Nov 142012

Chocolate Peanut Butter BallsLast month during the Tennessee ICES Day of Sharing one of the demonstrators was a lady who has been catering weddings and special events for years. She set up a table with a generous selection of handmade chocolate candies and kindly shared her recipes.

My favorite by far was the peanut butter balls. I love chocolate and peanut butter, and these candies reminded me of the ones my maternal grandmother made during the holidays. The peanut butter filling was a bit too sweet for my taste, but it had such a light and creamy, whipped-like texture that I knew I’d end up making them at some point.

Peanut Butter Bonbons Filling 1The original recipe calls for 1 pound of peanut butter, ½ pound (2 sticks) of butter, and a whopping 1½ pounds of powdered sugar–no wonder they were sweet to the point of being sickly. I decided to try making the filling with maple syrup instead, only I neglected to factor in how the powdered sugar would firm up the filling, so it was WAY too soft.

I added some extra peanut butter in an attempt to stiffen it up, but that didn’t help much. Forming the mixture into balls was a challenge since it was the consistency of buttercream icing and very sticky, even after chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

Dipping them in melted chocolate was nearly impossible, as the warm chocolate basically melted the balls, so I decided to freeze them. This meant they were easier to dip, and the filling was a better consistency when it was frozen, but I didn’t want candies that had to be kept in the freezer.

Peanut Butter Bonbons Filling 2I tried again and only used 4 tablespoons (½ stick) of butter, thinking that might help keep the filling from being too soft. Unfortunately, this meant that the filling also wasn’t as light and creamy. It was more like raw peanut butter cookie dough, which is understandable because that’s basically what it was minus an egg and some baking soda. It tasted fine but had a thick, heavy mouthfeel.

Peanut Butter Bonbons Take 3The third time I made these I added 6 tablespoons of butter, and that’s the best batch so far. But you can certainly make these to suit your own taste.

More butter results in a softer filling, but with a creamier texture and richer flavor. I’d recommend starting out with 6 tablespoons of butter, but have the whole stick softened and ready just in case you need to add a little more.

The same is true for the sweet factor. I made these with maple syrup the first time, and that gave them a deeper flavor with a taste that reminded me of mocha, which worked really well with the light texture. My second and third batches were sweetened with a combination of maple syrup and honey.

Here’s my final peanut butter bonbon filling recipe:

1 pound all natural peanut butter (I use creamy)
6 tablespoons butter (organic unsalted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (local) honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Mix butter, peanut butter, vanilla, honey, and maple syrup together until well combined. I chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator so it firms up and is easier to work with.

Use a small disher to scoop out balls (or roll by hand) and place them on a parchment paper lined tray or cookie sheet. If desired, place a toothpick in the center of each ball for easy dipping. Just make sure the toothpick doesn’t go all the way through, or else the bonbon might slide off of it when dipping. Chill until firm.

Dipping Peanut Butter BonbonsAs for the chocolate to dip these in, I tried both the semi-sweet and 60% Ghirardelli chips, and even though I usually prefer darker chocolate, I think the semi-sweet tastes better with this recipe.

I also experimented with adding a little peanut butter to the melted chocolate, like I do when I dip frozen bananas, but I found that a tablespoon or two of coconut oil per bag of chocolate chips is better for keeping it smooth and a good dipping consistency.

Once dipped, gently tap off any excess chocolate from the bonbon, and place it on a parchment-lined tray to dry. Chill the bonbons until the chocolate is firm. I keep mine in the refrigerator, but once the chocolate has set up they could be served at room temperature. Just know that the filling will be softer.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the three different batches, in order from left to right.

Peanut Butter Bonbons Comparison

If you have a great recipe for peanut butter balls please leave a comment and share it. This is a great time of year for making these types of treats.

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