What are chocolate buckeyes?

20 Jan 2022

Food + Drink

Full of character and flavour, chocolate buckeyes are a must-try for peanut butter lovers

For every famous confectionary like the chocolate truffle, there are many that don’t enjoy quite the same level of worldwide fame. The world of chocolate is as diverse as it is tasty, which means there are always new treats around the corner to discover. One scrumptious snack you might not have heard of is the chocolate buckeye, alternatively called the buckeye candy.

Read on to learn all about chocolate buckeyes: what they are, where they’re from, and how you can make your very own at home.

Woman pouring melted chocolate from a whisk for chocolate buckeyes

What are chocolate buckeyes made from?

In essence, chocolate buckeyes are peanut butter balls dipped in yummy chocolate. A small circle of the peanut butter is left uncovered, giving buckeyes their distinctive appearance. The saltiness of the peanut pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the chocolate. This contrast between flavours makes nuts and chocolate the perfect combination sure to delight your taste buds.

Where do chocolate buckeyes come from?

Chocolate buckeyes themselves are a simple snack, but there is a surprisingly complex history behind the name. You might know Ohio as the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but as chocolate enthusiasts, we know it as the home of chocolate buckeyes. This tasty treat hails from the midwestern United States and is named after the humble aesculus glabra, or Ohio buckeye tree, which is the state tree of Ohio.

Buckeye nuts are fairly similar to horse chestnuts. The dark nut with a smaller white spot resembles a bright deer’s eye, which is why the Native Americans living in the area called them ‘hetuck’, which means ‘buck eyes’. Since then, the state of Ohio has taken on the buckeye identity for its own. Ohio State University uses the name for its sports teams, and it can be used as a slang term for the people of Ohio. It’s so iconic, in fact, that the state is sometimes called the “Buckeye State”!

The buckeye candy has its own story to tell too. The invention of buckeyes is attributed to Gail Tabor in the 1960s, when she dipped peanut butter balls in chocolate and noticed that they looked like buckeye nuts. Tabor’s buckeyes became a tradition for the annual Ohio State-Michigan game, and since then have become something like the unofficial state candy.

A handful of conkers - which are a bit like buckeyes!

How to make chocolate buckeyes

If you’ve read this far and think you want a taste of chocolate buckeyes, you’re in luck! Chocolate buckeyes are easy to make at home, using only household cooking equipment and ingredients. And there’s no baking required — just a freezer and a method of melting chocolate. And if you’re not sure what the best way to melt chocolate is, you can always check out our handy guide beforehand to get your chocolate mouth-wateringly smooth.

Our recipe should make around 40 buckeyes, but feel free to adjust the quantities if you want more or less. You can keep them in the fridge for several weeks. Alternatively, wrap them tightly and store in the freezer for several months and they’ll still be good to go.

Ingredients

  • 475g smooth peanut butter
  • 115g butter (softened)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 340g dark chocolate

Method

  1. First, mix the peanut butter and softened butter together in a bowl, then add the vanilla extract.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and mix well to create a dough.
  3. Scoop up tablespoon-sized pieces of dough and shape them into balls by rolling them in your hands.
  4. Place the balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Chill them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, then take them out and spear each one with a toothpick.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl.
  7. Using the toothpick, dip each peanut butter ball in the chocolate. To give your buckeyes their distinctive appearance, make sure that a round spot of peanut butter is still showing on one side.
  8. Place back on the baking sheet and remove the toothpick. You can smooth over the toothpick mark with your finger for a cleaner look.
  9. Leave the buckeyes in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden before serving.
Peanut butter

What kind of chocolate is best for chocolate buckeyes?

Although ultimately it comes down to personal preference, our recommendation is a high-quality dark chocolate. The deep, decadent flavour of dark chocolate contrasts magically with the peanut butter. The recipe calls for a fair amount of icing sugar, but a darker chocolate can work together with the peanut butter to keep your sweet from becoming too sweet. You may also wish to choose an unsweetened peanut butter for this recipe.

With the rich flavour and smoothness characteristic of Hotel Chocolat and the perfect shape for breaking into smaller pieces for measuring, we reckon our 70% Dark Chocolate Batons are up to the challenge.

If you prefer milk chocolate, however, don’t let this stop you! After all, who are we to deny a little extra sweetness in life? Luckily, our 40% Milk Chocolate Batons will work just as well for dipping.

Squares of nutty chocolate

Why chocolate and peanuts?

As mentioned before, the contrasting flavours of nuts and chocolates make them a great pair that work together to make the unforgettable nut chocolate flavours that so many of us love.

Peanuts in particular have a long and storied partnership with chocolate. Perhaps this is because of their excellent balance of saltiness and mellow sweet notes.

We love using peanut butter in our own products. For a silky smooth peanut and chocolate sensation, the Peanut Butter Chocolate Selector is our go-to, but if you like a bit of crunch with your peanut butter, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Slab has it all. Or if you prefer your guilty pleasures in liquid form, our Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate Sachets let you experience these two flavours as a warming hot chocolate, perfect for a cosy evening inside.

Whether you’re looking to find a taste of Ohio or you’re just a peanut butter lover, we think these chocolate buckeyes will hit the spot. And if you make some at home, feel free to tweet your results to us @HotelChocolat — we’d love to see what you make.