Today was another one of those conundrums. The sources that I use to find my holidays (NationalDayCalendar.com and DaysoftheYear.com) don’t list National Chocolates Day as being today. However, another source I use (Foodimentary.com) claims that today is indeed that day. There’s no clear cut authority on these holidays, although I feel my regular sources have a pretty good handle on things. The problem is that these days change from year to year, so they fall on one day one year and move to another day the next. If you find a holiday listed on a website, there’s always the chance you are using an old calendar. This was a particular dilemma today because the other official holidays were the National Day of Giving and National Electronics Greeting Day. I love the intention of a Day of Giving and would have loved to have gotten behind that, but my current financial situation isn’t best suited for that endeavor. Had I gotten my act together, I should have arranged a volunteer opportunity at a local charity because giving your time can be just as valuable a resource, but I did not plan ahead. I also felt that filling people’s inbox with electronic Jib Jab messages would get pretty old pretty fast (plus my email list is dreadfully outdated these days), so Electronic Greeting Day was out as well. I decided that celebrating National Chocolates Day would be the best way to go and, to make it more legitimate, I thought that I should also commemorate National Peanut Butter Month too (which it is). That led me naturally to my Peanut Butter Balls.
My peanut butter balls are kind of famous around these parts. I’m kind of a modern day Pete Schweddy of holiday balls. They’re super easy to make, just messy. You mix butter with peanut butter, confectionary sugar and Rice Krispies into a batter. You let it chill. Then you roll it into little bite sized balls. When those are ready you melt some chocolate along with some paraffin wax (which give the balls a waxy sheen and helps hold them together at room temp), and then you dip the rolled balls in the chocolate so they are thoroughly coated. Then just let them set. The best advice I can give you is to get some disposable kitchen gloves when you are making the dough because you really have to knead it together with your hands and the gloves allow for easy clean up. Otherwise, you end up with really messy hands.
Lola’s family loves these balls (my family likes them, but are more fanatical about my fudge). They have become a staple of the holidays. In fact, many years back I came up with a Ralph Kramden-like scheme of selling them and even sent out samples to many a friend and family. That never really panned out (pardon the pun), but they were well received and who knows, maybe that enterprise will rise again. It’s nice to have a recipe that people rave about. Truth be told, the recipe came originally from Becky who was making them for some kind of family party – it must have been a shower or something along those lines. Lola and I chipped in to help and I was given the peanut butter ball task. I followed a recipe that Becky had and I liked the way they came out, so I stored it in my head to make them again. When I went to make them, I found a random recipe online and that’s what I made. The rest was history. That sounds over dramatic, but really I just started making them from that point on.
My grandmother made a version of these way back in the day, although I don’t think she used Rice Krispies. They were always one of our faves, but she only busted them out every once and while. They’re time consuming which was probably why she only made them on occasion. But they were good. It was our own little peanut butter surprise. She’d probably like my version too. She’d enjoy it with a nice cup of tea while watching her stories.
Lola’s a fan too. She recommends one in the afternoon with your coffee or tea, or if you want to really treat yourself, have one alongside a nice glass of red wine. She savors them. I think I make them infrequently enough so they are still a surprise treat. She hasn’t gotten sick of them yet. Our homies up in Windham, NH enjoy them too and have partaken in many a blush-inducing Facebook conversations about my balls over the years. I think that’s kind of what keeps them famous. Not only are the tasty and a great treat, but they allow you to giggle at all the double entendre that comes with the territory. I’m just glad my Dad, Dick Lederer, never made them.
So that’s how I celebrated today – with an oldie but a goodie. There’s always something fun about making these. It means the holidays are on the way (the big ones, not just the ones I’m celebrating). It’s also the last days of November too, so now everything starts to switch focus to the holidays. We’ll get the tree up this weekend. The holiday card will be written. The caroling session will be booked. It’s that time of year, and making peanut butter balls was a great start to easing into it all.
On another note, I do have a large tray of PB Balls just sitting here, so if you are local and interested, give me a shout out. I’d be happy to make a delivery.
Next Up: National Mousse Day