Until recently, the word “buckeye” was only associated with Ohio as it’s stately nickname for me. Imagine my surprise when I found that it’s also another term for the wonderful little chestnut! However, when referring to “buckeyes” for food, it actually has little to do with the actual nut, and more to do with a sweet confection that simply resembles a chestnut.
You see, buckeyes as food are a candy of sweetened rolled peanut butter balls that are then dipped into melted chocolate. They are one of America’s favorite sweet and savory combinations turned into a fun edible representation of the fruit from Ohio’s state tree. They are also ridiculously addictive and it’s hard to just stop at one or two!
For most recipes pertaining to buckeye candy, they recommend a smooth pre made peanut butter, a lot of extra sugar, and milk chocolate. This recipe doesn’t follow those rules.
These buckeyes are made with homemade roasted peanut butter and a bit of ground cinnamon to give it a depth of flavor that only cinnamon can. The cinnamon also provides a benefit by helping to regular blood sugar and a bit of antioxidants, among other things. Did I mention it makes the peanut butter taste amazing?
Dark chocolate is substituted for milk chocolate to counter the sweetness from the brown sugar and powdered sugar used in the peanut butter. Of course we all know that dark chocolate comes with some health benefits as well like mood lifting, heart health, and brain function. Combined with the cinnamon peanut butter, you’ve got a recipe that is not only a delicious little snack, but has less to be guilty about when indulging!
Whipping up a batch of these buckeyes to consume at home and share with friends and family is also an easy, though a slightly time consuming endeavor, but so worth the effort, so let’s get started!
Dark Chocolate Buckeye Candies with Homemade Peanut Butter
- 2 cups shelled roasted peanuts
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 4 ounces dark chocolate
Place the peanuts into the container of a food processor. Add in the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Put the food processor container onto it’s base and blend for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the lid and scrape the sides of the food processor with a spoon. Blend again until the chunks are close to smooth. Add the powdered sugar to the peanut butter and blend again until no chunks or pieces are left.
Transfer the peanut butter to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the peanut butter from the refrigerator. Using a teaspoon, scoop out enough peanut butter to form a small ball. Dust your hands with powdered sugar and roll the ball around between your palms to form a small ball and set it on a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the peanut butter.
Transfer the peanut butter balls back into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
Fill a small saucepan about half way full with water. Put it on the stove top over medium heat
Place a clean heat safe bowl on top of the pan. Break the chocolate into pieces and put it in the bowl. Allow it to slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a whisk as it does. Continue until all the chocolate has melted down and become smooth when stirred; approximately 10-12 minutes.
Remove the peanut butter balls from the refrigerator. Using a toothpick, pierce the peanut butter and dip them into the melted chocolate making sure that all but a small circle on top of the ball is covered completely. Place the finished buckeye onto a clean sheet of parchment paper and smooth the hole from the toothpick out. Repeat with the rest of the peanut butter balls and chocolate.
Transfer the buckeyes to the refrigerator to cool and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate has firmed up, place the candies in a seal-able container and keep in the refrigerator for a week.
This recipe can be done without the homemade peanut butter, but it really should be. The roasted peanuts freshly ground down into the butter with the cinnamon really makes the recipe pop.
STEP ONE – PREPARE THE PEANUTS
Transfer the shelled roasted peanuts into the bowl of a food processor and add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
STEP TWO – MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER
Place the container on the base of the food processor and blend a couple of minutes. Scrape the sides down with a spoon or rubber spatula and blend again. Continue to do this until the peanut butter is almost smooth.
Add the powdered sugar and blend again until it’s smoothed out, less gooey, and has pulled together better to make it easier to handle.
STEP THREE – CHILL THE PEANUT BUTTER
Scrap the peanut butter out of the food processor and transfer it to a bowl. Cover it and refrigerate for about an hour.
STEP FOUR – MAKE PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
Line a plate with parchment paper.
Remove the peanut butter from the fridge, dust both hands with powdered sugar to keep the peanut butter from sticking. Scoop out spoonfuls of peanut butter, about the size of a chestnut, and roll them into small balls. Place each ball onto the plate when finished rolling them.
STEP FIVE – CHILL THE PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
Return the peanut butter balls to the refrigerator to chill for an hour and melt the chocolate.
STEP SIX – MELT THE CHOCOLATE
About 15-20 minutes before time to take out the peanut butter balls, melt the chocolate.
Place a small saucepan about half full of water on a stove top burner over medium heat. Put a heat safe bowl that has a bottom, one that can fit in the top of the pan but doesn’t touch the water, on top of it.
Break the chocolate into pieces and put it in the bowl and allow it to slowly heat and melt, stirring occasionally. Let it cook down until smooth and completely melted. Turn off the heat.
STEP SEVEN – MAKE THE BUCKEYE CANDIES
Take the peanut butter balls out of the refrigerator and line another plate with parchment paper.
Pick up each ball with a toothpick inserted into the top and dip them into the melted chocolate one at a time, keeping a circle of peanut butter visible around the toothpick about the size of a nickel so that the candy resembles a chestnut.
Place each dipped ball onto the plate with the clean parchment paper, making certain that none of them touch. Smooth over the toothpick holes when finished.
STEP EIGHT – LET THE BUCKEYE CANDIES HARDEN
Return the finished buckeyes to the refrigerator to let the chocolate harden around them. These will stay good for at least a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
What are your thoughts on this delightful candy? Did you make your own peanut butter, or do you prefer a specific kind in your recipe?
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.