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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dark chocolate peanut butter cups

I think I could probably write an entire cookbook based on recipes using peanut butter – seeing how much I get through, maybe Skippy will sponsor one. My love for peanut butter cups, and probably peanut as ‘sweet’ comes from my first trip to New York as a conscious foodie aged 14 (all I remember from my trip at the age of 4 is getting soaked by my cousin Josh at a water fountain outside the Smithsonian). Reese’s Peanut Butter cups completely changed my world. Coming home from that trip my suitcase basically consisted of peanut butter cups, some variations on the theme including cookie and grape jelly, and a pair of Steve Madden platforms. Well I guess that’s what happens when a 14 year old is in the US without parental supervision. Speaking of foodie consciousness by the way, this trip was also the first time that I tried, and fell in love with, both sushi and aubergines (I had been afraid of them previously). It also put an end of my refusal to eat red meat. Much much love to all my American family for contributing to this enlightenment.

These peanut butter cups were another one of the chocolates made with T.O.M on our chocolate day a few weeks ago. The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I think I count as my favourite book just because of the title. See evidence of me getting carried away with being a ‘domestic goddess’ here. T.O.M and I have made this before in its original state, the peanut butter square, but this time on our chocolate day we were feeling a little more ambitious.

When I told a colleague that I was planning on making peanut butter cups, her response was ‘you know that you can get them in the shops right’? Obviously it takes a little more time to paint the cupcake cases with melted chocolate, but it really is worth it. The dark chocolate gives them a bitterness that is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the peanut filling, and makes them feel a little more grown-up, and different from Reese’s. See my post on honeycomb-peanut chocolate bites (also Nigella) for some thoughts on why salty peanut goes so well with chocolate.

Makes about 15 cups, more or less depending on how big you make them, obviously. T.O.M and I made a double batch, from which we made about 18 cups and a big rectangle of chocolate peanut butter squares.

Big thanks again to Steven for the tremendous photos


       50g muscovado sugar
       200g icing sugar
       50g unsalted butter or vegan margarine - softened
       200g peanut butter – crunchy or smooth depending on preference
       Make sure that you have about 400g of dark chocolate, although you probably wont need all of it.
       Cupcake cases

First make the chocolate cases. Melting chocolate can be very temperamental, so I tend not to melt more than 50-100g at a time. Either use the microwave or a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water making sure that no steam or condensation makes its way into the chocolate, or it will seize. Using a teaspoon (or a clean paintbrush) coat the base of the cupcake case with melted chocolate, carefully working the chocolate up the sides to about a third of the way up. Set the cases aside to firm up.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, butter and peanut butter together. I know it seems like a scary list of ingredients, but trust me it works – the muscavado sugar gives a brilliant sandy texture. Use a food processor for this if you want, it is not the easiest thing to mix by hand.

When the chocolate cases are hardened, take a small handfuls of the peanut mixture, roll it into flat-ish circles using your hands, and press them into the cases. Make sure that the peanut doesn’t come up higher than the edge of the chocolate, otherwise there will be gaps and cracks in the finished cups.

When this is done, melt a little more chocolate to cover over the tops. Make sure that the chocolate is completely hardened before turning them out of the paper cases – but don’t put them in the fridge.

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