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Peanut Butter Cups – Tricks and Tips

Runner Recipe: Peanut Butter Cups
One dozen peanut butter cups, fully set.                      Photo by Frankie Nadal

Twas the weekend. I was off work. I was (and still am) procrastinating my schoolwork. I figured I’d make two dozen peanut butter cups from scratch using peanut brittle and tempered chocolate, considering I am quite ‘extra,’ as my fellow Gen Z-ers would

say.

Jokes aside, peanut butter and chocolate are one of those flavor combinations that make everything just a little bit butter, err, better. (Aside from mint and dark chocolate, but I like bitter stuff.) This recipe aims to provide that unique cookie dough-like peanut butter filling that other name brand candies have, in addition to achieving that nigh impossible feat of non-room temperature melting chocolate that plague other renditions. To start, gather the following ingredients and equipment.

Ingredients:

Peanut Brittle

  • 1 cup white sugar (7 oz.)
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 4 tbsps. butter (2 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup water (3 oz.)
  • 1 vanilla bean/1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts (5 oz.)
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt

Peanut Butter Cups

  • ½ the peanut brittle (9 oz.)
  • ¾ cup peanut butter (7 oz., preferably not the kind that separates)
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 cups chopped chocolate (30 oz., milk or dark)

Equipment:

  • Stainless steel saucepan/saucier (at least 3-quart capacity)
  • Silicone whisk
  • Silicone spatula
  • Cup and spoon measurers
  • Instant read thermometer (optional)
  • Lightly greased baking sheet or silicone mat
  • Two lined cupcake trays
  • Blender or food processor
  • Piping bag

This recipe lends itself well to busy schedules, as the peanut brittle can be made up to a week in advance. We’ll start by making the caramel, so put the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and water into the saucepan. Next, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds to add to the pan, or add the vanilla extract if using instead. Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir its contents with the whisk until everything melts and is incorporated. Keep stirring until it starts bubbling rapidly, which should happen after five to seven minutes, depending on your stove.

Once it starts bubbling, turn the heat to medium-high and leave it be. Do not stir or agitate the pan. When the mixture reaches 340⁰ and takes on a golden-amber color, after about ten to fifteen minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the baking soda and salt. The caramel will foam and expand. Once incorporated, fold in the peanuts and spread the mix on the prepared sheet or silicone mat. Allow to cool for at least one hour before breaking into smaller pieces. Be sure to store in an airtight container if preparing ahead of time.

Otherwise, blend about half the peanut brittle in a blender or food processor until a fine powder. Add and blend the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until you get a creamy mixture. Scoop and scrape into a piping bag.

Afterward, temper your chocolate. There are numerous ways to do this, such as with a double boiler or sous vide, but I have a bit of a cheat’s method. Place most of your chocolate (about 26 oz.) in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until just melted. Toss in the reserved chocolate and stir constantly for a minute or two. It’s all right if the added chocolate doesn’t fully melt.

Now, assembly. Dollop roughly one tablespoon of the melted chocolate into each of the lined cups on the cupcake trays. Pipe about one tablespoon of the peanut brittle filling into the center of each cup at a 90⁰ angle (perpendicular to the cups). Be sure the tip of the bag is almost touching the chocolate, so it is forced up the sides of the liner. Lastly, dollop another tablespoon of the melted chocolate on top, then rap the trays on the counter a few times to level it off. Let set at room temperature overnight or refrigerate for half an hour.

Serve at room temperature and enjoy the best thing since sliced bread.