MAROA — Valentine’s Day is at hand, but biting into one of her sister’s first chocolate marshmallow clusters took Billi Peters right back to Christmas.

“This is ridiculously good,” said Peters, chewing slowly to savor the taste. “I was kind of leery about the butterscotch in it, but that is truly what sets this recipe off.

“It makes me think of the marshmallow Rice Krispie squares Mom makes for the holidays.”

But Desiree Barrett didn’t stop there.

She also dusted off the recipe for an old favorite enjoyed by the countless children who went to the Old Maroa Grade School — peanut butter pie. “Even people who don’t have a sweet tooth like it,” Peters said.

Such are among the preparations under way by members of Fall In Love With Maroa to bring back the community’s Taste of Chocolate buffet next weekend after a one-year hiatus.

“It’s such a wonderful thing for the town,” Barrett said.

The women of Maroa Christian Church sponsored Taste of Chocolate for seven consecutive years, the last time in 2011 by teaming up with women from Maroa United Methodist Church.

Local congregations are planning to donate cookies this year, too, with eight women from Harvest Community Church planning to get together in Forsyth beforehand for a bake-a-thon.

“We’re just going to go for it,” said Anna Vest, who said she just might re-create the cookies she used to offer her two daughters before going to school. “They didn’t like to get up early enough to eat breakfast.”

She said her breakfast cookies were essentially oatmeal cookies with crushed banana, peanut butter and chocolate chips added in.

As always, Taste of Chocolate will also feature a silent auction in addition to a buffet of chocolate goodies to sample and vote on.

Contestants interested in competing to become Chocolatier of the Year and win $50 must register no later than Thursday and may do so by going to the event’s Facebook page or by contacting Barrett.

Proceeds will benefit local nonprofits.


If you go

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9

WHERE: Maroa Community Center gymnasium, 120 S. Locust St.

ENTERTAINMENT: Pianist Dennis Streight, Decatur Chordsmen

TICKETS: $9 at the door, $7 in advance at Scott State Bank and Jarvis & Ellis Insurance, both in Maroa, or Illini Supply in Forsyth.

FOR MORE: Contact Desiree Barrett at barrett423@yahoo.

com or 855-0141.



No-bake cookies

2 cups sugar

1 stick butter

½ cup milk

¼ cup cocoa

½ cup creamy peanut butter

3 cups quick-cook oats

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, milk and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to boil for one minute. Remove from heat and mix in peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and let cool.

Makes three dozen.

Chocolate marshmallow clusters

1 stick butter

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 6-ounce package of butterscotch chips

1 12-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup peanuts

1 10.5-ounce bag of mini marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine butter and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in butterscotch and chocolate chips until melted. Then mix in peanuts, marshmallows and vanilla and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let them set. Cookies may be stored covered in refrigerator for several days.

Makes four dozen.

Chocolate mint cookies

¾ cup butter

1½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

2½ cups flour

1¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 28-count packages mints

Heat butter, sugar and water in saucepan until melted. Remove from heat and mix in chocolate chips until melted. Cool 10 minutes. Once cool, pour mixture into a large bowl and beat in eggs, one at a time. Combine flour, soda and salt and stir into chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place two inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees and no longer. After removing cookies from oven, wait one minute and press one mint into the center of each cookie.

Makes four dozen.

Old Maroa Grade School Peanut Butter Pie

1¼ cup graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

½ cup creamy peanut butter

1 small package instant chocolate pudding

1 8-ounce tub whipped topping

Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, butter and peanut butter together (mixture will be crumbly) and pat into a 9-by-9-inch pan. Mix pudding according to box directions and pour over crust. Top with whipped topping.

Makes nine servings.|421-7978

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