A while back, I was invited to do a hands-on candy-making class in Salt Lake City. As usual, I arrived way-too-early, because I’m like that (to make sure I’m ready), and when the doors opened, in walked in all the participants.
Shortly after I demonstrated a few things we were going to make, everyone got to work and I started mingling with the participants. I walked around making sure everyone was okay and most of the women seemed to have a pretty good handle on things. In fact, they had a great handle on things, and were wielding their candy thermometers and dipping forks like pros. When I expressed my amazement at what a great job everyone was doing, one woman spoke up; “We’re Mormons, David, of course we’re good at making candy…we’re don’t have any other vices!”
It was pretty hilarious—that is, until things started going wrong.
All my carefully-written recipes were coming out a bit screwy; syrups weren’t thickening right and oven temperatures weren’t corresponding with what I’d tested (and re-tested) at home. Then someone told me what they all assumed was obvious: “We’re at high-altitude up here in Salt Lake City, y’know.”
In the end, all went well and we had a great time. And me and the Mormon women spent the rest of the day sucking on lollipops together and dreaming of sipping a good cup of coffee. Actually, I don’t know what they were dreaming of. But that much-needed cup of coffee was certainly on my list. (I think things have changed since then.)
So when I was rifling through my refrigerator, perhaps with good intentions of purging it of all the odds-and-ends jammed in the back. I found a little container of salted peanut caramel leftover from when I made Peanut Butter Cookies. I took a taste, and it was still excellent, so decided to use it up once and for all. Lord (or whoever the Mormons worship) knows what else is back there, and I hope to get around to the rest of those anonymous containers sometime soon.
I melted down some dark chocolate, spooned some into little baking cups, and once the chocolate set, filled them with a dab of the filling, then sealed their fate with more chocolate and a few grains of flaky salt.
Whether you’re an experienced candy-maker, or not, this is one of the simplest things you can make. There’s no need for thermometers, pastry bags, or any fancy equipment. And there’s no need to pray for success since it’s pretty much ensured. Whether here on the ground, or 4723 feet above sea level.
Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Caramel Cups
About 25 cups
This recipe is adaptable to any relatively thick caramel filling. Dulce de leche would work, and some folks fill these with peanut butter. (See links, below.) Don’t melt down chocolate chips, which are formulated to hold their shape when heated, and you’ll find the chocolate too sludgy to work with.
Depending on the size of the cups, and how generous you are, you may get a few more, or a few less, than indicated.
- 12 ounces (340g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (125g) salted peanut caramel
- Fleur de sel, or another flaky sea salt
1. In a clean, dry bowl set over simmering water (or in a microwave), melt the chocolate until smooth.
2. Put a dab of the chocolate about the size of a shelled hazelnut in the bottom of a small paper baking cup.
3. Use a small spoon, or a brush, to move the chocolate around and coat the bottom and sides with an even layer of chocolate. Chill the cups to firm up the chocolate.
4. Once firm, in each cup, put a bit of the salted peanut filling, enough so that it will reach about 2/3rds of the way to the top of the cup. (Don’t have to stress to much about exact amounts; it’s candy and it supposed to be fun to make.)
5. Depending on how soft the filling is, rap the sheet of cups on a folded kitchen towel to level the tops. If the filling is too thick, use a spoon to smooth out the filling.
6. Add enough chocolate to cover the filling, and once again, rap the sheet on the countertop to level to tops and enclose the filling.
7. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel.
8. Chill until firm.
Store the cups in the refrigerator until about thirty minutes before ready to serve. They’ll keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen.
Note: Left at room temperature for a few hours or more, the chocolate can “bloom.” To avoid that, you may wish to temper the chocolate, which isn’t necessary if you store them in the refrigerator and take them out shortly before serving.
Variation: Use milk chocolate instead of the bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups (Baking Bites)
Crispy Peanut Butter Cups (Café Johnsonia)
Peanut Butter Cups (Have Cake Will Travel)
Peanut Butter Cups (Culinary in the Country)