The Birth of the Best and the Worst Recipe Ever:
It was 1975, and my Aunt Helen (also known as The Greatest Cook in The World) concocted a new addition to her Christmas cookie selection: Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Balls.
If you were to eat them, you would understand immediately the name doesn’t do them justice. They should be called something like, “Sex Dipped in Chocolate” or, “Relationship Replacement Nuggets.” My cousin and I declared them our “last meal on death row” food. To say they were good would be the understatement of the century. We would gleefully gorge on them until, like, February.
Long about March, I would curse my reflection in the mirror, work up enough disgust and self-loathing, and launch into some starvation/exer-kill regimen that would temporarily rid me of my chocolate tonnage until the next holiday season, when the vicious cycle would kick back up again.
in 2001, Aunty died of heart failure, surrounded by Hershey’s Kiss wrappers. We miss her greatly, but her Crunch Ball recipe lives on. I’d make them for my family, eating about half the batch myself in the process. Little did I know, my 12% willpower was not enough to stand up to my 88% “Chocolate/Peanut Butter Monster” below.
Doomed to Make Them Forever! How Could This Happen?!
The only way to stay thin was to forget them, leave the recipe in the box, or better yet burn it. Maybe shoot some silver bullets through it’s heart. Or was it a wooden stake? I couldn’t remember. I could imagine that recipe screeching and disintegrating like a Horcrux straight out of Harry Potter. The solution? Just don’t do any baking, right? Wrong.
The Devil Balls are in my divorce settlement. That’s right. Laugh! But in 2010, Mike decided to settle our divorce based on the agreement that I would continue to make him that infernal recipe as part of the friggin’ divorce settlement! I’m certain those cookies were the reason he’d married me in the first place, and he wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Exhausted and broke, I caved in.
Cut to December, 2013
I was a new hypnotherapist with tools. I’d practiced self-hypnosis zealously for weight loss. Tackle the most important issues first, that’s my motto! I was proud and smug. I was thin and toned. It was the first holiday season I actually felt good about my physical body. I felt great! Then, of course, the phone rang.
“Hey Jan, it’s me, Mike… I just wanted to remind you about my balls…?”
“Goddammit!” I muttered. How would I make them without eating them? The only way is with your hands. You squish together the ingredients. It’s impossible with a mixer or spoon. Aunty said so, and she knew everything. Besides, I’ve tried. Plus, you gotta dip them in, like, eight pounds of melted chocolate from Trader Joes. Trader Joe’s wasn’t around in Aunty’s day, but my friend Judy says its the best. (Next to Aunty, Judy knows everything there is to know about chocolate.) It’s impossible for me not to test some of the chocolate to make sure it’s not poisoned. I’m a good person, it’s my duty. I felt my new thin body slipping away…
Hold the Phone! I’m a Hypnotist!
A normal hypnotist would have given herself the suggestion that she wouldn’t be tempted. Not me. That’s no fun! That’s just more of that deprivation nonsense. No, I wanted to eat them. It was Christmas. But I wanted to be skinny too. Eat them AND be skinny? Would it work? What would I do?
And then, just like the Grinch, I got a wonderful, awful idea! “What if,” I thought to myself, “I was able to hypnotize myself to feel as though I’d eaten them, only not really?”
“But I don’t want to feel bloated and sick,” the more reasonable side of my personality argued.
“Then why don’t we compromise?” And with that, I concocted a plan. I walked to the couch. I went into hypnosis, and told myself something like this:
I put myself into a medium hypnoidal state. I told myself, “Visualize, imagine, pretend, it’s Sunday morning. You walk into the kitchen. You light some cozy candles, look at your beautiful restored 1947 Wedgewood stove, and make coffee.” You are in your pink pig slippers, and you are by yourself. It’s a cozy day, a perfect day for baking, and you are excited and filled with holiday spirit. See yourself putting on Christmas music.
“You make yourself a healthy breakfast. You sit down with a candle and enjoy eating. When you are finished, you carry your coffee and dirty dishes back to the kitchen and put the plate in the dishwasher. Feel how full and satisfied you are, as you begin to assemble the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Ball ingredients…
“You measure out the ingredients into the big blue bowl. As you watch the ingredients coming together, you inhale deeply, enjoying the aromas. The aromas are extra strong today, and each time you see, feel and smell the ingredients, it will be as though you have fully absorbed their essences and eaten them. The smells, fragrances and sounds will be so satisfying that there will be no need to eat any of it. Smelling, touching and seeing are so much more important and satisfying. In fact, the more you smell, feel and enjoy the process, the more satisfied you become.
“From time to time, you might try to put your fingers in your mouth and taste something, but the harder you try to remember that old habit, the more difficult it becomes. You understand the taste wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as the satisfaction you already feel with the smells.
“Your sense of satisfaction grows stronger and stronger, and the more you cook, the more satisfied you feel. And now, it’s time to melt the chocolate.
“As you unwrap the chocolate bars, the smell of chocolate overwhelms you, and you will feel as though you have already eaten all the chocolate you could possibly want. The smell of chocolate is so strong now, that you are completely satisfied and there will be no desire whatsoever to eat anything.
Each time you look at your finished recipe, it will be as though you’ve already eaten it, and you will be so satisfied, but still feel thin and slender.”
And that’s what I did. It was one of the best days of my life. I’ve never enjoyed a process more, and I never once took a bite, and never once licked a finger, and never once felt deprived. In fact, it felt better than had I actually eaten anything! “I’m a genius!” I said to myself, and meant it.
Of course, I didn’t gain weight.
Cut to Later Sunday Evening, Unable to Sleep:
I’m usually a good sleeper. But that night, I kept waking up. “What’s wrong?” said my significant other. “I can’t sleep. That chocolate smell is too strong. It’s in my nose and it won’t go away.”
“What chocolate smell?”
“My God, can’t you smell it? I melted chocolate earlier and the stench is overpowering! I can’t sleep! It’s up my nose! I CAN’T SLEEP!!!!”
“What stench?” He said. “Did you make those chocolate things? I can’t smell them.”
“Crap!” I thought. I overdid the hypnosis again. Better not exaggerate so much next time.
Before I knew what was happening, he lurched toward the bedroom door, and I heard him stomp through the living room toward the kitchen, and I could hear the refrigerator door open. Then, I heard him making a cup of tea. After a long, long time, he returned, positively reeking of chocolate.
Here’s the recipe:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Balls
by Helen Hopper
2C Chunky Peanut Butter
2C Powdered Sugar
4C Rice Krispies
1C Chopped nuts and/or Coconut
1 cube (1/2C) melted butter
German’s Sweet or semi-sweet chocolate for dipping. Tons. You can’t buy enough. This recipe fills your entire refrigerator and every pan and cookie sheet you own, plus all of your neighbors’.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with hands thoroughly & shape into 1″ balls. Refrigerate 1 hour on greased cookie sheets or greased parchment paper. Melt chocolate and dip using a fork and a spoon. Refrigerate.
Be careful. It could wind up in your divorce settlement.