Whenever people ask me how I come up with recipe ideas, I always tell them “Oh, I get inspired by a lot things like vintage cookbooks or what’s in season or a new dessert trend I’ve seen.” But if I’m being honest…..most of my ideas come to me because it’s something I really, really, really want to eat. Like something I’m seriously craving and need to develop a recipe for ASAP so I can eat as much of it as I want. And that’s exactly how the idea for these Healthier Peanut Butter Buckeyes came about.
I had been craving peanut butter desserts for a couple weeks (we’re talking eating peanut butter straight out of the jar type cravings), but wanted something healthier than your typical dessert. Something I could feel good about eating. Basically, I wanted something that tasted like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup…..but was dairy-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar free. I toyed around with some Peanut Butter Energy Bites, but those just weren’t hitting the spot for me. It was during batch 8 or so of those that I realized I was almost making a healthy version of a Buckeye candy. So I switched gears and went all-in on the Buckeyes.
It was a pretty easy switch to make. I had the basic recipe down and just needed to make a few changes to make them less “hiking fuel/post-workout food” and more “this tastes like a Reese’s and I want to eat all of them” kind of treat. The base of the recipe stayed the same: natural crunchy peanut butter (I like the texture the crunch adds to the filling) and coconut flour. To give the peanut butter filling a rich, creamy texture I took out the coconut oil and replaced it with cacao butter. I also amped up the vanilla extract and scaled the honey up just a bit. The final step was dipping them in a naturally sweetened chocolate coating.
I’m not kidding when I say these bad boys taste exactly like the inside of a Reese’s cup. And if you need more convincing – the husband looooved them. He took down almost every test batch I made and he’s not a huge dessert person (crazy….I know…..I’ll convert him one of these days!). The best part about these Healthier Peanut Butter Buckeyes is that you can feel good about eating them. The key to them is the cacao butter. It gives the filling the most luxe texture. You can use coconut oil if you can’t find cacao butter or don’t feel like buying some. But I’ve tested them both ways and the cacao butter really makes a difference.
I hope you’ll give these a try! Don’t let the fact that they’re naturally sweetened and dairy-free scare you off. They are just as decadent a treat as the regular ones!
Healthier Peanut Butter Buckeyes
- Yield: 24 buckeye candies
For the peanut butter filling:
• 1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (look for one that only contains peanuts and no sugars/oils)
• 3 tablespoons melted cacao butter
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (if your peanut butter is salted or if you’re using regular table salt – drop it back to ¼ teaspoon)
• ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon coconut flour
For the chocolate coating:
• 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon melted cacao butter
• 1 teaspoon honey
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the peanut butter, melted cacao butter, honey, vanilla, and kosher salt. Then add in the coconut flour and stir vigorously until everything is well incorporated and no pockets of coconut flour remain.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins. This gives the coconut flour time to fully hydrate and will make it easier to roll the buckeyes. You want it to be the consistency of Play-Doh (not the most appetizing comparison – but it’s the best one I could think of!).
When it reaches the proper consistency, use your hands to roll the filling into generous teaspoon sized balls and place them on your prepared baking sheet. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes. This helps them firm up and makes it easier to dip them in the chocolate.
To make the chocolate coating, place the unsweetened chocolate in a small microwavable bowl and microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until it’s smooth and shiny. Then stir in the melted cacao butter and honey.
Insert a toothpick into the center of your buckeye and carefully dip it into the melted chocolate. You only want to dip them about ¾ of the way in – making sure to leave a circle of the peanut butter filling visible on top. Place the dipped buckeye back on the baking sheet and use your fingers to gently smooth over the hole left by the toothpick (this is purely for aesthetic reasons, but we all want pretty bucekeyes….right??). Repeat this process with the remaining buckeyes and then place them in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is set.
Store them in the fridge in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a week…….if you don’t eat them all first!
* Creamy peanut butter is totally fine if you can’t find a crunchy one. Also, coconut oil can be substituted for the cacao butter and if you’d like to make them vegan – maple syrup can be substituted for the honey.