Handmade holiday gifts #3
Quick and easy Buckeye Bark
Buckeye Bark photo by JP Thimot
Few people can resist a peanut butter center with a chocolate shell. The pairing evokes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, an eighty-five-year-old favorite that has inspired a plethora of homemade confections, including Buckeyes, the hand-rolled peanut butter and chocolate dipped treat on the top of every cookie exchangers wish list. But creating homemade peanut butter cups or Buckeyes can be time consuming. Since time is hard to come by, particularly at this time of year, you should try to skip the Buckeye’s many steps (roll, swirl, dunk, repeat!) if you can help it. Instead, enjoy the delicious pairing of chocolate and peanut butter with less work by making Buckeye Bark. It’s as easy as melting, mixing, spreading, and setting.
Besides being simpler to make, the bark makes for a fun and unusual presentation when gift giving. Packaging ideas include: using a food-safe cellophane bag with a colorful ribbon; wrapping in patterned tissue paper and securing with a sticker seal; or tossing in small white candy boxes and calling the whole thing done. If you’re really pressed for time, present the bark right in the tray and let your loved ones go to town, breaking it off, chip by chip. They won’t mind.
Yield: 15 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
2 1/2 pounds Ghirardelli chocolate chips
1 pound natural creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 18”x13”) with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Over medium heat, melt half the chocolate in a double boiler, then spread evenly over the baking sheet. Place in the freezer to set; this should take 5–10 minutes.
Once the chocolate has firmly set, beat the peanut butter, powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Remove the chocolate layer from the freezer and spread the peanut butter mixture over the top. Return to the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, return to the double boiler and melt the remaining chocolate. Once the peanut butter layer is set, spread the remaining melted chocolate over the top. Return the sheet to the freezer until all layers are frozen.
Break the bark into small pieces using a large, sharp knife. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to package or serve.