We had the pleasure of a visit recently from our dear friends Bill and Wilma. The main reason for their trip from sunny south Florida was to attend the wedding of a friend’s son. Along with wedding festivities, they spent time enjoying some Bucks County sightseeing, dining and spending time with friends, including us. Wilma was also fortunate enough to get excellent tickets to see her beloved Ohio State Buckeyes football team play Penn State on their home field in Columbus Ohio.
The Ohio Buckeye is one of 13 tree species of the genus Aesculus, also known as buckeye or horse chestnut and the state tree of Ohio. Ohio State adopted the buckeye as its official nickname in 1950 though it had been in common use for many years before. The name came about because the nuts of the tree are shiny dark brown with light tan patches resembling the eyes of a deer, a buck eye. The nuts are inedible but folklore says carrying one in your pocket wards off bad luck.
Though the buckeye nut is “mildly” poisonous, its namesake confection is quite delicious. Buckeye candy has a peanut butter fudge like filling that is partially dipped in melted chocolate, leaving a circle or “eye” of peanut butter visible. They are very easy to make and you may already have the ingredients in your pantry. The first step is to combine peanut butter, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.
The most time-consuming, but not hard, part of the process is rolling the peanut butter mixture into balls. Give the balls a short chill in the freezer to firm them up before the next step. Melt chocolate, morsels are fine, with a tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil. Adding a little oil makes the chocolate glossier and makes the buckeyes firmer when they’re outside the fridge.
Stick a toothpick into a peanut butter ball and give it a generous dunk in the chocolate. Don’t submerge it, leave the top quarter undipped. This spot is what makes a buckeye a Buckeye! Transfer the buckeyes to the prepared baking sheet. Pull out the toothpick and carefully smooth over the hole. Chill the buckeyes overnight in the fridge for the best results. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The game? Ohio State pulled off an exciting fourth quarter come from behind win beating Penn State, final score 39-38.
Makes about 30 pieces
- 2 c confectioners’ sugar
- 1 c smooth sweetened peanut butter
- 4 T melted unsalted butter
- 1 t vanilla extract
- ¾ t kosher salt
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 1 T coconut oil
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt until smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.
- Portion the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. Roll the balls into neat circles between your palms. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
- At the end of the chilling time, prepare the chocolate. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in short bursts, stirring often. If the chocolate becomes too thick during the dipping process, it can be liquefied again in the microwave.
- Use a toothpick to skewer one ball at a time, and dip it into the melted chocolate, leaving a small circle of the peanut butter mixture exposed at the top and allowing any excess chocolate to drip into the bowl. Transfer buckeyes to the prepared baking sheet and remove the toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining balls, returning them to the freezer for a few minutes if they become too soft to work with. Smooth over the holes left by the toothpick with a small offset spatula or your finger. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes but if you can, overnight is best.