HOW TO: peanut butter cups & tempering chocolate
These bad boys put Reese’s to shame. There is no way to describe how utterly delicious these sweet peanut butter treats, coated in a rich dark chocolate, are. You must try them for yourself! I decided to temper the chocolate for these to give them that shine and smoothness rather than the blotchiness I most often get when working with chocolate molds. This was my first experience with tempering chocolate and I was surprised how easy it actually is – if you have an instant-read thermometer. Fortunately, my nifty electronic scales came with one, which is super handy for times like this.
Tempering simply means controlling the crystallization of cocoa butter. Uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter (due to heating and cooling to non-specific temperatures) causes that mottled appearance, commonly seen on molded chocolates, or the white speaks that appear after refrigeration. Tempering not only creates a smooth, glossy surface (ignoring the finger marks in above photo…) but allows the chocolate to snap when broken (or bitten) rather than crumble.
How to temper chocolate:
The key is to continue stirring it throughout this process, ensuring the heat is evenly distributed, and ensure no water gets into the bowl!
1. Chop chocolate. Finely chop chocolate and place two thirds of the chocolate into a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once chocolate has melted, use instant read thermometer to bring it up to a temperature of 46 degrees C (or 115 degrees F). Don’t let it exceed this temperature.
2. Heat chocolate. Once it has reached 46 degrees, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining third of the chocolate. This will melt the chopped chocolate while bringing down the temperature of the warm chocolate.
3. Cool chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool – down to below 28 degrees C (or 84 F).
4. Briefly reheat chocolate. Place the bowl back on the heat and bring it up to 31 degrees C (88 F) without letting it exceed 32 C (91 F).
Your chocolate is tempered! Once cooled it should be shiny and smooth – and ready for making your own peanut butter cups.
Christina’s Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from About.com (strangely enough)
•300 grams chopped chocolate
•24 cupcake liners
•Small, clean food-safe paintbrush (not a necessity)
•1 cup smooth peanut butter
•1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
•1/4 tsp salt
1. Temper your chocolate (as above). Keep bowl of chocolate warm over saucepan of hot water, without letting temperature rise.
2. Fill your cups with a small spoonful of melted chocolate, then use the paintbrush to paint the chocolate halfway up the sides of the cupcake liner. Alternatively, dollop chocolate in and roll it around to cover the bottom and halfway up sides. Once all of the cups have been lined with chocolate, set aside the remaining chocolate for later and let the cups set at room temperature or in the refrigerator until they have hardened.
3. While the cups are setting, prepare the filling. Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt in a bowl and stir them together until they’re well-mixed. Add a dash of milk if mixture is too stiff, but it should be ‘rollable’.
4. When the cups are set and the filling is made, roll walnut sized balls of peanut butter mixture and press into chocolate lined cupcake liner. Pat them down gently so they don’t mound up over the top of the cup.
5. Spoon the melted chocolate over the cup and spread it to the edges, letting it flow over the top and sealing the peanut butter in the cup. Gently tap the cup against the counter to smooth out the top and pop any bubbles.
6. Refrigerate the peanut butter cups to set the chocolate, for about 20 minutes.
7. After the chocolate has set, your peanut butter cups are ready to be enjoyed! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature for up to two weeks.