Portion/Yield:Make about 30 bon bons
Naughty but nice springs to mind when I make these delicious little morsels! They also remind me of Christmas with their alcoholic kick and fruity fudgy texture and they do make a lovely homemade gift. I like serving these after dinner with strong freshly brewed coffee; there is something about rum, dates and coffee that just works brilliantly. The conversation becomes louder and the laughs come from deep inside; these bon bons remind me of good friends around the table after a superb meal on a cold winter’s day.
These bon bons are super fast to make too and do not require any baking. The key to this recipe is that you must shape the bon bons while the mixture is still warm, otherwise the coconut will not stick to them. Don’t try and make them too perfectly round though as it spoils their rustic look.
Another attraction for me with this recipe is its versatility – you can change the recipe to suit your mood and indulge in the things that you like. For all those food fanatics out there, do have a look at the Cook’s Notes below, as there are some great suggestions.
Ingredients & Method
- 125g digestive biscuits
- 125g unsalted butter, diced
- 100g demerara sugar
- 125g (stoned weight) dried stoned dates, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dark rum or brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or use the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod)
- desiccated coconut, for coating
Line a tray or baking sheet with non-stick baking paper and set aside.
Place the digestive biscuits in a clean polythene food bag, then use a rolling pin to crush the biscuits into small pieces (you don’t want a powder, but neither do you want pieces that are too big).
Place the butter and sugar in a large, heavy-based saucepan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, stirring. Once the butter mixture starts to bubble, add the dates, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally, then once it becomes thick and sticky, remove from the heat and add the rum and vanilla extract. Stir in the crushed biscuits and mix well.
Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle but warm enough to form shapes and for the coconut to stick. Use a teaspoon to scoop out small portions of the mixture (each about 15g), roll each portion into a small ball, then roll the balls in desiccated coconut to coat all over. Place on the prepared tray/baking sheet and leave to cool completely. The bon bons will firm up as they cool and will become fudge-like in texture once they are completely cold.
Store the bon bons in an airtight container in the fridge (with non-stick baking paper between each layer) for up to 2 weeks (they do get better as they mature). Remove the bon bons from the fridge at least an hour before serving and let them come to room temperature, as this brings out their lovely flavour. Refresh them by rolling in more coconut just before serving, if you like.
Try some of these suggestions to change the flavour of the bon bons to suit your taste, or perhaps you love the recipe, but just fancy a change?
- Replace the rum with very strong brewed (cold) Earl Grey tea or a double espresso.
- If you are not a fan of dates, replace the dates with sultanas or chopped dried figs.
- Add a crunch to your bon bons by replacing 75g of the chopped dates with chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios, or even pine nuts. Any nut of your choice will work, just make sure you chop them into small pieces.
- Instead of coconut, try rolling the bon bons in crushed flaked almonds or finely chopped hazelnuts.
- If you are pushed for time, line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper, grease with a light coating of sunflower oil, dust with the desiccated coconut and then spread the bon bons mixture over the coconut on the baking tray. Press it flat, sprinkle more coconut on top, let it set in the fridge and then cut into squares or desired shapes; very quick and easy!