Fun While They Lasted

October 17, 2008

Today, my sister is packing up her car, heading northwest on I-94 out of Chicago, up into Wisconsin, over the St. Croix River and into Minnesota. And, after a year of living about a mile down Armitage from Kevin and me, she’s not coming back. She’s moving home to Minnesota and it’s got me pretty sad—a little weepy, even, and a lot nostalgic—this morning.

I know I’ll see her soon: Thanksgiving, at the latest. But I also know that it just won’t be the same. For the year that she lived here, we saw her at least once a week, usually over dinner. We called it Family Dinner and, on this nostalgic morning, I wish that we could re-live every single one of them. We settled into such a comfortable pattern with the dinners—painstakingly craft a menu, pick a day, convene after work, Ali bears a bottle of wine, Kevin mans the television for the evening, Kristin darts around the kitchen, all of us feast. It was the kind of easy comfort that only comes with family.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

I think that for a little while, things are going to feel just a little off. A little empty. And this site is no exception. For the almost-year that this site’s been up and going, Ali’s played a substantial behind-the-scenes role: recipe hunting, proof reading, taste testing, assistant photographer-ing, and serving as chief leftover benefactor. As we got down to our last couple Family Dinners, we abandoned our usual pattern of trying new recipes and took a tour through our favorites. But, for dinner this Monday, I wanted a really special dessert.

As I wracked my brain for a show-stopping confection, I kept coming back to chocolate and peanut butter. It was a combination that cropped up in many a Family Dinner Dessert. So, when I discovered this recipe for chocolate-peanut butter balls (an inelegant title, if ever there was one), I felt like I’d hit pay dirt. They were easy, irresistible, comforting, decadent, memorable—all words that could also describe my friendship with my sister. And, like the Family Dinners, they’re gone for now, they were fun while they lasted, and we’re going to have do them again real soon.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Balls

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup creamy peanut butter [I used natural]
a 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips [I used bittersweet]

In a bowl, stir together the brown sugar, 1/2 stick of the butter, the graham cracker crumbs, and the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth and chill the mixture, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is firm enough to form into balls. Form teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and transfer the balls as they are formed to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate chips with the remaining 3/4 stick butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth, and let the chocolate mixture cool. Dip the balls into the chocolate mixture with a fork, coating them well and letting the excess drip off, transfer them as they are coated to the baking sheet, and chill them, covered loosely, for at least 1 hour or overnight. (The balls may be double-dipped if desired.)


25 Responses to “Fun While They Lasted”

  1. sue bette Says:

    Sorry to hear about the move! I just relocated myself and though I am really happy in my new place it is hard to adjust. The comfort of chocolate is always a great way to feel better and these bites look wonderful!

  2. April in CT Says:

    These look oh so good! This post was so touching to me. My husband is military and being away from my family is so, so difficult. It’s awesome you had a weekly tradition of the family dinner and those memories are certainly priceless. Good luck to her in her move!

  3. Amy Says:

    My aunt makes peanut butter balls every year for christmas, but I’ve shied away from her recipe since there’s some funky things in the chocolate coating…these look pure, simple, decadent, and like just the version I’m looking for. Yummy! So sorry to hear about your sister’s move away – I’ve enjoyed reading about all your “family dinners,” too! –Amy

  4. Robin Says:

    Aww, Kristin! Your post makes me so sad (and hungry). So sorry that you’re losing a local pal to cook with! Lots of love from me!

  5. I understand the feeling. I live an ocean away from most of my close relatives and it can be hard. The good thing though is that when you do reunite with them it’s that much better because you cherish the moment even more. Your peanut butter balls looks great though!

  6. Snapoutofit Says:

    As an former New Yorker, I’m wondering how she drove over the Hudson River. Think you mean Mississippi! The Peanut Butter Balls look yummy. I’ll make them this holiday season.

