Buckeyes (Buckeye Candy / Peanut Butter Balls) are an easy, fun treat for kids and adults alike! Chocolate and peanut butter are of course a tried and true, fantastic match. Plus, these are really simple to make, and great for gift-giving during the holidays too!
Easy Buckeye Candy is simple to make, and is a fun treat for kids and adults alike!
The sacred flavor combo of peanut butter and chocolate is something that I’ve loved since I ate my first snickers bar. I can’t even remember when that was, but it was love at first taste. My first Reese’s peanut butter cups were also a revelation. Those were not common in New Zealand at the time.
But of course I’m not alone. There’s a reason why that flavor combo is a classic. And I love buckeyes so much, I even made a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake (buckeye brownie cheesecake) for my Secret Layer Cakes cookbook!
This buckeye recipe comes together in minutes. And because it’s such a simple and quick recipe, you’d likely have to resist all temptation to gobble ’em up as you’re making them. Or is that just me? What I also really like about these peanut butter balls is that they have more peanut butter flavor, and are less sweet than other recipes out there.
What is buckeye candy?
If you’re wondering what the hell is buckeye candy… it’s basically a ball of peanut butter fudge that’s partially dipped in chocolate. If they are fully covered in chocolate, then they’d be called peanut butter balls.
So why are they named buckeyes? The candy was named after the Ohio Buckeye tree (Ohio’s state tree). The seeds from this tree resemble a buck’s (deer) eye (kind of), and so does the candy.
Not sure why anyone thought the mental image of eating a deer eye as confection would be fun… but here we are.
How to make buckeye candy
This peanut butter ball recipe is easy! Simply mix the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the chocolate). Mix until you have a smooth mixture; like a soft dough.
This mixture might seem a little soft because I use more peanut butter in my recipe than other recipes do, and comparatively less confectioners sugar as well. The reason is simple. I just prefer more peanut butter flavor, and less sweetness.
But if you like your peanut butter balls to be more stiff, you can add more powdered sugar. Or for a healthier option, you can add some ground flaxseed to make the mixture stiffer as well.
You can use a small cookie scoop to portion out the mixture, and then roll into balls. A cookie scoop is not necessary though. It’s pretty easy to roll these babies into 1.5 inch diameter balls by hand.
Once you’ve made the balls, you have two options.
- Insert toothpicks into the tops of the balls and let them set in the fridge for a few hours. This will make it easier to make buckeye balls, with the traditional “iris” at the top.
- Let them chill in the fridge without any toothpicks. These balls can be fully dipped in chocolate to make peanut butter balls.
As you can see in these picture, here I’ve made traditional buckeye candy, using toothpicks.
When the peanut butter balls have been chilled, they are ready to take a dip in a chocolate bath.
Which type of chocolate should I use for dipping?
I used to prefer semisweet chocolate, and that is what I’ve used in these pictures. However, I now prefer to use 70% chocolate (bittersweet chocolate). I love that slight bitterness you get from the chocolate shell, balanced by the sweetness from the peanut butter ball.
But you can use WHATEVER chocolate YOU like to eat! Choose between white chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet or bittersweet.
Should I temper the chocolate?
Ideally, yes. This is the guide I use to temper chocolate because I love using Callebaut chocolate.
If the chocolate is not tempered, then you may end up with a chocolate coating that has white spots (or fat blooming). It doesn’t affect taste, but it definitely has an impact on texture, and they likely won’t look as tempting either. However, you only need to temper chocolate if you’re using couverture chocolate.
If you use compound chocolate, then you don’t have to worry about tempering.
To melt the chocolate, you need to be careful NOT to introduce any water into the mixture. I prefer to melt the chocolate over a double boiler, and I ALWAYS take the chocolate off heat when 70 – 80% of the chocolate has melted. Then I just stir to melt the rest of the chocolate. This prevents the chocolate from burning as well. With couverture chocolate, I would be checking the temperature of the chocolate too.
If you’re using compound chocolate (like store-bought chocolate chips), you can add a little coconut oil to the mixture to keep the chocolate more fluid (and easier to dip).
Notes to remember about the chocolate
- If you use coconut oil to make the chocolate more fluid, keep in mind that the chocolate coating on the buckeye candy will soften faster at room temperature, so they will likely need to be stored in the fridge.
