Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas treats

Every year we try to make some delicious treats for the neighbors. This year's choice was a small amount of homemade Irish creme, and a lot of chocolate peanut butter balls.

[UPDATE: See note at bottom of this post]

Since the Irish creme has to ripen for a week, I made it first. (Full instructions can be found here.)

One of the ingredients in Irish creme is chocolate syrup. But wait, we're out! I was prepared to make a grumpy run to the grocery store when Don suggested I consult my faithful "Cheaper and Better" to see if I could make it myself. Sure enough.

A few chocolate chips, a little bit of butter, some boiling water, and voilĂ : chocolate syrup. Gotta love that book.

I only needed four teaspoons, though, so I put the rest in the fridge.

Then I finished making the Irish creme. Normally I use vodka ('cuz it's cheap and flavorless) even though the liqueur is traditionally made with whiskey...

But wait! We had whiskey! A friend of Don's visited a couple years ago and brought along a bottle of good stuff.

It never even got cracked open and has been sitting gathering dust (literally) in our pantry ever since.

I decided to split the batch (since we only had a limited amount of Gentleman Jack). I made half the Irish creme with vodka...

...and half with whiskey.

We'll do a taste comparison and see which we like better.

With the Irish creme made and put into a dark cabinet to ripen...

...I turned my attention to making chocolate peanut butter balls, for which I went into full-scale production mode. Not all of our neighbors drink alcohol (we have a lot of Mormon friends), but sweets are always appreciated.

I picked up some pretty tins at a thrift store...

...and packed them with goodies. The tins are of various sizes, which is good. The smallest will go to a single friend. The largest will go to a family with seven children.

With all the treats done, we can now look forward to Older Daughter flying in from New Jersey on Christmas Eve.

(Bonus photo: sunset on the winter solstice.)

[UPDATE: Some readers have noted used copies of Cheaper and Better were going for outrageous prices on Amazon. Sure enough, they are. Yowza. I found another source here which might be better.]


  1. I have non-drinking friends too. And it is a good thing. It's cheaper and leaves more of the good stuff for me !!--ken

  2. thanks for recipe and link to book.

  3. "[The whisky] never even got cracked open and has been sitting gathering dust ..."

    With all of that meat you have, you haven't been blending your own barbecue sauce with a whisky base?

    Even if you don't use barbecue sauce, a roasted chicken with a light maple syrup and whisky glaze might be a nice change. Add some baby carrots glazed with an orange juice, butter, and whisky reduction to keep using up more of the whisky.

    Otherwise, try some Powers' "John's Lane" Irish whiskey if you want it for sipping -- Jack Daniels is cooking whisky in my kitchen, and I'd rather stick with Midleton Irish for drinking.

    Those chocos do look lovely though ... :-)

  4. Patrice, thanks for the recipe for the peanut butter balls. Must have missed it before. And have a very Merry Christmas. :-)
    deb k

    p.s. I've been saying Merry Christmas to everyone I come across when out shopping, etc. this month and for the first time in years a decent amount of people are saying it back ( or a few saying it first!). Warms my heart……...

  5. Thanks for the recipe. We tried it for our Christmas Eve get together and everyone loved it.

  6. But the book Cheaper and Better isn't cheaper. Bought used on your Amazon link the price starts at over $100 per copy and goes sky-high from there!


    1. Holy cow, you're kidding! I bought my copy about 25 yrs ago so I had no idea. Keep your eyes pealed for it in thrift stores or other locales -- it's worth it.

      - Patrice

    2. Check the update I posted at the bottom of the blog post noting another source for the book. Less expensive, as long as they last.

      - Patrice

    3. Thank you Patrice! I just ordered my copy.

      Regina in TX

  7. bookfinder dot com. A great place to find books. I see the Cheaper and Better starting at $4.00. Granted that won't be in Like New condition. Used Good condition can be had for around $20 + shipping. And thanks for the book suggestion.

  8. I gave homemade pear vanilla jam and jalapeno jelly to my coworkers this year. Nearly everyone was thrilled to get them. Those who weren't, won't be getting anything homemade next year. I may be selfish, but I'm not wasting my time on people who don't appreciate it. I have too many others wanting homemade goodies. Some people just want gifts that cost a lot of money, not those that cost a lot of time. Their loss.

  9. I picked up a copy of this book on Ebay a couple of years ago for about $5 or so.
    Might check also if looking for a copy.