Tuesday, December 17, 2013

peanut butter balls

It's Christmas time!

I have so many good memories of Christmas as a child. When I think back on the things that made it special, I remember things we did as a family.

Some were more work, like polishing the silver for dinner (wish my mom knew about this great method!) and ironing napkins and cleaning the house.

But other things were more enjoyable, like putting every single ornament we owned on the tree and making little crafty things and having plum pudding after Christmas dinner with all of our family.

I remember gifts received - The Atari game we were able to open on Christmas Eve. We woke up Christmas morning to my parents playing it. And also gifts given - My brother gave my grandparents a Hickory Farms gift in a cool ceramic turtle planter kind of thing (take my word for it.) The reason I remember it so well is that my mom was so impressed that my brother chose such a thoughtful gift for them. I wanted to get a ceramic turtle planter kind of thing for them every year after that, but could not find another one. Too bad.

When Hero and I got married, we each brought memories and traditions to our Christmas season. I loved making cookies and hanging stockings, which Hero had not done before. We got together with his family for Christmas dinner and made treats his mom liked to make.

One of those things was Peanut Butter Balls.

I thought they were the Best. Things. Ever.

And I still think that. 

Since the first days of our marriage, we have improved the system quite a bit. It helped having a bunch of kiddos to help with assembly. When they were younger, we had to watch them like a hawk to make sure they did not eat too much of the profits and to wash their hands if they even looked like they may have licked their fingers. Sometimes we would end the evening in a meltdown, but most years we did pretty good.

Each year we make between 400 and 600 of these little yummies. We love eating them and sharing them.

This year Colin wanted to make 1000. Um, that is a lot even for us. We made a deal - we would try to make 1000 but no one is allowed to complain about making a thousand.

Even though we are down to four of us, we were pretty efficient. We got the dough mixed up pretty fast - It helps that we have teenage boys with strong young muscles. We ate a quick dinner and got right to work on production. One of us - usually me - uses the little cookie dough scoop and drops the dough balls on the (clean) table. Everyone else grabs them up, rolls them up and plops them on the trays. 

We try to be very careful about placement - We need to get as many as possible on each one. There is usually someone that gets a little crooked in lining them up, but we are pretty much pros - We usually get them straightened out.

After a tray is full, out to the garage it goes. They dip better when they are cold.

(And in our opinion, they taste better frozen. That's because we keep them out in the garage and grab one every single time we go out there. We get a lot more cooperation about taking the trash out this time of year, too - Just another opportunity to grab one or two.)

These little beauties are ready for their chocolate bath. 

(Just had a vision of taking a chocolate bath. On the one hand, so warm, smells good and something new. On the other hand, ummmm, I don't think so.

When the kiddos were little, Hero did most of the dipping while I supervised the ball rolling and hand washing. Now that we have responsible teenagers with no one else to monitor, they get to help with that part, too. Yay!

The middle of the production isn't always the prettiest. These still need topping.

Liam demonstrates the two handed dipping method. Basically with one hand you stab a ball with a toothpick, dip it and let it drip back into the pot, and while it is dripping you use the other hand to stab, dip and let drip. It repeats over and over and over. Many, many times.

Got a little wonky in formation here. That happens toward the end of the evening.

But the quality control never slips. 


I rarely made treats with my mom - She was a great cook, but didn't do much baking or treat making. When I had the chance to do that with our family, I jumped on it. Over the years, we have tweaked how we do things, but the peanut butter balls have been a consistent favorite year after year. For everyone.

And I really hope our kiddos have good memories of making and eating and sharing them.

But as much as we tried, we did not reach our goal of 1000.

We only made about 750.

But that should be plenty.

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