doing the christmas goodie fandango

chocolate... it gets everywhere!
This year was definitely one of our more successful Christmas goodie making years...

There were no raised voices... there were no forgotten ingredients... we laughed ourselves stupid at one point in the afternoon...

And pretty much everything came off according to plan.

I like that in any of the pre-Christmas prep that Ma and I do.

It also helped that the weather was lovely and cool... there's nothing worse than trying to work with melted chocolate when the weather is hot.

I left here around 7:30 this morning, and got home sometime around 9:45 or so... so a very big day, once again.

And it is exhausting... if nothing else, all the standing (and sitting) around in both the rolling into balls and the chocolate dipping stages. It doesn't seem like much, but after a whole day of it you definitely feel it.

Essentially the day is always split into three distinct segments (well, four if you count the making of ham hearts and mince tarts that Ma usually has well underway by the time I get there so that I can enjoy ham hearts straight from the oven for breakfast... yum).

Oh, and usually while she's finishing that off I make my Rocky Road, which generally just involves chopping everything and then pouring chocolate over it... but it takes a while to set, so I like to get it out of the way early.

After I'd finished that, but before starting the next job, I did need to make a quick supermarket run... not because we'd forgotten anything, but because we decided to make something that wasn't originally planned.

Once we get to the "ball making" portion of the day, first comes the prep work... which in my case means getting all of the dry ingredients ready, using and then washing the food processor about half a dozen times in a row and drowning all manner of dried/glace fruit in twice the quantity of booze that the recipes call for.

Then once ALL of that prepping was done (and it's a LOT of mixing things and then rolling LOTS of sticky mixtures into small balls) at around 1pm, we stopped for lunch... then it was time to melt the chocolate!

Some years we get into the perfect groove on this with no trouble, other years it takes us a while to find the right tools and the right system to get things just the way we want them... this year was one of the "takes a while" years. Not that we had any major troubles, it just took a while to find our groove.

Although I did discover that I can actually use three chopsticks at once... not always successfully, but it all worked out eventually.

Once first coating was done, which took care of almost all of the different goodies, it was on to the second pass, of which the most fiddly is always the Chocolate Puddings.

I think it's some sort of karmic retribution for the fact that making them is incredibly simple... so the decoration is just as fussy as hell, and involves both sorting through mini M&Ms to pull out just the red ones, as well as using tweezers to put the little green leaves in place.

We finished all of that around about 6pm, so we managed to tidy up and then made some dinner.

Then the final stage, where very occasionally Ma loses her mind... the packing! I have a dozen people to give goodies to, so there's a lot of putting hearts and tarts in bags and then making sure everybody gets the required number of balls.

But it's all worth it in the end...

christmas goodies 2012 as a three by three grid
Christmas Goodies 2012 (as a three by three grid)

What we ended up with this year, row by row from the image above... we have:
  • Rocky Road
  • Peanut Butter Balls (with a sea salt topping)
  • Peppermint Ice Balls
  • Hazelnut Delights
  • Chocolate Puddings
  • Rum Balls
  • Apricot Brandy Truffles
  • Sherry Truffles
  • Chocolate Balls
The Peanut Butter Balls are definitely going to have to become a regular member of the roster... they're so easy to make (icing sugar, peanut butter, butter... mix) but they taste AH-MAY-ZING!

Words do not even begin to describe how good they are... in fact, even before they got the chocolate coating, the mixture itself was just... wow.

To put it in perspective, we made nine different kinds of goodies, of those I generally only eat my Rocky Road, occasionally a Chocolate Pudding or a Hazelnut Delight, but most of the others I'm really not bothered about.

These Peanut Butter Balls... I'm not sure I want to share what's left with anybody else... I just want to split them between Ma and I.

It's like an even smoother Reeses Peanut Butter Cup... but then with the salt on the chocolate, it's like my brain did a total freakout between "it's salty, but it's sweet, but it tastes like peanuts, but it's chocolatey"... in a totally good way.

I'm a big fan!

This year also signals the end of an era... for the last several years (since 2008 certainly), we've been using these cute little "Christmas tree" sprinkles to create the leaves on top of the Chocolate Puddings...

And today they ran out (okay, technically there were six left, but I ate them)... so now I'm going to have to hit the Google machine and see if I can't track some new ones down online.

Now all I have to do is get into the office before everyone else tomorrow morning so that I can distribute their goodies before they get in...

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