Buckeyes Recipe and Ohio Pride

Buckeyes

Buckeyes. Technically they’re nuts. But “Buckeye” is also an affectionate name Ohio residents call themselves, the football team at Ohio State University (the mascot is even an anthropomorphic Buckeye named Brutus), and of course, that most Ohioan of confections– a ball of peanut butter and powdered sugar rolled in chocolate.

That little candy has the ability to make former Ohioans very nostalgic for their homeland. Just this week I visited the Meadowlands Fair in New Jersey and passed a stand selling various deep fried goodies and was surprised to see that the Buckeye had made its way over.

Deep Fried Buckeyes

Today I made the first batch of Buckeyes I’ve made in years. They were typically a Christmas treat in my house (along with No Bake Cookies and Potato Candy). Today, however, the candies were requested by my friend Steve Slaybaugh, another Ohio ex-pat, to give out to attendees at one of his monthly mixers tonight.

Steve decided to create a space for those of us who made the 500-mile trek from our homeland. OhioNYC is a website that gathers news relevant to our kind. He also hosts the above-mentioned mixers at Park Slope bar The Owl Farm. These mixers are typically DJ’d by an Ohioan and prizes are given out, including OhioNYC t-shirts and coupons for Jeni’s and Graeter’s ice cream (which all good Ohioans know are the numbers one and two ice cream in the world).

Tonight, my husband Robert Duffy will be DJing and I will be providing the Buckeyes. If you’re in the area and would like to sample a Buckeye (and also maybe get a discount on beers!), the event starts at 8:30.

If you’re not in Brooklyn and would prefer to make these rich little bites at home, please see the recipe posted below. I decided to alter a key ingredient and dipped my peanut butter balls in melted dark chocolate candy melts rather than melted milk chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate anyway and candy melts keep the Buckeyes from becoming a big melty mess.

Buckeyes

Buckeyes
Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups Peanut Butter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
24 ounces dark chocolate candy melts

Process

Cream the Peanut Butter, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined and mostly lump-free. Slowly add the powdered sugar; mixture will look dry and crumbly. Using your hands, roll the mixture into one-inch balls and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place a toothpick in each ball. Once all the balls are formed, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Once the balls are frozen, melt half the candy melts in a shallow microwave safe bowl for about one minute. Remove the bowl and stir. If the candy melts are not smooth, continue to microwave in 10-second increments, stirring after each increment, until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the balls from the freezer and using the toothpick as a handle, dip each ball in the chocolate mixture, leaving a small circle of peanut butter uncovered to mimic the look of a real Buckeye nut. Let the excess chocolate drip off and put the ball back on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all balls are dipped, adding and melting more candy melts as needed.

Put the cookie sheet back in the freezer for a few minutes to let the chocolate completely harden. You can then remove the cookie sheet and transfer your Buckeyes in a single layer to an air-tight container. If the chocolate spread when you put the balls on the cookie sheet, you can pretty easily snap off any excess around the bottoms (or use a knife if you want to be really precise).

Keep the Buckeyes refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

Recently I was given a copy of “Bake it in a Cupcake”, a cookbook based on the Bake It in a Cake blog. I’ve always admired the photos from that site, but have wondered about the taste of said baked goods. How good can an already-baked cookie or mini pie taste when nestled in cupcake batter and then baked again?

The answer: Delicious. Why am I always skeptical of popularity?

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I am a big fan of the Peanut Butter Blossom cookie. It’s one of the staple things I bake around Christmas and it’s so good. So when I saw a recipe for a cupcake with a Peanut Butter Blossom cookie inside, I had to go for it.

I was worried that the Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie would just melt into a pile of goo once it went back into the oven with the cupcake batter, but I shouldn’t have worried. Once the cupcake was cooled and frosted (with an AMAZING Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting), a cross-section revealed that everything stayed exactly where it was supposed to.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

How beautiful is that? And topped with that frosting, it was a perfect one-two-three punch of chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla.

