Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Oreo Ball Incident

I'm not much of a cook. It's not a self-truth that I'm pleased with, but there it is. My lack of skill in the kitchen is a combination of utter laziness and relative ignorance. So when I do find myself in the kitchen, it tends to be a bit of an adventure.

One such adventure occurred a couple of days ago. I call it, "The Oreo Ball Incident."

First of all, I'll start by filling you in on what an Oreo Ball is. In case you don't already know. (If that's the case, don't feel bad! I just discovered them...a couple of weeks ago?)

An Oreo Ball is a delectable little treat comprised of pulverized Oreo cookies and cream cheese, mixed together and rolled into balls. Then dipped in chocolate.

In short, they're a high-calorie, sinfully tasty treat. And they're fairly easy to make!

Well...they're supposed to be fairly easy to make. But I'll get to that.

We'll start off with the recipe.

If you can't read my handwriting, click HERE.
    I made a couple of slight changes to this list. The package of Oreos I bought was 16 ounces. And I didn't use shortening. I'm honestly not sure what difference in outcome I would've gotten if I'd used the shortening, so feel free to not cut that out.

    Here's exactly what I used.

    Prepare to be crushed, Oreos!
    I used a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate.
    But most of it was semi-sweet.

    • Mix cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add crushed Oreos and beat on high until well mixed. Chill for at least 2 hours in the freezer. Then roll Oreo cookie mix into one inch Oreo Balls
    • Next, melt the chocolate chips and shortening with a double boiler or in the microwave
    • Dip the Oreo balls completely into the melted chocolate using tongs or a toothpick
    • Put on wax paper. After the Oreo balls harden, keep them in the refrigerator
    • Makes about 3 or 4 dozen Oreo Balls, depending on the size

    Um, that does sound pretty easy, huh?

    The first problem is that I don't have an electric mixer. I had to crush up my Oreos the old-fashioned way.

    I created my own process. I used a wooden spoon, a glass, and a measuring cup. Oh, and a bowl. Of course.

    Operation: Cookie Crush

    It was impossible to crush all of the Oreos at once. So I'd grab up five or so at a time, chuck 'em in the bowl, and use my big wooden spoon to break them into more manageable pieces.

    Oreos, meet Wooden Spoon.
    Then, once I'd broken them up into smaller pieces, I used my bowl and a glass as a makeshift mortar and pestle. That's right, I'm resourceful.

    When in doubt, improvise.
    The 'not pictured' step is when, after smashing the Oreos to teeny tiny bits, I used a rounder-bottomed measuring cup to make sure I'd gotten all the big chunks.

    So, a step that would have taken...a few minutes? with a proper mixer instead took me...somewhere in the ballpark of two hours. Also, it made my arms sore.

    But I think I did just as good as any fancy electric mixer.

    After a couple of hours of hard labor, ta-da!
    Pulverized Oreos.
    Not too shabby, eh?

    Mixing Mission

    Next comes mixing the cookie bits with the cream cheese. Luckily, with the crazy amount of time I spent just crushing the cookies, my cream cheese had more than enough time to soften.

    P.S. It's a huge pain the the rear to whip cream cheese into a fluffy-ish state with only a wooden spoon.

    But I ended up with this—

    Cream Cheese ÷ Wooden Spoon = Whipped Cream Cheese + Sore Arm
    Once the cream cheese was beat into submission, it was time to mix it with the crushed Oreos. Which is, again, easier said than done because I still have no mixer.

    So I thought, like the Oreos, maybe it would be easier to mix the crumbs in a little at a time. I put in one of the three bowls I'd managed to fill with a whole package of Oreos' worth of crumbs.
    See? Three bowls worth of crumbs.
    Oh, and there's the measuring cup I used for step 3 of my crushing process.
    It did not go so well.

    My crumbs are overwhelming my cream cheese.
    In the end, I resorted to dumping in all of the crumbs, discarding the spoon, and getting down and dirty. That's right. I mixed 'em up with my bare hands.

    It actually worked quite well.

    Although if I had had a mixer, I'm sure that would have been easier. And probably cleaner. But, like I said, I was forced to improvise.

    So, after mixing the crumbs and cream cheese, I popped the...dough? into the freezer to chill for a couple of hours. Which gave me time to clean up the horrible mess I'd made of my kitchen.

    By the time my couple of hours were up, I had a nice clear surface to work on again. Which I needed, because the next step involved rolling the dough into little balls, dipping them in melted chocolate, and placing them on wax paper to harden.

    Only, I didn't have wax paper. Fortunately, my non-stick cookie sheet worked just as effectively.

    Roll, Stick, Dip, Repeat

    For the most part, this went much more smoothly than the initial smushing and mixing.

    And melting chocolate smells really good. The chocolate I used was Ghirardelli. I used a combo of semi-sweet and milk chocolate. But mostly semi-sweet. (In hindsight, I totally would have used all semi-sweet. Just sayin'.) I dumped two cups worth into some tupperware and popped it into the microwave until it was totally melted.

    Chocolate, pre-melting.
    I was not super picky about the size I rolled the dough into. The recipe said one inch balls, but...mine vary in size. Which I don't mind, but that does cut down on the number the recipe will make. I definitely did not have 3 or 4 dozen.

    I used toothpicks to dip the Oreo balls into the melted chocolate. And my tupperware was shallow enough that I ended up using a spoon to make sure the entire thing was covered. There's probably a better way to do this. Or a more efficient way. But it worked out just fine, anyway.

