Friday, February 1, 2013

Make your own peanut butter cups!

In my mind, peanut butter + chocolate = delicious, always.  I saw this post  from Fifteen Spatulas for homemade peanut butter cups, and decided to tweak (as is my way) and make it my own.

I also thought this recipe would be a good opportunity to talk about using a double boiler.  The recipe from Fifteen Spatulas uses the microwave to melt her chocolate.  I haven't had much success with that method, but if you want to use the micro instead of the stove, you should check her post out.

I was also interested in trying this out because, if it was successful, we could create a peanut free version for my nephew, Chan, who has a peanut allergy.  The options are endless, really.  Sunflower butter is what I'm guessing my sister would choose for Chan, because he has to avoid not only peanuts, but also anything made in a facility that uses peanuts and tree nuts.  But you could use cashew, almond, macadamia, or any other sort of butter. 

However, since this was my first attempt, I used good old goober butter.  I also chose to use dark chocolate chips, because not only are they delicious, I can claim that these treats are more healthy because of the antioxidants found in dark chocolate.

Here's the step by step, a more concise recipe can be found below.

Step One: gather your supplies:
  You'll need:
  • muffin tins - you can use mini, regular, or giant... whatever size cups you want to create.  This recipe perfectly filled one 12 and one 6 cup muffin tins
  • paper muffin/cupcake liners - you know, to fill in the tins.  I got mine at Michael's for .75 on clearance.  I think it's a pack of 100 or so.
  • a double boiler.  I'm pretty sure you can buy an actual fancy device called a double boiler, but like my hero, Alton Brown, I don't believe in uni-taskers.  I don't have room in my tiny kitchen for a bunch of gadgets.  I've always just made my own.  You'll need a pot, and a heat proof bowl (like Pyrex) that fits somewhat inside.  More on this in a bit...
  •  measuring cups and spoons, a couple big spoons (probably not metal), a sifter of sorts, and a freezer.  
  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup peanut butter (or whatever kind of butter you choose)
    • 2 bags (mine were 11.5 oz each) of chocolate chips (mine were dark)
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/2 + 1/8 cup powdered sugar... This 5/8 of a cup, but I don't have a 5/8 cup, nor do I want to measure 1/8 cup 5x, so... however you want to measure this is fine...
somehow, I left a bunch of supplies out of this pic...
Step Two: line the muffin tins with the liners.  Maybe this is self-explanatory, but, someone might not know...

 Step Three: set up your double boiler.
 OK, chocolate can be a crazy thing.  It can't get too hot, you can't let it burn on the bottom of the pan, you can't get water in it.... it's like a really high maintenance friend.  You can melt chocolate in the microwave, like I said above, but in my experience the mess isn't worth it.

If you are really against using a double boiler you can use a trick I saw on Good Eats with my hero, Alton Brown.  Put a heating pad inside a large heat safe bowl, a towel on top of the heating pad, and then put your chocolate in a smaller bowl and set it on top of the towel.  Set it to medium, and then to low once your chocolate is melted.

Here's what I do.... to make a double boiler get a pot and a pyrex bowl that fits about half way inside it.  You do NOT want your bowl to get close to the bottom of the pot.  Put a few inches of water into the pot, and make sure there's at least an inch between the bottom of the bowl and the water.
make sure there's space between the water and the bowl, lest your chocolate burn!

** Put ONE bag of  chocolate in the bowl, turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil.  The steam created by the boiling water will gently melt the chocolate.  Stir occasionally, it will look ugly for a few minutes, but the chocolate will melt and become shiny and beautiful.  I've never run into any trouble using a double boiler.  Sometimes old school is the best school.
I use wooden spoons because they don't conduct heat and get hot.  Silicone would work too.

That was a long step three...

Step Four:  While your chocolate is melting, you can begin assembling your peanut butter filling.

