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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Inexpensive, Easy Valentine's Gift with a "Sort-Of" Recipe

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!)

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!

33 comments:

  1. What a darling way to package everything up. I am totally going to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls!! They look delicious...thanks for the recipe:).

    ~Julia

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  2. Sounds yummy. I will have to try them. You could call them "Little Helpers".

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  3. They sound delicious and your packaging is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! Lillie looks like she thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate. :) Yum, yum! I am dying to know where you got the adorable love birds pic in the frame! Did you make it yourself? If so, I would LOVE if you would share or if I could purchase a PDF. Your creativity amazes me - you are so incredibly talented!

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  4. LOVE! How do you do it all?????? Pregnant and all?????????????????????? Boy does that girl LOVE chocolate! ;)Okay SM just looked at the pic of Lillie and said that is my friend!

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  5. Wow! These look so fun and delicious!

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  6. Soooo pretty! I love it all. I love Reese Cups so I think I'd love this "receipe"

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  7. I agree with Cheryl... where can I get that love bird print? Perfect!

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  8. A) For the record, many people think these are buckeyes... clearly they are not haha.
    B) The clementine picture was staged.

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  9. Those look amazing! You've inspired me into baking and making Valentine's. Thanks! Pretty pictures and creative packaging too. I agree...the packaging is definitely the most fun part. ;)

    Gail

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  10. Those look so delicious. I will have to make them. I really like how you packages them. Your daughter is the most beautiful little girl. Too adorable!

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  11. Just wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for the versatile blogger award! Please let me know if you accept, love your blog!

    Kaitlyn @ The Birds Nest

    http://nestdecorator.blogspot.com

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  12. I can't wait to get my chocolate balls! Josh had better be here when I open them or he isn't getting any! :)

    On a side note, your comment about the chicken you messed up reminds me that I forgot to send you all the picture of what happened to my dinner two nights ago! I will do that now!

    -Jamie

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  13. These are one of the cutest things I've ever seen!
    I think you have just made it where I must run to the store and get busy baking!
    XO
    Kristin

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  14. Ok, I will share my strawberries with your lovely dessert! Trade! Lol, me hungry tooo! lulu

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  15. Jennifer, theses look amazing! I might just have to try these:) You know I LOVE to bake and cook:)
    The box is gorgeous too!!! great job.
    I have to ask you, I just love your photography. Did you take a class or just learn photoshop on your own? I'm desperate to learn to use it. I even bought a book for dummies but I'm still too lazy to read it. I keep messing around with it but only end up drawing big horrible lines on everyones faces. LOL!

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  16. Very cute! I've made those sweets before and they are wonderful!

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  17. i almost can't stand you for how awesome, talented, gorgeous, and energetic you are. i said, almost! :)

    seriously woman, i only have one child, not one on the way too, and can hardly manage to keep my house clean or get out of my pajamas just before hubby makes it home from work each day. much less, keep my house clean, bake, make lovely crafty gifts for my entire family, take photos of it, and post about it. all while growing another little human being?! i mean, you're too much. how DO you do it? it's magic pills isn't it? don't lie. ;)

    totally kidding about everything except how amazingly talented, gorgeous, and energetic you are/must be!

    thanks for sharing. i may attempt this (the baking and the crafty gift boxes) for Valentine's Day.

    p.s. where di you get the perfectly sized whote boxes? before they were in your garage. teehehehe.

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  18. let's try this again. i got so excited my typing was affected.

    p.s. where did you get the perfectly sized white boxes? before they were in your garage. teehehehe.

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  19. Super, super sweet!

    Many Blessings,
    Melissa

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  20. Ok trying the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls tonight after Grant goes to bed. PS... the packaging for the shirts from your Etsy store is simply adorable... Thanks again!

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  21. such a great post, I actually laughed out loud :) Thanks for sharing your beautiful ideas, the chocolates look so yummy and the packaging is so pretty too! I love that you kept their name... funny story!

    Wishing you all the love on your valentines day!

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  22. These sounds delicious and you've packaged them so beautifully! I am going to whip up a batch tonight! Lillie is so adorable. What a doll. I also love your love birds print!

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  23. PJ's at noon? Sounds good to me! My hubby would love those treats- it's his favorite combination- might need to make him some!

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  24. What a great valentine, I LOVE chocolate I would probably eat them all myself! You are a lucky girl, I love the silhouette machine. Someday would love to have one, but I have a cricut for now. :)

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  25. Cheryl - I wish I had designed the love birds because I would definitely post the PDF. It is from the Silhouette Machine's website, though and is just 99 cents to download!

    Jennifer - that is so cute what Stella Marie said! And haha - yes poor Lillie inherited my AWFUL sweet tooth!

    The Boy - No, shocking as it may seem she actually LOVES clementines! I thought I might actually get a nice comment from you for a change seeing how your favorite snack was on it's way...

    Kaitlyn - thaanks so much!

    Jamie - wow, that was quite a photo!

    Hanna - I took two photography classes at a local college when I was a senior in high school. That was a decade ago and before digital cameras, though. I have a degree in graphic design so I SHOULD have learned a ton of photoshop in school but oddly enough only had one class and my teacher just sat there and didn't teach us anything. I ended up graduating being addicted to Adobe Illustrator and being scared of Photoshop. I never ever used it until the graphic design job I had before I had Lillie. The head designer at the company I worked for was so sweet and showed me how to navigate around in it a little bit and then about a year ago I decided to just dive right in and start playing around. It can be REALLY intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, it is so much fun!

    Amanda - haha, you are funny. I wish I had some magic pills. Instead I get a lot done because I NEVER sleep - arghhh! I go to bed every single night between 2 and 4 AM. Yuck! I got the boxes online back a while ago. I am trying to think of the name of the company but am drawing a blank. Maybe I will be able to come up with it in the morning. It's where we get a lot of our Dear Lillie packaging supplies like the tissue and other boxes. Arghh.....this is driving me crazy now that I can't think of it!

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  26. Love that! And those sound delish! BTW, I received the item I bought today and let me just say....BETTER THEN I EVEN EXPECTED! I LOVE IT!!! AND YES I AM SHOUTING FOR JOY!!! :)

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  27. Yummy!!! So going to try these. Looks like a wonderful treat for Valentine's Day too. Loving Lillie's frog label. Cute!

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  28. I make these every year at Christmas and of r some weird reason we call them golf balls. I too eat far too many. Your packaging is just adorable Jen! And your helper in training looks like the perfect sous chef.

    -Rene

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  29. Lots to comment on...first of all....YUM! Gonna have to try these !
    Next, I never thought of cutting out silhouettes with my silhouette (ha, that's kind of funny.) You'd think I would have thought of that ages ago...guess what I'll be doing tomorrow?
    Third, that Lillie is a cutie...love the chocolate face. (And I'll admit that both my boys and I were still in jammies at noon today.)
    Finally, I love your mirrored chest...oh how I want one of those.

    Mkay...that's all for today! Great post!

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  30. Lillie is so darling. I love her eyes! Licking the bowl is definitely the best part!! I think I'm going to try making these tomorrow (: How fun!

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  31. OH, I must try this recipe! What a beautiful way to package them! Thanks!
    Lisa

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  32. I am going to keep it in mind and will use it if i needed.

    Send gifts to pakistan

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  33. Ahhh!!! What a tasty these chocolate dipped snacks would be.
    send gifts to Pakistan

    gifts to Pakistan

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