Bon Bons

I can’t imagine it being Christmas without having bon bons.  Every Christmas was marked by one day in our household as a child, December 19.  It was my father’s birthday.  We would put up the tree, wrap the presents, decorate the house and make the candy.  We didn’t do a lot of cookies or fudge or brownies, but bon bons – by the hundreds.  Everyone wanted a batch to themselves and I remember making fifty to seventy-five of each flavour.  And the worst thing about bon bons was the drying time.  You have to allow the balls to dry and harden overnight, then rinse repeat following the coating.  And of course, thanks to wax paper, it’s very obvious if any have gone missing.

As an adult, it seems each year I have a request for more than the prior year.  And although it is very flattering, the process is involved.  This is not a candy you want to begin unless you have about 2 square feet of open level space for drying and at least eight hours of patience.  A double boiler is extremely helpful, but you can make do, as I will detail below.  You also will want a very large bowl for hand mixing, at least 12 inches in diameter.  And you will need to deal with getting very messy.

Before we start though, credit where it is due.  My mother always gave credit to my grandmother, my grandmother wasn’t sure where she had gotten it and my aunt credits our cousin Cleona in the family cookbook.

Ingredients for Balls

1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 cups powdered sugar

14 ounces shredded coconut

2 cups finely crushed pecans

Ingredients for Coating

1/4 of paraffin bar

1 – 12 ounce package baking chips (any flavour works, I tend to use chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate and butterscotch)


  • This recipe requires getting your hands dirty, mixing equipment does not make do.  While I am certain, or hope, you typically begin all cooking adventures with clean hands, with this recipe, because of the level of involvement, I would suggest imitating a surgeon, washing up to the elbows, between the fingers, and cleaning under the nails.  You will also want to remove any jewelry on your hands or wrists before beginning.  Keep a bowl handy filled halfway with warm water to rinse your fingers in and a stack of paper towels ready as well.
  • Using a meat tenderizer, place half of pecans into a zippered storage bag and tap lightly until every piece is well crushed, to an almost powder state.  Repeat with remaining half of pecans.  Set aside.
  • In large mixing bowl, place powdered sugar, spreading out evenly.
  • Add coconut flakes to powdered sugar by handfuls, using fingers to blend well.
  • Add in crushed pecans by handfuls, blending all very well with fingers.
  • Remove entire lid of sweetened condensed milk and pour into sugar mixture, using fingers to knead into mixture until a doughy texture.
  • Add softened butter to mixture, and knead mixture until completely well blended.
  • Lay out waxed paper over your entire drying area.
  • Loosely scatter a small handful of powdered sugar over workspace.
  • Scoop dough into fingertips, working into a ball about one inch in diameter, rolling into a tight ball.  Pat hands onto powdered sugar on workspace to help reduce stickiness of balls while rolling.
  • Set finished ball on waxed paper.
  • Allow balls to dry for at least four hours, re-rolling any that have flattened.  Balls will have a dry firm texture on the outside when ready – you should be able to lift them and move them without damaging their shape with gentle handling.
  • If you do not have a double boiler or dutch oven, fill a medium to large stock pot halfway with water and set a heat safe mixing bowl inside.  Water should rise halfway up the bowl.
  • Bring water to boil over medium heat.
  • Place 1/4 of a paraffin bar into mixing bowl and allow to melt.  I use Gulf brand canning wax.
  • Once wax has become a hazy watery texture, add in baking chips.
  • Allow to soften, stirring intermittently.
  • Once a thick, melted frosting texture, remove mixing bowl from heat.  Leave boiling pot on heat.
  • Using two spoons, roll balls one by one into the dip, coating evenly and quickly.
  • Set ball on clean waxed paper area.  Allow to sit for at least two hours before transferring to serving dish.  If storing, place in air tight container and keep cool.
  • Pour boiling water into mixing bowl once done, this helps release the coating from the dish and makes it easy to wash.


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