I think I always liked Christmas the best of all the holidays because there was so much more to prepare. For weeks you were shopping and baking and decorating. Since I was little I used to help my mom prepare Christmas treats: thumbprints, peanutbutter balls, mince tarts, butter tarts, fudge, cinnamon buns, carrot pudding.
It was a little bit of a Christmas spirit boost to have my kids in class make peanutbutter balls. Since none were allergic to nuts and it didn't involve cooking, it was one of those easier class projects to do. Now they are all begging me for the recipe. Of course I'll give them the recipe (and you too).
3 cups peanutbutter (I think we always used smooth but I think it really doesn't matter)
3 cups icing sugar
3 cups rice krispies
2.5 tbsp melted butter
1) Cream together peanutbutter and icing sugar until well mixed. Set aside.
2) Mix rice krispies and melted butter until rice krispies are well-coated.
3) Slowly fold rice krispies mix into peanut butter gently until thoroughly mixed in. Be sure not to be too hard on the mixing as it will crush the rice. Set aside
Thin butter icing
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
4 tbsp soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
Milk to moisten
Cream butter until fluffy. Gradually blend in icing sugar and vanilla. Add milk until icing is thin enough to flow freely from mixing utensil but thick enough coat the untensil well.
unsweetened fine flaked coconut
Drop several drops of food dye into coconut. Mix with a fork until well blended and evenly coated with the colour. The amount of colour and the colours used are up to you. Traditionally my mother used just red and green. I used more unorthodox but pretty pale green, blue, white and purple this time around.
1) pick up a chunk of the peanutbutter mix about the size of your thumb and roll into a ball about one inch in diameter. Continue until all the peanutbutter mix is rolled up. Depending on the size of your cookies, this should be about 4 dozen.
2) Dip each ball into the icing, roll until covered. Then drop them into the coconut, rolling until completely covered. Put onto a cookie sheet with a waxed paper lining. Repeat until all done. Place in freezer to harden an hour or so. Place in wax paper lined cookie tins, layering with waxed paper if necessary.
Hmm... I think that does it. This is WAAAAAAAAAAY more detailed than my mother's recipe. I think there was just a general understanding of the way it worked.
My sister and I liked Step 4 the most, much to my mother's chagrin, because we always licked our fingers between the rollings. We'd always be washing our hands again and again because she'd catch us doing it. Afterwards we both be sick with the sugar we'd consume. Somehow she never really stopped us though. It was funny when I made this with my students on Tuesday as they had the same look of "Nirvana reached" that we must have had when they sucked the icing and coconut off their fingers.
The same night I also made butter tarts thought I must admit I cheated a bit on them because I used pre-made tart shells. Yes. I admit it. I am an untried and scared hand at pie/tart pastry. So what I am giving you here is just the filling recipe. I hope you have your own tart shell recipe. I can give you my mother's if you want. Let me know.
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup currants
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon extract
Mix all ingredients together until foamy. Fill tart shells 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool. Store in wax paper lined cookie tins or well-sealed plastic containers.
The currants add a sour-sweet edge that raisins just don't have. They are far too sweet in such a dessert. The lemon is a beautiful touch too as it enhances the sour-sweet of the currants. I converted a confirmed buttertart hater with these kind because he says the currants were not too sweet.
Not too much to it, eh? That's the beauty of them.