Butter Balls: Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Place the peanut
butter, unsalted butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for
about one minute or until just soft (check and stir the ingredients every 20-30
seconds). Stir in the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and mix until it
has the consistency of a stiff dough (add more sugar if necessary).
Roll the dough
into 1 inch (2.5 cm) round balls. Place on the cookie sheets and refrigerate until firm
(several hours or even overnight). You can also place the peanut butter balls in
the freezer and freeze until firm (I find this makes it easier to dip them in
the melted chocolate).
Melt the chocolate
and shortening in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip the
balls, one at a time, in the melted chocolate, making sure the entire ball is
coated with chocolate. Then, with two spoons or a dipping fork, remove the
peanut butter ball from the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to
drip back into the bowl. Place the chocolate covered balls back on the baking sheet.
If desired, sprinkle the balls with finely chopped peanuts. When all the balls have
been dipped in the chocolate, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has
set. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. They can also be
frozen. To serve: place in small
fluted candy cups.
Note: If you want
to make Buckeyes: place a toothpick into each peanut butter ball and dip, one
ball at a time, into the melted chocolate, leaving the top quarter of each ball undipped.
Makes about 60
pieces, depending on size. Preparation time 30 minutes.
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Candy Making for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. New Jersey: 2005.
Mahnke. The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook. A Fireside Book. New
Smith, Andrew F.
The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press.
New York: 2007.