I have a sweet tooth. In fact, it runs in my family. My sister and I joke that everyone in my family has two stomachs: one for dessert, and one for everything else. Chocolate is our favorite food group. I kid you not.
So as you can imagine, I believe dessert is quite important. Don’t get me wrong, eating healthy is a central part of my lifestyle (fruits and veggies are my second favorite food group), but I am a firm believer that splurging on something sweet every once in a while is good for your mental and, occasionally, emotional health.
Unfortunately, it can be rather difficult to whip up some baked goods when you’re a college student with limited access to the necessary kitchen appliances. And, if you lived in my suite, even if you do have physical access to such appliances, you still might not be able to use them. Our suite was equipped with a very old oven and stove, both of which were to be used at your own risk. Only one burner on the stove worked (sometimes) and the oven burned half of your food while not cooking the other half, which without fail would set off the smoke detector positioned directly above it. Bake a cake and eat it too? I wouldn’t recommend it.
Luckily for all of us who have ever had these difficulties, it is possible to make a dessert that doesn’t actually have to be baked. Thank. Goodness. My family acquired this recipe for No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls years ago, and they have proved to be very popular whenever we make them. They are super simple to make, and taste just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only – dare I say – even better. Make them for friends, bring them to a potluck, or just make them to have on-hand for when you get a hankering for something sweet. For any occasion you make them, they’re bound to be a hit.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls
Makes 36 treats
Note: I would recommend putting the peanut butter dough in the refrigerator before forming before it into balls, as cold dough is easier to work with and doesn’t stick to your hands as much. I also put the dough balls back in the fridge before coating them with the chocolate – cold dough is easier to dip in chocolate and makes the chocolate harden faster!
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter
½ cup margarine or butter (I use butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
One 12-ounce package or 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Before beginning, line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the first four ingredients (through the powdered sugar) to form a smooth, stiff dough. If you do not have an electric mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together until well incorporated. Once a thick dough has formed, firmly drag the back of the spoon across the dough until there are no remaining lumps of butter and powdered sugar. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and insert a toothpick into each one. Place on the baking sheet.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with 6 tablespoons of water. Stir the chocolate until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.
Sarah McAnaw is a junior at American University where she’s working towards getting a degree in International Studies and cooking for friends. She is studying in Florence, Italy this fall where she is immersing herself in art, culture and, of course, authentic Italian cooking.