Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Enjoy all the wonderful yumminess of popular buckeye candies in an easy-to-make bar form.

How long it takes: 30 minutes to prep, 25 minutes baking time, 2 to 3 hours to chill
Equipment you’ll need: microwave-safe mixing bowls, 9 x 13 inch pan
Servings: 24 large bars (or up to 96 bite-sized bars)

Fudgy buckeye brownies with three layers, one cut brownie on top of others.
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Just a warning, you may fall in love with these buckeye brownies. The chocolate! The peanut butter! The sweet temptation! Who can resist that irresistible smooth peanut butter confection sandwiched between fudgy homemade brownies and rich chocolate? Not me!

Why You’ll Love Buckeye Brownies

  • Because they’re stinkin’ good! Really, you can’t go too wrong with these bars. Marrying brownies with buckeyes is a genius move. So good! Three layers of deliciousness!
  • Much easier to make than the candies. Many of you may be familiar with buckeyes, the chocolate peanut butter candy that’s so popular. The candy is hand-rolled into small balls, and then partially dipped in melted chocolate, leaving an “eye” open on the top, similar to a nut by the same name. The candy is delicious, no doubt about it, but buckeyes are a little time-consuming to make with all that rolling and dipping. Buckeye brownies require much less fussy hands-on time!
  • Makes a big batch. Although you can cut the pan of brownies into 24 squares, these bars are pretty rich. I find that they can be cut into much smaller pieces, more the size of the candies. I’ll leave that up to you!
  • Freezer-friendly. Buckeye brownies freeze well. They can safely be stowed away in the back of your freezer where you won’t be tempted to eat one every time you look at the refrigerator. But just saying, these sweet treats are as great frozen as they are thawed so the freezer may not be much of a deterrent.
Buckeye brownie being lifted from a pan.

Ingredient Notes

Be sure to refer to the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.

  • Butter: All three layers in buckeye brownies contain butter so you’ll need almost 16 oz. (4 sticks). I always choose unsalted butter when baking. If you only have salted butter, omit the added salt in the recipe. Don’t worry about softening the butter ahead of time because you’ll be melting it for this brownie recipe.
  • Cocoa Powder: Look for cocoa powder in the baking section of the grocery store. Cocoa powder is unsweetened. (It’s not the same thing as instant cocoa powder that you use to make hot chocolate.) I tried both Hershey’s Cocoa and Ghiradelli Cocoa to compare; Ghiradelli has a richer chocolate flavor which we preferred.
  • Sugar: The brownies are made with regular granulated white sugar.
  • Eggs: I find that having the eggs at room temperature works best when making baked goods. Simply take them out of the refrigerator an hour before you begin (and don’t worry if you forget, the brownies will still turn out!).
  • All-Purpose Flour: You’ll need only 1 cup of flour to make these fudgy brownies.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: As always, choose the real vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla which is made with who knows what. You’ll need vanilla for both the brownies and the peanut butter layer.
  • Peanut Butter: There’s plenty of peanutty goodness in these bars! You’ll need 2 cups of creamy peanut butter, such as Jif or Skippy. Natural peanut butter that has to be stirred doesn’t work well for this brownie recipe.
  • Powdered Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar): Finely ground powdered sugar gives the peanut layer a velvety smooth texture.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: For the ganache-like chocolate topping, you’ll need a package (2 cups) of chocolate chips. I prefer semi-sweet for these brownies but you can use milk chocolate if that’s your preference.
Overhead view of ingredients needed for recipe.

Cooking Tip

When baking bars, it’s important to prep the baking pan correctly. I like to lightly spray the inside of the pan with nonstick spray, and then line it with parchment paper. The cooking spray helps the paper stay in place; without it, the paper tends to pop out. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.

Cut the paper a little larger than the pan; the extra paper forms “wings” on the sides. You can use the wings as handles to lift the bars out of the pan after they are baked. It’s much easier to cut bars on a flat surface than inside the pan.

How To Make Buckeye Brownies

This brownie recipe has three layers. Allow extra time to chill each layer before adding the next one.

  1. Homemade brownies
  2. Creamy sweet peanut butter (like the inside of a Reese’s candy)
  3. Chocolate layer (similar to ganache)

Prepare the brownies. Start preheating your oven and prep a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and nonstick spray (see the note above). In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the granulated sugar and cocoa powder. Stir the three ingredients together until smooth. Mixing the cocoa powder with the warm melted butter helps it to “bloom” or develop a deeper chocolate flavor.

Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well. The mixture should look glossy. Set the bowl aside.

In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until just combined. You shouldn’t see any dry flour but don’t overstir the batter.

Spread the brownie batter into the pan you prepared. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow the brownie layer to cool completely before proceeding with the next step. This may take one to two hours.

