Peanut Butter Balls Recipe
Peanut Butter Balls are a perfect example of how something that tastes really good can also be easy to make. The best way to describe their flavor is to say they are like a homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. They have that same lovely coating of chocolate with a smooth and creamy peanut butter filling that is almost fudge-like in texture. Recipe Ingredients
The State of Ohio has their own special name for this confection; "Buckeyes". Buckeyes look slightly different than Peanut Butter Balls in that the top of each bonbon is bare of chocolate so the peanut butter filling can be seen. This is done to make them look like the nut of the Buckeye tree, which just happens to be the State Tree of Ohio. So popular are "Buckeyes" in Ohio that I recently read in the the Cleveland Dealer that a Ohio State versus Michigan game wouldn't be complete without this candy. A bit of trivia; the name "buckeye" comes from Native American folklore and is said to come from the fact that the Buckeye nut resembles the eye of a buck deer.
Making Peanut Butter Balls couldn't be simpler. The filling ingredients (peanut butter, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, butter, and vanilla extract) are just mixed together, rolled into small balls, chilled, and then dipped in melted chocolate. A few notes on making this confection. I have found the best way to make the filling is to first soften the butter and peanut butter in the microwave as this step makes it so much easier to beat in the sugar. Also, since the Peanut Butter Balls need to be stored in the refrigerator, adding a little shortening to the melted chocolate keeps the chocolate nice and shiny. I know that some recipes call for the addition of paraffin wax, instead of shortening to keep the chocolate shiny, but since paraffin wax is indigestible to humans and simply passes through the body, I prefer shortening.
Now, when buying peanut butter always check the list of ingredients to see if trans fats are listed (labeled as "partially hydrogenated oil" or "hydrogenated oil"). Trans fat or trans fatty acids are really nasty fats as they are thought to cause heart disease (raise bad LDL cholesterol, increase triglyceride levels, and lower good HDL cholesterol). Keep in mind that nutrition labels do not always list small amounts of trans fat so that is why you must look at the list of ingredients. Luckily, there are now brands of peanut butter on the market that clearly label that they do not contain hydrogenated oil.
- 2 cups (500 grams) creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups (230 - 290 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
- 9 ounces (255 grams) semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) shortening
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the peanut butter, unsalted butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about one minute or until just soft (check and stir the ingredients every 20 seconds). Stir in the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and mix until it has the consistency of a dough (add more sugar if necessary).
- Roll the dough into 1 inch (2.5 cm) round balls. Place on the cookie sheet and refrigerate for about one hour, or until firm.
- Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip the balls, one at a time, in the melted chocolate, making sure the entire ball is coated with chocolate. Then, with two spoons or a dipping fork, remove the peanut butter ball from the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the chocolate covered balls back on the baking sheet. When all the balls have been dipped in the chocolate, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. To serve: place in small fluted candy cups.
- Note: If you want to make Buckeyes: place a toothpick into each peanut butter ball and dip, one ball at a time, into the melted chocolate, leaving the top quarter of each ball undipped.
- Makes about 40 pieces, depending on size.