I grew up with this deeply regional classic candy. Fear not, there is no gauzy colored memory attached, it was just the one candy my mom (not exactly a friend of the kitchen) would make repeatedly because it was both quick and easy. And truly tasty. The buckeye is perhaps best known to those in Ohio and the surrounding states. Judging by the reactions of a sampling of friends, it is almost completely unknown on the coasts. I present you with a less sweet version than the one Mom used to make (less sweet is perhaps relative when discussing this candy—hers were quite literally sugar bombs), but I stayed true to the original peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. Ohioans would be proud. And, yes, leave a little bit of the peanut butter exposed, so that the final candy modestly resembles the horse chestnut from the Buckeye State.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and butter. Beat at low speed for 20 seconds to prevent the sugar from spilling over, then gradually increase the speed until the mixture is completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again. The mixture will feel slightly dry. Set the peanut butter filling aside while you melt the chocolate.
In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently until it is completely smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees F, body temperature) while you shape the peanut butter centers.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than 1 tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball. (For uniform balls, use a medium-size melon baller or a very small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism.) Place the ball on the prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the filling has been shaped. The balls can sit fairly close to each other on the sheet, just make sure they are not touching.
One by one, using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate. Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small part uncovered. Manipulate the buckeye so that the dripping chocolate covers the holes made by the fork. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and return each chocolate-covered buckeye to the pan. Refrigerate the entire sheet pan for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate before serving.
Buckeyes will keep for up to 3 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.