I’m now eager to try other recipes from the book, including the cupcakes that contain mini pies. I’m very skeptical of those, so I can’t wait to be blown away by how good they taste.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling and Peanut Butter Frosting

This past weekend, Rob and I went up to Scarsdale to visit some friends. They have three children, two of which are at cupcake-eating age. The last time we visited, I brought Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which the kids loved. This time around, I decided to bring cupcakes.

Most people are huge fans of the chocolate and peanut butter combo. I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as much as the next person, but in baked goods, it’s not my favorite flavor combo. But it’s a popular one and proves to be endlessly popular with kids. So I found a recipe and went to work.

The chocolate cupcake and peanut butter/cream cheese filling came from My Man’s Belly (I skipped her peanut butter/white chocolate ganache and chocolate frosting in favor of just peanut butter frosting).

I have two recommendations if you use this recipe:

1.) Fill the cupcake liners only halfway full because they puff up like crazy and will overflow.

2.) When you scoop out the middles of the cupcakes after baking for 15 minutes, DO NOT reuse that batter to cover over the peanut butter/cream cheese filling. I ended up with 18 cupcakes and almost enough new batter to cover them. I would recommend only making 15 cupcakes and using the leftover new batter to cover the middles.

I reused the partially baked batter, and when the cupcakes baked for their final 15 minutes, that batter didn’t look so hot. It tasted fine, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty as the cupcakes that used brand new batter on top. Just a suggestion.

Of course, frosting covers all sins, and the cupcakes turned out pretty good looking, if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream  Cheese Filling and Peanut Butter Frosting

The cupcakes were a big hit with everyone who had one. Our friends’ eldest daughter worked on hers and proclaimed that “the frosting is the bestest part.” I had a few leftover that I gave to another friend of ours here in Brooklyn on Sunday night. A few hours later, he posted on my Facebook page “the Oscar for best peanut butter cupcakes goes to…”

I aim to please, folks. Aim to please.

Week Five: (Mostly) Vegan Peanut Butter Bombs

(This recipe came from a now out-of-print book called “The Damn Tasty! Vegan Baking Guide” by Kris Holechek.)

This week I decided to try a recipe at which my friend Jennifer Prochilo seems to excel. She continuously posts photos of these chocolate-y cookies called Peanut Butter Bombs that I really wanted to try.

I am not the biggest fan of the chocolate/peanut butter combo. I like Reese’s Pieces but find that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are better in moderation (and frozen! They absolutely must be frozen!). But I know most people enjoy that combo, especially my grandmother, so I decided to make a batch and take some to her for her 82nd birthday this week.

They’re mostly vegan because I’m not sure if the chocolate chips I bought were vegan or not. As it wasn’t important for them to be entirely vegan, I didn’t really try that hard to find chips that I was sure were vegan.

The recipe started with a chocolate dough that consisted of flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, soy milk, margarine, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla:
Chocolate dough

Next was a peanut butter dough made with peanut butter, powdered sugar and the chocolate chips:
Peanut butter dough

The chocolate dough was rolled into a ball and then flattened out into a disc. The peanut butter dough was then rolled into a slightly smaller ball and put in the middle of the chocolate dough, which was then folded over the peanut butter:
Peanut butter innards

This is the point where I started having problems. Jennifer’s Peanut Butter Bombs are always pure chocolate on the outside. The peanut butter is completely hidden and a surprise for the eater. The peanut butter in my cookies kept leaking out the seams. I could not get the peanut butter completely encased in the chocolate:
Peanut Butter Bombs

My cookies were not sophisticated enough to be called “bombs”. So I’m renaming this recipe Peanut Butter IEDs (no disrespect to all you military folks out there, of course).

They tasted all right though:
Peanut Butter Bomb

And I think my grandma enjoyed her gift:
Gift-wrapped Peanut Butter Bombs

Tune in next week for Vegan Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes! Week Seven will turn back on the animal-product highway after my little detour down Vegan Boulevard, but I’m sure I’ll be making a few more pit stops in the next year.