Grandmama’s Bon Bons

Grandmama's Bon Bons

This is going to be our first Christmas without Grandmama and we sure do miss her. But as much as our hearts ache, we have so many wonderful memories of laughter, generosity, and smiles that we are still talking about her as if she is in the room – and we really feel she is sometimes.

She sure did leave a lot of good behind and I’m so grateful that I got to see how she lived her life. I definitely picked up a few pointers :)

Grandmama used to make these bon-bons every Christmas. That was back in the day when coffee pretty much always came in tin cans, at least the kind my family drank. Grandmama would save her coffee cans all year long so she could use them to put her bon bons in. As Christmas got close, Grandmama and her mother would set up a bon bon work station in their kitchen and spend the better part of a day mixing, rolling, and dipping these precious little confections, filling up coffee cans and placing the filled ones in the fridge. She always sent us a big old can of them and Mama would store it in the fridge where, I swear, it winked at me every time I opened the door so I just had to lift the lid and get me one.

Grandmama saved all sorts of things in addition to coffee tins. Glass pickle jars, mayonnaise jars, anything that could be put to another use. My grandaddy used to say “We need to save these glass jars. They’re good jars and they won’t always make jars like this, soon everything will be plastic.”

When Grandmama passed away a few months back, I went to her house to pick out a coffee cup. Grandmama was the only person in my life that I could call at 4:00 in the morning and sit and drink my coffee with over the phone so I thought that would be something special I could keep of hers. As I opened her cabinet, I found a stash of little glass pimento jars and their lids.

Hers was a golden generation and, like those glass jars, they are becoming more and more rare. We’ve got to learn from them while we still can.

So this Christmas, I wanted to share Grandmama’s Coffee Can Bon Bons with you. This recipe is in my first cookbook, along with the story of why they are so special to me. They are delicious for two reasons, one is because they just are. Two, is because of the wonderful woman who made them with such love.

Good hearted people just make everything in life better.

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You’ll need: Chopped Pecans, Margarine*, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Chocolate Almond Bark, Sweetened flaked coconut, and confectioner’s sugar.

*You can use butter if you want. I know, I know, margarine is one molecule away from plastic – and everything you read on the internet is true :)

Use whatever you prefer, whatever you can afford, and no one here is going to judge you. Because we don’t judge at my supper table.

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Melt the margarine/butter and then dump everything except the chocolate bark (which is not melted at this point) into a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.

This is a double recipe you’re seeing here. I don’t recommend doing this in this size bowl.

A single recipe will work just fine but double – not in this size bowl. In the next photo you will see that my double recipe in a bowl big enough for a single recipe ended up pretty messy….

Oh alright, I’m not going to share those photos. Mama took them. I had confectioner’s sugar all over the place so Mama stepped in and said “Christy! You aren’t supposed to use an electric mixer, you just use your hands..” and she set to mixing it.

In reality though, she agrees that an electric mixer would be just fine if you don’t try to make two recipes at once.

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This is Mama with her immaculately clean hands mixing up my bon bon dough. And all of the junk around my kitchen sink.

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Form all of your dough into balls one way or another…

Now, Grandmama and Lela (my great grandmother) rolled these all out by hand into perfect little one inch balls.

Because they were awesome people who really cared about details.

I am using a cookie dough scoop for mine.

Because I am the daughter and granddaughter of an awesome person but I have always been more of the “if it looks good from ten yards on a galloping horse then it is fine” type gal.

We have always laughed, enjoyed, and celebrated our different personalities and ways of doing things in my family. If you ever want to really make someone in my family laugh, come along and tell us there is only one way to do something and that we are doing it wrong and you’ll be sure to have us all burst into laughter because our first response will be that you must be making a joke.

Once you have your little bon bon balls made, cover them and refrigerate for at least an hour.

The great thing about making these in the winter is that most of the time you can just put them outside for a spell and they get plenty cold. This is “most of the time” because we have had capri weather in December on more than one occasion in good old Alabama.

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After they are good and cold, melt your chocolate bark in the microwave by breaking the large pieces up in a bowl and microwaving for 45-1 minute intervals, stirring in between each, until melted and creamy.

You can also melt this in a double broiler. I’m gun shy about suggesting folks do a lot of things in the microwave because microwave ovens vary so incredibly much so we really rely on our own judgement when it comes to using them.

I love using mine and haven’t had any problems that I recall, but I have heard plenty of horror stories.

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Dip your bon bons in chocolate.

There are a hundred different ways to do this and you go with whatever works best for you. For me, I just put a bon bon on a fork, dip it in, then lift it out and tap the fork on the bowl lightly to remove excess before placing my chocolate dipped bon bon on some waxed paper to harden.

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So see, Grandmama made these perfect little coffee can bon bons.

But when I make them, I think we need to rename them. Christy’s Great Big Gobby Bon Bons!

heehee!

If Grandmama was here, she would laugh, and then pop a whole one in her mouth.

