It’s really easy to get caught up in holiday madness. I found myself cursing the heavens when I couldn’t find a pair of scissors to cut a perfect bow I had created on a perfect wreath I had created to hang in my (good grief) totally imperfect, tiny apartment.
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday fray of gift shopping, gift wrapping, re-gifting. Planning one party, hustling off to another, trying to incorporate cranberry into every meal from now until December 25th, and remembering not to tell any small children that Santa isn’t real… because he totally is. Totally real.
I have to remind myself that the holidays are, most importantly, that time of year when we (somehow) slow down long enough to make our homes smell like spruce trees, and gather round them… slow don’t long enough to mull our wine, make handmade gifts for people we love, and do all of those kooky family things we’ve done every year, at this time of year, since we can remember.
What makes the holiday really special are those small, kooky, forever-ago moments. The untraditional, strange, sometimes embarrassing, why-is-someone-always-burning-the-marshmallows-on-the-sweet-potato-casserole-moments that make the holidays feel like the holidays.
In my family:
• Tis the season when Grandma makes enchiladas for Christmas Eve dinner… with the fanciest paper plates and most festive paper napkins we can find.
• Tis the season when we fight over the best white elephant gift in the gift exchange, and someone tragically (not really) always ends up with a (very handy) pack of batteries.
• Tis the season for festive wine spritzers. Tis the season for embarrassing caroling around the neighborhood.
• Tis the season when we fight over who gets to / has to sit at the kid’s table. (Everyone always has more fun at the kid’s table… but let’s keep that on the down-low.)
• Tis the season for tins packed to the brim with Christmas sweets. My mom’s classic Peanut Butter Balls (you might call them Buck Eyes) are always the most coveted and the most delicious.
• Tis the season when I get to unpack the lifetime of JOY ornaments and Christmas keepsakes I’ve been given over the years. Tis the season when EVERYTHING HAS MY NAME ON IT (and I absolutely love it!). This Emerald porcelain Keepsake Ornament from Hallmark being my new treasured favorite.
What keeps you grounded during the holidays? What keeps you rooted in what is happy and real in the midst of holiday madness? Is it enchiladas and Peanut Butter Balls? I hope so.
This post in partnership with Hallmark and Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments #KEEPSAKEIT.
Let’s talk about these Peanut Butter Balls! I don’t want to delay this peanut butter and chocolate situation any longer.
In my family, we’ve made Peanut Butter Balls (a very technical term for this very technical dessert) since the beginning of time… or since my Mom got a hold of the recipes sometime in the early 1970’s.
They’re a simple mixture of peanut butter (I totally used the not all-natural peanut butter), softened butter, powdered sugar, and melted chocolate.
I’ve added pure vanilla extract and fancy sea salt because I can’t help myself, and more is more.
We always made this recipe by hand, on the tiny kitchen table, in the largest plastic bowl we had in the kitchen, with peanut butter up to our elbows and a fine powdered sugar dusting from the dining room, through the kitchen, all the way to the back bedroom.
We didn’t get snow in Los Angeles… we had to make it feel festive somehow.
When I made this batch as an adult, home in New Orleans, I reached for my largest bowl and prepared myself for the dirty elbows and powdered sugar parade. Halfway through mixing I had a EUREKA moment: a stand mixer!!! I have one of those!!!
Into the mixer we went.
The peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar (with vanilla and salt bonuses) come together into a thick dough. Not dry, just thick.
I scooped out heaping tablespoons of dough, rolled the dough between my palms to create a compact peanut butter package. Onto a lined baking sheet and into the refrigerator to chill.
This cookie scoop works wonders for the initial scooping:
Chilling the balls will help make them be easier to handle when it comes time for dipping.
Dark chocolate (chips are great!) are melted in a double boiler. I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to the chocolate, helping it melt into a beautiful chocolate gloss, that hardens as it cools.
You can go for a full dip or a half dip. You decide!
Packed in festive tins, or gathered in little holiday bags… these peanut butter balls are an easy, happy, heartwarming way that I share tradition. They’re no-bake, so for sanity’s sake, we’re in business.
I hope you’re happy and well this holiday season. Doing all of those small, happy, quirky moments that make your holiday feel keepsake special!
Seven ingredients to heaven.
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (I used not the all-natural peanut butter)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups powdered sugar (This is the amount of sugar my mom uses but truly you could use less – I’ve used 4 cups with success.)
- 18 ounces dark chocolate chunks (about 1 1/2 bags chocolate chips)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla, salt, and half of the powdered sugar. You can also do this by hand with a wooden spoon and clean hands.
- Blend on low speed until the mixture begins to come together. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the remaining powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be very thick, but not dry. The powdered sugar should incorporate easily.
- Remove the bowl from the stand and use a small cookie scoop to scoop dough and roll peanut butter balls between your hands to make a tight, round ball. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- In a heatproof bowl combine chocolate chunks and coconut oil. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water and let sit until chocolate begins to melt. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and reduce heat so the water is just at a low simmer.
- Remove the balls from the refrigerator and using your fingers, dip half of each ball into the melted chocolate, and return to the parchment lined sheet. Repeat until all balls are dipped and place in the refrigerator to chill and harden the chocolate.
- Keep peanut butter balls covered and stored in the refrigerator, or pack them in holiday tins and stored in the refrigerator for gifting. Peanut butter balls last up to 2 weeks if not longer covered well and cool.