Szaloncukor has been an essential element of the Hungarian Christmas since the 19th century (you can read about its story here). Nowadays every decent confectionery factory that is present on the Hungarian market also produces szaloncukor. The shelves of stores are now groaning under heap of candies with different fillings. You can choose from a wide product range, from the cheap mass-produced candies to the expensive hand-made bonbons. Everyone can find the filling that suits their taste.
I have never made szaloncukor before, however it has been on my to-do list for a while. I have always put off this matter because I thought it would demand much time and effort, and frankly, I’m not a fan of work requiring handiness and much patience. But this year I brought myself to give it a try, on the condition if I could find easy-to-use recipes that wouldn’t call for special gadgets like sugar thermometer,silicone moulds, marble board for tempering the chocolate, etc.
Finally I decided to make walnut, coconut and milk caramel filled bonbons. Beginners like me can have a go at the following three recipes, success is garantueed. My first szaloncukor turned out better than expected, appearance could be better, but intrinsic value far surpasses store-bought candies.
For the orange-walnut filling:
- 350 g (~3 cups) walnuts, shelled
- 2 tbsp rum
- 80-100 g (~2/3 – 3/4 cup) powdered sugar
- zest and juice of a half lemon
- zest and juice of a half orange
- 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
Toast the shelled walnuts in a dry pan, then finely chop in a food processor until they are about the size of the grains of salt. Place walnuts in a bowl. Add rum and powdered sugar. Zest half lemon and orange, squeeze the juice and add to the walnuts. Also add apricot jam, just enough to make the mass hold together and shapable. Cover and let it rest overnight in a cool place. The next day form tiny balls and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper.
For the milk caramel:
- 500 ml (~2 cups) milk
- 250 g (~1 1/3 cups) sugar
- 40 g (~3 tbsp) butter
Place milk and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Over medium-low heat cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, becomes sticky and amber colored – it takes about 40-45 minutes. Turn off the heat, immediately add butter and stir until butter melts completely. Pour the caramel into a small pan lined with parchment paper, make even, let it set until firm. Once firm, cut into squares.
For the coconut filling:
- 50 g (~2/3 cup) shredded coconut
- 100 ml (~7 tbsp) cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
Bring cream to a boil, then add shredded coconut and sugar. Over low heat stir and cook until it thickens. Let it cool, then shape into small oval balls.
For the coating:
- 250 g (~9 oz) couverture chocolate, semi-sweet dark
When all the fillings are ready and shaped, melt the chocolate. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and in a double boiler, over simmering water, melt two-third of the chocolate. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the double boiler. Do not allow the water to boil or you may burn the chocolate. When the chocolate melts, remove from the heat, add the remaining one-third of the chocolate and stir until it completely melts (this is the easiest way to temper chocolate).
Lay the balls on a fork, dip into the melted chocolate, and place on trays lined with parchment paper. Put the bonbons in a cool place until the chocolate sets.
Wrap the szaloncukor in aluminium foil or crepe paper. Cut oblongs, place a bonbon in the centre, fold up and twist the ends contrariwise.