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C'est Bon: The Famous Bonbon Cookies of 1955-1960

Bonbon cookies
1955-1960 was certainly an eventful series of years. Sputnik I was launched; Alaska and Hawaii were proclaimed the 49th and 50th states; Truman Capote published the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, which would later be made into a film by the same name.

And during these years, there was one cookie that spoke to the times more than any other: the Bonbon Cookie. At least that's what Betty Crocker says. And other than the fact that she's not actually...well, real, she's never led us astray. According to her Cooky Book (1963), the treats are described as being real trailblazers on the cookie frontier:

Bonbon Cookies from Betty Crocker


"candy-like cookies in vogue--women were fascinated by these beautiful and delicious cookies which were baked as cookies, served and eaten as candies. Excitement over Bonbons brought more candy-cookies, Toffee squares and Cream Filberts, for example"

And if that doesn't pique your interest, the photos in the book will (above)--in pastel tones worthy of Marie Antoinette's court, these are without a doubt cookies for ladies, a pinkies-out affair. We had to make them. Turns out, they're amazingly easy--and rather delicious.
Chocolate innardsBonbon Cookies being made
A few notes:
  • They are rather on the sweet side--so for those who like a less-sweet cookie, you might want to leave off the frosting, or opt for a more savory filling for the cookies, such as chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut; we used chocolate chips, but then again we're not scared of sweet cookies.
  • In keeping with the spirit of this dainty cookie and the era from which it harkens, we elected to make ours Tiffany Blue, garnishing them with white sugar pellets in white to offer the same color palette as that iconic box with its white bow. We found that adding a drop or so of green with two or three drops of blue food coloring reached the signature tone nicely.
  • To attain the desired round Bonbon shape, we used a small ice cream scoop to spoon out our dough; while in the scoop we inserted 2-3 chocolate chips, pressed them down, and then reformed the dough over it to secure the filling.
Here's the recipe:

Bonbon Cookies in Tiffany Blue
Bonbon Cookies
Created by Mrs. Joseph J. Wallace, Whitehall, Montana

For the Cookies:
  • 1/2 c. soft butter 
  • 3/4 c. sifted confectioners sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • food coloring if desired 
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
Possible fillings: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coconut, cherries...choose your own adventure!
For the Icing:
  • Mix 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar, 2 tbsp cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and food coloring (if desired).
Heat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and food coloring (if using), thoroughly. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting. Blend in flour and salt. If dough is dry, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. cream. Wrap a level Tablespoon of dough around filling.. Place 1" apart on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 min. Cool; dip tops of cookies in frosting; decorate with another topping if desired. Makes 20-25 cookies.

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Reader Comments (55)

Those bon bons scare me.

Jessie, I LOVE my striped unicorn cakespy tee!

August 27 | Unregistered Commenterlifeinrecipes

the cookies look great, what made me sad reading this was the woman that made up the original recipe: Mrs. Joseph J. Wallace - she's lost within her husband's name. i think we should all look at this as a lesson to either keep our 'maiden' names and use them for work, our arts, no matter what that maybe or at the very least use our own names as part of our 'married' name so we aren't among the lost, too.

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

those are SO cute!

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Danger

The colour is amazing.
They look so nice, yummm hehe!

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie...

breakfast at tiffany's has been on my mind lately so these are perfect... now, if i could only look like audrey hepburn...

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterAran

BONBONS!!! Love them; and that color IS quite fun :0)

So sorry that I haven't been commenting on the recent blog posts - your blog hasn't been sending me the update alerts that I usually get, so I've missed about 5 of the previous posts! :0(

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

"-so for those who like a less-sweet cookie,"

Not me!!! Those look wonderful as is and can't wait to make them!

These cookies make me soo happy. Im so excited to try them.

August 28 | Unregistered Commenterpasteychefbyfire

zomg! Bon Bons! These were the first cookies I learned to make at the tender age of six. Alas, when the 'rents passed on and we were clearing out the house, one of my brothers got the cookbook with the recipe and I haven't found a copy of my own since, so I haven't made these in more than a decade.

I used to fill them will all kinds of things: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, dried fruits, M&Ms...and then I would dip the newly-frosted cookies in colored sugar. I liked to color code them so I'd be sure to get the fillings I liked best and be able to warn people away from things they hated or were allergic to.

I'm taking down the recipe and will make a batch as soon as the weather cools a little.

Thanks for the trip down nostalgia lane combined with the means to take the journey again anytime I desire.

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterTwistie

Anonymous: I think no different than any other amount of food coloring! It was only like three drops so hopefully not too bad.

Jenjen: They're yummy, and I am with you on liking that color!

Dana: Thanks!

