Peanut Butter Cups— Yum!

I grew up with a mother who was “crunchy and all natural” way before it was the thing to do. She frequented the local farm for fresh goats milk, would only buy whole wheat bread, plain yogurt and all natural peanut butter. And don’t even get me started on our summer of carob! My mother was the queen of healthy and homemade, for better or worse. She refused to buy junk food, but didn’t want to deny me the joys of childhood gluttony so she would make homemade devil dogs, whoopie pies and popcorn balls. My friends loved it. I on the other hand longed for nothing more than Wonder Bread, Skippy Peanut Butter and Lucky Charms. Seriously, if it was full of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and red dye no. 2 then it was for me!

So isn’t it ironic that I turned out to be the type of wife and mother who makes everything from scratch. Who has a running tab at Whole Foods and would sooner serve my kids sawdust than Skippy. (Yes, my mother is enjoying a nice chuckle over this.) Luckily, my family thinks it’s wonderful that I can make donuts, candy and various other treats that rival the mass-produced variety. But I’m sure my Lucky Charms Day will come!

Anyhow back to the point… My husband just recently celebrated his birthday. And while I made him a chocolate cream pie (that blog post will come later), we sang to him and he blew out the candles, the poor dear ended up being away for business on his actual birthday. I didn’t want him to feel like his birthday had passed unnoticed, so I decided to do something special for him upon his return. The question was what? Well, he happens to LOVE peanut butter cups, they’re his all time favorite candy. So there was my answer, I would make him homemade peanut butter cups. They can’t be the hard to recreate, right?!?

It turns out they’re not hard to make at all, they just take a little time. (And since I can’t be bothered to attempt anything that seems too easy, this wasn’t a problem for me.) The final product was really fantastic, way better than Hershey’s could ever make, and much loved and enjoyed by my whole family.

But the real question is: Would my juvenile self have approved of these homemade treats? It hard to say for sure, but they were so tasty that I imagine an 8-year-old me would gobble them up without complaint.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
If you have a peanut butter and chocolate lover in your life you must try these!

For the chocolate shell:
8 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

For the peanut butter filling:
3/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
a pinch of salt

  1. Prepare a mini muffin tin with liners and set aside. Use a double-boiler (or a microwave) to melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. When the chocolate is totally melted and smooth remove from heat.
  2. Place 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate in each cupcake liner. Carefully spread it with a the back of a small measuring spoon around the liner and 3/4 of the way up the sides. Repeat with the remaining liners.
  3. Place the chocolate-covered liners into the freezer to firm up, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter filling: Stir together the peanut butter, sugar and salt.
  5. When the chocolate cups are firm, spoon 1 heaping half teaspoon of peanut butter paste into each chocolate cup.
  6. Top with 2 teaspoons melted chocolate, spreading carefully so that none of the peanut butter can be seen.
  7. Let the cups firm up in fridge for at least one hour before indulging. These babies soften up very quickly, so store any remaining peanut butter cups (and believe me, there won’t be many) in fridge.

*adapted from the sweetest kitchen

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My Sweet Valentine

There are many ways to say I love you. To me it’s the little everyday things we do for each other that mean the most.

Run and empty the dishwasher for me… You rock, thanks babe! Clean up the lego explosion in your room without being asked… You’re the best kid, thank you! Stay by me in the store and behave like a sane child, rather than run around like a lunatic screaming at the top of your lungs… Thank you my sweet girl!

My family on the other hand can be won over via a much simpler means—food. If you fill their bellies with something tasty they’ll love you for life! I often joke that they’re like living with a bunch of goats. I can cover just about anything in chocolate or red sauce (homemade of course!) and they’ll eat it. But that aside, what better opportunity than Valentine’s Day for me to give them something truly delectable that will really make them smile.

As you may already know Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate, but I feel like I’ve already showered my family with a considerable amount of chocolate goodies. This year called for something different, something out of the ordinary, something delicious that will make them think back longingly to Valentines Day 2012. But what? Cookies…too everyday, candy…too expected, cupcakes…too easy. Hmmm. What to make, what to make, what to make. Then it came to me; like a bolt of lightning, a light bulb going off or a trademarked “aha moment”… Heart shaped Coconut Scones with a Dark Chocolate Drizzle (okay, so I couldn’t stay away from chocolate entirely).

