Bonbons Bonaire Offers the Fine Art of Chocolate-Making

Bonbons Bonaire provides exquisite chocolates.

A chocolate "lolly" from Bonbons Bonaire.

A chocolate “lolly” from Bonbons Bonaire.

One of the advantages of Bonaire’s burgeoning population is the fact that the island is attracting young entrepreneurs who bring new skills and arts to the island. Both tourists and residents can enjoy the fruits of their labors, and one of these that is especially enjoyable to sample is the chocolates of Bonbons Bonaire, by Pastry Chef Janos Aan Vermaat.

The process of making bonbons is fascinating.

The Bonaire Insider visited with Janos on Valentine’s Day, arguably the busiest day of the year for a maker of fine chocolates, but he was accommodating and told us all about his special atelier du chocolate, located in Kralendijk. We learned exactly how labor-intensive the making of chocolates is, and it is obvious that Janos puts a lot of love into his craft.

Special Valentine's Day BonBons, handmade by pastry chef Janos Aan Vermaat

Special Valentine’s Day BonBons, handmade by pastry chef Janos Aan Vermaat

Learning his craft.

Prior to coming to Bonaire in 2015, Janos learned his pastry craft at the three-Michelin-starred De Librije, considered by many to be the best restaurant in Holland. Working days were long and intense, starting at 8:00 AM and done at 1:00 AM. But with the knowledge he learned and the experience he garnered during this internship, Janos relocated to the Caribbean and started Bonbons Bonaire.

Chocolates require a climate-controlled area, as moisture has to be filtered from the air. The work-space where Janos creates his chocolates has a special air-conditioning unit specifically to keep the air dry and moisture-free.

Currently Janos works with two different applications for his bonbons. The first is the classic “lolly” or lollipop and for this he creates a base, inserts the stick, and then dips each one in chocolate, so it becomes similar to a chocolate truffle. Other bonbons we sampled were filled with white chocolate, Bonaire’s Cadushy, and sea salt, incorporating local ingredients which make for a unique taste. Yet another was filled with blood orange and pure chocolate.

The chocolate truffle lollipop.

The chocolate truffle lollipop.

Premium bonbons require premium ingredients.

The base is very important. Janos only uses premium ingredients in his products. The chocolate is by Valrhona, the exclusive chocolate from France. Their cocoa beans are grown in the Dominican Republic, sent to France where they are made into chocolate, and then Janos imports them back to the Caribbean for use in his bonbons. The dark chocolate is pure, the white chocolate is a mix of different world cocoa beans, so that the product has consistency, and the milk chocolate which Janos utilizes is his own personal favorite (from South Africa).

Chocolate seahorses and shells are in development.

Chocolate seahorses and shells are in development.

The special Bonaire collection of chocolates.

Janos is working on a special collection which Bonaire’s diving and snorkeling fans will enjoy–chocolate seahorses and shells. The making of these chocolates can take 24 to 48 hours to create one batch, depending upon how many layers are incorporated. For example, the initial layer (which is the top) is put into the mold, and then needs to set at least 12-24 hours prior to the next layer being added, and so on. Each layer adds time and attention to the process.

Janos shows how to use his special air-brush gun for decorating his bonbons.

Janos shows how to use his special air-brush gun for decorating his bonbons.

Making the bonbons his own with different ways of customization.

Janos adds individuality in different ways: He might dust the chocolate mold with some special “pixie dust” before adding the initial layer, he might add a color to the mold and then artfully hand draw a design with a toothpick, as in the “heart” chocolates pictured above, or he might even get out his special air-brush gun!

Janos mixes all his colors by hand. He melts down the beurre de cacao, or cocoa butter from the beans, and then mixes in the colors himself so he can get it as light or as dark as he wishes.

When asked which of his bonbons is the favorite, Janos informed me that his white chocolate “snickers” is always popular.  It’s made with a white chocolate exterior and milk chocolate filling. Truly the best of both chocolate worlds!

BonBons Bonaire's special Valentine's Day creation.

Bonbons Bonaire’s special Valentine’s Day creation.

At the end of this instructional visit, Janos shared one of his special Valentine’s Day creations with me, a heart-shaped chocolate tray filled with a variety of bonbons. I can attest that it didn’t last too long, and being able to eat the tray after the bonbons were long-gone just added to the pleasure!

Enjoying the special treats of Bonbons Bonaire.

So how does one enjoy these special treats? At the time of writing, Janos’ very special bonbons can be found at Sebastian’s Restaurant, where you will also find Janos in the kitchen at night assisting with creating savory entrées, Between 2 Buns, and Spice.

Bonbons Bonaire also provides wedding cakes or other special occasion cakes and decadent ice cream cones made with his own hand-made ice creams (such as black pepper ice cream or basil ice cream), with personally created cones.

Be sure to try out one of his special treats on your next Bonaire vacation!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)