Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky Link Up - "Irish" Buckeye Balls

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Erin Go Braugh my friends! I'm so excited to see how the recipes turned out for everyone!

I was matched with Vanessa from Sunflower State of Mind.  She made Irish Buckeyes, which I was oddly excited about.  Not because chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination ever, but because I'm sort of a pro at Buckeyes.

(FYI, for the non-Ohio/northeasterners, buckeyes or buckeye candy resemble the nut of the Ohio Buckeye tree... hence the Ohio State University Buckeye mascot)

Growing up my mom always exchanged Christmas cookies with our neighbors, which each had our own family specialties.  Our one neighbor always made Buckeye Balls and chocolate fudge.  At some point my mom asked for the Buckeye recipe, I started making them myself in college and the rest is history.... or fat on my thighs.

While I still make other Christmas cookies, I always make Buckeyes each year (my recipe here).  I wanted this recipe swap to be a bit of challenge, so I challenged myself to find a way to make them food dye free, since greening them up was the whole St. Patty's Day kicker.

I was also excited to try Vanessa's Buckeye recipe since it yielded a smaller amount than the giant batch I make at the holidays (an entire 12oz container of peanut butter vs just a 1/2C this time).

Naturally, I turned to spinach. As anyone who's had a green monster knows, you really only need a littler to turn everything green and it's usually tasteless.

I'll be honest up front. This didn't quite turn out the way I planned.  Personally, I think the butter to peanut butter ratio was a bit off, I would use less butter next time, but that's just my preference.  I also prefer chocolate to white chocolate, especially when paired with peanut butter.  So I made both.

I used the same recipe as Vanessa, I just omitted the green food coloring and added spinach.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 bag white chocolate chips
1/2C frozen  spinach


I followed my usual routine, mixing the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla. I prefer a pastry blender to a mixer since over mixing can cause the peanut butter and butter to become too fluffy and soft.  At that point, it's almost impossible to roll them into balls without them being a sticky mess and holding their shape.  (At least that's my experience)

Once rolled into balls, stick them back in the fridge.  I like to keep them as cold as possible since it helps when getting them to stick to the tooth pick when dipping them in the melted chocolate.

Now here is where I went astray.  I decided to use spinach to color the white chocolate chips.  First mistake was my impatience.  I knew I should have used thawed or fresh spinach, but I was trying to get this all done during naptime and waiting it out wasn't going to happen.

I used a 1/2 Cup of frozen spinach and blended it.  I added a little bit of water to help.  I melted my chocolate chips in the microwave in a glass dish stirring every 30 seconds.  Additionally, I didn't use the whole bag since I was going to be experimenting here and there and the recipe only yielded about 25 balls.

I also like to add a teaspoon (or tablespoon depending on the amount of chocolate) of crisco to keep the chocolate thin and easier to dip and coat.  I've also heard olive oil will do the same.

I mixed in a little of the spinach at a time.  As you can see, blending it frozen left it rather chopped.  If it was pureed fresh it might have smoother in texture, or you can just say it's little clovers if you are lazy like me.

I ended up doing a few different attempts.  Peanut butter balls dipped in green white chocolate, peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate with green white chocolate drizzle, and peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate with festive shamrock sprinkles incase the spinach flavor ruined the rest.

For the drizzle, I just poured my melted chocolate in a ziploc and cut a hole at the corner.

In the end, I wasn't a fan of the "Irish" green buckeyes.  I don't think the spinach was noticable, but I think it was the white chocolate and peanut butter combo that just wasn't right.  The chocolate versions were definitely up my alley, I would just use less butter or more peanut butter next time to kick up the flavor a bit.

Have you ever tried to substitute natural ingredients for food coloring? Tell me the secrets!  

And don't forget to link up your recipe below! I can't wait to see how everything turned out!


  1. We use spinach for a substitute too!! YUM

  2. I love you for trying to use spinach to dye totally looks like shamrocks ;)

  3. I would have challenged you to make them without peanut butter! I always miss out on this delicious stuff since I'm allergic. :)

  4. Cool idea using spinach instead of food coloring! I've never heard of doing that, but I'm going to have to try it! Ryan's allergic to green food coloring, so this may be a new way of doing things for us! Awesome!

  5. Check out pinterest, lots of natural food dye recipes, i like this one ( They also sell natural food dyes too. I'm not crazy about, Ashlynn will eat her fair share of M&Ms and whatnot, but I figure if there is way to make something without it why not? I read too many reports associating them to ADHD and other issues.

  6. Challenge Accepted! (i hope you watch HIMYM)... seriously, just peanuts or all tree nuts. Probably is the worst allergy to have. I went dairy and soy free for 9months or so last year, wasn't fun, but I did it. I don't know if I could give up PB!

  7. Haha, that's what I tell myself... it was intentional ;) ;)

  8. Never thought of spinach!

  9. What a neat idea to use the spinach instead of food coloring! It totally looks cool!

  10. Well yours look about a thousand times cuter than mine--as expected!!! I wish I would've made a few with regular chocolate too...Chris liked the white, but I was longing for the original!

  11. Those look so good! Thanks to all the ladies for hosting this! It was a lot of fun to see everyone else's!

  12. I've never tried to use natural ingredients to color food but what a great idea to use spinach. Hope you guys had a great St. Patty's Day!!!

  13. Just linked up with my recipe and realized my picture didn't post! Eeek! Do you know how I can fix it? I tried to click on it, but it brings me to my blog. I tried to right click to delete and it doesn't work. And I tried to click the linky tools button again but it just wants me to re-post... Help!

  14. I don't know! I'm a bit of a linky tools dummy. I would just leave it since the link works or add it again, no worries!!


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