Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dessert Day

With our guest here last week, I felt free to indulge in some extra baking; after all, there was another mouth to feed, so there was less likelihood that I would be eating 50% of everything I made. 33% is much better for me, right? 
I had a marathon baking day involving 7-layer bars, (crust requires slight tweaking, hopefully there will be a recipe in future) small almond cakes aka friands, and some buckeyes. 
Now I am not from Ohio, I did not attend The Ohio State University, and I do not pledge allegiance to college football. However, I do think that a nice bit of peanut butter candy enrobed in chocolate deserves to be enjoyed regardless of sports or state affiliation. We are equal-opportunity confectionary consumers in this household. This recipe is very easy, although a bit time-consuming, and making the centers can, and probably should, be done a few days ahead of when you want them. We found that they were delicious the day they were made, but after sitting for a few days in the fridge, the confectioners' sugar really hydrated and the centers became creamier. 

Having a chocolate dipping set (a little fork with two tines and a hollow spoon) helps tremendously, and they're only a few dollars at your nearest big craft store. Dipping takes a little bit of practice to get the exposed circle of peanut butter nice and even...I need more practice myself, as you can see. Is that just an excuse to make more? Of course not. 

1 1/2 C peanut butter (Jif or Skippy or your preferred brand, not the natural kind)
1/2 C softened butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp salt
1 lb box of confectioners' sugar
12 oz dark chocolate ( I used 60% cacao Ghiradelli chips)
1 Tb vegetable shortening or margarine

Beat peanut butter, butter, extracts, and salt until smooth. Stir in the confectioners' sugar. The dough will be very crumbly. Take 1 - 1 1/2 tsp of the dough and roll into a ball. You will probably have to squeeze and work the dough in your hands to warm it up a little before the ball will hold together nicely. Place balls on a tray or sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat. Chill the peanut butter balls in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 4 days. 
Melt the chocolate with the shortening in a double boiler or in the microwave. Place each peanut butter ball in the chocolate with your dipping spoon or fork, and let a small circle of peanut butter show, uncovered at the top. Place dipped peanut butter ball back onto the parchment to cool and set. 

**Update: I find Skippy brand peanut butter is a bit more oily than my usual preferred brand, and this means the balls are easier to roll and don't need the few days in the fridge to hydrate.**

Hubband proclaimed he would rather eat these than any other candy he could think of, so I deem them a success!

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