Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Magical Candy Making

This weekend, I had to rearrange the kitchen to be more user friendly. During the engagement period, I just shoved kitchen-like items into various cabinets and hoped for the best. After having a wine bottle come crashing down on my head and a stew pan fall and bruise my leg, I needed something else to do while not to getting hurt in the kitchen. I decided candy making would be the next challenge to undertake. Molten sugar burns sounded fun compared to being skewered and concussed.

If you haven't figured it out by now, Jon and I are huge fans of the peanut butter and chocolate combination. It's in everything from our Thanksgiving pies to our wedding cake. However, before I undertook this endeavour, I flashed-back on the batches upon batches of chocolate I've burned over months. In no mood to relive THAT nightmare, I decided on using the old-fashioned, double boiler method. Microwaves and chocolate just don't jive people. They just don't jive. *very serious face, arms crossed*

Here's what you need to make *trumpets blaring*

Rock-o-licious Peanut Butter Cups
(I added the rock-o-licious part, you can just call them PB cups if you like)

1 (11.5 ounce) package milk chocolate chips*
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 package of mini-muffin cup liners or trim regular muffin cup liners to half of their height. (I tried both methods, and the big ones were just too much candy in one sitting. Yes, even for me.)

*Let me just say that I used chips in one batch and 1-2 boxes of Semi-Sweet Baker's Chocolate in another. I preferred the Box-o-Baker's Chocolate myself. You can use the flavor you like most. Oh, I also didn't divide. I melted all at once.

Distructions Directions:

Microwave 1/2 chocolate chips in a microwave safe container for 2 minutes, stirring each minute. Don't EVER do this! Use a double-boiler, which is just fancy for a pot of boiling water with a metal bowl fitting snug over it. Trust me on this one; don't relive my shame. You have to use a bowl that the will not sit in the water. If the water splashes over the chocolate, it is ruined. See below picture for an idea. Be sure to stir regularly so the chocolate doesn't burn. Believe me, as soon as you turn your will. *dramatic music*

While the water starts to boil and the chocolate starts to melt, make the peanut butter ball like so:

In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and salt. The peanut butter loses its tackiness when you add the confectioner's sugar. I then made a PB ball, wrapped it in plastic wrapped, and put in the fridge to chill. To me, it made the PB even easier to work with. You don't have to do it, don't get your panties in a wad if you don't have time to chill it.

"Mise en place!" as Chef Anne would say.

Spoon melted chocolate into muffin cups, filling halfway. If you have hands of steel, you can make a piping bag out of a sturdy plastic bag and clip the corner. I tried both ways, each with their own advantages. You have to work quicker when piping because the chocolate cools faster. However, it is less messy. The spooned chocolate stays hotter, but gets everywhere on the way to the muffin cup. Messy Messy Messy! You decide what works for you. Here is me attempting not to scald myself:
Piping bag inside the oven mitt.
With a spoon, you can draw the chocolate up the sides of the cups until evenly coated (if you like). What I did is make a fat, quarter-to-half-dollar sized disc of PB from the ball and gently pressed it into the hot chocolate at the bottom of the muffin cup. If you look closely at the first picture, you can see that it sort of welled up around the PB disk. Don't press too hard or you will have PB at the bottom of your cup instead of the inside.

If you divided your chocolate, melt the remaining chocolate. Spoon/pipe over the peanut butter center and spread the chocolate to edges of cups. Then place the candies in the fridge to cool and harden. Here is how my came out:

Excuse me little niblit, you PB is showing. Oh my! 
These beauties were summarily nommed until gone. There were no survivors for the office.

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