Monday, November 5, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Today is my five-year vegan anniversary!  Five years ago, while I was a freshman in college, my roommate and I decided to try out veganism together (remember that, Danielle?).  I was driven by a desire to reduce the impact of my eating habits on the environment, although any search on the Internet will offer numerous other compelling reasons to eat less meat.  Today, I am convinced that the most significant impact my diet has on the world comes not from my own consumption patterns, but rather from the conversations I have with others about veganism.

In order to celebrate my veganniversary, Simon and I made chocolate peanut butter cups!  Forget those leftover Reese's from Halloween that are lying all over our apartment: now we have delicious, homemade, vegan peanut butter cups, too! 

I love the ridges on the outside almost as much as the peanut butter on the inside.


Thank you, Dad, for passing along the original recipe.  We made several modifications, so here it is:    

Recipe:     
Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons "pretzel flour" (pretzels crushed up into a powder)
  • 1 - 12 ounce bag Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

First, line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners; set aside. 

Then, prepare the peanut butter filling.  Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and pretzel flour in a small bowl.  Mix until smooth and well-incorporated.  Then divide the mixture into 12 even portions and roll each one into a ball.  Place the balls on a cutting board or plate and press them down with your fingers, forming flattened discs.  Place the plate in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Next, melt the chocolate.  You'll need a medium saucepan and a medium glass bowl that can rest on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler.  Place about two-thirds of the chocolate chips in the glass bowl and reserve the rest for later.  Then fill the saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a simmer.  Once the water comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and place the glass bowl with chocolate on top of the saucepan.  Stir the chocolate as it melts and becomes smooth.  Use a candy thermometer to ensure that the chocolate gets to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn off the heat. 
 
Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it down on a potholder or towel.  Add the remaining chocolate chips and stir constantly as the chocolate melts together.  Bring the temperature down to about 82 degrees; then return the bowl to the saucepan and bring the temperature back up to 90 degrees (turn the heat back on if you need to).

Pour or spoon enough hot chocolate into the bottom of each cupcake liner to cover the bottom.  Then remove the peanut butter filling from the refrigerator and lightly press one disc into each cup.  Spoon or pour the remaining chocolate evenly on top of the peanut butter filling.  Finally, tap the pan to remove air bubbles and level off the tops.  

Refrigerate the peanut butter cups for at least an hour, or until the chocolate is set. 

Yields 12 chocolate peanut butter cups.  Store the cups in the refrigerator and serve cold (so they don't melt).

Comments:
Taste:           
The only problem with this recipe is that it only makes 12 peanut butter cups!  If I had my way, I'd eat one of these cups every day.  The chocolate has a nice snap when you bite into it, and the smooth filling inside really does taste like a Reese's. 
Accessibility:          
With only four ingredients, this recipe makes me wonder why Hershey's needs 13 ingredients for Reese's cups.   
  Ease of Preparation:    
The major downside to this recipe is that it is a bit complicated to carry out.  Using the double boiler prevents the chocolate from burning by allowing it to melt over moderate, consistent heat, so I do recommend that you use this method.  On the other hand, I'm not sure if the temperature alteration is absolutely necessary.  Tempering the chocolate gives it a shiny finish and creates the nice, snappy crispness that's ideal for candy; in practice, I'm sure these cups would have a similarly wonderful flavor if you simply melted the chocolate.  So, if you don't have a candy thermometer or just want to cut down on time, I'd still give this recipe a try.  
Non-vegan friendliness:           
These rich, smooth chocolate peanut butter cups will be sure to please anyone.  I do want to note, though, that these are no M&Ms: they melt in your hand, not your mouth.       

3 comments:

  1. These look delicious -- nice one, Dana. And both you and Sam have been major influences in moving me to reduce substantially the amount of animal products in my diet.

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