Thursday, December 8, 2011
Christmas Candy Take One: Orange Balls
I remember where I was when I first tasted this Christmas confection. I was standing in our kitchen in Plano, TX sometime back in the early 80's. My parents were having a little get together with some folks at church. It was probably the kind of party where friends brought their favorite Christmastime foods to share with everyone. I took one bite of these coconut covered orange balls and instantly fell in love. In my post on cranberry orange bread, I said that quick bread was my favorite treat. Nope, I was mistaken, these are my favorite. (You know that will change when I make my truffles....right?) The next few years, I would find them at the church Christmas party and be so excited they were there. We moved to Arkansas in the fall of 1984 and the orange balls recipe stayed with whoever brought them. It was nearly 20 years before I would taste them again.
I would actually think about those little candies nearly every Christmas, growing up. After I was married, I was perusing an older cookbook given to me as a gift in the early 2000s and lo and behold! I saw a recipe for orange balls...I instantly got excited...was this the recipe???? And did it really call for Nilla Wafers as the main ingredient??? I figured it wouldn't hurt to try....I made them and took a bite. Do you remember the scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego eats the stew that Remy makes for him? He is instantly transported back to a pleasant childhood memory. It was just like that. I was standing in the kitchen in Texas tasting Christmastime in one bite. This was IT!
I was thrilled that I found it. I realized if Matt was going to eat these, I had to find a substitute for the coconut since he hates it. Toasted pecans were a logical choice, so I roll the balls in both!
Christmas Orange Balls:
6 oz. vanilla wafers, crushed
2 c. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 t. orange zest
1/4 c. butter, melted
3 oz. orange juice concentrate
1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans, toasted
First, I crushed the Nilla Wafers. Normally in The Teeny Kitchen That Could I would tell you to get a gallon size zip top bag, load it up with the wafers and roll them with a rolling pin. I don't have room on my counter for a food processor, but since it is Christmas, I am using my food processor a lot so it is worth the sacrifice of counter space.
I find the heat from my hands makes the outside of the balls more receptive to the coconut or pecans. Today, my hands were cold and the coatings weren't sticking to the candy. So I got my hands slightly wet in between rolling each ball. The coating worked really well then.