Saturday, October 8, 2016

I Can Make That Too: Peanut Butter Cups in Mom’s Kitchen vs. Store-Bought Peanut Butter Cups


My first encounter with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup came in middle school, when we had a fundraiser that involved buying candy wholesale and selling it full price to fellow students.  The Peanut Butter Cups sold out immediately.  Did I really buy them all?

Now, many years later, I’m okay with not getting too many Halloweeners.  That way I can take charge of the leftover Peanut Butter Cups.

However, I am pleased to say that I have figured out how to make my own version, which I call Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunks.  I think they taste better than anything store-bought.  And they are made with ingredients a basic kitchen is likely to have: peanut butter, chocolate, butter, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, milk and salt.  No odd-sounding chemicals are added to extend the candy’s shelf life.

My version, which uses dark chocolate because I like it better than milk chocolate, is usually gone within 24 hours.  I prefer making Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunks in a brownie pan because it’s easier than fiddling with cups or muffin tins.  An 8-inch square pan makes as many as 25 small squares or 1 big square. 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunks – serves 8-12 (adapted from “Chocolate on the Brain”)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
4 squares (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate or 2/3 cup chocolate chips 
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar 
3/4 cup peanut butter 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
2 teaspoons milk + more if needed 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil or wax paper, making sure that the ends overhang the pan by about 2 inches so that you can easily lift the candy out of the pan later.  Set aside. 
Melt the chocolate in a small, heavy pot over very low heat, stirring constantly.  When the chocolate is almost melted, turn off the heat and set aside .  The heat of the pot will melt the remaining chocolate. 
Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor or large bowl.  Process or beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Taste to see if the mixture is too dry and crumbly.  If you want it smoother and creamier, add another teaspoon or more milk and mix until it reaches the consistency you prefer.  It should remain firm enough to pick up without sticking to your fingers. 
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press into a flat, even layer with the back of a large spoon.  Spread the melted chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes to let the chocolate begin to harden.  If it gets too hard it will crack into pieces when you try to cut it. 
Carefully lift the ends of the foil or wax paper and remove the candy from the pan.  Cut into 25 squares, or bigger pieces if you prefer.  Store in a closed container or wrapped in foil or plastic.