All I Want for Christmas is Candy: Peanut Butter Balls or Buckeyes

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buckeyesbuckeyes1by Sara Mead

One of my favorite holiday treats are homemade peanut butter balls and their close relatives, buckeyes. They’re like a delicious homemade version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And, growing up, they were a staple of the holiday cookie plates our neighbors and friends exchanged with my family. Since I grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, our neighbors and friends always made peanut butter balls, rather than buckeyes, for obvious reasons. The difference between the two? Buckeyes, seen above, have an open spot on top where there is no chocolate and the peanut butter shows through, making them look like buckeyes. Peanut butter balls are completely covered in chocolate, which tastes better, but makes them difficult to distinguish from chocolate covered coconut balls (confounding those who–inexplicably–dislike either peanut butter or coconut)

If you’re a fan of these and have easy access to them from family and friends, you may not want to actually read the recipe, but if not, a simple version appears below:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Beat peanut butter and butter in mixer until creamy. Blend in powdered sugar until mixture holds together. Shape into one-inch balls and place on wax-paper covered cookie sheet. Freeze for one hour. 

After peanut butter balls have been in freezer one hour, melt chocolate chips and shortening in microwave (about 1 minute). Spear peanut butter balls with toothpick and dip in chocolate mixture (if you want buckeyes, leave the top center uncovered; for peanut butter balls dip them all the way). Place on cookie sheet and refrigerate, covered, until chocolate is set. Store in refrigerator until eating or gifting. 

2 responses to “All I Want for Christmas is Candy: Peanut Butter Balls or Buckeyes

  1. Wow. I feel kind of weird admitting that I always wondered what people in Michigan did about Buckeyes. Do they enjoy the treat and set aside bloody sport rivalry in the name of peanut butter and chocolate — or do they forsake the treat to beat all treats out of team loyalty?

    Thank you for answering the question I was too embarrassed to ask, all while reaffirming that peanut butter and chocolate always prospers in the end.

  2. My family always made these with rice krispies and chunky peanut butter, which nicely breaks up the otherwise overwhelming stickiness and density of the buckeyes. Otherwise, our recipe’s more or less the same as yours, and I rarely go a December without making a batch…

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