Add the peanut butter layer. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the peanut butter, vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the powdered sugar. Stir well until smooth and blended. The mixture will be somewhat dry, similar to cookie dough.

Drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture onto the cooled brownies. Pat it down in an even layer with your fingers, completely covering the brownies. Set the pan aside.

Top with the chocolate layer. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together in 20 second intervals. After each interval, stir the mixture vigorously. Stop when both the chocolate and butter are melted and you can blend them together.

Spread the chocolate over the peanut butter layer. I find that it works best to work in sections. Spoon some of the chocolate on, spread it with an offset spatula, then add more chocolate and spread that, until the top is covered. The chocolate layer will be thin but you’ll find that it’s just right!

Chill the bars in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. The surface of the chocolate looks glossy when it’s warm but it will appear dull when it’s cold. Cut the bars into squares.

Layered peanut butter and chocolate brownie with ganache topping - bite taken out.

Helpful Tips

  • Measure dry ingredients accurately. Use a measuring cup that is made for dry ingredients. It will have a flat top, not a spout. Spoon the flour (and powdered sugar) into the measuring cup and level it with the flat side of a knife. Don’t shake it down to level it because that will compact the flour.
  • Allow enough time for chilling. It’s essential to cool the brownie layer before adding the peanut butter layer. If it’s still warm, the peanut butter will melt and make a soupy mess. Chill the chocolate layer so it firms up before you cut the bars.
  • Score the bars before cutting. To help prevent the top layer from cracking after chilling, I use a sharp knife to score the hardened layer into squares. Then I make the cut through the other layers using the score lines as guides.

Recipe Adaptations

  • Use a brownie mix. If you’re in a hurry, use your favorite brownie mix to make the first layer. A plain family-size brownie mix is best, with no added extras like chocolate chips, nuts, or caramel.
  • Make it nut-free. Substitute sunflower seed butter (such as SunButter) for the peanut butter.
  • Substitute milk chocolate. If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate (semi-sweet), feel free to use milk chocolate chips.
  • Make individual buckeyes candy.

Storage & Freezing

Store brownies in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between layers, for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (you might even prefer them chilled). The brownies can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. My family enjoys eating the brownies right out of the freezer, or you can thaw the brownies overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Recipes

Recipe

Buckeye Brownies

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Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 24 large brownies
Fudgy homemade brownies are topped with a rich layer of creamy peanut butter filling and yes, another layer of chocolate. Everyone loves buckeye brownies!
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Ingredients 

Brownie Layer

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (lightly spooned into measuring cup)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Peanut Butter Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter (not natural peanut butter)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar (lightly spooned into measuring cup)

Chocolate Layer

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions 

Brownies:

  • Preheat oven to 350℉. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick spray, line the pan with parchment paper, and lightly spray it again. This will prevent the brownie layer from sticking when chilling. Because the brownies are more fudgy than cake-like, they can be stickier.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 cup butter. Mix in cocoa powder and granulated sugar until well combined.
    1 cup unsalted butter, ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and mix until shiny and glossy. Set aside.
    4 large eggs, room temperature, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Whisk together flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking powder in a separate mixing bowl; add to the egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Spread into the prepared pan.
    1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely before moving on to the peanut butter layer.

Peanut Butter Layer:

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt ½ cup butter. Add peanut butter, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and powdered sugar; mix until smooth..
    ½ cup unsalted butter, 2 cups smooth peanut butter, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Sprinkle the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie layer and press into place using your hands. Set aside.

Chocolate Layer:

  • Place semi-sweet morsels and 6 tablespoons butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 20-second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each interval, until completely melted. Don't overheat the chocolate.
    12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Spread chocolate over the peanut butter layer evenly using an offset spatula. I find it works best to spoon part of the topping on and spreading it as far as it would go, then adding more to fill the next area. It may seem like you don't have enough but it will be plenty for a thin layer covering the top of the brownies.
  • Chill until the top layer is set, about 30 minutes (chocolate will turn dull and lose the shiny appearance). The chocolate topping is firmer and more substantial than a ganache.
  • Cut brownies into squares. To help prevent the top layer from cracking after chilling, I use a sharp knife to score the hardened layer; then cut through the other layers using the score lines as guides.The brownies are very rich and can be cut into bite-sized treats (up to 96) instead of 24 bars.

Notes

  • Shortcut: Substitute a boxed brownie mix (18.4 oz.) for the brownie layer. I recommend plain brownies without add-ins. 
  • Storage and Freezing: Store brownies in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between layers for up to 4 days or refrigerate for up to 1 week. The brownies can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. My family enjoys eating the frozen brownies but they can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before serving. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1large brownie, Calories: 507kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 214mg, Potassium: 261mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 41g, Vitamin A: 494IU, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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