Before I was old enough to study Ohio history in the fourth grade, I learned to make buckeyes. I have used one, consistent, simple recipe that has produced what I believe (for my general cooking and baking skills) is a quality product.
I have found that despite their simplicity, buckeyes tend to pose a lot of issues for those making them. The buckeyes turn out too sweet, too hard, or just plain weird. I suppose there is a small bit of science to making these things. So if you don’t mind lowering your culinary standards and raising your glycemic index a bit, roll up your sleeves and get ready to experiment.
The Best Damn Buckeye Recipe in the Land: your definitive guide to making buckeye candy.
You will need:
Some butter-like spread
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
A couple of other things I’ll mention later.
STEP 1: The first step in which you are likely to make a mistake is choosing peanut butter—because you care about quality. Do not make this mistake. Get yourself some nice, processed, run-of-the-mill peanut butter. I recommend Jif. For butter-like spread, I recommend Country Crock. Avoid anything that says “whipped” or “sea salt” or “olive oil” on the container, or comes wrapped as a stick. They just will not yield the correct texture.
Mix these two ingredients in a 1 unit of spread to 2 units of peanut butter ratio until they are indistinguishable from each other. (I have used this method to make all of three buckeyes at one time.) It is convenient that you can often find these two ingredients already packaged in a close 1:2 ratio. It’s all a matter of how many you want to make.
STEP 2: Have yourself an ample supply of confectioner’s sugar on hand and gradually blend it into the peanut butter/spread mixture. If you care deeply about what your buckeyes will look like, sift in the sugar. If you don’t, just dump it in. Try about a half a cup at a time.
After quite a few cups, you will notice that your arm hurts. You can stop for a while, but you need to mix in enough sugar so that the consistency of the mixture is like cookie dough (at room temperature). You will find that this process always seems to require a somewhat different amount of sugar each time you mix it. Do a taste test now. You want to avoid overly sweet, crumbly, or sticky. Moderately greasy to the touch is what you’re going for. If for some reason you have overdone it on the sugar, add in another batch of peanut butter/spread mix until you get the correct consistency.
STEP 3: Take a regular spoon and clean hands and roll a little less than a spoonful into a little ball, about the size of a buckeye, which is smaller than a ping pong ball and larger than a gumdrop. If you have a melon baller, it will help. Place your rolled buckeyes on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan and stick them in the freezer for at least thirty minutes.
STEP 4: Make yourself a double boiler from a pot and a metal bowl that will fit snugly inside it. Fill the bottom of the pot with water, put the bowl on top, and put both on the stovetop with the heat on low. Start gradually melting your chocolate chips. Do not be tempted to use milk chocolate chips, even if you love milk chocolate. Do not be tempted to use dark chocolate, even if you think it’s healthier. (What about this recipe has been healthy so far?)
As you slowly stir your chips to make sure they don’t burn, you will need to add a few small chunks of para n, about an ounce for every 12 ounces of chips. I’m sure I will lose a few of you at this point, but I assure you this is a good and right thing which is used frequently in candymaking. The high fat content of the buckeye will eventually leach into the chocolate coating, turning your beautiful confections (and your clothes) into mini disasters of smeared chocolate. Fortunately, parafin is hard at room temperature, and assures your chocolate will be too.
STEP 5: When your chocolate is smooth (parafin helps with that too), remove your ready-to-dip buckeyes from the freezer a few at a time to prevent them from thawing. Find something to spear your buckeyes with: a skewer, toothpicks, an unbent jumbo paper clip, and start dipping. Obviously, you leave the top exposed to create the appearance of the tree nut. Have a sheet of aluminum foil (or parchment paper) ready to put your dipped buckeyes on. (They’ll drip a lot, so keep it close.) Your buckeyes are ready when they easily peel away from the foil.
And that’s it. After you’ve cleaned up and made yourself an aluminum foil hat, you can freeze your buckeyes for damn near eternity, take them to a tailgate, or feed them to your friends from California who will pretend to not like them. And enjoy. They’re a state treasure, now in your kitchen and you should be proud.
This recipe has been approved by the 614 office staff for general tailgating, party, and stress relief use.