Little known fact – I am an Ohio native. And when I grew up, we had a huge sloping yard that we would sled down in the winter and have log roll races down amidst raucous laughter in the summer. And sometimes as you were tumbling through the long grass you might hit a round little nugget on your noggin, called a buckeye.
Yes, the state tree is fur reals. And those fun little ball bullets were the subject of much consternation from my father as he would dutifully mow the lawn week after week. Sorry Dad, but I did think they were cool.
You may be unfamiliar with our arbor mascot, but perhaps you are more accustomed to seeing the Brutus varietal of buckeye, as in The OSU Buckeyes. Sadly, I was never allowed to be a fan. Coming from an alumnus family of Michigan Wolverines the closest I ever came to chanting a rally cry was to “crush those buckeye nuts” which I surely didn’t fully appreciate the double entendre until I was much older.
Never-the-less, I do have a fondness of the buckeye CANDY and after perusing what may be my second new favorite baking website after Bakerella, I found the recipe on Vintage Sugarcube. If you have not seen this swanky little retro dessert haven, please venture in. But I warn you, you may feel a little – shall we say – naughty when you are through?
Anyway, anyway, anyway, it reminded me how much I used to love this fall confectionary delight when I saw the recipe right there taunting me to make it. The ingredients are alarmingly basic:
And naturally something that abbreviated yet delicious would surely be fun for Princess Cupcake to concoct as well. It had all the makings for 2 y.o. amusement: dumping, stirring, rolling and dipping. Yup, sign us up.
Now before you go all Nutrition Nazi on me, relax. My kid hates peanut butter so chill. She was making these for Mommy, Daddy and the Michigan (ha, ha, ha) relatives descending upon us in a few days. And really for the sheer joy of “I help you?” because at the sweet age of 2 and half, that’s what she lives for. To help Mommy deconstruct the kitchen.
We got out the stand mixer and she enthusiastically dumped in the globs of peanut butter and gave a valiant attempt to spoon out the rest from the measuring cup while simultaneously running the wooden spoon through my hair. (I actually halfed the recipe if you are wondering why I had measuring cups involved.) Mommy unpeeled the softened butter because our last experience with such ended up with her squeezing it like a tube of toothpaste from the wrapper and it catapulting into my hair (see a theme?) and all over my shirt – which by the way, does not come out willingly from navy blue cotton. When I turned on the mixer and gradually increased the speed she gleefully squealed, “Go FAS-TER?!?” (Now, seriously, why can’t she say this when I am driving???)
Next I measured out the powdered sugar and let her add that to the mixer bit by bit. The sugar dust was not well received initially, but once it cleared she was again mesmerized by the spinning.
As soon as everything was combined properly, we relocated to the kitchen table to assemble the balls. Well, Mommy rolled the candy into little round circles. Princess Cupcake has a bit of practice to do on her technique but accommodated nicely by proudly proclaiming that she was making “caterpillars.” Works for me.
She soon gave up on the peanut butter candy logs and then found great joy in taking the balls that Mommy had carefully crafted and splatting them across the table like she was pitching baseballs onto the wax paper lined cookie sheet – accompanied by a fit of giggles each time. Really, who cares if the candy looks like they it has been run over? It was pretty fun.
Next we put our smushy mess in the freezer to chill for a couple hours. When we came back to the project and started to melt the chocolate chips, she scrambled up into her booster seat with the skill of a mountain goat. The call of cocoa was incredible incentive. I swear I’d never seen her do that unaided before.
She was fascinated by the melting process and loved stirring the chips as they changed form. At first we dipped our peanut butter “shapes” by hand. She was pretty light handed on the chocolate, probably because I told her it was hot so she proceeded with caution, so Mommy needed to intervene. These needed serious chocolate dousing. I wised up and got out the candy tools, stabbed a few of her caterpillars and squished balls and let her dip those. She found great joy in not so much the dipping process itself, but in using the additional tool to remove the candy from the forked one and onto the cookie sheet. This is where the real massacre to the candy occurred.
None-the-less, when I close my eyes and taste our masterpiece, these little pieces of heaven hearken the days of my youth. The dreamy creamy peanuty goodness enveloped with the chocolate coating just melt in your mouth. If you look at them, you are struck with the realization that I have released my inner Martha and fully embraced the perfection that is my child. I guess that’s what you call full circle, squished as it may be.