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Buckeye Candy
Becky Barker writes romance novels and went to college at Ohio State University, where buckeyes are a passion. OSU's football team is called the Buckeyes; Brutus Buckeye is the official mascot; and buckeye candy is Ohio's almost-official state confection. Becky generously shared her recipe for buckeye candy, which tastes exactly like a Reese's peanut butter cup. But the look is all buckeye: round and dark brown with a tan center. These candies are reminiscent of both a male deer's eye and the Ohio buckeye nut, which is named after the deer. Nomenclature aside, these chocolate-covered peanut butter balls don't last long, so make the full recipe. Clear out a little freezer or fridge space so they can chill. Becky uses a mix of semisweet and milk chocolate in her buckeyes, but I like pure bittersweet chocolate. Choose whatever chocolate you like best.
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 jar (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter, about 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chips or broken-up bar)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
Before You Go: Up to 1 week before, cut butter into pieces and put in a large-ish microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until just melted, about 1 minute. Mix in sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until blended. Roll into 1-inch balls between your palms and put in single layer on large cookie sheets lined with wax paper or coated with cooking spray. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes in freezer or 2 hours in refrigerator.

Put chocolate and vegetable shortening in medium microwave-safe bowl (make sure bowl is completely dry to prevent chocolate from seizing up). Microwave on medium in 1-minute increments until chocolate is just melted enough to stir smooth, about 3 minutes total. Stop and stir every minute to avoid overcooking.

Insert a toothpick into center of a firm peanut butter ball and dip partway into melted chocolate, leaving about a 1/2-inch "eye" of peanut butter visible at top. Spin toothpick to release excess chocolate then return coated ball to cookie sheet and slide out toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls and chocolate, re-melting chocolate and re-freezing balls as necessary. (If you're good with your hands, use both hands and dip two balls at once.)

Chill until firm, about 30 minutes in freezer or 2 hours in refrigerator. Use a knife tip to smooth tops and cover toothpick holes. Transfer to airtight container (between layers of wax paper if necessary) and chill up to 1 week in refrigerator or cooler or up to 1 month in freezer.

When You Get There: Serve chilled.

Makes about 60 buckeyes.

Neighborly Tips: For a creamier-tasting, less chocolately coating, use 6 ounces of milk chocolate and 6 ounces and semisweet chocolate. For a more pure chocolate hit, use 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate. For the middle ground, use all semisweet chocolate.

If you have kids, get them to help dip the buckeyes. That could speed things up considerably, depending on your kids.

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