I’ve meant to post this particular entry for ages. For some weird reason, however, other things took precedence and this topic was stuck on the backburner for a while.
For nearly a decade, I’ve been working with chocolate. Initially, this was because I was helping friends out with the Chocolate Appreciation 101 lectures over at Heavenly Chocolates in Quezon City. (Alas, the HC is now closed.) Later, it was more of a way to put a smile on friends’ faces: the dark chocolate and salted cashew mendiants for the person whom I consider my best friend, for one. Truffles infused with lavender vodka for a friend who had the blues. Mochi filled with one ganache or another.
And then, there were peanut butter cups.
The thing about peanut butter cups is that these are, believe it or not, one of my guiltiest pleasures. Anything with chocolate, I love. Anything with peanut butter, I eat. (Heck, I have been known to sneak tablespoonfuls of the stuff straight out of the jar.) Bring those two together as in the case of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or those newfangled peanut butter Snickers bars, and I am a lost cause.
These homespun peanut butter cups, however, have a little backstory to them. In a nutshell, this involves the person whom I consider my best friend, the crowd down at the Boiler Room (whom I miss because I haven’t seen them since Clem and Ian left for the tour), my boss (!), and a dinky little recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Specifically, this recipe was for peanut butter squares: think Reese’s, but bigger – hunks of the good stuff, even!
In HtBaDG, the recipe is found in the section for Children: kiddie party food, kitschy cookie cutouts, Barbie cakes…you know the sort. When I decided to make these, though, I added a few grown-up twists. One batch had an alcohol-enhanced chocolate topping; another had a spicy peanut-butter filling. In its final iteration, I’ve incorporated spices traditionally used for gingerbread or spice cake.; plus, the topping involves dark chocolate as opposed to milk. It’s a touch that elevates this kid-pleasing sweet into a snack even grown-ups will enjoy.
Grown-Up Peanut Butter Cups
- 50 grams muscovado / dark brown sugar
- 150 grams confectioner’s / icing sugar
- 200 grams crunchy / chunky peanut butter
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- dash of ground black pepper (optional)
- scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 200 grams dark chocolate
- 100 grams milk chocolate or Meiji Black Chocolate (this Japanese confection is actually milk chocolate but has a higher percentage of cocoa solids)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or margarine
Line a mini-muffin tin with small-size paper cupcake liners; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the brown and icing sugars, peanut butter, and – if using them – the spices. Mix until well-combined. Press a rounded tablespoon of the mixture into the prepared tin. Set aside.
Break up the chocolates and place in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave at medium or high for a minute. Remove from the microwave and mix till all of the chocolate has melted. Add the oil or margarine and mix until the consistency is more or less fluid. Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter bases in increments of 1 tablespoon per cup.
Chill for at least 45 minutes. Remove from the tins and store in the fridge in a covered container.
Makes approximately 3 dozen cups.