Here’s where I would ordinarily gush on about how fantastic and easy these little scones were to make. And how my family threw rose petals at my feet and talked about their plans to gold plate my whisk. HA! Not this time my friend. These little babies may look cute in pictures and my family in fact did like them and insisted that I blog about them (while stuffing seconds in their mouths), but they actually did not turn out as well as I had hoped. They didn’t rise up enough to qualify as a scone, yet weren’t quite sweet enough to pass as a cookie. But like I said, my family thought they were great (however I have already established their goat-like status, so take that recommendation for what it’s worth.)

So you may be asking yourself “Should I bother to make them…” Sure, go ahead. They really were easy to make and like I said my family actually did enjoy them. But if you do, feel free to tweak the recipe a bit. And if per chance you should end up with the perfect Coconut Scone with a Dark Chocolate Drizzle… please send me the recipe!

Coconut Scones
I don’t have much else to say about these except “Good luck!”

2 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss so that each piece is coated in flour.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it has the texture of coarse cornmeal. Stir in shredded coconut.
  4. Add in about half of coconut milk and stir together. Add remaining coconut milk as needed until the mixture comes together into a firm dough.
  5. Divide the dough into two balls. Use a rolling pin to form each ball into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut out your scones with a cookie cutter and place on a prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until scones are a light golden brown on top.
  7. Cool on a wire rack before glazing.

Chocolate glaze
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. 
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter has melted. Do not let it boil.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and let it sit in the hot cream to soften. Add the vanilla and whisk the glaze until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Chill the glaze until it’s thick enough to hold its shape on the back of a spoon.
  3. Drizzle the glaze over each scone and chill until set.

’tis the season…

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise if I tell you that my creative gears start racing come holiday time. One year everyone on my gift list got a hand knit scarf, another year was homemade fudge in a half dozen different flavors. And then there was the year everyone got baskets of homemade goodies. I made and jarred my own applesauce, bottled my own flavored vinegars and baked like the ship was going down. I even designed and printed my own labels and gift tags, that year almost killed me!

This year I’ve managed to rein myself in a bit, but everyone will be getting one homemade delicious treat from me…crack. Yup you read right, Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Crack. If you’re not familiar with these little delights then get ready; this is one of the easiest, most delicious and highly addictive treats you may ever eat. And while the name “crack” refers to the crackers you use, I dare you to take one bite and not come back for more! I hope your family (and Santa) will enjoy these goodies as much as mine does…

Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Crack
I’ve seen this recipe topped with a variety of things; crushed candy canes, crunched up toffee bits and (my personal favorite) toasted almonds. Use whatever appeals to you the most.

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 4 oz dark chocolate bars
1 cup slivered almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and then a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the bottom of the pan with saltine crackers (salt side up) in as even of a layer as possible and set aside. Now for the chocolate… [It seems like buying a bag of chips would save you a step here, but the chips have added stabilizers and won’t taste quite as divine as chocolate in bar form will. Also if you prefer milk chocolate over dark then feel free to switch things up. I used three bars of Ghirardelli, two 70% cacao and one 60%]. Chop the chocolate so the pieces are all roughly the same size and set aside.
  2. Toast the almonds and set aside. In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the brown sugar and vanilla. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is an even color and the butter in no longer floating on top. When the mixture begins to bubble remove it from heat and pour it over the saltines. Use a spatula to spread it out and cover the crackers as fully as possible.
  3. Put the crackers in the oven and bake until the butter mixture begins to bubble, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle evenly with the chocolate pieces and quickly pop it back in for another minute or two, just enough to soften the chocolate. Spread the chocolate with a spatula so all of the crackers are evenly covered.
  4. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top of the chocolate and refrigerate until all the layers set and harden. Using a sharp knife, cut your crack into tasty little squares and enjoy!

*adapted from serious eats