The happy union of chocolate and peanut butter is celebrated across the country, but nowhere is it held in higher esteem than in central Ohio.
Here, the uniquely American combination of chocolate and peanut butter is best recognized in the form of the buckeye dessert. And regardless of the form they may take, we love our buckeyes.
You can find the standard chocolate-covered peanut butter in plenty of places. But if your taste buds crave a unique variation on it, check out one of these local businesses that offer their own special versions.
S’more than a Feeling
They took all the traditional ingredients and added s’more.
Chocolate Café, located in the Upper Arlington area, sells a Buckeye S’more – a traditional, campfire-style s’more with a layer of peanut butter added. The item, which utilizes the warm melted chocolate the restaurant always keeps on hand, is a reflection of central Ohio’s peanut butter fascination – as is its Buckeye Pretzel, which is a hand-rolled buckeye sandwiched between two pretzels and dipped in chocolate.
“We have a habit at our café,” says owner Lisa Boyle. “We just dip everything in chocolate and see what happens.”
Gimme a Cake!
Finding a quality buckeye-based treat at this bakery is … well, you know.
Piece of Cake in the Short North makes all manner of buckeye variants – buckeye cheesecake, buckeye whoopie pies, traditional buckeyes and the ultra-popular buckeye brownies. Customers interested in utilizing the bakery’s extensive cake customization skills, which include making a cake shaped like a block “O” or Ohio Stadium, can ask that their design be “buckeye-fied” with chocolate cake and peanut butter filling.
“Peanut butter and chocolate is a good combination,” says owner Brian Hotopp. “We sell quite a bit of it.”
Go with the “O”
Emlolly Candy has taken two icons of Buckeye fandom and combined them into one.
The Worthington shop’s Block O Buckeyes are officially licensed by The Ohio State University. They bear the symbol most associated with the Bucks, and they’re made the same way Emlolly’s standard buckeyes are – hand-rolled peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar dipped in chocolate. They’ve proven so popular that Emlolly recently rolled out the same design in chocolate-covered Oreo form.
“We’re the only ones that can make them,” says co-owner Melanie Bunstine.
Even in traditional Polish cooking, there’s room for a little bit of Ohio.
Babushka’s Kitchen, which recently relocated from Clintonville to north Columbus, last year rolled out a buckeye pierogi, chock-full of chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream. It isn’t on the printed menu, but the lightly grilled goodie is available to customers who know to ask for it.
“We didn’t have anything very chocolatey on our menu, so I … tried to figure out how to work that in,” says owner Dennis Bennett. “Buckeyes seemed like a natural fit.”
Here Comes the Fudge
It was a winning combination if ever there was one.
Aboxa Fudge – based in Dublin and with products also available at the Olde Worthington and New Albany farmers’ markets – is especially proud of its buckeye fudge, which has enjoyed great popularity among customers. It made perfect sense to put it on the menu, says owner Rose Lykins.
“I make a peanut butter fudge, and I make a chocolate fudge, and I’m in central Ohio,” Lykins says. “It all came together.”
Ever had a buckeye for breakfast?
Latitude 41 in downtown Columbus pays tribute to its location with its Buckeye Pancakes. The pancake dish is served as, effectively, a pancake sandwich – peanut butter is spread on one pancake and the whole thing is covered in chocolate syrup.
“It’s two flavors that people love, so put that on pancakes and people go bananas,” says Andrew Bell, sous chef at Latitude 41.
And the Beat Goes Bon
Chocolaterie Stam’s roots are in Europe, but its Ohio shop makes Ohio customers a priority.
The Westerville chocolate shop serves up a variety of buckeye combinations. Their local fans enjoy chocolate peanut butter gelato, a chocolate peanut butter stracciatella gelato featuring chocolate shavings and even some buckeye bon bons. The bon bons are white chocolate ganache mixed with peanut butter, and then wrapped in milk or dark chocolate.
“It’s a heart shape, so we always tell people that’s how much we love our Ohio State Buckeyes,” says local owner Kris Michel.
A Shot in the Park
Even if you venture out of the heart of Buckeye country, you can still find variations on its signature dessert.
Ohio State Park Lodges – with locations at Deer Creek, Maumee Bay, Mohican, Punderson Manor and Salt Fork state parks – all have restaurants with reputations for fantastic buckeye pie. Recipes vary from park to park; for example, Maumee Bay’s buckeye pie, developed in 2003 by pastry chef Ann Carter, is made with homemade chocolate ganache on top.
“There are a lot of families that come back each year, and they’re sure to order it,” says lodge General Manager Patrick Czarny.
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.