|Ohio Buckeyes – King of Fast and Easy Homemade Gifts!
I’ve been busy busy this year, but I like giving homemade gifts for Christmas. I learned to make this homemade Christmas candy at the end of college, and it’s been an (almost) yearly tradition ever since. Compared with most homemade Christmas candy, Ohio Buckeyes are a really fast and easy homemade gift!
If you’re not from Ohio or Pennsylvania, then you probably haven’t heard of “Ohio Buckeyes” candies? Suffice it to say “Peanut Butter and Chocolate.” They’re peanut-butter balls dipped in chocolate with a circle of peanut butter showing. The whole point is that they look like the seeds of the Buckeye tree, and are delicious. This is the homemade Christmas candy that your friend’s Grandma always made, and you’d only ever get to eat one of them, when in fact, you could have eaten a Volkswagon full.
Best part? This homemade Christmas candy is easy to make (the only cooking you do is to melt chocolate!) These easy homemade gifts can be made well ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to send them to someone, and the recipients will be so pleased, they’ll probably buy you an expensive store-bought gift to return the favor! A win-win situation!! ;)
Let’s get down to brass tacks. I got this recipe from my Grandma Jean’s church cookbook. Recipe submitted by …..
Ingredients you will need to make this homemade Christmas candy:
- 1 lb butter (at room temperature)
- 2 lbs peanut butter (I use tasty organic, natural peanut butter and have no problem, in fact, I think they’re better this way. I wouldn’t trust a non-organic peanut further than I could throw it!)
- 3 lbs powdered sugar
- at least 3, 12 oz. packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or the bitterest chips you can find – the sugar in the peanut butter part of these easy homemade candies, means the chocolate can be as dark and luscious as you can afford!)
I like to use my stand mixer for this, but you could also use a hand mixer, or a heavy wooden spoon to whip up these easy homemade gifts:
- Place the room temperature butter and the peanut butter inside a deep mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer (or a wooden spoon, if you’re feeling energetic!) until thoroughly combined.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing carefully so that you don’t toss up too much of a sugar dust cloud, until all the the sugar has been incorporated and a sort of “dough” has been produced. (If you have the smaller size of stand mixer, like mine, this could get pretty exciting, just keep on ‘a’ mixin’!)
- Place the bowl of the peanut butter mixture into the refrigerator for X hours to let it firm up.
- Meanwhile, line some cookie sheets with waxed paper. Take out the peanut butter mixture and begin rolling it into 1.5 inch balls (really whatever size looks good to you!) and place them on the cookie sheets with a little space in between them. As you get cookie sheets filled up, pop ‘em back in the fridge to wait until you’ve got all the balls ready. (Or you can work on this part in batches, the peanut-butter mixture will be fine for a few days in the fridge!)
- Now, to melt the chocolate for your homemade Christmas candy! Pour your chocolate chips into the top of a double boiler (or into a metal bowl that’s big enough to sit on top of a small or medium saucepan, which is what I do!) Fill the saucepan, or the bottom of the double boiler, with a couple inches of water. Heat on high until the water boils, reduce to simmer and then place the bowl on top. Stir the chips occasionally as they melt so that they’ll melt evenly. When it’s all melted, I remove the pan from the heat. (It’s easier to get a good, thick, chocolate coating if the chocolate is melted, but not too warm.) While you’re working, if you find that the chocolate gets too cool, you can simply return the pan to simmer and let it all remelt. :)
- When you get a cookie sheet filled with candies, pop it in the fridge to speed up the hardening of the chocolate while you make the rest of the Buckeyes.
- The last step is to use your finger to rub out the hole made in the peanut butter by the toothpick, and if you’re feeling really fancy, place the homemade candies into little paper liners inside fancy containers. If you want to fill the containers two layers deep, place a layer of waxed paper between layers so they won’t stick. You can put your container on top of the waxed paper to mark where to cut so the waxed paper will fit nicely inside.
- To ship, I recommend freezing your candy in the containers you’ll be sending them in, right up until you’re ready to make up the package, that way they’ll stay pretty cool ’till they reach their destination. It’s ok for these to sit out at room temperature for a while, but if you’re keeping them to be brought out for a holiday party, then refrigerate or freeze them. I imagine the FDA would shiver at the thought of room temperature butter, but not me! These will keep very nicely in the freezer for up to a year. (I made them in July once and it was so great to have them all ready to send!)
There you have it, Easy! You can still manage to make an authentic, easy homemade gift, a gift from the heart, even on a tight schedule and a tight budget! Take it from me, I work 40 hours a week at two jobs and spend about another 40 running my handmade jewelry business and I still had time to make these easy homemade gifts AND blog about them! And let me just note, that this homemade Christmas candy is not as easy to make with your (non-dominant) left hand while you’re taking pictures with your right. Oh, and try not to get peanut butter on the camera, all right? Happy Holidays everyone, and Happy Crafting!!