Grandmama's Bon Bons

Store these in the fridge until you are ready to gift (or eat) them.

Merry Christmas!

Make sure you live a life that leaves a whole lot of good behind.

Grandmama’s Bon Bons

Grandmama’s Bon Bons

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1+2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 package chocolate almond bark, for coating

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except almond bark well with your hands or electric mixer.
  2. Form bon bon dough into balls either with hands (for smaller ones) or cookie dough scoop (for great big gobby ones!). Place on cookie sheet and cover. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  3. Melt chocolate bark by heating in the microwave at 45 second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth and creamy. Dip bon bons into chocolate and place on wax paper to harden.
  4. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat or gift.
  5. Makes about 4 dozen, 1-inch bon bons
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“At Christmas, “It’s a Wonderful Life” makes me cry in exactly the same places every time, even though I know it’s coming.”

~Nicholas Lea

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Comments

  1. Karon Miller says

    I know I’ll certainly miss your Grandmama waltzing in my grandmothers door this weekend at her Christmas party. She’d always zip in with some food, hug everyone and then be back out the door to say hi to everyone else.

  2. Jennie says

    Lucille was my first cousin, and I loved visiting with her, Jay, and Lela when I was younger! We do come from à whole family that believed laughter was the way to go! Thanks for bringing back a flood of memories, and putting a smile on my face!

    • mary dotson says

      I know how you feel about your grandma,mine has been in heaven for a long time.I still miss as much now as I did when she died.She was a major part of my life!Thank you for sharing her with us!!

  3. Tricia says

    I only had one grandparent growing up, my mother’s mother, I called her Mammaw. Although I saw her once a year, I have good memories. She died 45 years ago soon after I married. I’m envious of those who had grandparents & talk about their time with them. Thank you, Christy, for sharing your Grandmama with us. Speaking of good-hearted people who make life better, I would place you in that category. I wish you & your family a wonderful, memorable Christmas & New Year.

  4. Betty819 says

    Christy, I love all your stories that go along with your recipes. After Christmas is over, I’m treating myself to your books. I need another cookbook like another hole in my head! Your stories are priceless..you could never put a figure on them. Just thought I’d pass along this information. We shop at Harris Teeter store a lot and just the other day, I saw where they are making Coco Lopez in smaller size cans. That is good because one of my recipes calls for that product and you end up wasting about 6 oz. that you don’t need for a recipe. Is that Almond bark dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Don’t care for dark chocolate even though studies have proven it is good for you. One lady on our bus tour last evening said chocolate gives her migranes, so she avoids it at all cost, any caffeine.

  5. Brenda Tucker says

    Gonna try these. Thanks for sharing your recipes and the stories. The stories we have are what makes the recipes special to each of us. Especially when the recipe came from someone we’ve lost…and miss.

  6. Sandy says

    These are my favorite holiday candies! We call them Martha Washington’s and I’ve been making them for more years than I can remember. In fact, I went to Walmart and bought the ingredients just yesterday. :-)

  7. Trice says

    I love your stories, Christy, and wow do you look like your Mama! I have seen pics of your Mom before, but the way she is looking back at the camera in this recipe you can really tell where you get your good looks! I wonder if this is the same type of candy that I have heard called buckeyes? Here in Texas, my neighbor, who was from Michigan, made them every Christmas. She passed 6 years ago. But they seem to be so close, I think I’ll make these in honor of Cindy! Thanks Christy. And Merry Christmas to you and your family and all the Southern Plate family too!

    • Eve says

      Hi Trice!

      I think buckeyes are different from what Christy describes here. The buckeyes I know have a peanut buttery center and are partially dipped in chocolate. They taste kind of like a Reeces Cup!

  8. says

    Christy this recipe sounds very much like my Martha Washington candy recipe. I’m at work but just from memory it looks about right!….I haven’t made this in ’bout 4 years and my husband and 2 of the 3 girls beg me to make it. I have no excuse except I have run out of time and energy!! Wish you’d just send me a tin of it ~ I’ll PAY!!!
    Merry Christmas!!

  9. Bonnie says

    Christy I’m sorry you lost your Grandmmama. They are special ladies. I lost mine many years ago and its funny I was telling my grandchildren some stories this morning about her. She was my very favorite person even to this day. The sad thing is I dont think I ever told her that. Anyways I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.

  10. Tom says

    These bring back memories from my mom and grandmother, both were excellent cooks and I am so glad they taught me to cook, but some things just do not taste the same. I had lost this recipe and look forward to making them

  11. Natalie Mason says

    Sweet, sweet story. My Grandma has been in heaven for many years, but when I cook one of her dishes it is like she is right there beside me again. Your stories always make me smile! Love from Oklahoma!

  12. Dorothy Graham says

    Hi .wanted to say thank you for being a winner on your smoked ham give a way..I received it today ..it looks wonderful..saving it for Christmas dinner…your receipts are all so good …but I do want to try these Chocolate Bon Bon..and hope they will look as good as yours… If they do I will share them with my family & friends..

