Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Peanut Butter Cups by the Cul de Sac Chocolatier
It.s been awhile since I posted my New year's culinary plans... Personal New Year's Resolutions
In point of fact, I have begun my goal of becoming a home chocolatier. That is, with the limitations of a standard kitchen, to make consistent professional quality chocolates. While I still have a great deal to learn, I have been making weekly attempts and coming up with some top notch results.
And learned a few handy tricks of the trade along the way...
Temperature control is vital and actually pretty easy to do. No way to rush it, low and slow, either a double boiler or in a microwave (be sure to change the setting from full strength to about 1/3rd power). I have already done a post on my learning curve about tempering When i did a post on Chocolate Covered Strawberries...
But recently I am discovering a new issue...
No better way in the world to ruin a batch of chocolates than to make them on a humid day. So, crank up the air conditioner to take out the humidity, or even drag the dehumidifier up from the basement and plug it in in your kitchen. Chocolates made in high humidity will get sweaty, melting in your hand and just making the unpleasant.
So, there's a new tip.
As to making these little beauties, first, I highly recommend that you start with a book. Much as I would like to think I can blog your way into enough knowledge, best to read up from the experts first. there are many books that deal with chocolate in general (cakes and the like), but not that many that specifically address artisan chocolates. Known professionally as Belgian Pralines (not to be confused with Cajun Pralines, completely different), After looking over the few that address Belgian pralines, here's the best...
It's a little pricey, but the book covers everything from the very basics to professional show centerpieces you see on the chocolate challenge shows on Food network. Several hundred pages with lots of formulas and lots of science to help you understand why chocolate works the way it does.
I tried just peanut butter (not enough flavors), then BP and honey (helped to sweeten the PB, but too liquid). Next, PB and Honey with confectioner's sugar added as a thickener. Worked OK. But finally I had a bit of white chocolate left over from a different candy. I added the white chocolate and came up with the right consistency, taste and look!
So, assuming you have a basic knowledge of how to make Belgium Pralines, here's what I did...
For the coating I used a 70% cocoa bar of organic chocolate.
For the peanut butter center, I melted 2 heaping TBS of Peanut Butter. I added another 2 TBS of Honey. Next I thickened the combo up with 2 heaping TBS of Confectioner's sugar and finally I added about 2 ounces of white chocolate.
I would estimate my total cost around $8 to $9 (assuming pantry staples always in stock (sugar, PB and honey) and using a premium organic chocolate (2 bars, with a partial bar of white). I made 32 pralines.
As much as I love the classic candy bar... These are MUCH better!