Twenty years ago, my husband and I were living on the second floor of a house-turned-apartment in Norwood, MA. If you know Norwood, you might’ve heard of The Colonial, a fabulous restaurant on Savin Ave. We lived almost directly across the street.
Another newly-married couple lived in the first floor, Rick and Darcy, and one year, Darcy gave us some fudge for Christmas. It was the most delicious fudge I’ve ever eaten.
That winter, Ed and I relocated to Oklahoma, near my mother’s family, so the following Christmas, I made a few batches of Darcy’s fudge recipe and shared it with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Christmas has never been the same. My family loves that fudge. They wait for it, and when I walk in the door at our family Christmas get-together with it, their eyes twinkle. (I come from a long line of sweet-toothed folks.)
Fast forward a few years. We were at a party, and I tried these delectable chocolates filled with peanut butter—sort of like homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I found the recipe, and now every year, I make those, too.
The other day, I posted a picture of the peanut butter balls on Facebook, and my best friend was at my door within an hour. Oh, sure, she had a lame excuse. “I just wanted to return this to you,” she said, holding out an item she’d borrowed. And then she added with a little grin, “You didn’t freeze those peanut butter balls, did you?”
To keep myself from eating them, I had, but we defrosted a few, and she left with a baggie full of candy and chocolate residue on her fingertips.
So these recipes I share with you are treasures. I’m famous for my candy bar fudge (thank you, Darcy) and my peanut butter balls (which some folks call Buckeyes—Ohio folks, I think.) Feel free to share them with your family.
What about you? What recipes are you famous for?
Do you have other traditions your family looks forward to?
Candy Bar Fudge
½ cup butter
1/3 cup baking cocoa
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
30 caramels, unwrapped
1 Tbsp water
2 cups salted peanuts
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, cocoa, brown sugar, and milk. Microwave on high until mixture boils, about 3 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan. Put the pan in the fridge until it hardens. (The freezer works well, too, and faster.)
In another microwave-safe bowl, combine caramels and water. Microwave until mixture melts, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Combine with peanuts and spread over fudge layer.
Melt chocolate chips in a double-broiler and spread over peanut mixture. Place fudge in the refrigerator until chocolate hardens. Return to room temperature before cutting.
Peanut Butter Balls
1 lb. butter at room temperature
2 lbs. creamy peanut butter at room temperature
3 lbs. powdered sugar
2-32 oz. bags chocolate chips (you probably won’t use all of them)
2 Tbsp shortening (the recipe calls for paraffin wax, but ick)
Combine the butter and peanut butter. Gradually add the powdered sugar. (I have a full-sized Kitchenaid, and this still nearly overflows the top. If you don’t have a big mixer, I suggest you halve the recipe, or at least work with half at a time.) When you get the mixture well-combined, form walnut-sized balls and place them on a few jelly roll pans. (You could use a melon-baller to help with this process.) Freeze them on the pans.
When they’re good and frozen (I usually wait a day or two), melt 1 bag of the chocolate in a double-broiler with one tablespoon of shortening. (I use a big stainless steel pan on a saucepan with a little water at the bottom.) With toothpicks, dip each frozen ball into the melted chocolate and place on wax-paper covered jelly roll pans. Pop back in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. When you start to run short of chocolate, add more chips and a bit more shortening until you’ve dipped each peanut butter ball. (This is not an exact science, obviously. But you can’t go wrong—look at the ingredients!)
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories, and a freelance editor at Robins Red Pen. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.