Conkers are firmed entrenched in the primary school memory section of my brain - there was at least one (and likely several) prolific horse chestnut trees at school, and we used to pounce on the nuts, collecting them for the fabled game of conkers (where you thread a string through one and use it to try to wipe out your opponent's conker), though I can't recall ever playing and can't even say for sure that we knew how - perhaps someone had just heard of it. Anyway, despite the perhaps futile nature of our childhood games the memory has stuck - hopefully some of you might actually have played conkers properly and appreciate these even more. ;-)
In the same vein as Tim Tam truffles, these are simple (though have a few more ingredients) and will easily impress. Because peanut butter is a fairly willful substance it will be easier if you have electric beaters but is perfectly possible without. The other potentially non-manual step is grinding the biscuits - but again, a bit of extra effort and they'll taste just as good (and you'll be allowed to have an extra one to reward you for your hard work!).
The mixture does seem quite dry when mixed but a bit of rolling in the hands and it comes together nicely. Be warned; this recipe makes a mountain of conkers - Mr Cake rolled a staggering 86 of these out. We put some of them in the freezer for a later date - they'll be great if we need a party plate or cutesy gift in a hurry. If you wanted they would potentially be great Christmas treats, too, and there's definitely no harm in getting a jump start on festive season preparations to save on silliness later.
Though the mixture is very easy and quick to make it does take a while to roll and dip them all - if you have little helpers I'm sure they'd love this, though I can't guarantee that would necessarily speed things up for you. ;-) Feel free to halve or even quarter the recipe if you're not after such a large quantity; they are pretty addictive though so you may regret it if you do!
Conkers (from Smitten Kitchen, otherwise known as Buckeyes)
55g / 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
400g / 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup digestive biscuit
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups icing sugar
145g butter, melted and cooled
350g dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined. Add the biscuit crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter, and mix until combined (start slowly to stop sugar going everywhere!). The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry.
Line a tray with baking paper. Scoop out about one tablespoon of the mixture and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped.
Melt the chocolate (it will set better if you use baking chocolate but taste better (and stay a bit soft) if you use eating chocolate without tempering - this is what I did). Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated. Place on the tray and repeat. Chill until set (about 30 minutes). Keep chilled; they should keep for at least a week in the fridge, or a couple of months in a sealed container in the freezer. Makes about 80.