Sparkle Kitchen
Grandma Mary's Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)

Grandma Mary's Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)

In The Willowbee Tree story “Give and Take”, Clancy loves his mother's baking so much that one day he takes more than his share and hides it away in his room. He believes that his mother won't notice the missing treats. When the Willow tree takes him to Borneo to meet some long-nosed monkeys and a mother orangutan, he learns the value of giving rather than taking.

This story happily reminded me of the peanut butter balls my Grandma Mary used to make every Christmas. While everyone in the family enjoyed them, I was definitely the biggest fan. Grandma Mary knew how dearly I loved them, and she would always tuck a dozen into an old coffee can and hide them in the back of her refrigerator just for me.

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My first year away at college, I missed them so much that I made her dictate the recipe to me over the phone. While I still have that now very well-stained recipe card, I've made a few updates of my own since then, subbing coconut oil for her “oleo” and beeswax for her paraffin wax. If you're inclined to make similar substitutions, a few hints:

First, depending on how you store your coconut oil, you'll need to get it to a pourable consistency before you mix it with the peanut butter. The best way I've found is to put the jar in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes until it starts to liquefy.

Second, the beeswax is a cheat to get the chocolate to set up firmly without having to temper it. While it might seem odd, you're probably already eating beeswax on fruits and commercially prepared chocolates. You'll be in for a world of frustration — and gooey, mushy peanut butter balls — if you try to leave it out.

I don't think I can honestly say that these substitutions make my grandma's peanut butter balls any healthier — there's a reason I only make them once a year — but they do feel a tiny bit more virtuous.

Another thing that feels good? I don't need my secret stash anymore. This recipe makes enough to enjoy a few on my own and still share plenty with friends.

Grandma Mary's Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)

(Makes about 40 peanut butter balls, depending on size)

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2 cups (16 ounces) peanut butter 1 cup lukewarm coconut oil 1 ½ pounds powdered sugar 20 ounces dark chocolate chips 2 ounces food-grade beeswax


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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the peanut butter and coconut oil. With the mixer running on low, add in the powdered sugar a little at a time, carefully draping a towel over the top of the mixer to help contain the powdered sugar dust.

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When all the powdered sugar is mixed in, the dough should stick to itself, but not to your fingers. If the mixture is too sticky, gradually add a bit more powdered sugar. If it's too crumbly, add another tablespoon or two of coconut oil.

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Scoop the peanut butter mixture out into balls on a parchment lined baking sheet. You can adjust the size depending on your preferred peanut butter to chocolate ratio, but I like mine somewhere between a large marble and a golf ball. Chill the peanut butter balls in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to over night.

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When you're ready to dip the balls in chocolate, chop the beeswax into small chunks. In a double boiler, melt the wax together with the chocolate chips. The wax will take longer than the chocolate to melt, but if you stir it frequently it won't scorch.

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Remove the chocolate from the heat. Using a toothpick or skewer, dip each peanut butter ball in the chocolate and place on parchment paper to cool.

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My grandmother always covered her peanut butter balls completely in chocolate, but if you want a more traditional “buckeye” leave a small spot of uncovered peanut butter at the top to better mimic the nuts.

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Once the chocolate has completely cooled, place the peanut butter balls in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within a few months.

Print recipe card HERE.

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About the Author

Meryl Carver-Allmond

Sparkle Kitchen & Craft Blogger

The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.

Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.

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