Today Lillie and I made some Valentine's gifts.
Back in either high school or college I was baking one day and mid-way through realized I was short on ingredients (sadly I still do that all of the time - just ask poor Jon about the chicken I made the other night!) and just randomly decided to start improvising and then for some reason decided to roll the batter and dip it in chocolate (I don't even remember what it was I was attempting to bake, it was so long ago, maybe peanut butter fingers?) Anyway, I devoured them and they quickly became my FAVORITE snack and soon I got my family addicted to them too. There really isn't a recipe (although I will give a general idea of how to make them below) because when I make them I just kind of dump things in as I go. One time when I was home we tried to measure everything when we made them so that we could write it down and remember for the next time but I don't really ever know what happened to that idea because somehow we still don't have it figured out. They are super easy to make (you don't even cook them) but for some reason no one else ever makes them, just every time I am home my siblings (mainly my brother) bribe me into making them. (Seeing how I am a horrible cook, it's the ONLY thing anyone is ever begging me to make - haha!)
Anyway, for the past several years when Valentine's Day rolls around I try to make a batch and send them to my family. I don't particularly love making them because I tend to eat WAY too many of them and make myself sick (I won't even tell you how many I had today, in fact I just packaged up the boxes and got them ready to ship so that I couldn't get my hands on any more - I have no self-control! Arghhh! At least this year I can blame it on being pregnant!) Anyway, I have no idea why we all like them so much, there really isn't anything special about them - they are basically just a home-made Reese's cup. Once they are made, though, I have fun packaging them up. That's my favorite part!
This year I decided to make a whole bunch of them and figured we would send them to all of our family, and then make some for our neighbors and for Jon to bring to the coaches and their wives/fiances and a big batch for the team. I brought in a whole pile of little boxes I had in the garage and Lillie and I started baking. Haha - oh what a delusional thought that was! I forgot that everything literally takes FOUR times longer when you have a little "helper" It took us like two hours to make one batch (it normally takes about 30 minutes or so) and the thought of making another four or five batches quickly went out the window! In fact the thought of even making one more batch once I had Lillie cleaned up (see pics below) was too much. Oh well, maybe next year. Well, actually I will have two little "helpers" next year so probably not! Maybe someday. Anyway, here is the "recipe", if you can call it that:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
(Sadly that is what we refer to them as....so creative, I know! I thought of making a slightly better name for them for this post but figured Jason would definitely make fun of me for that.)
For the inside:
Butter ( 1/2 cup - or 1 stick)
Brown Sugar (start with 3/4 cup but probably will add more)
Peanut Butter (start with 1/2 cup but may add more)
Vanilla (3/4 teaspoon)
Flour (start with 1/2 cup but definitely WILL add more)
That's it! Now, like I said there are no real measurements I go by so as long as you aren't picky about that they are super easy to make. For the batch I made today I started with one stick of butter. I popped it in the microwave until it was completely melted. Then I started adding the brown sugar. I think it probably ended up being close to a cup by the time I was done however feel free to add a more or less depending on how sweet you want it. Then add in the peanut butter. I would say we started with about a 1/2 cup but maybe used around 3/4 a cup by the time we were done but again I am not really sure. You do want it to be more peanut buttery than sugary as far as the taste goes. I generally take a little taste at this point and see. If it is too sweet I add a little more peanut butter (you don't want it to be too sweet because they are so rich once you dip them in the chocolate). Then I added around 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla and stirred it again. And now for the last part. To start with I dumped in about 1/2 cup of flour. I stirred it all in and then just kept adding a 1/4 cup at a time until it was a nice consistency to roll into little balls. Now roll them and place them on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. (Make sure you put them on wax paper - it will make picking them up after they are coated in chocolate soooo much easier!)
Now for the dipping!
2 - 4 cups of chocolate chips
That's it! I generally start with about a cup to a cup and a half of chocolate bits and just dump them into something that is safe for the microwave. Today I put it in for 45 seconds then took it out and stirred the chocolate chips and put it in for another 45 seconds and stirred again and it was ready to go. (You may have to keep doing it for a little bit longer depending on how your microwave works. Just don't put it in for longer than a minute at a time without stirring it or the bottom ones may burn - I've definitely had that happen before!) I coat as many as I can and then just melt more chocolate as needed. I find using something like this makes it pretty easy and I don't waste as much chocolate as I do when I use a bigger bowl.
To coat the peanut butter balls you just drop them in one at a time and just spoon the chocolate over them. (Lillie's first two or three turned out kind of "interesting" so we switched her job to just being the "dropper" and I did the actual coating).
As we finished dipping each one we just placed it back on the wax paper. Once they were all done we popped them in the fridge. They generally harden within an hour and then that is also where we store them. They aren't nearly as good if you don't keep them in the fridge! Because it's pretty cold this time of year they ship just fine. I wouldn't recommend ever trying to ship them in the summer!
Now for the fun part! We put some wax paper down first and then packaged them up in some little boxes we had stored in the garage.
For the tops we just used double stick tape and taped a thick ribbon around the top of the box and then added this fun little decoration on top. In my next post I will show you how to make the little fan medallion thingy. Jon and my siblings went in together and got me a Silhouette machine for my birthday. It just came the other day and I have had so much fun with it! I used it to cut out this silhouette, but you could also just cut out a simple heart to put on top as well.
I figured for shipping purposes a flat design would work better so we also made a few of these. I used my new machine to cut these out as well, but you could just as easily print a simple Valentine's graphic (maybe even the Je T'aime template) in black on cream cardstock and then just back it with a piece of black cardstock. To make it really easy you could skip the oval shape and just do a square or rectangle.
And here is Miss Lillie's version:
And when you are all done it's time to lick the bowl!
(Lillie's most favorite part of baking, of course!)
She got her jammies (yes, it was noon and we were still in our pajamas!) covered in chocolate so we had to get them in the wash and just to make you all feel better (mainly you, Woody, although I am sure by now you have given up reading this post as it contains a LOT of writing) after letting her eat all of that chocolate I did NOT let her have an actual chocolate peanut butter ball until after dinner. Instead I made her snack on a "juicy orange" (clementine).
I will show you how to make the fan medallions in my next post (we have made a ton of them and they are hanging in our dining room and living room) and hopefully will have a Valentine's template like the Silent Night one that you can print out and will show you the rest of our Valentine's projects. My goal is to post all of that tomorrow but if not then definitely on Friday.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!
P.S. Linking up to Wendy's Frugal Friday!
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