Consider yourself lucky if you manage to have any buckeye candy left to freeze after friends and family take a taste. Buckeye candy is a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball with a bare peanut butter circle at the center so the candy resembles the nut from the buckeye tree. Freezer storage is a useful way to keep buckeyes fresh if you want to make them in advance to give as gifts or serve at a party.
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Buckeyes at room temperature with softened chocolate can stick together if you simply toss them in a bag or container and place them directly in the freezer. They keep their shape best and stay separated if you freeze them before packaging them. After dipping the balls in chocolate, they're placed on trays lined with parchment paper while the chocolate sets. Transfer the trays to the freezer when the chocolate cools to room temperature and leave them for about 2 to 3 hours until the surface feels frozen solid. The frozen buckeyes pop off the parchment paper easily for bulk freezer storage.
The key to keeping chocolate tasting fresh and avoiding moisture accumulation is providing moisture-vapor protection so air and moisture don't affect the chocolate. The buckeyes should be stored in freezer-safe packaging, such as plastic freezer bags or plastic storage containers designated for freezer use. While you can simply place the buckeyes in one of these types of packages, doubling the packaging provides even greater protection. You can place the buckeyes in quart-sized freezer bags and place the bags inside a plastic storage container. Alternatively, you can wrap individual portions of two to three buckeyes in plastic bags or plastic wrap before grouping them together in freezer bags or freezer storage containers. Remove as much air from the storage containers as possible before sealing.
Rapid freezing helps prevent freezer damage to the chocolate buckeyes, which is why freezing them on trays before packaging is a good practice. The short two- to three-hour duration might not be enough time to freeze them through to the center, so place the packaged buckeyes against the freezer walls for at least 24 hours to freeze them through quickly. After this period, you can move them anywhere within your freezer. Milk chocolate can be stored for up to one year in the freezer when properly packaged, while dark chocolate lasts for two years. Label each package carefully with both the storage date and the expiration date one to two years after storage.
The frozen buckeyes must be removed from the freezer and placed in the refrigerator to thaw for up to 24 hours before setting them out at room temperature. Keep them in the freezer packages while they thaw. If you set them out at room temperature immediately, condensation forms on the chocolate, which leads to dull spots on the chocolate called sugar bloom. Slow thawing decreases the risk of condensation on the chocolate so it still has the shiny surface of tempered chocolate. In the heat of summer, it also helps to wrap the freezer packages with a dish towel to further lengthen the thawing time.