Cheap Eat Challenge Count Down: 12 days
Don't have a mold? Worry not.
Yeah, these are good. To say they are merely better than the store bought kind would be to stab me in the heart. They are in a different league. Also, they are easy to make. And gluten-free if you've got a Christmas friend in need of such a treat. My gosh, does that make them a health food? Just don't ask your scale.
Seriously, though, if you've never made your own candy, you ought to give it a go. All homemade food is beautiful in its own right. Which is partly what makes home cooking somewhat spiritual in nature. To cook food is a small act of creation. In this, as well as other ways, it can be deeply satisfying. Which is why, even though there will be a fair amount of eating-too-many-of-these jokes throughout this post (because some in this family--who have metabolisms to handle it--can pop these babies into their mouths whole as though the peanut butter balls were wee chocolate chips), I usually just eat just one. Slowly. Happily. And that's all I need.
It's a much different experience that tossing something into your cart at check-out and, honesty--HONESTLY--it doesn't take much longer. Not including the periods of waiting for chocolate to set up, these probably took me 7 minutes to make. Not counting chocolate melting times, they probably took me 4 minutes.
And if making your own food is good, is spiritual, decorating your food is just one step further. If it were perfectly healthy, it'd be, like, food nirvana. Beautification is its own little department in the bureau of home cooking. It's not a step I always take, but with these it's easy. The melted chocolate does all the work. I believe that beautiful chocolates make women feel beautiful. If they made us feel like gross, piggy slobs, they wouldn't be given on Valentine's Day, now would they. Make them yourself and you'll feel better than beautiful. You'll feel powerful and beautiful. Now that's a food worth savoring.
If you're using a mold (they cost a buck or two at Michael's), you'll fill them with melted chocolate on the bottoms and sort of paint it up the sides with your finger. Let it harden.
While the chocolate is setting, mix up the peanut butter filling. It won't be rock hard, but it'll be rollable.
Once your chocolate is set, add a blob of peanut butter goodness.
Then pour more chocolate on the top and voila.
Bang the mold on the counter a few times to get any air pockets out. And let it harden. Then turn the mold over and press them out.
If you're making balls, roll the peanut butter delight into balls, place them on wax or parchment paper, then dribble melted chocolate on the top.
After they've set you can flip them over and do the bottoms, but by the time I got to that step there were only 4 left (true story) and that didn't seem worth bothering about. (Though I do like the contrast of the shelled outside and the soft middle--if, you know, you and yourn have 30 minutes or so of willpower.)
If you'd like the outside to be a thinner chocolate, put a smear of melted (and not extremely hot) chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll the ball around in it.
A note on chocolate. You can buy tempered chocolate. That way your chocolate won't get light-colored splotches on it in a day or so. (Also, I hear that using very high quality chocolate helps with splotching.) You can temper your own chocolate by cooling it off at the right rate. I hear that this can be done by melting the chocolate (either in the microwave or over a double broiler), then taking it away from the heat source and adding about an ounce of hard chocolate and mixing it in until it's melted.
But you'll have to read up on the internet for more information on this because I never mess with it. First of all, it doesn't change the taste, only the appearance of the chocolate. Secondly, did you miss the part about how I couldn't even do the bottoms of my chocolate balls because there were only four left. Ahem.
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Makes (I forgot to count) at least 30
Note: If using a mold or if you want a really creamy center, you can scale back the sugar to 2 C. With the reduced sugar, you might have to get it good and cold in the refrigerator if you're rolling it into balls. It will be worth it because it is so creamy and awesome, but it requires foresight, which can be lacking in this household.
3 oz. cream cheese
2 1/2 T butter
2 1/3 C powdered sugar
1/4 C peanut butter
Beat cream cheese and butter together. Beat in powdered sugar, then peanut butter.
Roll into balls and cover with melted chocolate. You'll probably use about 1 C or 6 oz. chocolate.