My family does a lot of baking during Christmas, and the holiday would not be complete without peanut butter balls. We have actually gotten in family fights before over the prospect of not making peanut butter balls during Christmas. Christmas without peanut butter balls? An absurdity! An outrage! Impossible!
My mother is from Iowa, and we have this obscure cookbook from the '80s that contains almost all of our Christmas recipes. It's called "A Century of Cylinder Cooking," named for Cylinder, Iowa, and I'm pretty sure it was sold during a church fundraiser of some sort, or maybe to build a bridge or something. It contains submitted recipes from the women of Iowa, carefully curated by the "Cookbook committee," with wonderful recipes such as "Ham-pineapple salad" from Mrs. Gerhard Johnson, or "Cheeseburger loaf," from Ms. Orlue Boevers.
So, not all the recipes are a hit, but the peanut butter balls (and cinnamon popcorn!) found in the book totally are. I encourage you to make this recipe in the most immature way — by giggling at any reference to the word "balls," and, of course, while watching the classic SNL skit, "Schweddy Balls," which combines all of our favorite things: skit comedy, Alec Baldwin, making fun of NPR, and double entendre.
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
- 1 1/2 cup rice cereal
- 12 oz. milk chocolate chips and 2 Tb shortening, or 12 oz. chocolate candy coating*
- Yield: 24 balls
- In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, peanut butter and cereal together. Roll into 1 1/2-inch balls with your palms and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Place in the freezer and let sit 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. If using the microwave, start with 1 minute and stir, and then use 30 second increments, stirring between until fully melted. Let sit to cool off a bit, though not enough to harden.
- Take a sheet of balls out of the freezer and, with a toothpick or a fork, dip them into the chocolate, twirling them around until they are completely covered. I like to use a spoon to help cover the ball, and then use it to slide the ball back onto the cookie sheet.
- Once finished with one sheet, place it back in the freezer and repeat steps until all are covered in chocolate. Once completely set, store in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator. Best served cold.
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2014.