This will be the first Christmas I’ve spent at home in the past three years. With Nutcracker always continuing on through the 26th or 27th, I’ve been required to stay in Pittsburgh through the end of December to perform in the shows. So, one of the few perks of recovering from an injury is that I was able to travel to be with my family for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this time. I can’t truly complain about the holidays I’ve spent in Pennsylvania; my parents and sister drove ten hours to spend them with me both last year and the year before, and we had a memorable couple of Christmas mornings with just the four of us in a hotel room. I think you’ll agree, though, that waking up in your own bed and walking down the stairs of your own home the morning of the 25th is incomparable to any “destination Christmas.”
There’s something about Christmas at home that seems to stop the weight of time, of getting older. The feeling that I get when my sister and I awake and stumble into the living room and our drowsy eyes adjust to the fuzzy glow of the Christmas tree; when we plop onto the floor in our pajamas and eagerly exchange the “who’s opening first?” look with our parents; when we settle into the wrapping-paper littered room and begin the marathon of Christmas movies; these feelings are some that haven’t been marred at all among the many other changes of growing up.
I don’t mean at all to discount the value of simply being with family on this day–of course this celebration isn’t tied to something as material as a house. Obviously I understand that Jesus would have advocated for Christmas to, above all else, be a time abundant with love for each other regardless of location. But I can’t ignore the fact that being in the place that I have lived with my family, spent days laughing with them, gone to church with them, and grown older with them adds a special tone to this Christmas. It isolates us in a way, brings the four of us back to every year when Christmas wasn’t one of the few precious times we were all together but just a day to put any silly arguments on pause and hold each other especially close. Waking up on Christmas is like opening a perfectly preserved time capsule–it has a way of making it ok to feel and act like a kid.
Another thing that holds a universal sentiment of being a kid? The classic PB&J. No one can slap some peanut butter and jelly on bread and not be instantly taken back to life in the elementary school cafeteria, laden with chattering seven year-olds and cosmic brownies. Whether or not you actually ate PB&Js, you can’t deny that they’re a cultural symbol of childhood. These chocolate truffles are a delicious spin on this long-time lunch of choice, perfect for any age. I couldn’t try to claim improvement upon such a staple, but these truffles give you the flavors of PB&J just covered. In. Chocolate. Yeah, you need them. Embellish your Christmas table with these reminiscent flavors, and have a holiday that celebrates the sensation of being home, wherever that may be. Christ is coming in two days, TWO DAYS!! What’s more appropriate than childlike excitement?
Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.
2 Samuel 7:29
PB&J Ice Cube Tray Truffles
- two ice cube trays (I used 16-cube trays)
- 10oz. vegan chocolate
- 1 TBSP coconut oil
- 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP peanut butter (I used earth balance)
- 2 TBSP vegan butter (I used earth balance vegan spread)
- 3 TBSP vegan sugar
- 6 TBSP vegan light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp almond milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- jam/jelly of choice (I used homemade strawberry jam)
- Combine chocolate and coconut oil in large measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second intervals until completely melted, stirring between each.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper, and place the ice trays on top.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the ice trays. Tip them upside down over the lined baking sheet to allow excess chocolate to pour out–be sure all sides of ice cube molds are coated. Place trays in fridge or freezer to allow chocolate to set.
- With a hand or stand mixer, beat peanut butter, vegan butter, salt, and sugars together in a bowl until smooth. Add almond milk and vanilla extract. Finally, beat in flour until completely combined.
- Remove trays, and fill each cup 1/3 full with peanut butter mixture. Layer a thin layer of jelly/jam on top of that, and finish with another layer of peanut butter. You may have leftover filling–just save it for the next batch of truffles. There should be only a very, very small gap left between the top peanut butter layer and the top of each ice cube mold. Place in freezer to chill for about 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, melt the chocolate mixture again if it has set, adding in the excess chocolate caught on the lined baking sheet.
- Pour melted chocolate on tops of truffles, being sure each mold is covered. Place back in fridge/freezer until set.
- Store truffles in the fridge or the freezer until ready to enjoy; be sure they’re in sealed containers to avoid condensation on the outside.