Buckeyes

We all love peanut butter in my house, especially Reece’s peanut butter cups.  Not overly keen on the chocolate though, sorry!  These are very similar to a peanut butter cup, but homemade and – well, nicer chocolate too!

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I’ve seen buckeyes around on the internet for a few years now and they are traditional in Ohio as they resemble the buckeye tree nut – basically just like a conker.  They are traditionally served around Christmas time, so I thought I would have a go and bring buckeyes to the UK.

They are really easy to make and take no time at all to make a batch.  I have a double recipe here, which makes practically a whole tree full, but you can halve the recipe, or halve the dough, freeze it and make some another time.  They are really rich and indulgent, so you wouldn’t want to eat too many anyway, but great for a crowd.

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I have used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate, but you could go all dark to offset the sugar a little if you wish.

Ingredients:
500g smooth peanut butter – I used Skippy
120g softened butter
pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
450g icing sugar – seived
200g dark 70% chocolate
100g milk chocolate

Method:
Beat the peanut butter, butter, salt and vanilla in bowl until smooth. I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but this is easily done by hand.

On low speed (and with a towel wrapped around the mixer) beat in the sugar until combined. You are looking for a fairly stiff and mouldable mixture that you can easily roll into balls without getting in a mess. If it looks too sticky, add in a little more icing sugar. Similarly, if it is too dry and turns into crumbs, add another spoon of peanut butter. Its a very simple mixture, you can’t really go wrong.

Taking around a tablespoon of mixture for each one, roll into balls and place on a non stick liner, or waxed parchment. Skewer each one with a cocktail stick and chill, or freeze until firm.

Buckeyes

When you are ready to dip, break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in the microwave, stirring the last few lumps in the residual heat to completely melt.

I like to transfer to a smaller bowl at this point as you want to dunk the balls to coat them.

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Dip each ball into the molten chocolate and let the excess run back into the bowl and place back onto the non stick liner. As the peanut butter balls are so cold, the chocolate will set immediately and leave you with a nice, thin, crisp shell.

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Finish coating all of the balls, tipping the bowl as the chocolate runs out and leave to set.

Pull out the cocktail sticks and leave the chocolate to completely set, before smoothing out the hole with a clean finger, or the back of a teaspoon.

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I prefer them kept refrigerated, but you can place them into little paper cases in a festive box and give them as gifts.

Peanut Butter Fudge

This is a quick recipe for a very indulgent treat.

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This is just a small batch, but the recipe can easily be doubled. The fudge is super creamy, buttery and delicious, but very rich!

It’s perfect for cutting into squares and filling little bags, tied with ribbon for a gift.

The fudge gets incredibly hot, so it goes without saying that no children should come anywhere near when making it and there can be absolutely no sampling until it has cooled down!

PB Fudge

Ingredients:
450g caster sugar
60g butter
120ml/½ cup whole milk
One 397g tin of condensed milk
180g/around ¾ cup of smooth peanut butter

Method:
Line a 20cm/8 inch square baking tray with greaseproof paper or foil, leaving an overhang in order to pull the fudge out.

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Put the milk and sugar in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat with a candy thermometer and keep stirring until all the sugar has melted. You need the sugar to fully dissolve into the milk or it could burn on the bottom of the pan. Don’t rush this stage, just let the sugar gently melt, stirring all the time, before progressing to the next stage.

When the sugar and milk are ready, stir in the butter and let it melt, before increasing the heat and bringing it up to a full boil.

Turn the heat down and stir in the condensed milk.

Turn the heat back up and bring the temperature up to the soft ball stage – 116°C/240°F. It will now be a lovely caramel colour.

Once you have reached this stage, remove from the heat and add it to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the peanut butter and beat it thoroughly until it has thickened (about 5 minutes). You can also do this with a wooden spoon.

Pile it into the waiting tray and use a spatula to flatten it down and into all the corners.

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If disaster happens and you get a few black, burnt sugar particles come up from the bottom when you are stirring, all is not lost! Very carefully, use a metal sieve and filter them out when you transfer the fudge to the bowl for beating.

You have to do this fairly quickly, while the fudge is still molten, but if you only have a few burnt particles, the fudge shouldn’t taste burnt. The best way of avoiding burnt fudge is to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved right at the start.

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Once the fudge has set, lift it out of the tray and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with Salted Caramel Sauce

This recipe is only for people who LOVE peanut butter! The filling is rich, creamy and packed full of smooth peanut butter.

Mini PB cheesecakes

For the crust, I have used caramelised Lotus Biscoff biscuits which are quite dangerous to have around the house as they are so moreish. However, they are perfect for the base of just about any cheesecake. Their delicate spice and caramel flavour work so well with the peanut butter and the salted caramel sauce.

I have made a batch of caramel sauce myself, but Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Salted Caramel Sauce works perfectly well here too, just warm the jar slightly to make the sauce pour easily.

I think these would be great for a small, but decadent dessert and would work well for a holiday party.

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Crust:
25 Lotus Biscoff biscuits
50g salted butter, melted

Filling:
300g Full fat cream cheese at room temperature, I used Philadelphia
200g sour cream
300g Smooth peanut butter
120g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs plain/all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Caramel Sauce:
200g sugar
100g salted butter
120g double/heavy cream
1tsp sea salt

I used Masterclass 12 hole mini sandwich tin for my cheesecakes, but these can easily be made in muffin cases too.

Method:
Start by making the caramel sauce to allow it time to cool.

Add the sugar to a deep, heavy based pan and heat until melted. Stir in the butter until combined and then pour in the cream, stirring all the time until it reaches a rolling boil. It will bubble and rise up as it boils which is why you need a pan deep enough. Allow to boil for a minute or two, it should be the colour of golden amber. Stir in the salt and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare the tin by lightly greasing the sides.

For the crust, blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add to the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.

Equally distribute the buttery crumbs between the cups and firm them down with the back of a spoon, shot glass, or pastry tamper if you have one. The crusts need to be neat and compact so you don’t have any crumbs in the actual cheesecake.

Bake the crusts for 5 minutes and allow to cool while you make the filling

For the filling, add the cream cheese and sugar to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can also use a hand mixer for this. Beat on high speed until super smooth and fluffy.

Add the vanilla, cream and beat again until smooth, then add the eggs until just combined. Finally stir in the peanut butter until fully incorporated. I do this final step by hand so as not to whip too much air in that could crack the cheesecakes.

Pour in the filling onto the part-baked crusts. They will not rise very much, so you can fill almost to the top.

Bake for around 18-20 minutes or until just set. Keep an eye on them as they will crack if over-baked.

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Remove from the oven and allow them to cool down to room temperature. Then wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly. The loose bottoms of this tin allow you to push the refrigerated cheesecakes out with no problems.

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When ready to serve, pour on a little salted caramel sauce. These are super rich and sweet and I have served mine with some tart blackberries.