My favorite way to watch THE Game (Ohio State vs. TTUN) is to pass around a plate of homemade buckeye candies. If you bleed Scarlet and Gray, then you know about buckeye candies. If you married into the culture or befriended a Buckeye fan, then you may appreciate some background. A buckeye is a nut, similar to a chestnut, except the chestnut is edible when roasted. The buckeye nut grows on the buckeye tree, Ohio’s official state tree. Despite being poisonous to eat, the buckeye nut is given to others as a sign of friendship. Classic irony.
My favorite way to watch THE Game (Ohio State vs. TTUN) is to pass around a plate of homemade buckeye candies. If you bleed Scarlet and Gray, then you know about buckeye candies. If you married into the culture or befriended a Buckeye fan, then you may appreciate some background. A buckeye is a nut, similar to a chestnut, except the chestnut is edible when roasted. The buckeye nut grows on the buckeye tree, Ohio’s official state tree. Despite being poisonous to eat, the buckeye nut is given to others as a sign of friendship. Classic irony.
I made my first batch of buckeye candies in the late 1960’s. My TWIG (Together With Important Goals) group gave us each a recipe and instructed us to make several batches of buckeyes, which we put into decorated pint-sized wooden strawberry baskets to sell at a big craft fair benefiting Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
Buckeye nuts are a big part of game-day gear.
Since 1969, Sally’s search for a better Buckeye recipe!

The TWIG recipe sounded easy, but it was hard to mix such a large amount:

1 lb. margarine

2 lbs. peanut butter

3 lbs. powdered sugar

24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Columbus Dispatch came out with their recipe soon after that: 

½ cup margarine

1 ½ cups peanut butter

1 lb. powdered sugar

6 squares of Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate bars

Paraffin wax, shaved to make the warmed chocolate smooth for dipping

Both recipes called for melting the chocolate in a double boiler. I found the paraffin tricky to use; I was always adding too much or too little making it too thick or thin. I usually went with the chips although they could be too waxy or thick for easy dipping. I was glad to graduate to a microwave oven, which, as a point of interest, was first made for home use in 1955 by Tappan, headquartered in my hometown, Mansfield, Ohio, but didn’t appear in my own kitchen until much later. I now melt the chocolate chips in small glass bowls, following the chocolate chip package instructions for microwave melting—one minute or so at 50% power, stir, then zap in smaller time increments, but still 50% power, stir again until smooth. Much faster and better results than double boiler methodology!

The current state of my confectionary prowess:

Ingredients:

2 sticks of margarine (8 oz.), 

Often use Imperial (KETO friendly) or Smart Balance (for cholesterol control). 

Haven’t tried butter but that probably works.

1 jar (16.3 oz./1.02 lb.) Peter Pan peanut butter 

Tried others but always go back to this childhood favorite. 

1 ½ lbs. powdered sugar. 

Buy a 2 lb. bag and measure out 4 7/8 cups.

12 oz. chocolate chips 

Buy two 12 oz. bags or one 24 oz. bag to give yourself leeway during the dipping.

Never hurts to have some leftover chocolate for late night attacks.

Ghirardelli makes melting chocolate which works well but can’t always find it.

Supplies:

Mixer, if you have one, and mixing bowl. Bread beaters preferred over regular beaters.

3 cookie sheets that will fit in your refrigerator

1.5 quart bowl for powdered sugar

1 cup measuring cup

Waxed or parchment paper, scissors for cutting if you are OCD

Firm rubber spatula or serving spoon

Several small spoons

1 dozen toothpicks, depending number of helping hands

Several small microwave safe bowls – 6 oz. glass Pyrex is perfect for dipping

Refrigerator storage containers

Day One
Day One: or early morning if you are doing this all in one day

  1. Leave the margarine out to soften. Do not melt it in a microwave. I repeat, do not melt.
  2. Assemble all the ingredients except the chocolate. Assemble all the supplies except the toothpicks and microwave safe bowls. 
  3. Tear/cut waxed or parchment paper to fit each of two cookie sheets.
  4. Measure powdered sugar into a 1.5 qt bowl. No sifting needed.
  5. Mix the peanut butter and margarine in the mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar, using the spatula to help guide the process.
  6. When it seems the mixer has done as much as it can, finish mixing by hand with firm rubber spatula or serving spoon. Make sure to get all the powdered sugar blended in. It will hide on the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Roll mixture between your palms to form small balls. You decide how big. My recent batch made 62 balls. Actually 63, but I ate that last one. Better than cookie dough, and safer.
  8. Put the loaded cookie sheets in the fridge to cool overnight, or at least several hours – enough to be firm when dipping. Recent recipes mention freezing the balls. I haven’t tried that.

 

Pre-COVID family fun time!

Day Two: or late afternoon of done-in-a-day efforts

  1. Assemble the toothpicks, microwave safe bowls and chocolate. Prepare a third cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper.
  2. Fill a small bowl more than halfway with chocolate chips. Melt in microwave. Stir until smooth.
  3. Pull out one of the trays of peanut butter balls just prior to dipping. If they get warm, they will fall off the toothpicks.
  4. One by one, stab a ball with a toothpick then carefully dip into chocolate, leaving the “eye” of the buckeye. 
  5. Set the dipped balls onto the new cookie sheet. You may need a second toothpick or small spoon for a successful transfer. When full, return to refrigerator and pull out second sheet of balls.
  6. Repeat dipping and storing in refrigerator to harden the chocolate.
  7. Once chocolate is hardened use your clean forefinger (wash hands 20 seconds!) to close the hole left by the toothpick. 
  8. Offer a taste test or two to anyone hanging around your kitchen. Transfer the little delights into one or two storage containers. Keep refrigerated until time to serve.
Day Two, Step Seven. Top left, before toothpick hole closed. Top right, after hole closed. Bottom: disaster when candy falls off the toothpick – do not serve to guests, this is your bonus candy.
When shopping for my most recent batch, I noticed two types of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips—12 oz gold bag of SEMI-SWEET and 10 oz glossy brown bag marked 60% CACAO BITTERSWEET. I decided to experiment. I made 30 with SEMI-SWEET and 32 with BITTERSWEET. BITTERSWEET won the melting test and dipping tests. It was slightly thinner than the SEMI-SWEET, hence easier to dip. However, after the chocolate hardened, I noticed the BITTERSWEET had settled more, leaving a ridge at the bottom. The SEMI-SWEET had a more professional look, keeping its rounded shape better. The big face-off was in the Taste Test. Full disclosure: It was not a double-blind test. Nonetheless, it was a tie. I got such a sugar high I couldn’t tell the difference in the two! 

If you are a neat and tidy confectioner, you have more skill than I do. My hands and kitchen are constantly messy during the candy making process. If your patience or time is limited, consider ordering a box of Anthony Thomas Buckeyes (but be prepared for milk chocolate) or Ohio State cookie assortments from Cheryl’s Cookies that include 4 or 8 Buckeyes. Both ship from central Ohio. 

There’s still time to order or make your own batch of buckeyes for your December 12, 2020, game watch. Please, no large gatherings this year. Stay safe and take care of each other! Go, Buckeyes! Beat Michigan! If the game is cancelled due to COVID-19, you have your buckeye candies for consolation.

Photo Permissions: Sally Lanyon