Thursday, December 16, 2010

RECIPE: Henrietta's Peanut Butter Balls

Waiting to be chilled before being rolled in icing and coconut.
I'll tell you a little secret about Henrietta, one of her greatest weaknesses is anything containing peanut butter. It follows that every Christmas, she makes sheets and sheets of these wonderful little morsels, often doubling the recipe. She's had great fun trying endless variations (a few of which are below), and many friends of the witches love to get a small tin full of nothing but these scrumptious treats as a holiday gift.

The only real secret in making the rolled darlings is to keep your ingredients cool once they are mixed to avoid sticky situations, and to keep the wet to dry ingredient ration in balance. You don't want a dry ball that cracks, nor do you want a wet ball that looses its shape.

Try them for yourself and do let Henrietta know if you come up with any fun variations. She'll use any excuse to make another batch and none of us here at Creepstone cottage mind one bit!

What you will need for the basic cookies:
  • One cup of smooth peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of butter at room temperature
  • One half a cup of finely chopped dates
  • One cup of icing sugar (some people call this confectioners sugar) 

How to make the cookies:
  1. In a trustworthy medium-sized bowl, stir the peanut butter and butter together with a sturdy wooden spoon until well blended.
  2. Add in your icing sugar a little at a time until it is completely mixed.
  3. Carefully stir in dates until incorporated.
  4. Grease your hands with a bit of butter and use them to form the mixture into bite-size balls.*
  5. Place the dear little things on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or tin foil.
  6. Chill the trays in your refrigerator until they are firm and well set (about an hour).
  7. Coat the balls as desired
The traditional coating is to roll the chilled balls in a thin icing made of milk and icing sugar, and then in sweetened flaked coconut. Let these set again on the wax paper covered baking sheet in fridge.

Another fun coating is chocolate or butterscotch. Instead of chilling the balls in your refrigerator, place them in the freezer until quite hard. Then roll them in gently melted semi-sweet chocolate or butterscotch chips, turning them to coat evenly. Let set on wax paper covered baking sheet in fridge.

Some of Henriettas other variations include:
  • Substituting mini chocolate chips, crispy rice cereal or raisins for the dates
  • Rolling in toasted, crumbled peanuts
  • Rolling in holiday coloured sprinkles
  • Rolling in white sprinkles for a snowball look
  • Rolling in melted white chocolate
  • Rolling in crushed corn flake or crispy rice cereal
Henrietta is also fond of putting each peanut butter ball in a little paper baking cup for a nice presentation. These come in many festive looks including plain white, berry red, holly green, sparkling gold or with joyful, printed Christmas designs.

HENRIETTA HINT: If you find the mixture is sticking to your hands but you are certain you have the right dry/wet ingredient ratio, it may be you are too warm yourself. Wash your hands off and then cool them under the coolest tap or well water you can get, or in a bowl of ice water. Re-grease them with butter and carry on.

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