11 Dec 2013
One of my favorite holiday cookies are peanut butter balls or buckeyes depending on where you’re from. The sweetened peanut butter filling is dotted with crunchy bits of cereal and covered in smooth dark chocolate to create a small peanut butter truffle-like cookie that is welcome on any holiday cookie tray.
My childhood was one where certain foods delivered by bicycle marked the season. In September my grandmother would ride over on her black, European-style city bike, her basket stuffed with Italian plum cake. October was a month full of battered and deep fried apple rings, fresh from the oil and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. November meant kugelhopf and pumpkin pie, and by the time December rolled around, no matter the snow or freezing winds, a tin tucked tight with cookies appeared on the kitchen counter.
Opening that red metal tin was better than Christmas morning, which was still weeks away. We would pry open the edge of the tin and peer inside, at least 7 different varieties of cookies would greet us. There were apricot rings (fursecuri) and nut-filled roszke (kifle depending on where you are from) sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar. Honey-spice hearts dipped in chocolate sat piled in a far corner. Rum balls made appearances every few years, as did a variety of other Eastern European treats mixed with a few new recipes my grandmother would add for good measure.
One year, just one in all the years, there were small chocolate balls in a small section of the tin, wrapped under parchment and secluded from the other cookies. They looked like candies sitting there amongst the white-flecked friends and golden baked goodness, and their shiny chocolate shells begged to be broken by my small teeth.
Inside the firm layer of chocolate was a creamy, smooth peanut butter filling dotted with crunchy bits. Better than any candy bar, these small chocolate-dipped treats were an instant favorite with my four younger siblings. They disappeared from our Christmas cookie tin long before Christmas arrived, and then we all waited in eager anticipation when my grandma carried the cookie tray from her hiding spot to the dessert table on Christmas Eve, hoping we could snatch one more ball before they were gone for good.
These peanut butter ball cookies can easily be made with vegan ingredients, simply omitting the butter and using a vegan chocolate. You can also make gluten-free varieties by opting for one of the many Erewhon gluten-free cereals. I love the way the new Quinoa & Chia gives substantial crunch to these cookies. Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp adds a distinct nutty characteristic, and the Crisp Brown Rice is a family favorite.
Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)
YIELD: Makes approximately 20 peanut butter balls
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
6 ounces Attune Dark Chocolate Probiotic Bar or other dark chocolate
In a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand beater, blend together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and the butter until smooth. Add in the cereal and blend until incorporated. The cereal will crunch slightly, but there should still be visible pieces.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Using a 2-teaspoon small cookie scoop or two spoons, make small balls and place them on the parchment. Slide the sheet into the freezer while you melt the chocolate.
To melt the chocolate and provide a smooth, set surface: break or chop the bars into small pieces. Set aside a large chunk. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the remaining chocolate, stirring frequently until it reaches 115º F. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 80º F.
Add in the chunk of chocolate you set aside and return the bowl to the double boiler, bringing the chocolate up to 89º F while stirring. Once this temperature is reached, remove the remaining lump of chocolate from that extra chunk you added, and remove the chocolate from the double boiler.
Immediately take your peanut butter balls from the freezer and dip in the melted chocolate. Placing them again on the parchment once dipped. Allow the chocolate to cool. Store the peanut butter balls in an airtight container until ready to serve.
ShainaCheck out my latest posts here