Make sure you use another heat proof bowl for the filling, as we will use the double boiler for this bowl too.
I'm a fan of these plunger style measuring cups (another thing Alton taught me about) for measuring goopy stuff, like yogurt, mayo, honey, etc.  You can also measure multiple ingredients using displacement.   

The plunger measuring cup is great because once you plunge you can scrap off the goop, you could never get all of the peanut butter out of a regular measuring cup.  Well, I couldn't at least.  Add a 1/4 cup of regular butter to the bowl. and set it aside for a bit.

Also measure out the 1/2 cup and 1/8 cup of powdered/confectioners/icing sugar (whatever you like to call it)
my cute and colorful measuring cups
Step Five: by now you're chocolate is probably melted.  It should look glossy like this:
beautiful melted chocolate
Now you'll start filling your muffin tins.  I used a tablespoon to make sure they were all even.  You could use a disher, or anything really, but by using a tablespoon I (purely through luck) came out pretty much perfectly even with the 18 muffin cups. 

 When they're all filled kind of tap and shake the tins around to smooth out the chocolate and make sure the entire bottom of the cup is covered.

Now put the tins in the freezer.  I had to shuffle stuff around in my very small freezer to make room, and to make sure the tins were even.  Leave them in for at least 15 minutes.

freezer super full of fruit/veg/ice cream/ etc.

Step Six: Set the chocolate bowl aside because we'll be using it again.  BE CAREFUL when you take it off of the pot because STEAM BURNS ARE AWFUL!  Set the bowl with the peanut butter and butter on the double boiler and melt everything down. 

Step Seven: Remove the melty peanut buttery goodness from the stove and sift in the powdered sugar.  You don't have to use a sifter, but if you do it will be much easier to mix the sugar in and avoid lumpage.  Lumps are bad.

sifting is good - lumps are bad
 Step Eight: stir the sugar into the peanut butter mixture until it is completely mixed in.  It should be stiff but smooth.

 Step Nine: by now your chocolate should be hardened.  It will look like this:

 Spoon the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate.  I used a tablespoon again, and it came out great.  Be sure to spread the mixture out, since the chocolate is cold it will start to harden the peanut butter right away.

 You'll have to shake and tap the tins a bit more vigorously to get the peanut butter to flatten out.

 Put the tins back in the freezer for another 15 minutes.

Step Ten: While the peanut butter is chilling we will melt the second bag of chocolate.  Put the chocolate bowl back on the double boiler and melt.  When the peanut butter is set spoon the final layer of chocolate on top of the peanut butter.  Chill the tins for a final 15 minutes.  (all this waiting was the most difficult part of the process!)

Once the chocolate is completely set you're done!  Here's one fresh out of the freezer.  You can see the layers of chocolate and peanut butter. 

Unfold the wrapper and enjoy! 

 You can use more or less chocolate and/or peanut butter depending on what you like.  I think mini muffin tins would make cute little cups too.

I put my cups in a gallon zip top bag in the fridge.  You can keep them in the freezer, fridge, or on the counter depending on how hard or soft you want your cup to be. 

 Frodo (who is always curious) really wanted to be my assistant and was in the kitchen the whole time I was working on these.  His tail is wagging so fast you can't even see it.  He's a cutie.

As promised, here's a more concise recipe

2 bags chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 + 1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
  • line muffin tin with 18 cupcake liners
  • melt 1 bag of chocolate chips in a double boiler
  • spoon melted chocolate into bottom of liners and chill 15 minutes in freezer
  • melt peanut butter and butter over double boiler
  • remove from heat and sift in powdered sugar, mix well
  • spoon over chocolate.  Tap and shake tins to even mixture out.  Freeze another 15 minutes
  • melt remaining bag of chocolate, spoon over peanut butter mixture, freeze another 15 minutes

1 comment:

  1. Genius way to make your own double boiler! I'm not much in the kitchen so thinking outside of the box there can be a bit of a stretch for me. :)