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Monster Eyeballs

['1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter', '1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature', '"1 (1-pound) package confectioners sugar (about 4 cups)", 1 teaspoon vanilla extract', '1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)', '2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening', '1 (3-ounce) package miniature M&Ms;']

1. Blend the peanut butter with the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. It may be easiest to use your hands (kids love doing this).
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture by teaspoons into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the eyeballs.
3. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it's not quite smooth, heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)
4. Take the sheet of balls from the refrigerator; use a fork or a toothpick to dip each one most of the way into the chocolate, leaving a round or oval opening of undipped peanut butter on top. (This opening in the chocolate will be the cornea.) Hold each ball over the chocolate to catch the drips, and then return to the wax paper, cornea side up.
5. Place an M&M; in the center of the peanut butter cornea to make an iris. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store the eyeballs in the refrigerator or freezer and serve chilled.

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