fully dressed little peanut butter buckeyes
Candy was an obsession in our house when we were kids. We were allowed to buy candy with our allowance, but there was rarely any sweet stuff purchased by our mom; Brach’s bridge mix was for, well, Bridge games. On New Year’s Eve we had thin mints, or should I say we were allowed a thin mint or two because they belonged to the Ad Man. Other times of the year there might be a box of thin mints and each of us got really clever with sliding them around to make the box look full even after we snitched more than our fair share.
Halloween was the most important holiday of the year and none of us failed to fill up pillowcases filled with goodies. Apples, usually beyond bruised and sticky boxes of raisins were deposited into the kitchen, but no one ate those things. I’m sure my mom made pie eventually. We were only interested in the good stuff which would have been enormous (by today’s standards) chocolate bars and peanut butter cups.
At an early age I fell in love with the partnership of anything peanut butter and chocolate. It was limited to a scoop of peanut butter from the jar and some random chocolate chips or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups when I could afford them with my allowance.
Syracuse is not all that far from Ohio yet I never knew buckeye was anything but a tree thing until I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen (buckeyes) . I had to try these things. And I certainly wondered why no one around me ever knew about these little candies.
How did this confection remain off my sweet tooth radar? For God’s sake – it has peanut butter and chocolate, two of the holy grail candy ingredients.
Smitten Kitchen was borrowing from the Baked boys and that version has cream cheese and graham cracker crumbs; gluten-free graham crackers (necessary for me) are not trivial to make or have on hand – and the flavor is not the same.
A Google search came up with a zillion recipes and mixed reviews as well as several more techniques. Overwhelmed, I made good use (finally) of social networking. I used Facebook to query my friends and asked one in particular who is from Ohio what she knew about buckeyes and where to score some. My logic was simple. If there was a Ohio candy maker similar to Sees Candy, then they might sell Buckeyes. Tasting an authentic version would be a great start.
Turns out there were two candy makers (here and here ) recommended but by the time I put the inexpensive item in the cart and figured out that shipping cost as much as the item, I was tired, defeated and ready to let it slide; nothing like the chill of spending 2x on a product that costs far less to buy and even less to make in your own kitchen.
A few days later, the peanut butter/chocolate combination just wore me down and was invading my dreams. I began the search again. I knew I didn’t want graham cracker crumbs in there – that the first time around must be true to the original. Searching again, I found some more recipes, but again with mixed reviews. I tried to see what the common complaints were and it turned out to be rather simple. People had an expectation that mixing up butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar and flavoring and covering it with chocolate could be done by a door knob.
Guess what? Even the most simple looking confection requires skill, practice, and attention to detail. Chocolate seizes – it doesn’t harden, or the inside mixture crumbles if too dry, or oozes condensation if too wet and messes with the chocolate coating. All things chemistry have to coincide to make it work. Though it isn’t rocket science, it is the kind of thing that takes a bit practice and patience. All you have to do is cruise through the photos of the finished Buckeyes to know who practiced making the confection and who just er, threw it together and called it a success.
I am still hoping that someone out there who has been making these for a long time and knows what they ought to look like, taste like and how they should look each step of the way comes along and sets me straight. I’d really love to know because, well, peanut butter, chocolate and I – we have a relationship that I’d like to nurture.
I might find darker creamy peanut butter next time. When the ingredient list is that small, the main character, peanut butter, needs to be stellar and taste deeply roasted. I used organic (ordinary) peanut butter from Whole Paycheck and it isn’t peanut-ty enough. But that might just be me.
Be careful. They’re addictive.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Buckeyes
- 3 cups sifted organic powdered sugar
- 1.5 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon flaked salt (you want salt that will dissolve)
- 1 bag (12 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon Crisco or other shortening
Prepare a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. Sift the sugar into a large mixing bowl (I used a stand-mixer). Drop in the peanut butter and butter. Set the mixer on low until the sugar is incorporated and then turn it up just until everything it fully mixed. With the mixer running slowly add in the salt and vanilla.
Using a tablespoon scoop, place on the cookie sheet until you’ve used all the mixture. Form into round balls. Keep your hands clean and a little moist with water and the rolling will go smoothly. If you start to build up the mixture on your hands, the balls will get slightly linty (see photo).
Once done, set the pan in the freezer. You can leave it overnight but you will want to cover it with foil. Meantime, in a small bowl over a tiny simmer of water melt the chocolate with the Crisco. Once melted, stir until fully dissolved.
Using toothpicks or forks, dip each frozen peanut butter ball into the chocolate, let it drip a bit and place on the frozen cookie sheet. It helps set the chocolate faster. Either cover them entirely with chocolate or just leave a little “buckeye” peeking out.
Freeze, or at least refrigerate. And serve cold – straight from the freezer or refrigerator.