Today’s recipe for Buckeyes is brought to you by the shape sphere. I first encountered Buckeyes in a Penzeys Spices catalogue, and they immediately became a holiday favorite: they are easy to make, even for kids, and taste fantastic. The recipe later appeared in one of the very first issues of the magazine Penzeys One (which is perhaps the most socially conscious and inclusive cooking publication I’ve ever read, sharing the stories and family recipes of regular folk around the US and world.)
The recipe below looks long because of the descriptions, but the steps are easy. You can also find the recipe and a few others, complete with photos, here (check out the dancing gingerbread people halfway down the page!)
1 ½ lbs. powdered sugar (almost 6 Cups)
½ lb. room temperature butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 lb. creamy peanut butter (2 Cups)
1 TB. vanilla extract
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
½ slab paraffin wax (used by candy makers to make chocolate coatings shiny and smooth. It is available in the canning or baking section of most grocery stores)
[Note by Ξ: Putting wax in food gives me the willies, despite my respect for candy makers, so I skip that part and just use more chocolate.]
Combine powdered sugar, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix well. Form the dough into small balls, about ½ inch in diameter. [Note by Ξ: I’ve been known to use ¾ to 1 inch diameters, which drops the yield considerably.] Put balls in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. You can also chill the dough, then roll it into small balls as you dip–your choice.
To melt the chocolate, you can use a double boiler if you have one, but we’ve found that a small, heavy bottomed saucepan works just as well and is less troublesome. Cut the paraffin into small chunks, and place in the pan with the chocolate chips over the lowest heat. It will take a few minutes for anything to happen. Stir every minute or so with a wooden spoon. In the meantime, have a bunch of cookie sheets and several toothpicks ready.
When the chips and paraffin have melted and have been smoothly stirred together, remove a large handful of chilled balls from the refrigerator. Don’t remove the whole bowl, as the dipping takes time. Poke a toothpick into the dough ball, far enough to hold it. Dip the ball into the chocolate and swirl it to coat it, about ¾ of the way up. When working with children, remove the pot from the stove and place it on a hot pad on the table, stirring often. The chocolate may have to be warmed up a few times, but it is safer than having little children roughhousing over a pot on the stove. Place the dipped buckeye on a cookie sheet.
When one cookie sheet is full, remove another bunch of balls from the refrigerator and start again. The buckeyes need to be frozen after dipping. Here in Wisconsin, you can place all the cookie trays on the porch. If you live in a warm climate, only work on as many trays as you have room for in the freezer. After the buckeyes are fully frozen (20 minutes in the freezer), carefully remove the buckeyes from the pan by sliding a spatula under them so the chocolate doesn’t stick. Rub out the toothpick hole on the top. Put the buckeyes into large zip-top freezer bags or cookie tins, and store in the freezer until you need them.
Let the buckeyes come to room temperature before serving (though some people around here have been known to eat buckeyes by the handful straight from the freezer). While the freezer is best for longtime storage, buckeyes will do just fine as part of a cookie gift box, or left out for snacks.
Yield: 1 gazillion buckeyes (actually, about 300)
Prep. time: 1 hour
Thanks to the folk at Penzeys One for giving us permission to post this recipe!