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New Year's Buckeyes

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There are many foods that are said to be lucky. Of course during this week right before New Year's Day, folks begin preparing for simple meals of pork, fish or black-eyed peas to bring about a little luck and start 2011 off right. Well I have this friend who insists that really any food is lucky so long as you think it so. She's convinced it's all just a nice longstanding tradition and that we should all create our own in the case we're not big fans of the hearty two-toned legume.

Making Buckeyes

So this year I'm deeming Buckeyes lucky. And why not, really? They're basically the best most adult Reese's you've ever tasted except without the cloyingly sweet aftertaste. They're cloaked in rich dark chocolate and are a cinch to throw together as there's no baking involved. We made these on Christmas Eve at my house and they were an instant hit: they're an old Southern recipe and many people remember them fondly from their childhood. Others just can't stay away from a good old-fashioned peanut butter ball. So for this week leading up to New Year's Day, I encourage you to deem a food that you love lucky, whip it up, and enjoy it wholeheartedly. Whether you're a traditionalist or a maverick peanut butter lover, go to town. Life is short. Eat Buckeyes.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 35-40 tablespoon-sized candies


Deb's recipe is from Baked Explorations, one of my favorite cookbooks of the year. And I love this version of Buckeyes because it cuts way down on the sugar you'll typically see and adds graham cracker crumbs which give them a nice texture. I've gone even further with my adaptation using chunky peanut butter and cutting back on the sugar even further. To make your own graham cracker crumbs, just throw your whole grahams into the food processor and pulse until fine.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 12 graham crackers)
2 3/4 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
10 ounces dark chocolate (I use 70%), chopped coarsely

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and cream cheese until just combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat again until just mixed together. Next add the butter and sugar and start mixing slowly so the butter doesn't slosh around. Mix for ten seconds, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then mix again until the mixture is sturdy and looks like a dry cookie dough. Set aside.

2. Make the dark chocolate coating: Use either a double boiler or a heat-safe bowl nestled atop a pot of boiling water to melt you chocolate. Stir the chocolate continuously so it doesn't burn and so that it remains smooth. Once melted completely, let it cool enough so that you can dunk your finger in it (around 100 degrees) -- this is the optimal temperature for coating candies.

3. Assemble the buckeyes: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a small ball and use your hands to form it into a perfect ball. I used a kitchen scale and measured each ball out to be 1 oz. This way they were all consistent. Place the balls on the prepared sheet with just a little room apart from one another.

4. Using a toothpick or a skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coated. You'll inevitably have a few that fall off completely in the chocolate. Practice with a few and you'll get it down. Dip quickly and at an angle. You have a little hole at the top from your skewer which you can quickly push back into place with your fingers.

5. Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30-40 minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.

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