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~ Confection Perfection: Teresa's Buckeye Candies ~

IMG_8066The clock is ticking down to Christmas Eve, and, if you find yourself in need of a last-minute, easy-to-prepare sweet-treat that everyone will love, this is the recipe for you.  It doesn't require any special equipment, it doesn't have to be baked, and, you probably have the ingredients on-hand in your pantry.  My first encounter with buckeye candy (which are little, round peanut butter balls dipped into chocolate) was in the first grade.  Mrs. Gordon would make them and bring them into our classroom for birthday parties and holiday celebrations.  Us kids loved them. Those were the good old days, before anyone ever heard of an allergy to peanuts!

IMG_4380Over the years, I've tasted buckeye candy here and there, but never a version that inspired me enough to ask for the recipe.  Why?  In some instances, they're just a mediocre imitation of the Reese's peanut butter cup.  Why would I want to make buckeyes when I keep a stash of Reese's in my freezer?  In other instances, they contain so much powdered sugar they give me a headache.  As for those that contain cream cheese in the quest for creaminess? No thank you.

Enter:   Teresa Gottier, a pastry chef from Ohio who became a foodie Facebook friend of mine several months ago.  The more Teresa and I chat, the more I find we have in common.  She is knowledgeable (always willing to share and contribute what she knows), particular and precise (always doing her best to tolerate those who are not), and, funny as hell (but never mean or arrogant).  Back in mid-October (when PSU was playing OSU) we two got into a discussion about buckeye candy.  I gave her my thoughts on buckeyes, and, she gave me her buckeye recipe. Hers is the recipe that has eluded me for so many years, and, hers is now yours too!

51rB-qAnwbL._SX355_A bit about buckeyes:  The buckeye is a tree, native to the Ohio River Valley whose shiny, inedible but pretty to look at brown nuts, with tan patches in the center resemble the eye of a deer. Folk lore has it that carrying one in your pocket will bring good luck.  When peanut butter became popular in the early 20th century, it's easy to see how some savvy Ohio dessert lover came up with dipping it into chocolate to create "buckeye candy"!

Teresa's Buckeye Candies!

As per Teresa:  "I'm sure you know this, but I want everyone to know, the quality of the chocolate and the peanut butter are everything to this confection.  I use natural, organic peanut butter (for strong, peanutty flavor and creaminess) and add sea salt to taste, as if I were salting for general purposes. Traditionally, buckeyes are made with semi-sweet chocolate, but I think peanut butter and milk chocolate to be the perfect marriage.  I add just a bit of dark chocolate to the milk chocolate, which enhances the flavor and decreases the sweetness.  I find most buckeye recipes too dry and overly sweet.  I decreased the powdered sugar, which also makes them less chalky. And, lest we forget:  nothing is "way more gooder" than a high-quality vanilla extract!"

IMG_791312  ounces all-natural, creamy peanut butter (1 1/2 cups)

2  ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (1/2 stick)

1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt (omit if peanut butter contains salt)

1/2  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8  ounces confectioners' sugar

10  ounces milk chocolate

5  ounces bittersweet chocolate

IMG_7923 IMG_7922~ Step 1.  In a large mixing bowl, over medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the peanut butter, butter and salt (if you are using salt), until butter is thoroughly incorporated and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.

IMG_7935 IMG_7930                                               ~ Step 2. Add vanilla, then sugar. Starting on low speed of mixer, gradually increasing to medium, combine until a cookie-type dough forms, about 2-3 minutes.  Use a large rubber spatula while mixing to scrape down the sides of the bowl until ingredients are incorporated and bowl looks "clean".

IMG_7944~ Step 3.  Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure (about 2 teaspoons), portion and place, well-apart, on baking pan.  Pick each scoop up, and, using a light touch, roll into a ball and place it back on the pan.

Note:  If you don't have a small scoop, just roll the mixture into 36 even-sized balls!

IMG_7949~ Step 4.  Place pan, uncovered, into freezer for about 1 hour.


~ Step 5.  Chop or break your chocolate into pieces, placing them in the top of a double boiler as you work.  In the bottom of the double boiler, place about 1 " of water.

Note:  I have a small, deep, double boiler designed for dipping "stuff" into melted chocolate.  If you do not, melt the chocolate in any type of double boiler.  Transfer it to a small, deep bowl.  The depth of the melted chocolate is important to dipping the balls appropriately (so they look like buckeyes after dipping).

IMG_7984~ Step 6. Bring the water to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, and, stirring almost constantly melt the chocolate.

IMG_8014 IMG_8011~ Step 7. Using a metal cake tester, poke and dip each ball into the melted chocolate, leaving  a portion of the top exposed.  Allow excess chocolate to drain off, then return buckeye to the very cold pan.

IMG_8040~ Step 8.  After all are dipped, using your fingertip, close the little hole in tops (made by the cake tester). Refrigerate until well-set, for several hours or overnight. Overnight is best.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.

Note:  Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Holy, Wonderful, Creamy, Chocolately, Christmas Candy!!!

IMG_8085Confection Perfection:  Teresa's Buckeye Candies:  Recipe yields 3 dozen bite-sized buckeye candies.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop; double boiler; cake tester or a 4"-6" wooden skewer 

IMG_4447Cook's note:  For another peanut butter and chocolate "fix", my recipe for ~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie ~ can be found in Categories 6, 11, 15, 22.  Happy Holidays!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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