Regardless of the reason why, she drew first blood. My kids and I were on our way to the Midwest and stopped at a Cracker Bucket (name changed to protect the innocent) to buy some oversized, Jumbo Smarties – one of my all-time favorites. As the ‘Barrel’ is the only place that I know to procure them, it was a fairly easy decision, especially considering that the ‘frog strangler’ in which we found ourselves made any forward movement treacherous at best.
Before we even had a chance to get through the door, the cashier told my kids not to touch anything unless they wanted to buy it. I haven’t had anyone say that to my kids, who are certainly not young enough to warrant that sort of backhanded remark, in years. I guess you could say that it caught me off guard.
Relieved to at least know that we were safe for the time being, we worked our way through the country store in search of the quarter-sized sweet and tart confections that were the target. Having spotted them, I strolled over and gazed at something that was at once so familiar yet so foreign that I had to read the label out loud: “Buckeyes.”
Hmm, hadn’t I heard of these candies before? I believe it was just this semester that a student, originally from Pennsylvania, corrected me when I referred to them as ‘peanut butter balls.’ She was stern and relegated me to my study chambers to consider my mortal sin.
All the while, the employee at ‘the Bucket’ spent way too much time concerning herself over my kids, who were doing nothing wrong, were not being loud and were just in fact enjoying a stretch, that I sprung into action.
“Hey, Gabbie, look. They have peanut butter balls.” The cashier was quick to correct me that they were in fact Buckeyes. I said, “Oh, they look like peanut butter balls to me.”
No, it didn’t take long for me to get a lecture on the finer points of Ohio cuisine, and of course one of the mainstays which is the mighty peanut butter ball, err, I mean ‘Buckeye.’ Picking up on it immediately, my daughter announced that we should buy some peanut butter balls for the trip, and she too was corrected by the bombastic Buckeye Zealot. Such an innocuous crime, but one that cheered us up for quite some time.
I guess what they say is true in that when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do. Of course, that would take into account that the Romans aren’t driving you crazy, so in this instance it is safe to say that a little sarcasm will do more than a Red Bull to give you a little punch on the highway, which is exactly what it did.
Whether you call these Peanut Butter Balls or Buckeyes, they really are the same thing; I’m not going to mince words. What makes a Buckeye a Buckeye, though, is in the dipping phase where you only did the bloody thing 2/3 of the way into the chocolate, leaving you with a confection that resembles the nut of Ohio’s state tree.
Sarcasm, a rainstorm and a disgruntled employee. All in all, it made for a fun memory. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some peanut butter balls.
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Buckeyes
To make about 30
1 cup Creamy peanut butter
2 ounces Softened (but not melted) butter
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar
Dipping chocolate (recipe follows)
1. In a double boiler, gently heat peanut butter, butter, salt and extract until you can combine it well. Do not melt everything until it breaks apart. You just want it to come together
2. Remove from heat and cool for ten minutes
3. Add sugar until you have a fairly stiff dough and roll this mixture into about 30 balls
4. Place on wax paper and chill in refrigerator until set
5. Prepare dipping chocolate below and then dip the balls, one at a time, by inserting a toothpick in the top and dipping 3/4 of the way down. This will help this mighty confection to resemble the nut of the buckeye tree
6. Allow to cool until set and then serve
Enough for the above recipe
6 ounces Good quality dark chocolate chips
1 ounce Paraffin wax (Gulf wax)
1. In a double boiler, combine chocolate and wax and heat gently until completely melted and homogenous
2. Ensure that all of the “striping” is gone before trying to coat with this. This simple step will help to prevent any unwanted streaking in the finished product
3. Allow to cool just enough so that it doesn’t melt your delectable peanut butter balls while dipping, but do not let it get too cool as it will start to set up. If this happens, simply reheat gently to loosen it up