The Chilling Mistake You're Making With Buckeyes

Fortunately, you don't need to hire a team of Oompa Loompas to make candy at home. One of the easiest recipes that makes you feel like a dream-making confectioner is for buckeyes — peanut butter and chocolate bonbons invented in the great state of Ohio.

Although there is some debate among candy historians, Gail Tabor claims to have developed the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup-tasting treat one Christmas. Tabor's sweetened peanut butter balls dipped in melted chocolate resemble the nut of the buckeye tree, making them the perfect tailgating dessert to bring to the annual rivalry game between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State's Buckeyes (the favored team). Once Tabor's recipe was published in the Ohio State Alumni Magazine (much to her surprise), the rest of the nation was introduced to this delicious homemade candy.

There are many recipes for making the buckeye filling, but each variation contains a hard chocolate shell. To ensure that the creamy filling is coated with a solid chocolate shell that doesn't melt in your hand, it's essential to refrigerate the dipped buckeyes for at least 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Even though chocolate starts to set at room temperature, if your kitchen is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the chocolate is not tempered, it won't fully harden.

Tips for creating the buckeye filling

If you want your buckeyes to look more professional, it's important to follow a few simple tips. Although an unattractive buckeye will still be delicious, it's best to prepare the candy in two stages: Blend, roll, and chill the filling in the first stage, then dip the balls in melted chocolate later in the day, or even the following day.

Before chilling the naked peanut butter bonbons, insert a toothpick or skewer into each center. If you wait until it's time to dip, the stick won't stay securely in place, and you'll end up covering the entire ball in chocolate after you fish it out of the bowl. Once each buckeye has a toothpick, chill them for at least two hours to prevent them from falling apart in the warm chocolate.

When you're ready to dip, work in batches to avoid the peanut butter filling from getting too warm. After dipping, gently tap the toothpick on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. To remove the toothpick hole from the uncovered peanut butter, dampen your finger with water and smooth the top before allowing the buckeyes to chill again.

The irresistible salty and sweet combo of peanut butter and chocolate doesn't need to be limited to a bonbon. Try this less messy and equally delicious recipe for brownie buckeye cookies

Tips for creating a smooth chocolate shell

Chocolate can be finicky to work with. To ensure a shiny finish that doesn't melt immediately in your hands, chocolate should be tempered. This process of melting, cooling, and melting the chocolate again gives you the best results, but is time-consuming and unnecessary if you use the right ingredients.

Instead of melting chocolate chips, which contain stabilizers that prevent them from losing their shape during baking, opt for a high-quality chocolate bar or wafers. These options melt easily, providing you with a smooth coating. If using a bar, give the chocolate a rough chop, breaking it into ½ inch pieces to ensure even melting. This helps prevent the chocolate from scorching.

Melt chocolate over gentle heat and stir it constantly to prevent it from burning. Once chocolate burns, it can't be salvaged and must be thrown away. Slowly melt it in a double boiler on the stove or microwave at 50% power. To keep the melted chocolate fluid but prevent it from burning, place a heating pad under the bowl until all the buckeyes have been dipped.

To keep the chocolate from seizing and developing a chalky, thick texture, ensure it doesn't come into contact with water. Make certain the bowl and utensils are dry before using them, and keep the chocolate away from moisture. Even a drop of water can cause the sugar to form a syrup. Coconut oil, shortening, or butter can be added to make the chocolate viscous.