We had a ball making these little confections and learned something important along the way. Gifts from the kitchen don’t have to take a lot of time or effort. All these treats are round and rolled. Some are baked, most are not. One requires only three ingredients.
You can make one recipe and roll the finished confection in a variety of coatings, from powdered sugar to nuts to crushed candy. Or you can make a few for an intriguing combination of tastes. Either way, they’ll look decadently inviting packaged in a pretty box and tied with a ribbon. The recipient will thank you.
Peanut Butter Bonbons
This recipe is from “Southern Living: 1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95).
1 (18-ounce) jar creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups finely chopped roasted peanuts
Beat peanut butter and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add graham cracker crumbs, beating until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in peanuts. Cover and chill one hour. Store in refrigerator.
Yield: Abou 7 dozen bonbons
This recipe is from Bee entertainment editor Pat Clark. Said she, “I saw Michael Symon prepare these truffles on ‘The Chew’; they’re super easy. Symon used a variety of great toppings to roll the truffles in, including lime zest, bacon and coconut. Looking for something a little different and more Christmassy, I added orange extract to half my chocolate and rolled some in dried cranberries mixed with orange zest. Yum. If they’re all going to adults, an orange liqueur would be delicious in place of the extract.”
8 ounces shaved bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Toppings: finely chopped pecans or other nut; diced dried cranberries mixed with orange zest; coconut
Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the cream until bubbles form around the outside edge. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk to combine as it melts. Add the butter and continue to whisk until smooth. (Add the orange extract, if using). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Place toppings on plates. Scoop the chocolate with a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon and roll in the palms of your hands to form balls. Roll the balls in the toppings until coated and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
Refrigerate the truffles until firm. They will store in refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to two months.
Note: For orange truffles, add 2 teaspoons orange extract.
Yield: About 30 truffles
This recipe is also from “The Art of French Baking” (Phaidon Press, $45). These cookies need no adornment, so consider skipping the step with the apricot preserves and coconut coating.
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons apricot preserves, warmed and strained
Generous 1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking sheets with butter. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then stir them into butter and sugar mixture. The dough should be fairly thick. Knead briefly until smooth. Break off walnut-size pieces of dough, shape these into balls, and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, increasing the oven temperature to 400 degrees after 10 minutes. When the snowballs have cooled, roll them in the apricot preserves and then in the shredded coconut. If especially thick, the preserve can be thinned with 2 tablespoons of hot water when warming it.
Note: Unsweetened, finely shredded coconut can be found at Asian markets.
Yield: 6 servings
Black Walnut Balls
This recipe is from Bee copy editor Christine Kosko.
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sweetened
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend together butter, flour, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add walnuts and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Bake for 25 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Remove from oven and let cool.
Roll balls in cocoa powder. Store flat — not stacked on top of one another.
Yield: About 3 dozen
This recipe is from “Baking Style: Art — Craft — Recipes,” by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, $45).
8 ounces almond paste (see recipe at right)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg white plus 1tablespoon egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup sliced almonds, for rolling
Place almond paste in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until reduced to moist crumbles.
Turn the paste crumbs into a medium mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except the sliced almonds. Beat ingredients on moderately slow speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula, until a sticky dough is formed.
Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerator for three to eight hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced almonds in a shallow bowl. Divide dough into 14pieces, roll into balls and roll the balls in the sliced almonds. Place 2 1/2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until set, baked through and slightly medium golden on top.
It’s essential that the dough is chilled and kept chilled before baking and the egg whites are measured accurately.
Yield: 14 large cookies
This recipe is from “The Art of French Baking,” by Ginette Mathiot and edited by Clotilde DuSolier (Phaidon Press, $45). The book was originally published in 1938 as “Je Sais Faire la Patisserie.”
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
3 egg whites
Pound the almond meal with the sugar and egg whites in a mortar to form a smooth paste; this also can be done in a food processor.
Sandwich Cookie Truffles
Bee copy editor Nan Austin bought the ingredients and made these and the peanut butter bonbons, all before clocking into work at 10 a.m.
1 (1-pound) package sandwich cookies (like peanut butter)
12 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pounds, chocolate flavored candy coating, melted
Line a rimmed sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, process cookies until finely ground. Add cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and teaspoon vanilla. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
Using two forks, dip balls in melted chocolate to cover. Place on prepared sheets and let stand until coating sets.
Yield: About 4 dozen
This recipe is the inspiration for this package, because Modesto Bee copy editor Sharon K. Ghag — who made these once 25 years ago — wanted an excuse for making them again. These can be made with bourbon instead of rum.
1 (11-ounce) package vanilla wafers, in fine crumbs
5 tablespoons rum
1 (11-ounce) package chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Finely chopped nuts
In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and bourbon. Melt chocolate chips, stir in sweetened condensed milk until mixed and then gradually add cookie crumb mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in nuts. Store tightly covered.
Yield: 5 1/2 dozen-plus quarter-size balls
White Chocolate Clusters
This recipe is from Bee copy editor Sharon K. Ghag.
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles, for rolling
Toast walnuts, if desired, at 350 degrees for seven to 10 minutes or until fragrant.
In medium bowl, microwave white chocolate chips according to package directions. Add walnuts and cranberries. Roll into balls and then roll balls into candy sprinkles. Work fast, because the chocolate dries quickly.
Yield: 1 dozen 1-inch balls
This recipe is from “Southern Living: 1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95). We rolled some in powdered sugar, some in chopped almonds.
1/3 cup coffee liqueur
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 (9-ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies, finely crushed
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar for rolling
Combine liqueur, corn syrup and instant coffee granules. Let mixture stand five minutes. Stir until granules dissolve. Combine cookie crumbs, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and chopped almonds and stir well. Pour coffee mixture over crumb mixture, stirring well. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar twice to coat well. Store in airtight container for up to one week.
Yield: About 4 dozen
This recipe is from “Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story,” by Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero (Andrews McMeel, $29.99). We made these with whiskey. They were potent!
1 (11-ounce box) vanilla wafers
1/3 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup bourbon
Finely grind vanilla wafers in a blender or food processors. Place sugar in a bowl and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand until all the bourbon is absorbed. Roll mixture between the palms of your hand to form a ball about the diameter of a quarter. Roll in granulated sugar.
Yield: About 3 dozen quarter-size balls