Kitchenlogic: Ha! Fantastic, I love that pattern!

Krysta: Ha! So true!

Peabody: I know! They're so funny and seemingly antiquated, but somehow charming.

Caked Crusader: Oohh that sounds delicious!

Clumbsy: It sounds exactly like something from that era! I wonder what they'll laugh at in 50 years...

Recipegirl: Yea! It's the same type of sugar that I've seen on brioche sometimes.

Patty: Thanks, I am so glad you came across the site and are enjoying it!

CL: Totally! Funny :-)

Tres Poshe: Thanks! They're just a perfect color aren't they?

Snooky Doodle: Yup, they're almost too easy!

Kate: I hope you'll enjoy them!

Wandering: Oh my! Some blue foods weird me out--candies for instance--but I'm not opposed to a little food coloring. I think your schoolmates needed to chill out btw! :-)

Christina: They make you smile more when you eat em!

Glass Slipper Cakery: Ha! Well, you will if you have these around...they are addictive!

Grace: Yup, they're really easy to make. Not fussy at all! Which allows you to be fussy and ladylike while eating them. Or something.

Anonymous: Fantastic! I think you don't actually NEED the ice cream scoop, though it did make them so precious--I think just shaping them with a regular spoon or by hand would be fine.

Glamah: Aren't they too much? :-)

Hillary: YES! I just found the first edition on ebay and was super psyched. There have been editions since, but I think the 1963 one is the BEST!

Veron: Yeaaah! A girl after my own heart!

Surcie: Time to try it! :-)

Life in recipes: ha! Glad you like the tee! Yay!

Anonymous: I know. I tried to google the name but found nothing--sad that her identity was swallowed like that.

J. Danger: Thanks!

Natalie: Thanks!

Aran: You do! Or, you're even prettier, that is to say!

Veggiegirl: No worries! I changed the frequency so that it's only emailed once a week--Since a lot of people take vacations over the summer I didn't want to clog anyone's inbox. I might change it back to be more frequent in the winter...

Courteous Chihuahua: Ha! They're totally sweet in more ways than one!

Pasteychefbyfire: Cool, hope you enjoy!

Twistie: Yay!! I am so glad they brought back some sweet memories. I love that they're a kind of "choose your own adventure" cookie--and the filling changes their personality so much. I'm an instant devotee!

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I don't think I've ever had one of these cookies - but then again, I wasn't alive during that era! I do love the Tiffany blue, though. How can I resist?!?

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

The blue kinda freaks me out! Like an old princess phone I used to have. I guess that's fitting though eh?

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterEB

I can see that color blue at a pool party or in a scene from Mad Men. Bet they'd work well with or without frosting, but definitely with coffee or tea.

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterJeanna

These are so charming! I'd never heard of them before. They seem perfect for an ultra-girly event like a tea party.

About one thirty in the morning last night I decided I needed to make some of these. My fiance had a friend over and they were hard at work on a project, so I got in the kitchen to make them a treat. I coloured half of it pink and flavored it with peppermint and crushed candy cane, and the other half I did lemon and bright yellow. They were fantastic! Especially the peppermint ones. I would show you a picture, but they didn't last that long! These would be great as fun holiday cookies.

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterPinky

These cookies match that little box you got for your bday!

That is quite the cookie!! I bet kids would love these!

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I love the Cooky Book! You just reminded me that I need to steal my Mom's next time I'm home for a visit....

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterThe Housewife

These are so cute! Thanks for the info, hadn't heard of 'em until now! Must make!! What fun colors too :D.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

I have some old cookbooks and I've seen these in them--I have always wanted to try them. Love yours in Tiffany Blue!

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

AMAZING!! this reminds me of my birthday party theme last year: "it came from the back of a box" potluck, where friends had to replicate vintage recipes from the pictures and recipes of old 1950s and 1960s baking books! the crazy treats that seemed appealing back then are just too amazing... love it!

August 30 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

I love that you use Betty Crocker's cooky book :)
I have to brag that I got to hang in the Betty Crocker kitchen when they took our pics for the Pinktogether.com shoot. I was in awe, lol

I am off to etsy to special order a breast cancer ribbon cuppie - what do you think?

(I love that your illustrations are stamps soon, btw!)

September 3 | Unregistered CommenterMaya

That's what I was thinking when I saw your pictures.. Tiffany blue :)
Looks awesome

September 19 | Unregistered CommenterJude

Thanks again everyone! So glad that it struck a nostalgic chord. It certainly did with the cakespy crew--love those retro cookies!

September 21 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

How much is 1/2 c. soft butter and 3/4 c. sifted confectioners sugar in metric?
(or does c. mean cups?)

January 9 | Unregistered CommenterJillian
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