
    These are suppose to dome a little. Was your dough soft and smooth? If you added too much flour you may have had a slighty stiffer dough. This would make it more difficult to work with and they would not rise quite as much. Joan D@ bakers hotline.

    Yes, it may be too much flour in the dough. Try letting the dough warm up just a bit too, that may help if your fridge is colder than ours. Also, there is no leavening in the recipe, the dough doesn’t really rise as much as it bakes in place. Hope this helps ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  25. louise persson

    Wow! Just tried Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa in my Chocolate Amaretto cookies. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but this cocoa gives a chocolate intensity they’ve not had with other dutch process cocoa. Three cheers!

    Hip – hip – hip – hooray for Bensdorp! Thanks for sharing, Louise – PJH

    Reply
  26. kate

    I made 1/2 the recipe since I seemed to be running low on everything. I added a tiny bit of espresso powder and just a pinch of cinnamon to the cookie dough (amazingly good!). I found the glaze to be a bit too sweet, so I added in (for 1/2 the recipe) 2 T whipped cr. cheese and 2 drops of lemon oil…that helped a lot.

    Still, with the cherry, it was a bit too sweet for me; but, I crunched up some fresh hazelnuts, sprinkled them on top of the icing and it was great!

    Thanks, and…happy Yultide!!!

    Reply
  27. kate

    Me again…made another batch and this time for some of them, I molded them around a very small blotted marichino cherry, then dusted them with powdered sugar when they were still warm…FANTASTIC…this recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks again!!

    Reply
  28. Joey D

    In a word… wow. I used English Toffee Caramels (Marich) for the topping. Needless to say they were gone before the tray hit the table. Thanks for another winner!

    Reply
  29. Deby

    I’m dying to try this recipe, but I can’t find Dutch process cocoa in any of my local stores. I’m too impatient to wait for an order to arrive, would it work with regular unsweetened cocoa? Would I need to add any baking soda if I used it?

    Thanks for your wondeful blog!

    Deby, look for European-style cocoa – that’s Dutch-process, and the stores should carry that… PJH

    Reply
  30. Carolyn

    Shortly before Christmas I stopped in at a local (Earth Fare in No./So. Carolina, Tenn, maybe VA) Whole-Foods-type store where they sell a Venezuelan dark chocolate (70+ percent cacao) that is just divine. I have a good supply but I always have to look. :-) Then I spotted small clamshell containers of little chocolate pearls – maybe 1/4″ size. I think these might combine well with KA’s white pearl decorations. Just have to figure out something to put them on.

    Reply
  31. Jamie

    My friend and I would consider ourselves fairly experienced bakers and added this recipe to our list of holiday cookies this year. We could not get the dough to come together no matter what we tried. I tried this recipe again today and I could still not get the dough to come together. I find this bizarre given the picture posted in the blog and would love to figure out what is wrong. I baked them anyway (after much hand kneading and rolling to make little balls (still crumbly)- and they taste delicious, but I would like them to be as easy as everyone says they are!
    Thanks!
    I’m guessing that it’s due to the dry weather at this time of year, and your flour is drier. Add just a touch of milk until you can get the dough to come together. That should take care of it. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  32. mjkevin

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but I never got a dough consistency. What I got was a crumbly mixture, as if I were making a pie crust or struesel topping. I re-checked the recipe to make sure I didn’t miss a liquid ingredient, and I didn’t. so I added about 2 tbl of heavy whipping cream, which got me the dough consistency pictured above, with the fudge-like texture. The cookies cam out soft and tender! I then put a candy cane kiss in the middle. I also put 1/2 tsp peppermint extract and 1 tsp vanilla. Refreshing! I only had Hershey cocoa, so next time I will make sure I have a stronger chocolate. I tried the espresso powder with this as well, but I don’t know if I can taste the difference. Seeing the comment above, I live in AZ, so maybe our dry weather contributed!Dry weather will definitely dry out your flour, so you did just the right thing by adding a little more liquid. Kudos! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  33. gophergal

    I love these cookies and have made them several ways, and many things I have learned along the way. First and foremost, it’s vital that you use really, really good chocolate powder. It makes all the difference. Additionally, I added the KAF Espresso Powder. OMG! To die for flavor. Secondly, I did not put dough in fridge first. I shaped the balls using a #70 scoop, rolled them in my hands for a nice round shape, and then put the tray in the fridge for an hour. I baked them for 12 minutes, turning the tray half way through. They come out in perfect little domes. Because I always bake & give, appearance is important to me and this method did it. Additionally, I have frosted many ways, but the one I like…is to make a rich, but thinner frosting and brush across the top, put in fridge for 10 min, and brush again. This gives it just a little sweetness and lets the chocolate flavor dominate. I have finely crushed peppermint and sprinkled it on top while the frosting was still wet. Divine!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Thanks so much for sharing all these handy tips – your fellow bakers thank you. Much appreciated! PJH

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *