A friend asked me a few weeks ago what kind of Christmas traditions we’re going to have with Evelyn, and to be honest, I hadn’t particularly thought about it much. Not because we don’t plan on having traditions with her, but because the Christmas traditions of my childhood seem such second nature that we automatically have them built in.
But now that the Christmas season is here, we’ve been trying to be a bit more purposeful about it all. Mostly though, our traditions are things one or both of us did when we were kids: watching Christmas specials, lighting the advent candles, making Christmas treats. We’ve starting making it a tradition to go a couple of local holiday celebrations (if you’re in the Huntsville area, Kris Kringle’s Candlelight Christmas is my favorite).
I feel like this year is our year for establishing our traditions. We’re rearranging how we do Christmas day this year, and Christmas Eve has been a bit different from year to year as we change up how we do things with Gerrit’s family. And it’s the first year Evelyn will really be able to participate in Christmas, so that is a new dynamic, too.
But even if our Christmas traditions change slightly from year to year now or in the future, there is one thing that will never ever change about Christmas at our house: there will ALWAYS be peanut butter balls. They are mine and Gerrit’s favorite Christmas treat and it is never the Christmas season unless they are in our freezer. Years from now who knows what Christmas will hold and how our traditions might have evolved. But I can guarantee you that we will be eating peanut butter balls.
While I grew up having peanut butter balls with paraffin wax in the chocolate, I've recently started using coconut oil and I think it works pretty well. It does melt in your hands more easily as you eat the peanut butter balls though, and it is definitely best to keep them stored in the fridge or freezer. As in, my mom said they are fine for family, but if you're serving these to other people you might want to use wax instead for less mess. Also, use as much wax/oil or as little as you want here: it will change how thick the chocolate shell will be, which is totally a personal preference.
- 1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
- 2 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4-5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1-2 tablespoons paraffin wax
- 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.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 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).
- 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. (Alternately, you can melt it all in the microwave, heating for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and stirring everything 30 seconds.)
- Dip frozen peanut butter balls into the chocolate one at a time, making sure each one is covered (use a toothpick or a fork to roll each one around in the chocolate). Lift the peanut butter ball out of the chocolate (using fork or toothpick...whatever works best for you) 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.
- 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 (although if you use coconut oil in your chocolate, it is best to keep them in the refrigerator).