Peanut Butter Cups and Coffee Toffee
Well, we all know I’m not much of a baker. Case in point – my own father left this message for me on Facebook the other day: “you are a beauty not a baker. Don’t make lemon bars for Christmas Eve. Love, Dad.” I guess that pretty much says it all.
While my father clearly isn’t keen on my baking endeavors, I just couldn’t resist. And I wanted to make candy. As I contemplated what to make, I kept going back to this fuzzy memory about candy molds and candy making as a little girl. My grandmother didn’t make candy and I don’t think we made it at school. That left my mom. So I put a call into the Undomestic Goddess herself to get to the bottom of this mystery. Sure enough there was a candy demonstration at a neighbor’s house and she came home equipped with candy molds and a variety of chocolates, and together, we did make candy. Unfortunately, we didn’t continue that tradition. I suspect my dad probably threw them against the wall or mocked our feeble attempt at candymaking.
This peanut butter cup recipe is decadent and delicious. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and was surprised at how much I liked this homemade, vegan version. If you are a peanut butter lover, the peanut butter mixture alone will knock your socks off. Above all, the recipe is also difficult to ruin, which is probably what I liked about it most. The toffee, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. While I diligently followed directions and made sure the mixture reached 300 degrees (no more) with my new candy thermometer, it still seemed to burn a little. But it was hardly a disaster so I’m considering this one a success. If I had more time, I probably would have tried it out again and hoped for a slightly better result.
And my new Facebook message to my father: “Dad, while I doubt you will even sample my candy, you can at least take comfort in the fact that I did not make lemon bars again. Merry Christmas. Love, Cheri.”
Vegan Peanut Butter Cups (from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)
- 1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter
- 3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
- 3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
- 1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
- 1 cup grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate or carob chips
- 1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk
- 1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts
- Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
- Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
- Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
- Top with chopped nuts.
- Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.
Coffee Toffee (from Smitten Kitchen.com)
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (can swap corn syrup or honey)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, or 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (toasted, skinned and cooled) or another nut of your choice
- Line a small baking sheet (mine are 9×13, to fit in my puny oven) with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
- In medium heavy saucepan (I used a 3-quart) with a candy thermometer attached, melt butter, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, salt and espresso together over together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk (one that reaches into the corners is especially helpful here) until the temperature approaches 250 degrees F, at which point you should stir constantly until it reaches 300 degrees F.
- Pour immediately into the prepared baking sheet — you can spread it more evenly with a silicon spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let them sit for a minute until soft, then spread the chocolate evenly over the candy base. Sprinkle the chocolate with chopped hazelnuts and then, if you’re as impatient as we are, you can slide the sheet onto a cooling rack in the freezer until the toffee is set.
- Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.