Saturday, October 5, 2013

Low-carb buckeye treats

Outside our house, we have a horse chestnut tree, though to us transplanted Ohioans, horse chestnuts look suspiciously like buckeyes--probably just in disguise because they're in enemy territory over here in Hoosier-land!

This photo is just the initial pick-up that Lauren did with the girls. We've probably got this many more on the ground in just a couple days, and I don't want to think about how many are still in the tree.

All this, though, got me thinking about the buckeye candies that I--like any good Ohio boy--grew up with: sweet peanut butter balls wrapped in sweeter milk chocolate--delicious invitations to diabetes. Anyway, that's what they seem like now that I'm living a low-carb lifestyle.

Just about this time, though, I came across a recipe for low-carb, high-protein peanut butter balls.  Those called for being rolled in almond meal or some such, but I figured they'd make perfect buckeyes if dipped in chocolate--assuming I could make the chocolate low-carb enough to work for me.

Also, the ingredients I used didn't quite work in the ratios suggested, and if you're trying this at home, yours may not be quite the same as mine. So it goes.

Low-carb Buckeye Treats

1 1/3 c. no-sugar-added peanut butter (I get mine cheap at Kroger--which also makes a nice Ohio connection!)
1 1/3 c. protein powder (I used an unflavored whey protein)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. xylitol (a sugar alcohol--you could also use artificial sweetener, if that's your thing)

6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (or mix 2 T. melted coconut oil--another fat would presumably also work--with 6 T. cocoa powder)

To make the peanut butter balls, combine the first four ingredients in a food processor or the bowl of a mixer and blend until well combined. If it seems too dry, add peanut butter. If it's too wet, add more protein powder or sweetener. At this point, I formed the mixture into balls and then put the balls--on wax paper on a cookie sheet--in the freezer to firm up. It might also work to put the bowl of dough in the freezer and then form the balls (I think you might get rounder balls that way--mine were kind of droopy).

Once the balls have hardened, melt the chocolate or mix the cocoa and the coconut oil--I did this in a coffee mug so that I would have a deeper pool to dip the balls in. There doesn't seem to be any great way to do this--I started trying to use a toothpick, but they slid off that, so I ended up using a spoon to dunk them, with somewhat half-assed results, in terms of the look of the buckeyes. Return them to wax paper and return them to the freezer. Once they've firmed up, move them to a storage container in the fridge, or just eat them right away.

Makes: 24 balls. Each ball has 134 cal, 1 g. sugar (14 g. total carbs), 9 g fat, 5 g. protein.

Now, a few comments: the chocolate coating is not sweet. Not even a little. I kind of like it that way, but my daughter flat-out rejects it. I might trying making a batch with a slightly sweeter coating to draw her in. It might be worth taking like a 85% or 90% cocoa bar and melting it down to give just a hint of sweetness to the coating, without adding too much in the way of sugars.

Just as she was skeptical about her sister lifting the pumpkin, our oldest was skeptical about the dark, dark chocolate surrounding the peanutty goodness of the candy buckeyes.

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