Tuesday, February 14, 2012

sweet treat for valentine's

Beautiful Valentine's Day flowers from Ross!
I recently stumbled across homemade chocolate recipes and was instantly inspired! This past weekend I made a dozen chocolates; half filled with peanut butter and half filled with caramel and pretzels. I gave a few to my friends at dinner on Sunday night. Then I decided to make another dozen for my teammates last night, in celebration of Valentine's Day! PS - these will also serve as tonight's dessert when I make chicken scapariello for a valentine's day dinner at home!

I used a candy mold to create the cup shape, you can also use mini muffin tins with mini liners, or a regular muffin tin with cupcake liners but only use a bit of chocolate (this will more closely resemble a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup).

Here are a few pictures of the process, and the steps in case you're interested in making these as well!

  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave on half power, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
    • Note, to get the design above melt 1-2 tablespoons of white chocolate chips in the corner of a ziploc bag. When melted snip off the corner and use as a pastry bag to create a design in the bottom of the molds. Continue with step 2...
  2. Pour a little chocolate into the bottom of each cup (about 1/4 to 1/3) - using a pastry brush or paint brush designated for the kitchen, paint the chocolate up the sides of the cup. Place molds in refrigerator to set for at least 20 minutes. (Another method you can try, which I have not, is filling the cups all the way... set in the fridge for about 20 minutes... pour out the liquid chocolate, a hard shell should have formed along the edges.)
  3. While the chocolate is setting create your filling. 
    • For the caramel (this amount can be stretched to fill 12 cups, though I'll likely increase by 50% next time)
      1. Unwrap 12 caramel candies and put them into a saucepan.
      2. Add 1 tablespoon skim milk.
      3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
      4. Melt on low heat (2 or 3) stirring constantly to avoid sticking.
      5. Pour caramel into another bowl and allow to cool (to avoid remelting the chocolate!)

    • For a peanut butter filling you'll want to combine 1 cup smooth peanut butter with 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers and 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  
      • Update, August 16, 2012 - use only half this amount of peanut butter filling for 12 chocolates. It's more than enough, you will have some left over!
  4. I also used pretzels with the caramel. The small, skinny sticks are best to work with, I've found. You can either put some in a ziploc bag and smash them with your hand, a butcher knife, or meat tenderizer. For my second batch of chocolates I decided to use my mortar and pestle, as shown below! The pretzel was much finer with mortar and pestle.
  5. Remove the chocolate shells from the refrigerator and put a few pretzel pieces in the bottom of each cup.
  6. Using a teaspoon, begin to drop caramel into the cups while sprinkling in pretzel pieces with your other hand. I'll note, this does take a bit of coordination but found it was the best way to get an even distribution of pretzels and caramel.
  7. Finish each cup off with a little bit of melted chocolate on top and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.
  8. Put these back into the refrigerator to set for as long as possible. Twenty minutes is not enough, they won't come out of the molds nicely.  A couple of hours works infinitely better! But overnight is great! 

Pretzels in hardened chocolate shell painted into mold.
Crushing pretzels with our mortar and pestle.
Filled and topped with chocolate - ready to set in the fridge!
Ooey gooey goodness in the middle! (I had to taste test for quality control!)

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