A healthy candy? Hmmm…. maybe a healthi-ER candy. And what’s the connection between this girl from the Bronx transplanted to Los Angeles and Columbus? Sit back, and I’ll tell you.
Buckeyes are the proud team of Ohio State University where my beloved niece and her hubby completed their residencies. Beloved Niece has been a bit occupied these days. She’s a pediatrician and is Mama to two dear boys, the Elder- who is 2+ years-old, and the Younger who is 2+ months old. Her Hubby just completed his residency and was offered a fellowship in California. It’s in the middle of the state, but, Hurray, they’re heading back this way!!
Novio and I went to Columbus several weeks ago to visit the family. The children are beautiful, delightful and delicious. While we were there, it was the peak of spring. Flowers blooming, the trees vibrant and plush with leaves, people walking everywhere with their babies and dogs. Okay, the pollen was wafting by in the breeze, big as dandelion clusters. But, I was sitting outside with Beloved Niece and 3 guys, where most of us were eating Pancake Balls (addictive) and several other items, and I began to feel nostalgic.
Ohio has been good to Beloved Niece. She became a pediatrician there. The family lived in a sweet house in a sweet neighborhood there. And she brought 2 beautiful little boys into this world there. Not to mention the best ice cream ever was a mile away (Go Graeter’s!).
So, to honor Ohio and to offer my thanks, I present to you a natural version of Buckeye Candies. The candy is made to resemble the nut from a buckeye tree. It’s brown on the bottom and sandy-colored on top. To achieve that, we basically do a version of a peanut butter cup. What can be bad? And it’s very simple and fun to do. I’m giving you a recipe for about 30 pieces that can easily be doubled or quadrupled.
I start by using 100% natural freshly-made peanut butter from Whole Foods. It’s got great flavor and consistency and, unlike most natural peanut butters, the oil doesn’t separate. Most of the recipes out there use processed peanut butter (smooth). We also use sweet unsalted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and good quality chocolate. I used semi-sweet, but you can also try it with bittersweet chocolate.The recipes I looked at all used more butter and a LOT more powdered sugar. The goal is to add just enough powdered sugar to take the mixture from crumbly to a cohesive mass. Some of the recipes I saw used up to 6 cups of sugar for 1 cup of peanut butter! Ouch! Just not worth it to make very firm little balls. A softer product works really well. And I like them cold anyway. I’ve eaten a few frozen and melt them in my mouth, which is great fun too.
Pull off small amounts and form into little balls, about an inch in diameter. Stick a little toothpick into each one. Place in freezer for about half hour to an hour to set (nothing will happen if you forget for a while)
Now it’s time to melt the chocolate, either using a double boiler or 1/2 a minute at a time for about 1-1 1/2 minutes at medium power in the microwave. Use a shallow bowl to make the dipping process easy and stir well to be sure chocolate is thoroughly melted.
Leave a bit of the peanut butter showing for the buckeye effect!
Dippity-doo- dah Dippity Day!
6 oz. natural peanut butter (use a type where oil doesn’t separate, if available)
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar (or just enough for it to come together as a firm ball)
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (bittersweet chocolate also works)
Place waxed paper or parchment paper on baking sheet.
Beat peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt with a wooden spoon (you can also use a mixer, especially if you’re making a larger amount).
Add the confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will go from crumbly to coming together into a ball.With a tablespoon or your fingers, pull off a small amount and roll into balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Gently place a toothpick into the top center of each ball. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Break the chocolate or chop into small pieces. Place in a shallow microwave-safe bowl (glass works well). Microwave in 1/2 minute increments, at medium power. Stir in between until chocolate is completely melted, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove peanut butter balls from freezer. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate, leaving some peanut butter visible on top. Let excess chocolate drip off and return candy to baking sheet.
Chill buckeye candies in the refrigerator until firm, about 1/2 hour. Remove toothpicks (if you like, smooth out the hole with a small offset spatula, or with your finger).
Makes about 30 candies. Store in container or Ziploc bag. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for a month.
bb note: Do a variation on these candies and make Peanut Butter Balls. Simply dip chilled peanut butter balls completely in chocolate and chill. Leave as is or roll balls in chopped nuts or finely shredded coconut.
Beloved Niece and Hubby are now packing up the house. Thank goodness both Grandmas have signed up for active duty!
Meanwhile, the Younger smiles…
while the Elder takes inventory.
Eat in Joy!