Peanut Butter Buckeyes
• 1 ½ cup (9.5 oz) smooth peanut butter
• ½ cup (4 oz, or 1 stick) butter, room temperature
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 16 oz (1 standard box) powdered sugar
• 10-12 oz (1 standard bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 tbsp shortening
1. Mix peanut butter, vanilla extract, sugar, and butter in a stand mixer until smooth. Go slow, or else you’ll wind up powdering the entire kitchen with sugar. Once thoroughly combined, shape into approximately 1” balls. Put them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and place in the refrigerator until chilled and firm.
2. Melt chocolate with shortening – a double boiler rig is best, but the microwave works fine, too – just check and stir frequently. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate so that ¾ of each ball is coated. If the peanut butter mix is very stiff, you can lift them out of the chocolate with a toothpick stuck directly into the center of the exposed part; if not, lift them out with a fork – the chocolate will be warm enough that it won’t leave tine marks. Place the buckeyes back on wax-paper lined baking sheets and return to refrigerator until thoroughly chilled and chocolate shell has firmed up.
The name refers to the nut of the Aesculus Glabra – the Ohio Buckeye tree. They bear a striking resemblance. I’ve also heard them called Bullseyes, which seems kind like a boring generalization for all those people who’ve never seen a buckeye before. And some people just coat them completely with chocolate, finding it easier than trying to just leave a little bit exposed. Also boring.
Don’t use natural peanut-butter here. This is one of those times where the highly processed food is your friend. Natural peanut butter doesn’t have any sugar or stabilizers in it, and that’s going to make for a much smoother, tastier confection. If you use natural peanut butter, it’ll be grainy and oily, and you will need to add even more powdered sugar, and you’ll have to do it by feel because I have no idea exactly how much sugar’s already in it. Trust me – a little bit of regular peanut butter won’t hurt you – it’s a treat!
You may see some recipes that call for adding Rice Krispies for added crunch. Don’t do it. I used to, and it wasn’t until I stopped that I realized what was wrong with my buckeyes – the Rice Krispies go stale and soggy. Instead of a light crispness, you get a mealy crunch.
Why the shortening in the chocolate? Well, a few reasons. One, it’ll make your chocolate easier to work with, less prone to breaking, etc… it will also add a pleasant sheen to the finished product, and it will help the chocolate set in the fridge. Again, you can use butter or lard as a replacement. I used to use a little bit of paraffin wax, which achieved the same effect and gave it a very glossy finish. A tiny bit of wax doesn’t hurt anything, especially if it’s food-grade, but after a while I figured, why buy one more ingredient when I already have butter or some other solid fat handy. If you don’t have anything to spare, don’t worry – just melting the chocolate and using as is will be fine. If you like more chocolate, double dip the balls.
Pairs Well With
This is my Aunt Bobbi's recipe - far superior to the original version I used to use, not so much for what it adds but for what it leaves out. No add-ons, no trying to make it fancy. It's just pure peanut-buttery goodness. This is the type of confection that's great to have in your repertoire because it's not a cookie, it's not a candy - it's somewhere in between. AND - you may very well be able to whip up a batch right now using what you already have in your pantry.