Every Christmas growing up my mother would let each person in the family pick one Christmas treat for her to bake. My dad always asks for bourbon balls. My brother, chocolate snowflake cookies. My mom usually makes fruitcake bites for herself (not everyone’s favorite…and famously the only thing she has ever made that Gerrit has spit out into a napkin…but my mom and dad don’t mind at all because then they can hoard them all for themselves).
And I always, always picked peanut butter balls. And now that I am making them for myself, they are of course they very first treat that gets made for the Christmas baking season. Putting anything else in first place would be sacrilegious.
You see, me and peanut butter balls have a long history of love. It is a significant event to me when I take the first bite of the season. Ah… the taste of Christmas. Because to me these are the Christmas confection. Fudge smudge. Gingerbread, smingerbread. I mean, sure I’ll make some other things. Probably some cookies and some other candies. But I don’t even know what they will be right now, and honestly I don’t really care, because the only thing that matters is that there are now peanut butter balls in my freezer.
Everyone has their own way to make peanut butter balls. My mom tends to do a thinner coating of chocolate with a sweeter filling, and she makes them smaller. Gerrit’s mom has a filling with more substantial bits of graham crackers and a thicker chocolate coating. So I combined my favorite things about both recipes, a sweeter filling with a thick chocolate coating, and large enough that each one feels significant and takes at least two bites to eat (and I can be satisfied with only eating one at a time…usually).
Peanut butter balls (as is often the case with chocolate dipped candies) can be a bit messy and tricky to make, so I think the most important tip is to keep everything relatively cool. If the melted chocolate gets to warm, it will start to melt you peanut butter balls when you dip them. If your peanut butter balls get to warm, the same thing will happen. So take the chocolate off the heat from time to time and pop your peanut butter balls back in the freezer throughout the dipping process.
As far as technique goes, it just takes a little practice. You can use forks or toothpicks or spatulas or whatever. Just find a method that works for you. Because you need to make these today. Really. I’m serious.
Peanut Butter Balls
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Wait Time: 6 hours
Makes about 5 dozen
1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
4-5 cups semisweet chocolate chips*
1-2 tablespoons paraffin wax
1. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter, melted butter, and powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Then cover and chill in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, 1-2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Once the peanut butter mixture is chilled, roll into balls about 3/4 inch thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, 2-3 hours (or overnight).
4. Combine chocolate chips and paraffin wax in the top of a double boiler (or a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water). Start with about 4 cups of chocolate chips and a few shavings of wax, and once the chocolate is melted continue to add more chocolate and/or more wax until the chocolate reaches the desired consistency.
5. Dip frozen peanut butter balls into the chocolate one at a time, making sure each one is covered (use a toothpick of a fork to roll each one around in the chocolate). Lift the peanut butter ball out of the chocolate (using fork or toothpick) and allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then place the peanut butter ball back onto the tray. Be sure to work quickly so that the peanut butter balls do not melt into the chocolate. If the chocolate becomes too hot, remove it from the stove and allow it to cool. If the peanut butter balls become too soft, return them to the freezer for a few minutes.
6. After all of the balls have been dipped in chocolate, return them to the freezer until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. The peanut butter balls can then be stored in a sealed plastic bag or storage container either in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve frozen, refrigerated, or at room temperature.
*I used one 24 oz. bag of chocolate chips.