Hye Thyme Cafe: Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls : Hye Thyme Cafe

I absolutely love these Peanut Butter Balls, but for some reason, it hasn't occurred to me to make them for a few years. It was actually my sister who brought it up, and I'm glad she did. After having these, I could never make the usual rice krispies version - not that I'd turn my nose up at them if someone offered me some. Come on now, I don't care what form it's in - you can't go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter!! But seriously, there's lots of good stuff in this version, and even the few (crazy) people I know who detest coconut can't get enough of them.

1 1/2 sleeves graham crackers
  (or 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs)
1 c shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c pecans
2 sticks margarine
8 oz chunky peanut butter
2 t vanilla
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 lb powdered sugar
16 oz chocolate  (I like Dove milk chocolate for these)
paraffin (optional)

If you're starting with whole graham crackers, run them through a food processor to turn them into crumbs, then toss in the pecans and coconut and pulse to chop. You might be able to get away with running the three together, but I'm always afraid the nuts will prevent the crackers from grinding properly and I'll end up with big chunks, then have to keep going and end up with paste because the pecans are over-processed. If you feel daring, give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.  

Pour the crumb mixture into a large bowl and stir in the margarine, peanut butter, vanilla, and cayenne.

Stir in the powdered (or confectioner's) sugar, a little at a time until incorporated - feel free to get in there and use your hands. Depending on what type of texture you're looking for will determine whether you use all of the sugar. If you like a drier, more Reese's kind of texture, use the whole pound. If you would like them to be creamer, hold back a bit.

Roll the filling into balls and set aside.

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls : Hye Thyme Cafe

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate with a small amount of paraffin. I like to use a microplane to shave the paraffin rather than chopping it. It melts faster that way. The paraffin is to help the chocolate set and give it a nice shine. If you use chocolate chips, you can go ahead and melt them in the microwave and skip the paraffin. Chocolate chips are made to resist melting in baked goods, so adding paraffin will just make it set too fast, or get gummy, and make it more difficult ... unless you don't mind constantly re-heating it to keep it thin.

This time around, I actually did half and half. I dipped half the batch in the milk chocolate, then melted a few bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chili Chocolate. I'm partial to creamy milk chocolate, but most of my family prefers dark chocolate. For some reason, I only like dark chocolate by itself.  

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls : Hye Thyme Cafe

Dip each ball in the melted chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off. I used to use a toothpick to dunk them, but I whipped out a fondue fork the other night, and that worked great! I have tried those sticks they make for dipping but have never liked them. Sometimes I use two iced tea spoons and and sort of pass them back and forth between the two to let the excess run off. Whatever works for you is great. Just don't do what I did the other night! I dip the balls, then drop them on waxed paper to set. Usually, I add a drop of chocolate to the hole where the toothpick was, but I was on a roll and just kept dipping. By the time I thought about filling the holes, I had used up all the milk chocolate and re-filled the bowl with the dark chocolate. I ended up heating a spoon and running the back of it over the holes to melt the chocolate. I contemplated melting some white chocolate and doing a drizzle for contrast and to fill the holes, but it was late, and the spoon was faster.  You could also grind some peanuts or keep more coconut and/or graham crumbs handy and sprinkle the balls before the chocolate sets.

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls : Hye Thyme Cafe

Spicy Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls : Hye Thyme Cafe

I especially like to make a batch of these when I plan on giving out trays of cookies to friends and neighbors. I like to dot them around the tray for contrast.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas! As much as I moan and groan when we get snow, it seems weird that tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we don't have any yet. Hopefully we'll at least get a little for Christmas morning.

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