FOOD

Peanut butter balls

Ingredients:

1 1-lb box confectioner’s sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cups (1 stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
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PB Balls

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Directions: 

Cream together the confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla. From this mixture roll 1-1/2-inch balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate the balls for 3-4 hours.

In the top of a double-boiler, heat and stir the chocolate until it’s melted and smooth. Use toothpicks to lower the peanut butter balls one at a time into the chocolate and coat them thoroughly. (It also works to use a fork to lower them into and roll them in the chocolate.) Place the balls back on the wax paper and leave for 1-2 hours until cooled and set.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week, if by some remarkable chance they do not all get eaten in the first 24 hours.

Nancy Mock
Colchester

Find more recipes from Nancy at hungryenoughtoeatsix.com

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Melt chocolate like a pro

Melting ChocolateSimply melting chocolate and pouring it over a dessert is one way to go, but to create the shiny, firm finish that professionals achieve requires tempering chocolate.

The act of tempering chocolate causes the cocoa butter to break down and suspend evenly in the chocolate. This also alleviates the white “bloom” that appears on chocolate when it’s exposed to temperature changes. Properly tempered chocolate will be smooth and shiny.

It is possible to temper chocolate at home with a few tools. You will need a food thermometer to measure the temperature. Some people prefer to melt chocolate over a double boiler, which is essentially a bowl with the chocolate resting over a pot of gently boiling water. Using the microwave is another way to melt the chocolate. Melt small pieces of chocolate at 10- to 15-second intervals until it is melted, stirring after each time. Dark chocolate needs to reach a temperature of between 114 F and 120 F. Milk and white chocolate need to reach a temperature between 105 F and 113 F.

Next the chocolate needs to be cooled. You can do so by adding more pieces of chocolate and stirring to incorporate them. This is called “seeding.” Continue stirring and measure the working temperature. Dark chocolate needs to lower to a temperature of between 90 F and 86 F. Milk and white chocolate need to reach a temperature between 85 F and 81 F. After it has cooled, bring the temperature back up to around 86 degrees and stir again. Test some of the chocolate with a small piece of parchment paper. Let it sit on the paper for about 2 minutes. If the chocolate sets up firmly and looks glossy, it has been properly tempered. If not, add more chocolate and repeat the process again until it is tempered correctly.

Make sure that no droplets of water come in contact with the chocolate; otherwise it might seize up and not temper properly. Also, start with a good-quality chocolate that is chopped into small pieces so it will melt more easily. Chocolate makers sell small pieces of chocolate known as pistoles, callets or wafers.

Once the chocolate is tempered, be sure to keep it at a consistent temperature of around 100 F to 90 F until you are done working with it.

— MetroCreative