Buckeyes are a traditional holiday candy in the Midwest, and growing up they were one of my favorite candies. Resembling an amped-up peanut butter cup, the peanut butter filling is partially dipped into chocolate to look like the nuts of the buckeye tree. I have always found them to be irresistible, but the traditional recipes call for an enormous amount of sugar (4 to 6 cups of powdered sugar, depending on the recipe). This redo is significantly lower in sugar, uses almond butter instead of peanut butter, and dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Still not health food, but you can feel much better about indulging in these as an annual treat.
I used two tablespoons of raw honey for the almond butter filling and found the end product to be a bit too sweet, so use that as a guideline and adjust according to the strength of your sweet tooth–adding or subtracting a tablespoon of honey will not significantly alter the texture of the filling. One of our local groceries sells wonderful house-made almond butter that is slightly grainy and fairly thick, which is what I used. For a runny brand of almond butter you might need to increase the amount of coconut butter so you can work with the filling.
- 1/3 cup coconut butter (ground, whole coconut, also called coconut cream concentrate)
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 6 ounces dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the coconut butter, almond butter, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, and honey for one minute on high. Stir until the mixture is completely blended. If there are still lumps, microwave it for another 30 seconds and stir again.
- Refrigerate the filling for 20 minutes, or until it is firm enough to handle but has not completely solidified. Shape the filling into approximately 20 balls. Place the formed filling back into the refrigerator to firm up completely.
- Break up the dark chocolate into a small, deep, microwave-safe bowl. Add the tablespoon of coconut oil to the bowl and then microwave on high for one minute. Stir the mixture, and microwave another 30 seconds if necessary to make sure it is smooth.
- To dip the centers, press a toothpick into each ball and partially dip into the chocolate, leaving some of the filling visible. Place on waxed paper or aluminum foil. After all of the candies are dipped, leave them at room temperature or refrigerate until completely firm.
- Note: the flavor and texture of these is best served at room temperature, but if you are transporting these or giving them as a gift they will hold up better if chilled.
The amount of chocolate that you need to dip these depends somewhat on the size and the shape of the bowl that you use, with a deeper, more narrow bowl being ideal for easy dipping. Because you always have some leftover melted chocolate after dipping candies, I always have some nuts and/or dried fruit on hand to stir into the leftovers. Drop that mixture by the spoonful onto waxed paper and let it cool, and you have mini fruit-and-nut chocolate clusters as a bonus.
Coconut butter is a bit pricey but it is incredibly versatile, particularly if you are trying to reduce the sugar in your diet. It has a natural sweetness, is really high in fiber, and because it sets up at room temperature it is a great way to create a candy texture without a ton of sugar. It’s worth having some on hand for healthier candies.
Dietary variations: For a dairy-free candy, use a dairy-free chocolate such as Enjoy Life. For a very low sugar version, use 85% or higher cacao for the chocolate and use 20 drops of stevia in place of the honey. For a vegan candy, use dairy-free chocolate and substitute maple syrup for the honey.
Thanks for reading,