I find it hard to believe that one can improve on the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. But when I received my regular Gilt Taste newsletter praising the glory of grown-up peanut butter cups...well...I should at least give them a try, right?
Grown-up Peanut Butter Cups
1 ½ ounces water (3 tablespoons)
3 ½ ounces sugar
2 ounces honey (scant ¼ cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
3 ounces unsalted peanuts
6 ounces unsalted, natural peanut butter
½ teaspoon smoked salt
1 ounce peanut oil, or more as needed (2 tablespoons)
20 ounces milk or dark chocolate, chopped
20 plain paper cupcake liners
1. Lightly grease a sheet pan with a touch of peanut oil and set aside.
2. Combine the water, sugar, honey, and vanilla bean paste in a heavy bottomed, medium pot. Turn the heat to medium; stir gently with a heat resistant spatula to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture starts to bubble, stop stirring and let it simmer undisturbed.
3. Cook until the syrup begins to take on a foxy brown color; no need for a candy thermometer, but around 340° for those keeping score.
4. Immediately shut off the heat, add the peanuts, and stir. Pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan. Use the spatula to spread it out as thinly as possible. Set aside to cool.
5. When the brittle has cooled completely, use your hands to break it into large chunks and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the brittle has broken into bits, then run continuously until it begins to turn into a gritty paste.
6. Turn off the processor and add the peanut butter and salt (and pimentón, if using) all at once. Blitz until homogenous. Then, with the food processor running, drizzle in the peanut oil. If the mixture seems too thick to pipe, add more peanut oil a teaspoon at a time.
7. Transfer the peanut filling to a large pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.
8. Next, melt or temper the chocolate. Portion ½ ounce of chocolate (1 tablespoon) into 20 plain paper cupcake liners, arranged on a cookie sheet. Pipe approximately ¾ ounce peanut butter filling directly into the center of the chocolate.
9. With a dampened finger, gently pat down the peanut butter peaks. Next, top each peanut butter mound with another ½ ounce of chocolate. Gently rap the sheet pan against the counter to level the chocolate and to dislodge any small air bubbles.
10. If using tempered chocolate, allow the chocolates to sit until they have solidified. If using untempered chocolate, refrigerate until hardened, about 20 minutes.
11. After the chocolate has set, transfer the peanut butter cups to an airtight container. Untempered chocolates must be refrigerated, while tempered ones may be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Peel away cupcake papers before serving.