  7. Snapoutofit: Embarrassing! You drive through Hudson, WI right before crossing the St. Croix River. So I hope that explains my slip. I corrected the post. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. Betsy Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your sister moving. I can relate – I moved away from my sisters a few years ago. Everyone in my family loves chocolate and peanut butter, so we often make buckeyes, which are similar to this recipe. Here’s the link to one buckeye recipe, if you want to try a slightly different variation on the same idea and treat yourself with some more comfort food:

  9. aleta Says:

    Oh! My uncle used to make these all the time. We call them Buckeyes up here in New England. I’m getting the recipe from my mother soon, I think it’ll be a big hit with the coworkers. Of course, that’s not to say yours don’t look lovely . . . I might have to try both!

  10. Dawn in CA Says:


    My sister and I are on opposite coasts, and I’ve never had the luxury of having her live 1 mile away. So glad you were able to enjoy a year together before yours moved back home. And there really are fewer things in life more comforting (to me, anyway) than peanut butter and chocolate. 🙂

  11. Nicole Says:

    Sorry to hear about your sister moving away! It reminds me that my sister and I should be getting together more while we’re still living in the same area! These sound really good!

  12. draklen2923 Says:

    Sorry to hear about your sis. I know the feeling but my sis live in the same hose as me. Yet, I don’t know how to get closer to her and it also she seem not to want me to.

  13. Shannalee Says:

    I just want you to know, I’ve never seen your site before, but the first paragraphs gave me chills—I totally get how you’re feeling, and you wrote about it so well.

    What is it about familiarity that we love so much, I wonder? It’s so comfortable maybe? So trusted? I hate when people I love have to move away, even though I know I’ll see them. There’s something that has to change when they do.

    Here’s one thing you still have, though: assuming your sister has Internet, you guys still have the blogging bond, even if it’s remotely now. Best wishes!

  14. Leonor Says:

    What a delicious look!

    Your peanut-butter balls are beautiful and the chocolate topping is really tempting…

  15. Kari Says:

    My sister is moving to New York! It makes me so sad:( These peanut-butter balls look fantastic.

  16. Barefootster Says:

    Absolutely looks yummy, I could lick it off my screen…

  17. Megan Says:

    the chocolate looks sinfully decadent! chocolate and peanut butter are just one of the best combinations out there!

  18. sweetbird Says:

    My sister makes some outstanding peanut butter balls, but I’ve never seen graham cracker used in them before. I’ll have to pass that tip along. Great photos!

  19. Amanda Says:

    I just stumbled across your blog while searching for homemade granola recipes and then I read this post…my best friend of 16 yrs just moved 3,000 miles away a couple of weeks ago. I still can’t believe she is that far away. She too will be back for holidays and the like, but I already miss the casual ways we could just stop by each others houses and visit. I miss the face to face interaction and also the hugs! It is certainly a hard thing to get used to and I can completely relate to how you are feeling right now.

  20. holler Says:

    Try not to be too sad! You will just have to skype each other and she can keep up with you on the blog!

    What a lovely treat you made 🙂

  21. Thank you all for your kind, comforting words. I wish I had one (or two or four) of these chocolate-peanut butter treats for each and every one of you.

    Betsy: Thanks for the link! I’ve never heard of Buckeyes, but with those ingredients, how could they be bad?

  22. Ingrid Says:

    Aaaahhhh, I’m sorry that your sister is gone but just think the times that you are going to be together now will be JUST that more special! Maybe she’ll surprise you and visit before Thanksgiving or you her!

    Thank you for the recipe and lovely pictures. I love these and haven’t eaten homemade ones in several years!

  23. Ali Says:

    It is Tuesday. Tuesday was family dinner, so it has been on my mind all day… Miss you and Kvas terribly and can not wait till the next Family Dinner presents itself. Oh what a feast it will be. Love Ya.

  24. Michelle Says:

    These looks absolutely delicious. I’m saving the recipe right now. Hopefully I’ll have occasion to make them soon!

  25. ingrid: Thanks for you note.

    Ali: I miss you, sister. Let’s feast soon. xo

    Michelle: Lucky for you, a special occasion is completely optional!

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