Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls

I have to say I am very excited about these homemade "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups." Many years ago, the mother of one of my parents' students made these as a thank you gift for teaching her son, and I have been dreaming about them ever since. My memory did not deceive me either for these truly are delicious! For some reason--fear of difficulty or time or for having to use coating chocolate (something I've never used before)--I hesitated to make them. I discovered today, however, that my fear was irrational. This recipe, with a little bit of practice and patience (the whole process is sort of a long affair) is actually fairly easy and very rewarding. I've discovered another beautiful homemade gift for the holidays that I am really looking forward to giving to friends...a lot of friends: the recipe makes 165!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls
Yield: 165 ea

2 cups (5.5 oz) vanilla wafers
1 lb confectioner's sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
12 oz smooth peanut butter
1 lb bag candy-making chocolate disks (dark) Merckens brand is good. (I found mine at Fante's)

Fleur de Sel
paper petit fours wrappers

Using food processor with metal blade, combine vanilla wafers and confectioner's sugar. Pulse until well blended. Add softened butter, and pulse again until well blended. Add peanut butter, a little at a time, pulsing after each addition until well blended. Once smooth, transfer mixture to a separate bowl. At this point, you can either wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and chill for an hour, or you can start forming the balls. I found it easy to form the balls immediately, and then chill them afterwards. (You will ultimately develop a method that works for you.)
I used a scale to weigh each ball. Each ball should weigh 1/4 oz or be approximately a rounded 1/2 teaspoon in size. When you have portioned the desired number of balls you wish to make (you could portion all at once, but this would take a very long time), chill the balls in the refrigerator until firm (at least one hour). Wrap the remaining dough and store in the refrigerator until ready to use again.

Meanwhile, slowly melt the chocolate (estimate how much you will need) in the bowl of a double boiler. When the balls are firm, remove only a few at a time (I was working with 12 at one time). When the chocolate is melted, whisk until smooth and turn off the heat. Drop a ball into the chocolate, move gently around with a fork, and when completely coated remove ball with a toothpick. Gently lower ball into paper petit fours wrapper and gently twist the toothpick--it should ease out slowly. This process will take a little bit of trial and error, but you will eventually develop a method that works for you. Don't worry if there is a little blemish revealing some peanut butter on the top of the ball. You can fix that at the end by spooning tiny tiny amount of chocolate over the holes to touch up the open spots. When the 12 balls are coated and in the paper cups, sprinkle a tiny amount of Fleur de Sel on top of each peanut butter ball. Chill balls in freezer for 5 minutes to firm. Transfer to a stationary box (I ordered mine on-line), wrap, give and enjoy!