I was pretty busy over the weekend drowning myself in a serious dose of holiday cheer. On Friday, Eric and I checked out the MillerCoors Holiday Lites Show at the Miller Brewery, which is always a fantastic spectacle. Then, Saturday we enjoyed an incredibly festive turtleneck party, complete with live-band karaoke. The event birthed what may be my favorite photo ever taken of myself (thanks, Mike!), and was the closest experience I'll ever have to being a rock star.
But between looking at lights and taking the stage, Eric and I had a fun-filled day of making our favorite Christmas treats. Each day this week, I'll share a different treat that was made over the weekend, but today I'll share two favorites, dipped in chocolate: Buckeyes and Martha Washingtons.
Buckeyes are a traditional candy to native Ohioans, such as myself. Though I've been displaced from the Buckeye state for a few years, I still make the candy each Christmas. Now, I am quite the purist when it comes to Buckeyes - the candy can only be called a "Buckeye" if the peanut-butter ball is dipped in chocolate only enough to let a little button of peanut butter peek out at the top (thus, resembling the actual Buckeye nut... which is the state nut of Ohio, for those of you who may not be aware/care). Any other ball of peanut butter, whether coated completely in chocolate or only drizzled in it, is NOT a Buckeye... it is merely a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball. Please do not confuse the two. Just.... don't.
The Buckeye recipe is a simple one, and I always follow my mom's recipe, as hers always turn out delicious.
Basically, you just mix up 2 cups of peanut butter with 1 cup of butter and 1.5 cups of powdered sugar.When that gets combined well, you just start rolling the mixture into balls. My peanut-butter balls usually end up to be sized anywhere between a large marble and small golf ball (though I'm pretty sure all golf balls are the same size...). Then, I put all the peanut butter balls in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour to let them firm up - this is imperative to ensure a smooth dipping process.
While the peanut-butter balls are chilling, melt up 12 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler (I've always had more luck with this method, as compared with melting chocolate in a microwave), and while you're at it, melt a 3" square of paraffin wax in with the chocolate, too. The paraffin makes the chocolate smooth and gives a beautiful sheen to the chocolate when it's set.
After the chocolate is melted, take out your chilled peanut-butter balls and dip them into the chocolate using a toothpick. I like to go in at an angle to try to cover up as much of the toothpick hole as possible. Dip only enough to leave a small peanut-butter button peeking out at the top. Like I said, it's only a Buckeye if that little bit is left uncovered!
And that's it! Let the Buckeyes set up until the chocolate it hard, and you're done!
While I was working on my Buckeyes, Eric was busy in his corner of the kitchen making his favorite Christmas candy: Martha Washingtons. I'd never had a Martha Washington until I started dating Eric, and now I can say they're another treat I look forward to every year. If you like Mounds bars, you will love Martha Washingtons!
To make them, dump a can of sweetened condensed milk, two cups of sweetened coconut, 2 pounds of powdered sugar, a cup or two of chopped walnuts (or pecans) and half a stick of melted butter in a bowl. You can go the clean route and use a mixer to combine everything, or you can use Eric's method of using your hand to mix everything up - he says the hand method is the best way.
Once everything is nice and combined, start rolling the mixture into balls. Eric's were about (you know, standard) golf ball size.
Then, chill in the fridge for half an hour to an hour. While chilling, melt 12 ounces of chocolate chips and a 3" square of paraffin wax in a double boiler (since we were both using dipping chocolate, Eric and I just melted a large 24oz bag of chocolate chips and half a slice of paraffin wax together. We are good at sharing). When it's all melted, dip away!
With Martha Washingtons, you dip the entire sugary, coconut-y ball completely in chocolate, using a toothpick.
When they've set, they're a shiny, beautiful chocolate-covered ball!
But there's a sweet, coconut surprise when you bite in!
Either of these candies can be made any time of year, but they're extra special around Christmas time. the amount of each I've ingested since Saturday afternoon is... well, not attractive. BUT, I dare you to make them and not do the same!
Come back tomorrow for a look at another contributor to my weekend-long sugar coma, sure to leave you dizzy with holiday spirit.