In June I am moving to Ohio because my husband is going to start medical school at Ohio State University. To celebrate I made these tasty little confections. They are called buckeye’s because they look so much like the nut from the Ohio Buckeye Tree. They are deep brown with a little circle of light brown peeking through.
And not only is this nut from the Ohio state tree, it is also the mascot of Ohio State! The Ohio State Buckeyes. (My husband and I have had some really weird mascots in our time: First “Diggers” and now “Buckeyes”. A potato/beet digger and a nut? ) The guy in the costume at games is Brutus Buckeye and he is actually a man with a Buckeye nut for a head.
The actual nut, also called a horse chestnut, is not actually edible, but known as a good luck charm. These tasty little candies are however, very edible. Many people in the far east and western states (and I daresay, other countries) have never heard of them, but they are quite well known in Ohio. The only reason I know about them is because I have a friend from college who was from Columbus, Ohio, and she made them and let us try them. I recently got a book called Baked Explorations that is full of regional treats and desserts and it contains a lovely recipe for Buckeye’s.
- 1/4 C. cream cheese
- 1 1/ C. peanut butter
- 1 C. graham cracker crumbs
- 3 C. powdered sugar
- 10 TBSP (1 1/4 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
- 12 oz. good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for about 10 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and butter on low speed for a little bit so that the powdered sugar doesn’t spray every where. Slowly increase the speed until it is combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom and mix again. Don’t worry, it will feel kind of dry and a bit crumbly.
2. Set the peanut butter aside and start to melt the chocolate. Ok. Let me tell you a little something about melting the chocolate. I decided to skip the step of melting the chocolate over the double boiler and just microwave it. I had poor quality milk chocolate chips and rater than melting, it melted a little and then started clumping together. The more I cooked it the harder it got. So I decided to go get some good dark chocolate and melt it in a bowl, over a pot of boiling water. This worked great because it melts it slower (using a microwave can also burn the chocolate if you aren’t careful to stir it every 30 seconds or so). The double boiler also keeps the chocolate melted. In making buckeyes’ the most important thing is getting the chocolate melted nicely in a wide enough bowl so you have room to work. The recipe says to pour it into a small, deep bowl, but I found that very difficult to work with and I had better luck with a more shallow wide bowl. It is really your choice.
3. Shape the peanut butter centers. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than a Tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball. A small ice cream scoop can help to get uniform balls. Place the balls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
4. One by one dip each ball into the chocolate. You could stick them with a fork or skewer to dip them and cover the holes after dipping. I found it easier to just use two forks to set the peanut butter balls into the chocolate and lift them out from the bottom. That is why is was easier for me to just use a more shallow wide bowl. Swish the ball around in the chocolate so most of it is covered, but still leave a circle open at the top. Set them back on the parchment paper and let the chocolate harden. To speed this up, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Note: These babies will keep for about 3 or 4 days in the fridge. This recipe is great for parties because it makes a lot and they can be passed around and eaten with your fingers. And you can make them ahead of time so there is less stress in party-prep.