30 March 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls and Window Cleaning

So here we are, D. and I, official owners of our very own 2 bedroom apartment in the 18th arrondissement ! Er, well I should say it WILL be a 2 bedroom apartment, but currently it's one heck of a mess (hence our ability to afford it). Now we have the major job (along with the builder who will be doing things we can't like demolishing and rebuilding walls), of redoing the apartment in the next few months. What does this have to do with recipes, Hopie, you ask? It's not like we come here to hear your life story!! Get to the chocolates! (Ok, see what happens: when you don't leave comments, I'm forced to make up conversations with you...not good!)

Well, I'm getting to that. So, for our first day of apartment work, the mission was to bring something to snack on that could be a reward for hard work, but also keep us going strong all Sunday afternoon. I've been meaning to test these Peanut Butter Chocolates from Jill at Simple Daily Recipes for a while and I thought, chocolate = reward, peanut butter = energy, this is PERFECT!

Unfortunately, I'm not quite as talented in the chocolate department as Jill because instead of coming out smooth and beautiful with that cute drip-dollop on top, mine came out all bumpy, saved only in a appearance by the toasted, shredded coconut I sprinkled on:

my pb/coconut chocolates

Where did I go wrong?? Well I mean, I didn't follow her recipe exactly, but I COULDN'T! Not all of the ingredients can be bought in France (chocolate chips for example). Even peanut butter is super expensive and imported from the US. And then, of course I had to add my own touches... :-)

Mostly I had problems with the chocolate. I could tell that the first batch I melted was not the right consistency and I think that had to do with the mix of shortening and chocolate I used. I quickly shaped it into balls so as not to waste:

Then, I melted some more chocolate, this time just with a little water, which turned out better, but, OH NO, I overcooked it -- clumpy again! So I just globbed it onto my poor chocolates anyway... And it was delicious, if not very aesthetic.

So here's my adaptation; I'm hoping you'll have better chocolate karma than I.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls
(I made 1/2 Jill's recipe because I didn't have room in my fridge for more, but you can always redouble it.)

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I like having the peanut bits in it!)
1 Tbsp peanut or other oil
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp margarine, softened
200g/7 oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate
1 Tbsp shortening
wax paper
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (if you don't know how to toast it, refer to this entry)

Mix with and electric mixer, or cream well with a fork: peanut butter, oil, flour, powdered sugar, and margarine (you can leave out the oil if your peanut butter is very oily, or if you use creamy peanut butter). Finish with your fingers to form a ball of dough.

Line a plate or cookie sheet with wax paper. Using about 1 tsp of dough each time, roll into balls and place on wax paper. Chill in fridge until dough becomes firm (I did about 1/2 hour, but Jill says as little as 15min might work).

On low heat, or in a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the shortening. AS SOON AS it's melted, remove from heat and dip in peanut butter balls with the help of a fork. Coat evenly with chocolate (if you can!) and place back on wax paper. Use a small spoon to sprinkle toasted coconut on top and refrigerate until chocolate sets (10-15 minutes). Then stick them in a Tupperware and take them apartment redoing with you!

I spent three hours cleaning these windows and window frames that hadn't been cleaned in about about 10 years!! Thanks peanut butter chocolates!


Jill@SimpleDailyRecipes.com said...

Hi Hopie!

I know how you feel about these balls. Mine weren't pretty in the beginning, either. I use a dipping tool now to get that swirly top.

I've always heard water & chocolate is a no no. Any amount of water, even condensation from steam will cause chocolate to seize up and become a gritty clump. I've learned extracts will do it too.

It seems the ratio is 1 cup of chocolate to 2 teaspoons of shortening. Someone else please correct me or back me up on this one.

Hopie said...

Hi Jill! Good to know I wasn't the only with troubles! Yours look so beautiful. :-)

It's funny because I have a lot of recipes (French ones mind you) that all for melting chocolate with a bit of water. It's a difference in cultural wisdom I guess. But you're absolutely right in your recipe when you say to take it off the heat while the last couple of chunks are still melting. I think that's the trick I didn't get. Because I saw the moment when my chocolate was beautiful and creamy and then I waited and that moment passed and it was too cooked... :-(

But very yummy recipe. I'll keep trying. Thanks Jill!

ashley said...

I love hearing about your "real" life! Congratulations on the new home!

ashley said...

We were just on each other's sites at the same exact time. Weird!

Hopie said...

Ashley - Woah! That was some crazy coordination!

And thanks, good thing the real people who read my blog are actually much nicer than the ones I make up in my head ;-)

Laney said...

Hope, I had my own chocolate lesson last week when I made chocolate-covered mints. I screwed up my first batch, but the second time I got the chocolate the perfect consistency, so I'm sure a little practice is all you need. (My attempt at homemade fudge, on the other hand... yikes. Turns out the chemistry of fudge is a lot more complicated than the recipe lead me to believe.)

Katharine said...

What a beautiful window washer! :)

Babeth said...

You're courageous to start your spring cleaning and congratulations on your new home sweet home.Regarding the Le Creuset outlet sales they have on that web site 1 to 2 Le Creuset sales. You need to register and look for what they have coming up :-)

Hopie said...

Laney - ok, I'll keep at it! Good luck with the fudge. Is that from the Amish cookbook?

Mom - Thanks :-)

Babeth - Thank you, I'll be keeping a close eye on Vente Privée for Le Creuset from now on!

Mel said...

Such a cute picture!
According to Mr. Alton Brown (the food scientist geek of Food Network), any amount of water or condensation that gets into chocolate while melting with cause it to seize up and clump instantly. It's happened to me (too many times to count) particularly in the microwave. I'm not sure about a specific ratio, but Jill's comment sounds right to me.

Hopie said...

thanks mel, and jill. i tried your ratio again (this time in a different recipe) and it worked well :-)