- The chocolate coating will remain hard at room temperature if you only use chocolate. However, there is a chance that the coating will be thicker.
When you’re dipping the peanut butter balls in the chocolate, make sure to dip them just enough to cover about 75% of the ball. The top of the ball should not be coated, so that it looks like the “iris” of an eye. Disturbing, I know.
Make sure to let the excess chocolate drip down after you dip the balls in the melted chocolate. Then place the dipped peanut butter balls on a parchment paper-lined baking tray (or wax paper). Then return them back to the fridge so that they set completely; this might take about 20 minutes, but I like to keep them refrigerated for longer, so that they are completely chilled.
Can I use almond butter instead of peanut butter?
Absolutely! I use all natural creamy peanut butter, so make sure you use all natural creamy almond butter, with no added sugar or salt.
You could even try crunchy peanut butter, but the candy will not be as smooth.
The toothpicks leave holes, how can I fix that?
Here’s what you can do.
- Use an offset spatula to smoothen the top. You can warm the tip of the offset spatula to make this process easier.
- Make sure to leave a little of the peanut butter ball mixture. Then use a little bit of this mixture to plug the holes and make them smooth with a spoon or spatula.
How to store buckeyes
If you added coconut oil to the chocolate, these will need to be stored in an air-tight container and kept in the fridge.
They will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or keep them in the freezer for even longer. They can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days.
This recipe for buckeye candy is a little different in that the peanut butter balls are not as sweet. They also have deep peanut butter flavor, and salt to enhance that flavor even more! Plus these babies are melt-in-your-mouth soft!
Easy Buckeye Recipe (Peanut Butter Balls)
Peanut Butter Mix
- 1 ¾ cup smooth peanut butter 1 lb
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (4 oz)
- ½ tsp fine sea salt use less if you don't like salty sweets
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar 1 lb
- Extra confectioner's sugar or ground flaxseed optional
- 10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp coconut oil optional
Peanut Butter Mix
- Place the peanut butter, unsalted butter, salt and vanilla in a bowl. Use a mixing spoon or a hand-held mixer to mix the ingredients together to form a smooth paste.
- Add the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, and mix it into the peanut butter until well mixed. You can use a wooden spoon or a mixer (on low speed) to do this. (The mix will get stiffer as you add confectioner’s sugar. If needed, use clean, dry hands to knead the mix to make sure everything is well combined).
- If the mixture is too soft, you can add more confectioner's sugar or some ground flaxseed.
- Portion out the peanut butter mix, and roll them into smooth balls that are about 1.5 inches in diameter. Keep these on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Repeat until you have used up all of the peanut butter mix.
- Optional - Set aside a small amount of the peanut butter mix to cover the tops of the dipped buckeye balls later (see below).
- Insert a toothpick into each peanut butter ball. Refrigerate for about 2 hours (or longer), until chilled.
- When the peanut butter balls have been chilled and are ready to be dipped, prepare the chocolate dip.
- Place the chocolate in a dry, clean, heat-proof glass or metal bowl. Heat the bowl over a double boiler until most of the chocolate chips (~70 - 80%) have melted. Then stir until all of the chocolate melts in the residual heat, and you have a completely smooth mixture.
- This melting technique prevents the chocolate from getting too hot and burnt. You can also microwave the chocolate (in a glass bowl) in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until most of the chocolate chips have melted.
- Optional - Add the coconut oil to the chocolate chips while melting the chocolate.
Dipping the peanut butter balls
- Using the toothpick, dip each peanut butter ball in the melted chocolate. Turn the peanut butter ball in the chocolate to evenly coat it, and make sure to keep the top of the ball uncovered with chocolate (see pictures in the post).
- Once dipped, lift and hold the buckeye ball up by the toothpick, and gently rotate it to get rid of the excess melted chocolate.
- Place the dipped buckeye ball on the parchment paper-lined baking tray. Repeat with the remaining peanut butter balls. Remove the toothpicks, and use an offset spatula or the flat part of a butter knife to smoothen the toothpick holes. OR use some of the peanut butter mix that you set aside earlier to cover and smoothen the hole on top.
- Chill the buckeyes in the fridge for at least a few minutes to set. Once set, they are ready to be served and enjoyed!