  13. Dianne says

    Hi ya Christy,
    I just had to write and tell you how wonderful the Dishpan Cookies are. I made just the single batch you gave the recipe for. OMG we just love them.
    My family requested that I make them at least once a month lol. They were a little leary at first but once they tasted the cookies they couldn’t stop eating them. Thank you again for the recipe.
    Dianne in Wisconsin

    • Mary Ann Bendily says

      Hi Dianne, I agree with you the dishpan cookies are great! I have made them several times in the last few months. They freeze great! I make them to freeze at our Church for Freezer Friends, I put two to a ziplock bag to freeze. I have cornflakes on my cabinets ready to make some.
      When I met Christy in NOLA did not even think to tell that I make those. Now I have tons of questions I could asked her. lol

  14. Susie says

    Hi Christy, growing up in south Ala in the 60′s , these were known as Martha Washington Candy. I have no idea why it was named that. I identify with your Grandmama saving glass jars. I still do it and I think it goes back to having been raised by a mother who raised children during the Depression. Her philosophy was to save because you never knew when you might need it. I am a pack rat in other areas also. I am enjoying your new cookbook. Keep the stories coming.

  15. Melissa Souther says

    Sending ((HUGS)) to you! I miss my Grandmother very much too. She used to let me help her in the kitchen and nurtured my love for cooking. She used to make gingerbread houses every year, and cookies galore! She saved everything too, as does my 87 year old mama. Oh my goodness! It drives me crazy at times. Anyway, I loved reading your blog today (as usual) and look forward to trying these out.

  16. Juanita says

    Hi Christy. I lost my grandmother when I was about 12 years old and I am 67. I do remember spending weeks during the summer with her but she didn’t do much cooking that I can remember due to her strokes. I do have fond memories of me and my mother making candies. She passed away Sept. 15th of this year at the age of 95. We made these, but be we called them coconut balls, reeces cups, chocolate covered cherries with liquid centers, and etc. One year we too had an assembly line going and was using the freezer to cool down quicker. The freezer door was open and shut so much, my freezer froze up, if you have ever heard it put that way. We gave the freezer a little brake to thaw out and we went at it again. I know this is longer than it should be, but I did want to share this with you and your readers. May I add that if ANY of your parents or grandparents are still living, talk to them, ask questions and write down any stories they may have shared with you. They won’t be around forever and they are called to their heavenly home, it will be too late. I’m glad I did.

  17. Tamela in Central Florida says

    This is such a great tribute to your grandmother Christy!!! These look absolutely delicious!!! I lost mine 25 years ago but there are traditions at Christmas that make me ache for her sweet hugs & joyful spirit!!!

  18. Kim Saint says

    Thanks Christy! I catch myself saving jars every now & then. Usually for my boys to catch lightning bugs with. Your Grandparents were right about plastic taking over. The other day my DH & I were discussing how companies used to put their products in reusable containers. Like jelly jars that were to be drinking glasses when the jelly was consumed. My Maw-Maw had several of those along with flour sack dish towels. They were really nice. Of course, they raised, made or grew most of their food. Going to the grocery was a BIG deal.

  19. mary ann breedlove says

    Hello, Christy. I was one of the winners of the indoor grill from the 12 days of Christtmas “give-away”. Just wondering if you know when these are expected to arrive (I’m concerned that someone will take the package from my front door after it is delivered…Houston news has reported several instances of people watching for deliveries and notices on doors so they can steal the packages…isn’t that mean?).

  20. Eva says

    am going to try these.I still buy coffee in cans but mine are too big for using
    this way! my Grammy died in 1966 so its been a long time but I do have recipes from her. I have several scoops including a small one for making cocktail size meat balls, and I also have a double ended melon baller with two sizes of small scoops. so look around you might find a smaller scoop to use. Thrift stores and yard sales.estate sales are all great places to find stff for baking

  21. Charlene Roberson says

    My Memaw, who has been gone since 1991, made these and back then dipped them in chocolate chips melted with Gulf Wax. I have her handwritten recipe and “intend” to make them every year, but don’t. Thanks for the idea of using the almond bark, as it is very difficult to find Gulf Wax anymore!!!

  22. says

    Ohhhh…these make me swoon. So, so good. I am fortunate to still have my grandmother around. She’s 95 years old and still walks three miles a day! Puts me to shame haha. I still make peanut butter fudge with her for every holiday she wants to do. I am going to be devastated when the day comes I don’t have her by my side in the kitchen

  23. Ashley Still says

    Hi Christy! I was just thinking about these little bites of heaven the other day and wondering how my Mamaw made them. She has been gone for almost 10 years now. This has really brightened my day to learn how to make these now. Like you I’m a southern girl and learned to cook from my grandma and mom. I love all your recipes and the stories that go with them. It reminds me of my grandma and being able to ask her how to make something. So since you know how to make these do you have a recipe for peanut butter balls or bon bons whatever you want to call them? Mamaw always called them coconut or peanut butter balls.

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