If you don’t know what a buckeye is, you’re probably not from Ohio. Buckeye trees are found throughout the Midwest, but Ohio appropriated the buckeye tree as its own and The Ohio State University claims the buckeye as its mascot.
We refer to its seeds as “buckeyes.” When they drop from the tree, they have a spiny, prickly shell, but inside is a harder shell that encases a nut. The inner shell and nut look very similar to chestnuts only they’re poisonous. In the fall, yards all over the Midwest are peppered with these little nuts — just in time for football season.
I was born and raised in Colorado, but most of my family is from Ohio so I have a deep knowledge of all things midwestern. There’s A LOT of pride for the Buckeyes, so it’s no surprise there’s an edible version of the poisonous nuts — the Buckeye Ball. It’s also the state dessert. Basically, buckeye candies are peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate with a bit of the peanut butter exposed to make it look like a real buckeye. They’re like peanut butter cups, so you can imagine how delicious they are. It would be nearly impossible to change this recipe to make it my own EXCEPT that there are so many people with peanut allergies… I’m making this a nut-free buckeye. Instead of peanut butter, I’m using sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) because everyone should know the pleasure of biting into a buckeye 🙂 (unless you went to a Big Ten school and refuse to eat them — but that’s your problem).
One caveat: there are a few ways to make the chocolate shell. I think the original version uses paraffin wax, but some people use shortening. I have made buckeyes without either, but they melt onto your fingers. I try to use shortening sparingly, so this recipe uses a minimal amount of paraffin wax. It’s edible and helps keep the shape of the candy, so I’m ok with that.
- 6 tb sunbutter (unsweetened)
- 3 tb butter, softened
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 4 ounces chocolate
- 1 tb (½ oz) paraffin wax
Add the vanilla and keep mixing. Scoop out a 1.5 tablespoons (#50 cookie scoop), roll it in your hands to smooth out the ball and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Repeat 15 more times. Place the pan in the freezer.
Using a toothpick, dip each sunbutter ball in the chocolate, leaving just the top of the butter exposed.
Sunbutter Buckeyes are just as good as the original — now there’s no reason for someone to miss out on buckeye deliciousness! (this of course, can be made vegan if you replace the butter with coconut oil and use dark chocolate).