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I ate a Nilla Wafer last night. It was pretty good. When’s the last time you ate a Nilla Wafer? Other than last night, I think the last time I had one the American viewing audience still thought the Jerry Springer show was respectable TV. You don’t really hear much about the Nilla Wafer…it just kinda exists on the bottom shelf of the cookie aisle in the grocery store. In fact, had I not gone shopping with the little guy (I’m talking about my son, not some little person I bring on trips to the store, his name is Larry and he likes to ride in the shopping carts that look like race cars!) I probably would’ve never thought to buy them. So I’ve decided to make a dessert that pays tribute to this forgotten cookie of a bygone era. Also, my “Forgotten Cookies of a Bygone Era” TV special will be airing on the History Channel on Monday night, in-between, “Hitler: the Man, the Myth” and “Much Ado About Hitler”. Enjoy!

Your ingredients. It’s a pretty simple recipe. Great for entertaining your child on a cold winter’s day. Even though there’s no snow on the ground, it is January in Wisconsin. I suppose if Al Gore is smart enough to invent the Internet then he’s probably right about global warming climate change too.

The recipe calls for the Nilla Wafers to be finely crushed. I don’t have a food processor and I thought using the blender might wake up the little guy (he was napping), so I did it the old school way, with a one gallon bag and rolling pin. It was a great triceps workout. Now on to the cream cheese and caramel topping!

Blend together the cream cheese and caramel sauce. I usually blend the wet ingredients together first and then add the dry (Nilla Wafers) ingredients. Remember, since there is cream cheese in this recipe the balls need to be stored in the fridge when not being consumed.

The Nilla Wafers sopped (I don’t think I’ve ever written that word before, “sopped”…it looks weird) up the cream cheese mixture pretty quickly. The dough was somewhat dry. I probably could’ve added a little more caramel sauce, but I wanted to stick to the recipe.

The recipe says to roll them into 1-inch balls and you’ll end up with 42 of them. I rolled a few of them by hand and then decided to whip out the cookie scoop. It gave them flat bottoms, which is easier for dipping. I think I ended up with 37 balls, but that’s ok. I like big balls. Yes, that’s right, this post is slowing turning into a Sex and the City episode. Put the cookie balls into the fridge. The recipe says to put them in the freezer, but since you’re dipping them then I would suggest the fridge. If the balls get too cold they will shrink (I’m sorry, I’m really not doing it on purpose). When you dip them in chocolate and they begin to warm up they will expand and crack your beautiful chocolate coating. So I put mine in the fridge and proceeded to melt the chocolate for the coating.

The recipe calls for 16 oz. of Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate. I had some assorted bars of Ghirardelli chocolate in the cupboard so I used those instead. I use a double boiler to melt my chocolate. It may take a little extra time but I don’t have to worry about the chocolate burning in the microwave.

If you do use a double boiler then please note, you don’t need to have the top glass bowl touching the water. And keep your stove setting on low. Chocolate doesn’t need a lot of heat to melt. The burners should be so low that you should be able to put your hands around the bottom of the double boiler without burning yourself. Plus, if the heat is too high and your water begins to boil you risk getting water into your chocolate which will cause it to seize. Just like a car engine, when it seizes that’s a bad thing.

Hello lover. Did I lick the spoon after I finished dipping all of them? You’re Goddamn right I did.

Dip the cookie balls using one of those fancy dipping tongs, or just use a fork. Again, having flat bottoms made it pretty easy to dip using just a fork. Shake off the excess chocolate and place back onto the tray with wax paper. You can dip 5 or 6 of them before you need to stop and sprinkle the pecan on top. Doesn’t the picture kinda remind you of the opening credits to Willy Wonka? The original one, not the creepy Johnny Depp one.

Side by side comparison. Not too shabby.

If I made the recipe again I would use more caramel sauce and only melt 12 oz. of chocolate, as I had a lot of chocolate left over. I sampled one after they had a chance to chill in the fridge. They were pretty good. If you like Nilla Wafers and chocolate then these are a nice little treat to make. It’s not too fancy and the flavors aren’t very complex so it’s a good starter recipe for those who want to make something simple and sweet.

NILLA Turtle Cookie Balls

Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hrs 30 min
Makes: 42 servings

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
70 NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 2-1/3 cups)
3 Tbsp. caramel ice cream topping
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
1/4 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans

MIX first 3 ingredients until well blended.
SHAPE into 42 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.