    Left to Right: Bowl of dough, un-dipped Oreo balls, tub of melted chocolate.
    Oh, and my non-stick pan—subbing for wax paper.
    Chocolate-covered Oreo ball vs. naked Oreo balls.
    The only thing that I'd really change about how I dipped these puppies in chocolate would be—okay, there's two things. 

    First, I guess I got a little over-zealous when I started out. The first Oreo balls to get dunked have a touch too much chocolate on 'em. Which tastes great, but...I can't actually bite into them. I have been using a fork to make the initial break. Then I can bite into them. Again, not a huge issue, but just a note to self (and to you, if you decide to make these!) for the next time.

    Second, I didn't take the toothpick out before they hardened. So they're stuck pretty good now. So far, I haven't had an issue yanking them out before biting forking into them, but still. Although honestly, I'm not sure how you'd get the toothpick out once they've been dipped without getting big fingerprints in the chocolate. So...if you guys come up with any good methods, pass them along?

    So, after all of the dough had been rolled and dipped, I popped them in the fridge to harden. They're also supposed to be stored in the fridge when you're not eating them or taking them to parties. And, if you do end up with 3 to 4 dozen and no way to eat them all, they'll keep in the freezer for three to four months. So there's that.

    Chill out, little dudes.
    Since I'd started my project in the evening—and it had ended up taking me so much longer than planned—I didn't actually eat any of these that night. After they'd hardened, I moved them to their own little tupperware home, and saved my taste test for the next day. 

    It was a success.

    Yeah, that layer of chocolate is just a little too thick.
    But the creamy insides are delightful!

    Mission Accomplished

    All in all, the finished product turned out pretty darn good. Some of the fancier Oreo balls I've seen have melted white chocolate drizzled on top to make them prettier, but I had neither the patience, the inclination, or the white chocolate on hand to do so.

    But I'm still very proud of how they turned out.

    They look pretty darn good considering it's my first time making them. And I had to use prehistoric methods. And okay, they may be a little too hard to initially bite into, but they still taste really good! Especially with milk. 

    Chocolate + milk = Delicious.

    Another thing I love about this recipe is that there's no actual cooking involved. So if you don't end up having to do like all of the mixing by hand, it's actually pretty quick and easy. They make great finger foods at parties. Trust me. This is how I discovered them in the first place!

    So there you have it! Ta-Da! Oreo balls.

    Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go eat one. Or two. Or—no, probably just two.

    But we'll see...


    Ben Burleigh said...

    I love these things! They are also really good when coated in white chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Yours looked like they turned out pretty good. Well done :)

    Mary Malcolm said...

    Sarah! I am so proud of you. Those look amazing. I bet they tasted just as good. Mmmmmm...

    Linda said...

    These sound so good!! I'll have to try making them, but not until I have an event to take them to, so I won't eat them all.

    I have a recipe for peanut butter balls that is very much like this. The end result tastes something like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup. That recipe calls for 1/2 stick of parafin in the chocolat when melting it. The resulting choc. coating is therefore softer and doesn't crunch when you try to bite into it. Very yummy.

    Maggie said...

    Great post! Yeah I'm not much of a whiz in the kitchen either :) I love these too and will have to brave the recipe!

    Anonymous said...

    Those look delicious! The only think I can cook - or bake, rather - is chocolate chip cookies. And I am just too lazy to clean the electric mixer so i use a spoon to make my cookies. smart, right? Anyway, those look great! Enjoy them!

    Sarah said...

    @Ben—That sounds yummy, too! May have to try that next time. They actually (thankfully!) did turn out really good! Thanks for the comment!

    @Mary—Aw, thanks Mary! If I didn't live so far away, I'd say we could share... Maybe I'll just make some more when I come home for Christmas break!

    @Linda—Oh my gosh, they are SO good! I made the mistake of making them just for fun. Well, sort of. I THOUGHT I was going to have somewhere to take them. But that didn't happen. So...they're still sitting in my fridge, tempting me on a daily basis.

    Peanut butter balls sound just as yummy! Parafin! Ah-ha! Perhaps next time I will give that a try! I'm still having to use a fork to eat these...Ha!

    @Maggie—Thank you! Let me know how they turn out for you! I'm guessing having the electric mixer makes things monumentally easier.

    @mily—I actually just made some chocolate chip cookies today! Oh man, they're good. I go the extra mile on being lazy and buy mine as dough. I tend to manage being able to spoon dough onto a cookie sheet. Although not all of the dough makes it to the sheet...a lot of it gets lost in my mouth on the way. HA!

    JTurkish said...

    good job...i came across this when i looked up "how to make oreo balls without an electric mixer."

    I'm going to try and make these for my 1st time tomorrow but i'm going to substitute half of the cream cheese with peanut butter.

    Have you figured out how to remove the toothpicks? do you just remove them once hardened?

    Sarah said...

    @JTurkish—Awesome! I’m excited that I’m a search result for those keywords. It’s possible to make these without a mixer, just a little more time consuming. :-)

    Mmm, peanut butter! Let me know how those turn out! They sound fantastic!

    And yes, I pulled toothpicks out once they hardened. I only had issues with one, but I stuck it in at more of an angle than the others. Most of them just took a firm tug and came right out!

    Good luck with making these!

    Anonymous said...

    To fix the toothpick problem:

    Right after the ball is dipped in chocolate and sitting on the wax paper (or pan) twist the toothpick and pull it out before the chocolate starts to harden. :)