Tag Archives: christmas

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

16 Dec

I don’t do a whole lot of baking, even at Christmastime.  In fact, my entire holiday baking plan includes two recipes – sugar cookies and ginger snaps.  They are both good, non-dairy for Sophie, and easy to make.  A few weeks ago I started daydreaming about a Christmas treat I remember from when I was a kid – Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls.  It turns out that there are tons of variations on this treat, but the one I really wanted was the kind served up in Central Minnesota c. 1985.  Luckily for me, my mom’s friend Betty had the exact recipe I was looking for.  In fact, there’s a good chance that I had one of these cookies made by Betty back in 1985.

This no-baking required cookie is super easy to make.  Simply mix together a few ingredients, roll them up, dip them in chocolate, and set them somewhere cool to set.  Here in December, that place is the Minnesota Walk-in, also known as the garage.  If location makes this impossible, you could use the refrigerator.

I’m so glad that Betty had the recipe and was willing to share.  She’s an excellent baker.  Oh look, here’s Betty now, planking on a giant peanut butter ball.  Safety is important to Betty, so she wears a helmet whenever trying new stunts.

These treats are delicious and super easy to make.  There were some differences though when I made the non-dairy version, so I would not recommend a 1:1 substitution of ingredients if you use dairy.  To make it easier, I’ve included printable versions of Betty’s original recipe and the non-dairy version below.  Make some immediately, they will make you very popular this holiday season.

Non-Dairy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 jar of  reduced fat chunky peanut butter (16.3 oz. size)
2 T. non-dairy margarine
1 T. water
1 c. rice krispies
1 package non-dairy chocolate chips


Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

In a double-boiler, melt chocolate chips.  Reduce to low and keep warm until ready.

In a large bowl, cream together sugar, peanut butter, and butter.  Add water as needed to help the mixture stick together enough to form a ball that can keep its shape.  Add rice krispies and mix until well combined.

Form a ball with the peanut butter mixture about the size of a super ball.  Set aside.  Dip each in chocolate until totally covered, set on prepared cookie sheet.  When all of the peanut butter balls have been dipped, place somewhere cool until the chocolate sets.

Print it: Betty’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (full recipe, dairy)

Print it: Non-Dairy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (half recipe, non-dairy)

– Usually I don’t find a ton of differences in recipes when I start to substitute ingredients.  In making these, I made a few changes from the original.  The non-dairy version was WAY dustier than I’d expected once I mixed together the first three ingredients.  I added more peanut butter than used in the original, and also added some water to moisten the mixture enough so that it could form a ball.  It could have been the non-dairy margarine, or the reduced-fat peanut butter.  I’m not sure.  Either way, if you find that your dough is too dusty, add water a teaspoon at a time until you can form a ball with the dough.
– I used reduced-fat peanut butter because that’s what I had on hand, but I think it may have been the dusty dough culprit.  You may want to use the regular chunky peanut butter, because this is not a health food anyway.
– Speaking of health food, I didn’t even bother to calculate the calories on this one.  I think there are a lot of variables that would change how many each recipe makes and the amount of chocolate needed to coat each one.  My suggestion is to have a few and then immediately give the rest away.
– I think I ended up with a couple dozen peanut butter balls when making the non-dairy version. They should be gone by morning.

It is not yet beginning to look like Christmas

7 Nov

For many years, I have designed and made our own Christmas cards.  Each year, I send out so many that it moves beyond sharing the holiday spirit and into a production facility that could benefit from a few elves.  The first year I sent Christmas cards, I made a BVM linoleum print, stringing the drying cards across the dining room of 32-fiddy.  I was twenty-two at the time, and nothing says “young unmarried woman getting ready for the holidays” like a stylized hand-made print of the blessed virgin.  That was the first and only year that I hand-printed the cards.  Wonder why.

Years later, after I was married and had kids, card content was so much easier.  Like the card from 2005 that featured a guide for the photos, sort of like you might find inside a box of chocolates.

The card from 2006, where the kids appeared inside a snow globe.

In 2007, the card was perforated to include a cookie recipe on one side, pictures of my kids making the same recipe on the other.

In 2008, we were the only family we knew to have our own holiday trading cards.  It didn’t make for very good trades really, but we were ready should the trend catch on.

Then, in 2009 our family went through some changes, separating and moving, and I didn’t know what to do about the card.  For the first time, the card would be for just me and the kids and it made me awfully sad.  Not only would the card be different, but reviewing the holiday mailing list suddenly felt like a long list of mine, yours, and ours.  Heavy with sadness and uncertain about what to do, I made a card and sent them out willy-nilly, mostly sending them to whomever I felt would be glad to get it.  The card was so tricky that year because I was struggling with how to still cherish a past when I felt so sad about its current state and an unknown future.  So, I put little bits of previous Christmas memories into that card, placing Christmas mix CD covers that I had made in the years we were married onto the wall like they were framed art.  To me it meant they had happened, they were important, and I was dedicated to still loving Christmas.

Last year, I came up with my best card idea ever.  Best except that it was the king of labor intensity, and I ran into a whole pile of technical issues.  As a result, only about 10% of my intended mailing list actually received the card.  I like to look at least year like it was a limited edition set.  A very, very, limited edition.

Pine Scented! [see note about labor intensity!]

After all of the cards I’ve made and some reflection on the process, I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Based on the labor intensive nature of designing cards and getting them out the door, a person might want to start them earlier in the year.  That person would not be me though, because I don’t FEEL like doing Christmas things until all of the Thanksgiving stuffing is gone and there is snow on the ground.
  2. It takes me awhile to land on just the right idea and design for that year.  I usually toss around a few ideas, discard those that I can’t make look right or require both a helicopter and a professional photographer (but if I can ever line both of those up, I have the best idea ever).
  3. Even with my best intentions, sometimes the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas gets filled up with other stuff (like shopping, baking, wrapping, trying to decide which is better – Tom & Jerry’s or Egg Nog) and my cards don’t get in the mail ahead of the holiday.  My personal cutoff is my friend Meghan’s birthday, which is in January.  Whatever does not get out before that National Holiday, does not get sent.  After that point, I feel like I have to write a disclaimer on each card and saying “Sorry I suck, and the lateness of this card is no reflection on how I feel about you” which takes away from the loving sentiment on the card in the first place.
  4. I love looking back at the cards we’ve sent over the years; they serve as a marker for what we looked like, what we were doing, what was happening in our lives, and provide proof that we made it through to another year.