Buckeyes

Christmastime is here.

For the past 11 months, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the time when I can break out my Christmas music, bake up a flurry of delightful things in my kitchen, deck my little apartment with sparkling wreaths and ornaments, and unashamedly proclaim to the world once again that yes, I do indeed love Christmas.

The grocery stores declared it to be Christmas months ago. The shopping malls made that declaration even earlier. But I’m a traditionalist. And in my house, that means that nothing Christmas happens until after Thanksgiving. Period.

But once that turkey is gone, there’s no holding back. Open up the floodgates. Here comes Christmas.

The hubby was able to come home for the weekend for Thanksgiving, so the Christmas season started right on time this year. We picked out a tree, shoved it into my tiny little car, and spent a lazy Sunday transforming our home into a winter wonderland.

My home belongs in the Christmas edition of Martha Stewart Living. My Christmas cards are in the mail. Christmas carols are playing on my radio. Gifts are wrapped (but not under the tree. The kitties have already had way too much fun this Christmas.) Secret Santa surprises are ready to go.

The only thing left on my holiday to-do list is my Christmas baking.

That, and waiting for my husband to come home for the holidays.

But first, baking.

I’m kicking off the Christmas baking season with buckeyes. Buckeyes are the one Christmas cookie (or are they a candy?) that come to mind first each year. Maybe it’s because I’m from Ohio. Maybe it’s just because my mom has an affinity for chocolate and peanut butter. Whatever the reason, these were always a Christmas staple in our house when I was growing up.

I’m definitely taking a batch of these to the office. I won’t be surprised if my Southern coworkers have no idea what they are. But I know they’ll love them. Time for this Northern girl to spread a little holiday cheer!

Buckeyes

Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 2.5 hours
Yields about 40 pieces, depending on size

Ingredients
For the peanut butter centers
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Coating
9 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons shortening

Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about one minute or until just soft (check and stir the ingredients every 20 seconds). Stir in the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar; mix until it has the consistency of a dough (add more sugar if necessary).

Roll the dough into 1 inch-round balls, and place balls on the cookie sheet. Insert a toothpick into the center of each ball. Refrigerate for about one hour, or until firm.

Melt the chocolate and shortening in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Pick each ball up by the toothpick and dip it in the melted chocolate, making sure to leave the top quarter of the ball undipped. Using the toothpick, remove the peanut butter ball from the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the chocolate covered balls back on the baking sheet and remove toothpicks. When all the balls have been dipped in the chocolate, place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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