The 2010 buckeye making is complete. It didn’t seem quite as bad as usual. Making the dough the night before was a good idea. That took about an hour on Friday (it took longer because I was taking pictures and had to set up the camera, etc…). Then I spent between 5 and 6 hours on the buckeyes on Saturday. It’s a commitment.
Here are the ingredients. Healthy-looking, no?
The first step is to mix the softened butter and peanut butter together. Not that this picture is critical, but because I love my green mixer, here is what the peanut butter and butter look like after they are mixed together.
Adding the powdered sugar is where this gets interesting. Every year I try to use the mixer to get as much of the 3 pounds of sugar into the dough as possible and every year I have to give up and use my hands to knead the last pound or so. I hate having to knead the dough by hand so I like to take the mixer part right to the brink of buckeye dough explosion. The dough in the next picture is trying to make a break for it. Thankfully, this year I made considerably less mess and inhaled considerably less powdered sugar than usual. Dave thinks I might be able to get all the sugar mixed in if I had the larger 6-quart Kitchen Aid, but they don’t make it in green, so that’s not an option.
Here is what the dough looks like with all the powdered sugar almost fully incorporated. I chilled the dough overnight since I planned to roll the buckeyes the next day. After I took the dough out of the fridge, it took about an hour for the dough to warm up enough to roll.
The recipe I use says that the rolling “takes forever, so turn on a good movie and begin to roll balls.” The first few years I made buckeyes, I fought the movie-watching suggestion. I was worried about spilling dough in the living room and didn’t want the process to take any longer than it had to. But you end up standing for hours to dip the buckeyes, so it’s silly to stand for rolling when you can sit and be entertained by something else. The first year I took the movie suggestion, I chose “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” That wasn’t a good selection. Some crying took place during that movie, which interfered with the rolling. This year I watched “Marie Antoinette,” which save for a scene in which they take away her dog, was a tear-free choice.
The recipe also says to “try not to eat too many during the movie.” I have never been even remotely tempted to stick a piece of buckeye dough sans chocolate coating into my mouth. But if that turns you on, go for it, who am I to judge? The rolling took me about 2 hours and 45 minutes this year, but I was distracted by the movie. I think I’ve been able to do this in 2 hours before.
My favorite part of the recipe is the uselessness of the instruction on size. The recipe calls for the dough to be rolled into balls that are “buckeye size.” I use a small ice cream scoop (size 70) to portion out the dough. The recipe says it yields about 100-120 buckeyes, but I have always gotten about 12 dozen. My feeling is that if you are going to go through all this work, you might as well try to get as many buckeyes as possible. This year I made 138 buckeyes and I think they are plenty big. Here they are—chilling before their chocolate dip.
The recipe calls for melting chocolate chips with some paraffin. The first year I made them, I followed this suggestion and they tasted fine. But because mixing wax into my food freaked me out and also because I like to make things more difficult, the next few years we tempered chocolate for the dipping. I say “we” because I needed Dave’s help to do this. So then we were both cranky. Then we moved on to trying to melt chocolate chips without breaking their temper. Don’t do this, you will want to kill yourself. To avoid breaking the temper, you have to keep the chocolate at a temperature which won’t allow the chocolate to get thin enough to dip the balls easily. And it takes forever to melt chocolate chips this way (if you try to do it faster the temperature will get too high and then the chocolate won’t set up after dipping the balls). Now I use milk chocolate melting caps from Romolo’s. Romolo’s is a handmade chocolate shop in my hometown that I visit pretty much daily every time I’m in Erie. The caps melt easily and the buckeyes are just as good dipped in this chocolate. In fact, several people actually noticed the difference and said the buckeyes were better this way. So yea, Romolo’s!
Once the chocolate is melted, you can dip the chilled balls. I use a wooden skewer for the dipping and a second skewer to ease the dipped buckeyes onto wax paper. The second skewer becomes less necessary the more the balls soften. When the balls get too soft, they’ll dive right back into the chocolate before you can get them to the wax paper, which is not at all annoying. The dipping took me 2.5 hours this year. Here is a ball getting its buckeye chocolate dip.
I tested one the night I made them and it was perfectly fine. But the magic of eating them is gone for me. All I taste is my effort, if that makes any sense. Here is a shot of the buckeyes resting before I packed them for freezing.
Here is the recipe.
1 lb. butter, room temperature
2 lbs. peanut butter, creamy
3 lbs. powdered sugar
2 bags chocolate chips (NOTE: I used slightly less than 3 bags—1 lb. each—of Romolo’s milk chocolate melting caps)
2-3 oz. paraffin (NOTE: I don’t use this)
1.) Cream peanut butter and butter together. Gradually add powdered sugar and mix well. By the end you may need to use your fingers and knead it to get it all mixed.
2.) Roll mixture into balls* – buckeye size. Makes between 100-120 balls. Refrigerate balls for at least an hour. They dip better when chilled.
EDITED 12/4 to ADD: Just saw that someone found this post by searching on “buckeye recipe keep in freezer until ready to dip in chocolate.” Maybe it won’t matter if you use paraffin, but I strongly recommend not freezing the undipped buckeyes. We did that one year to save space in the fridge, and the condensation on the balls as they thawed messed up the chocolate when we started dipping (water and melted chocolate don’t like each other).
3.) Melt chocolate and paraffin in a double boiler. Test your chocolate by dipping one ball and letting it sit for 5 minutes. If the chocolate has set, your chocolate is ready. Continue to dip balls by using a square toothpick (thick ones). Press toothpick into chilled balls and dip into chocolate leaving an eye opening on top to look like a buckeye. Then, take another toothpick to gently press perpendicular to the toothpick in the buckeye to slide it off onto wax paper.
4.) Chill dipped buckeyes until firm (NOTE: if your chocolate is tempered properly this is unnecessary). Then, line the buckeyes in containers with wax paper between layers and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
*Note: this takes forever, so turn on a good movie and begin to roll balls—try not to eat too many during the movie.