I made these peanut butter cups for the kid’s Christmas stockings this year. They are divine.
I make these every year, but normally on a big cookie sheet in one layer and then cut into squares. For the stockings therefore they needed to require a bit more effort in order to deceive the children that these came from Santa and not from Mom. This is an easy deception since the kids know Mom is infamously lazy (in-famous, as in more than famous . . . thank you The Three Amigos.) Step one therefore involved getting cute little paper thingys.
My picture is sort of fuzzy because I have a crappy camera. Camera was on my Amazon wish list. Let’s hope it is under the tree this year.
I was inspired because my husband bought one of those baking pans with the tiny little cups, like a muffin tin . . . only tiny. I’m sure people who are more domestic than myself are familiar and all. I would never have bought one. I’m a minimalist in just about everything, including my kitchen supplies, but hubby likes to bake, at least in theory. I wish he would bake more often in reality. The little paper thingys were stuck together so when I pulled them apart they got all messed up. I shoved them in the appropriate spaces anyway.
Then I got out this cookbook typed on a typewriter by my mom in the 1990’s. Yes, children, before the turn of the century. It has the most wonderful recipes, including most of the ones from my childhood. In it resides Julie’s Reeses Bars, a recipe with which I am about to bless your life.
Start by melting “2 cubes of margarine.” Margarine smargerine. I’m using butter. Not least because my husband works for a dairy processing plant and occasionally the forklift operators stab a 50 pound block of butter or five and then the lucky employees get to bring it home, which means my freezer is stuffed full of glorious golden butter.
*note: If you should happen to come into possession of a 50 pound block of butter, let it soften for hours and hours on the counter before you cut it into more manageable pieces or you will probably risk stabbing yourself with your own knife as you hack away at the unyielding block. If you don’t learn from your first mistake it will probably turn into a double stabbing (or at least so says my husband who has experience in these things.)
In any case, my butter is not neatly packed into pre-measured amounts. I could probably get out the kitchen scale (which we only use for chemistry because we’re weird homeschoolers), but I am above all else, lazy. So I’m going to eyeball it.
That looks like about “2 cubes”. Close enough. If a recipe can’t stand up to rough treatment and a slapdash attitude then it has no business being in my kitchen. None of your precise and finicky foods for me.
*note: I am not left handed, that’s why the camera had to be held in my right hand while I posed and pretended to cut the butter with my left. I’d have had someone else take the picture for me except this is a Christmas surprise, remember, they can’t know.
Next melt the butter. I do my butter melting in the microwave, which always results in this:
I know, I know. There are ways of preventing this. But I never do because 1) I am too lazy to cover the bowl, 2) I think this time I will stop it before it explodes, and 3) the microwave always needs a wipe down anyway and this convinces me that it is finally time.
While the butter was exploding in the microwave I was considering the next direction in my archaic recipe. “16 graham crackers (double) crumble” What does that even mean? If the word double had not been included I’d have been fine. I know what a graham cracker is. But what is a double graham cracker, or does it mean I should crumble it double? I assume it means both halves of the graham cracker if you were to break it in half, but really they break into fourths. I go with 16 graham crackers.
Back in the day I would have put the crackers into a saved bread bag and pulverized them with the aid of my rolling pin. The therapy thus provided is probably well worth it, but I have advanced to the use of my Ninja. The crumbs become finer and more uniform and it’s faster. But still it’s a struggle for me because I had to retrieve the machine from the cupboard and later I’ll have to clean it. And I am lazy . . .
I have powdered sugar in the cupboard, but I don’t think it will be enough so I go downstairs to our food storage room to get another bag. This is our “sweets and treats bucket”. It contains pudding, baking chips, all sorts, marshmallows, nuts, and of course, powdered sugar.
Back upstairs I measure out 2 and a half cups of powdered sugar and find out there was enough upstairs after all. Dang. Wasted effort and at least 30 seconds.
So now I add the powdered sugar and grahams to the bowl of melted butter.
Then I remember the peanut butter is almost gone. Dang. There is none downstairs. I used to have no problem keeping a store of peanut butter on hand, but then came Garrett. His diet consists of bread and peanut butter, hold the jam please. Is there enough in the jar?
Barely one cup of peanut butter and I scraped the jar clean. Garrett will totally freak out when he finds out we’re out of peanut butter. Is it bad that I take joy when my kids freak out?
So that’s all the ingredients for the peanut layer. I mix it up by hand. With a spoon. We own a little hand mixer, but I rarely use it. We didn’t have one at all for years, but my husband finally insisted. It’s such a pain to get it out and hunt down the beaters, and then clean it. Ugh. And besides a spoon or whisk is faster if you take into account all that getting out, hunting up, and cleaning down. Unless you’re making whipped cream in which case the importance of an electric mixer cannot be overstated.
I then put little balls of peanut butter mixture into each of those little cup things and press them down a bit with my fingers.
It doesn’t matter if they end up looking pretty, they’re going to be covered with beautiful chocolate very soon.
If Karen were doing this she would probably put a small layer of chocolate on the bottom of the cups first, then the peanut butter stuff, and then more chocolate. I briefly considered this, but rejected it as taking too much effort. But if you are an overachiever, by all means, do a pre-peanut butter chocolate layer.
As you see below there is a lot of peanut butter filling left over. I will put the rest into a 9×13 pan, cover it in chocolate, hide it under my bed, and snack on it for the next several days. Okay, maybe I’ll just share it with the family later. But if weren’t for calories and my fat butt and all I would totally hide it under my bed as a late night snack.
Now for the chocolate. Just melt a bag of chocolate chips. The original recipe says “One 6-ounce pgk.” but I’m telling you now, this is nowhere enough. I did 24 ounces total. 12 for the cups and another 12 for the pan. Chocolate is a bit finicky and easy to overcook. It is the only food worth the kind of effort required to keep it tasty and gorgeous. Start with one minute in the microwave, then stir. It will be sort of half melted.
Another 30 seconds in my microwave was enough to melt it completely with stirring.
Just drop chocolate on the top of each peanut butter cup with a spoon.
Then you let it harden at room temperature for a couple of hours. And you have yum.
If you lick the chocolate bowl at the end I won’t tell.
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