Like any self-respecting candy lover on this planet, I’m wild about the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. And as a native Ohioan, that means I’m a buckeye candy devotee. Where I’m from, making chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls is practically a birthright. (Try this recipe, and you’ll become a buckeye believer, too.)
I grew up devouring those little balls of deliciousness—dipped just enough so the tops are exposed to resemble the state nut of Ohio—every Christmas, and many times in between, for football games, summer potlucks and celebrations of all sorts. Maybe I’m biased, but I’m proud to say my mom was the greatest buckeye-maker of them all. A perfect, creamy peanut butter center every time, and the smoothest, shiniest chocolate coating imaginable. Whenever she brought her Buckeyes to a party, she was bombarded with questions as to how she got the chocolate so shiny.
After making so many buckeyes with my mom over the years, I’ve become a master myself, and now I’m the one getting asked about the smooth exterior of my chocolate-dipped candies.
The answer is simple. It’s all about the paraffin (also known as baker’s wax or canning wax).
Yep, melting a roughly 1×3-inch block of food-grade paraffin wax and then stirring it into a couple of bags’ worth of melted chocolate chips is all you need to get dipping chocolate that’s super smooth and sets as shiny as the treats you find at the store. An added bonus? Paraffin helps chocolate remain solid at room temperature—so you can say goodbye to melty chocolate messes! Look for the wax in the canning aisle at your grocery store, and you’ll be good to go.
Another way to get chocolate nice and shiny for dipping is to temper it. This method takes a little patience and a bit more skill, but the results are beautiful. (Honestly, though, I’ve found that after rolling five dozen peanut butter balls and letting them chill, I’m pretty exasperated and just want the dipping process to go as quickly as possible.)
I promise—you won’t taste the waxiness at all. It’s perfectly edible, and flavorless, so if you only use a little bit, the result will be a delicious, professional-looking chocolaty sheen. And a bonus tip: once you’ve sliced off the hunk of paraffin wax, chop it into little pieces so it melts down more quickly. No matter what you’re dipping, it’ll come out with a smooth shine that looks irresistible on any dessert tray.