It’s peanut butter candy time!
I had never heard of buckeyes until recently, when I decided to make a birthday treat for a peanut-butter-and-chocolate-obsessed friend. The name of the candy comes from the way it’s dipped–a palomino-colored circle of filling peeking out of a dark chocolate shell, making the candy look like a buckeye nut.
These might just be my new favorite homemade candy. They involve almost no cooking and come together in a matter of minutes. The flavor and texture are reminiscent of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, with a sandy-smooth filling and a crackling chocolate shell. As a bonus, you can dip them in dark chocolate instead of milk, which gives a much-needed bitter contrast to the sugary filling.
The secret ingredient here–the thing that notches it past Reese’s–is a flick of cinnamon in the filling. As far as I’m concerned, peanut butter and cinnamon are basically inseparable. The prickly warmth of the spice is a perfect counterbalance to the nutty richness of the butter. It takes these candies from just good to disappearing-in-10-minutes good.
Oh, and about that buckeye look: if you can figure out how to dip these babies without exposing the telltale toothpick hole, you are a better candy-maker than I.
Buckeyes (makes about 3 dozen candies)
2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky, as you prefer)
1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond meal*
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 tbsp (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
7-8 oz chopped dark chocolate OR 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
*You can buy almond meal at Trader Joe’s, or make your own in the food processor.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and peanut butter, then mix in almond meal. Add powdered sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt, and continue beating until all the ingredients are incorporated. The mixture will be a little crumbly, but it should stick to itself when pressed, like pie dough.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or in the microwave in 10-second bursts. Let cool until it’s just tepid–about 90 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (If you want to temper the chocolate for a perfect matte finish, follow these instructions.)
Line a baking sheet or large tray with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the filling, then roll each scoop between your palms to form a ball. Place the rolled balls on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. Use a fork or a long skewer to pick up each ball and dip it almost all the way into the melted chocolate, leaving a small circle uncovered at the top for the classic “buckeye” look. Let the excess chocolate drip off, then place the dipped candies back on the parchment-lined tray.
When all the candies have been dipped, put the baking sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let them set. The candies will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-6 days–though I suspect they’ll be gone long before then.