"The next couple of weeks is going to be full of feasts, fests, food, friends and family. Many cultures and religions will be celebrating in some form or the other. At the end of this week the Indians will be celebrating Diwali - Festival of Lights, Hanuka for the Jewish or Thanksgiving and Christmas for many others and not to mention New Year's at the end of it all. It's simply a great time of year. I love spending warm, cosy evenings surrounded by friends and family, digging into a luxurious or traditional meal. The room alight with chatter, laughter and full of warmth."
Hence, Meeta of "What's For Lunch Honey?" chose the theme "Traditional Feasts" for her December "Monthly Mingle" food blogging fun.
Although I'm not sure if many other people would consider it a traditional holiday food, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas for me without some of my Grandma Mary's peanut butter balls.
I don't ever remember making them with her--I probably wasn't patient enough as a child--but somehow, even though everyone else loved them too, there was always a special container of them tucked away just for me. For the recipe, read on. Check out the round up of all the "Monthly Mingle" entries here.
- 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar, plus a little extra
- 1/2 pound oleo (Crisco)
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 1/8 pound paraffin
- 24 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate chips
*If you're going to double this recipe (and I always do), unless you have an industrial size mixer, it's best to just make up two separate batches. The number of balls you can get from one batch depends entirely on how large you make them--if you go smaller it will make close to 100.
(Throughout this recipe it's good to remember that cold, slightly crumbly peanut butter mixture is your friend and warm, sticky peanut butter mixture is not! Although it's not completely necessary, it will make your life a whole lot easier if you pop the peanut butter mixture in the fridge for 15-20 minutes in between steps. Further, if you get tired at any point before you've melted the chocolate, it won't hurt anything to just put everything in the fridge and come back to it tomorrow.)
In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you've got one) mix powdered sugar, oleo, and peanut butter until well incorporated but slightly crumbly. If the mixture is sticky gradually add up to a cup more powdered sugar. Chill in fridge. Make peanut butter mixture into balls and put on a large platter or cookie sheet. (The size of the balls depends on your preferred peanut butter to chocolate ratio. My grandmother makes hers rather large, I like mine a bit smaller.) Chill in fridge.
Chop paraffin into small chunks. In a double boiler melt the paraffin with the chocolate chips, until smooth. The paraffin takes awhile to melt, so be sure to stir well to make sure you don't have any remaining chunks.
Using a toothpick or skewer, dip each peanut butter ball in the chocolate and set on wax paper to cool.
Each ball will now have a tiny hole in it where the toothpick was. If I have chocolate leftover I spoon it over the tops, which, in addition to filling the holes, makes the peanut butter balls look very pretty.
Once the chocolate has completely cooled, place in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within a few months. (But they won't last that long!)