How do I make these balls into balls?!
December 5, 2013 4:27 PM   Subscribe

I am currently making this recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. Despite following the instructions to the letter, I cannot get these damn things to cohere in any way. What should I add to turn this delicious sugary peanut butter mush into the delicious little round balls it is SUPPOSED to be? Not a very experienced or intuitive baker, so I can't tell whether it should be more dry or more wet or what. It's very...gooey. Added frustration: I did the exact same thing yesterday and it worked perfectly, but apparently baking is like insanity in that you do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Help please!
posted by like_a_friend to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Put it in the refrigerator for an hour.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

Did you chill them? Maybe chill some more, and add more graham cracker crumbs.
posted by bunderful at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried refrigerating the peanut butter mixture for a few minutes to let the butter firm back up?

Bonus protip: buttering your hands will probably make it easier to work with as well.
posted by trunk muffins at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Is it possible you mismeasured? You might try tasting the mixture - if it's way too sweet, maybe some more crumbs, and if it isn't very sweet maybe you could try some more sugar. But if it is gooey, I bet you blanked on the crumbs and added too little by acccident.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2013

If it's not setting up after you chilled it, I'd add some more graham cracker crumbs until it gets stiffer
posted by leahwrenn at 4:42 PM on December 5, 2013

Yup to trunk muffins. Chill and grease your hands.
posted by PMdixon at 4:44 PM on December 5, 2013

Did you use the same peanut butter both days? Different brands and types of peanut butter can be quite different in terms of how they handle in baking. Extra creamy vs. regular vs. crunchy will be fairly different.

I agree with others, though, generally -- more crumbs and some time in the fridge are your most likely saviours here.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:56 PM on December 5, 2013

Nthing chill it. I'd actually recommend powdered sugar on your hands instead of butter-- adding a "wet" ingredient is going to make the dough stick to your fingers, whereas powdered sugar will dry it out at the surface and help it stiffen up.
posted by Bardolph at 5:07 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

(As to the added frustration, it could be as simple as your kitchen/hands/workspace/whatever having been cooler yesterday than today. Nthing chill.)
posted by trip and a half at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2013

You could also add a little cream cheese to help it hold together, which will really firm up if you chill it, too.
posted by Saminal at 6:16 PM on December 5, 2013

Let me be the devil's advocate here: The graham cracker crumbs will not absorb gooeyness as readily as more powdered sugar will (it being so finely powdered, you see). Additional crumbs also run the risk of giving you the opposite problem -- crumbliness rather than gooeyness -- and chilling too much could make the dough difficult to work with. I'd suggest adding powdered sugar a tablespoonful at a time until it un-goos.

Another thought: I see the recipe tells you to "mash ingredients together," which to me sounds like a manifestly insane way of proceeding. I'd suggest using an electric mixer (stand or hand-held) to mix the dough instead. That will make it quicker to tweak your amounts of ingredients too.

Finally: If you don't have a cookie dough scoop, that might facilitate all of this. It's like a tiny ice-cream scoop with a sweeper arm that dispenses the dough after you scoop it. Helps keep your measurements even too. Tell you what, get you one, try scooping out dough, roll it into balls, put them on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper, and freeze 'em before you dip in chocolate.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Do you have a food processor?? This stuff is always easiest in the food processor. Dump it in there and whizz around. If it fails to form a ball because it's too pasty, the answer is more powdered sugar. If it fails because it's too crumbly, the answer is more liquid (teaspoon by teaspoon!) If it doesn't fail, take a bow.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:14 PM on December 5, 2013

We have a winner! Everything suggested helped for like five seconds, and then the thing would just blob out on me. This continued until I went absolutely mental with the powdered sugar. On my hands, in the mix, on the cat, you name it.

Everyone might be getting diabetes for Christmas, but these puppies are intact and chilling before the chocolate phase. Thank you, MeFi!
posted by like_a_friend at 7:40 PM on December 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

It looks like you are already happy with the above answers, but I will give my 2 cents anyway.

1. Make sure the graham crackers are really fine crumbs. That will allow them to absorb the moisture better. Also, as others have suggested, adding more powdered sugar will help, too.

2. As a last resort, I use to make something like this as a kid that used powdered milk as the dry ingredient instead of graham cracker crumbs. You could try adding some powdered milk. it is already finely powdered and is really good at absorbing moisture.
posted by BearClaw6 at 8:28 AM on December 6, 2013

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