I REALLY wanted to pull out those old maternity pants this weekend – you know the ones? The pants with the wonderful elastic waistband that even when you could fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans, you didn’t want to give up the eating freedom afforded you by those stretchy lovelies.
After a Christmas filled with wonderful treats and old-time cookies, we drove down to my dad’s for a three day visit. I can sum up our activities like this: Sleep, coffee, eat, play with blocks, more coffee, Little Mermaid (for the 10th time), eat, decaf coffee, nap, more Little Mermaid, eat, wine, sleep. It was WONDERFULLY relaxing! However, those activities do nothing to silence the voice inside that is screaming “JUST BRING OUT THE ELASTIC WAISTBAND!!!” (on a complete side note, my dad and his wife recently purchased this coffee machine. Let me just say, it makes me want to drink my coffee black and that NEVER happens. SO GOOD!!!)
Okay – so on to the recipe that pushed me over the sweet edge – the Buckeye. Called Ohio’s unofficial state candy, most cooks leave a small peanut butter peep hole showing at the top so that the candy resembles a real buckeye nut. I had no problems eating several of these at once as the old-school recipe was modified by BAKED. Their version is less sweet and very delicious.
In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese and peanut butter. Add in graham cracker crumbs and mix until completely incorporated. Next, add in the powdered sugar and butter. (Be careful here to start the speed on low so your powdered sugar doesn’t go flying all over kitchen. I think spilled powdered sugar is even worse to clean up than flour.)
(I tried to capture a photo of the complete peanut butter mixture, but the light in my kitchen is terrible and it didn’t look as delicious as it tasted – not that I tried any.)
Set the peanut butter mixture aside while you get the chocolate ready. At this point, you can choose to temper your chocolate one of two ways, using a microwave or a saucepan on the stove (both methods described in detail here). I chose the microwave method as I was tempering a small amount of chocolate and to be honest, I was in a hurry. The quick description is that you hold back a small portion of the chocolate from the microwave and using small increments of time to prevent overheating the chocolate (30 second intervals), microwave the larger portion or chocolate until it is all melted, stirring after each segment of time. Once the chocolate is ready, stir in your reserved chocolate. The act of stirring in the cold chocolate into the warm melted chocolate will bring the chocolate down in temperature and “temper” it in the process.
Once your chocolate is ready (or before you even start to melt it), use a cookie scoop to scoop out your peanut butter batter into uniform balls. I flattened out the scoop against the side of the bowl for each ball so I could be sure they were fairly close in size. Roll the balls between the palms of your hand to smooth out the exterior of the ball.
Once all your balls are formed, you are ready to start dipping! The method for dipping the balls that worked best for me involved a toothpick and a twist. I stuck the toothpick almost all the way to the bottom of the ball, dipped it quickly into the chocolate, and then lifted it onto it’s side so the chocolate could drip off back into the bowl. (If you leave too much chocolate on the ball, it will form into a disk at the bottom of the ball once it cools – it is still super tasty, but it doesn’t look quite as charming.)
Technique hint – I waited one second before attempting to pull out the toothpick. It allowed the chocolate to settle on the silpat and create enough resistance so I wasn’t pulling up the entire ball again. See my one chocolate ball below? That is what too much chocolate looks like.
Once you are all done dipping your Buckeyes, go back and gently pinch/pat the top to close the hole created by the toothpick. You could also leave the toothpick in and serve them that way! (as you can see, I wasn’t good about letting the chocolate drip back into the bowl – I have a problem with patience when it comes to candy-making.)
Set the completed tray into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Once they are set, you just have to keep yourself (or those in your household) from eating them all before they make their way onto your Christmas platter. They are WAY too easy to just pop in your mouth. ENJOY!
adapted from BAKED Explorations
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup crushed graham crackers
3 cups powdered sugar
10 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 oz dark chocolate (60-72% cocoa), chopped (I used the Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with a silpat or parchment paper.
Peanut Butter insides: Using a standing mixer and a paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add in the graham cracker crumbs and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the melted butter and powdered sugar. Once ready, the peanut butter mixture will be dense and somewhat dry.
You can either temper your chocolate now or wait until you form the balls.
Chocolate exterior: Temper your chocolate either in the microwave (my method) or on the stove. Once your chocolate is ready, use a cookie scoop to form uniform peanut butter balls, rolling them in your hands after scooping them out to smooth out their exterior for dipping. Once all the balls are formed, use a toothpick to dip them into the chocolate, leaving a small section of peanut butter showing at the top of the ball.
Chill the buckeyes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week – if any of them make it out alive.
What is your favorite homemade Christmas Candy and do you have your own version of this chocolate/peanut butter confection? (I’ve made one before that has paraffin added to the chocolate for shine!)