Overview

Buckeyes are one of the signature confections of the Midwest. The little balls of peanut butter filling, coated in chocolate save for a small circle at the top, pay homage to the native buckeye nuts of Ohio. They’re time-consuming to make, so this bar version cut into small fingers is just as satisfying without all the work. If it reminds you of a whole pan of peanut butter cups, you would not be wrong.

Recipe notes: To make a nut-free version, replace the peanut butter with Biscoff cookie butter and reduce the confectioners’ sugar to 1 cup.

This recipe can easily be doubled for a 9-by-13-inch pan.

The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for several months. (In case you’re wondering, they’re delicious straight from the freezer.)

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Ingredients

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER LAYER

1 3/4 cups (215 grams) very finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from 14 rectangles, crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor)

1 1/2 cups (160 grams) confectioners' sugar

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup (192 grams) creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy or Jif brand

2 ounces (57 grams) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER

3/4 cup (125 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling (optional)


Steps

Step 1

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on the sides to form a sling that you can use to lift the slab out later.

Step 2

Make the peanut butter layer: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a large bowl and a handheld mixer, combine the graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, peanut butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt on medium-low speed until well blended. Pat evenly into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until lightly set and cool to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Step 3

Make the chocolate layer: In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring well after each interval, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, then spread evenly over the peanut butter layer. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.

Step 4

Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Using the parchment handles, transfer the slab from the pan to a cutting board, and cut into fingers.

Adapted from “Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland” by Shauna Sever (Running Press, 2019).

Tested by Diana Maxwell and Amanda Soto; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Nutrition

Calories: 240; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 170 mg; Carbohydrates: 24 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 15 g; Protein: 4 g.