Sunday, May 17, 2009
Why I Hate Peanut Butter Cups
So, here's the thing: I hate peanut butter cups.
When I was of trick-or-treating age oh so long ago, Reese's peanut butter cups were all the rage. They were the coveted morsels in many a re-purposed pillow case; sometimes saved for a rainy day, sometimes eaten all at once in defiance of the gods of belly-aches and sugar comas.
And they've never really lost their charm, it seems, since most people that I know still love a good Reese's every once in a while. In fact, chocolate and peanut butter in any application is always a winning flavor combination. In foodie magazines, on blogs, and in cookbooks, there is always a populist dessert or two that features chocolate and peanut butter, and, though not always the most sophisticated or refined, those particular treats seem to be the most popular.
But really, I'm not such a big fan of peanut butter. I've always felt that peanut butter cups were overrated, and I don't think I've ever made a chocolate and peanut butter dessert. Ever. It's just so over-done, unoriginal, and frankly, not that appealing. Although I wouldn't necessarily turn down a Reese's way back when, they were never my favorite kind of Halloween loot. I'd take a Milky Way, or even Skittles (as much as I hate to admit it now) over a Reese's any day.
There came a point last week though, when I really felt the urge to make a batch of homemade peanut butter cups. Without going into the details, I'll say that peanut butter cups have been a recurring aspect of my work life recently, and the team of people with which I work is quite enthusiastic about them. I'd seen a few bloggers' renditions of them over the past few weeks, and I have to say that I was intrigued. Not that I actually thought I would like them, but they looked like a fun project, and I knew I'd have an enthusiastic audience to reap the fruits of my labor.
So, for a work event last week, I melted a whole bunch of chocolate, got my hands on some of the freshly-ground peanut butter at my little Whole Foods, and had my canister of flaky sea salt at the ready. I carefully lined my mini-muffin liners with a layer of chocolate and let them hang out in the refrigerator to harden. I made a thick, almost dough-like paste with the peanut butter, some salt, and confectioner's sugar, and then patted a ball of it into the base of each chocolate shell. And finally, I covered them all with a generous layer of more melted chocolate, and an extra sprinkle of sea salt.
They looked surprisingly like the Reese's variety, with a bit more chocolate. The taste, however, was much richer, much peanuttier, and much more, well, homemade. Which I suppose is to be expected. Not that I liked them or anything. Because really, I hate peanut butter cups. I do, I swear! My team, however, was smitten with them, and did a fantastic job of polishing off the batch that I made.
Even though I really don't like peanut butter cups, these are a pretty perfect treat to make for a crowd. They are simple, but immensely satisfying - eating just one (not that I even wanted to eat any of them) is surely enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, if not an appetite. And with the fresh peanut butter and sprinkled salt, they are intensely flavorful. They do take a bit of time to prepare, what with the chilling and the filling and the pressing, but they certainly aren't challenging, and they are sure to impress.
Of course, these peanut butter cups, to me at least, are pretty wretched-tasting. Which is why I didn't eat any of them and will never make them again. But, if you have friends who are crazy about peanut butter and chocolate, you might want to make these. And if you have to taste a few, just to prove to yourself that you do in fact hate peanut butter cups, that's OK, too. I promise, you won't like them. I know I didn't. And trust me, I tasted plenty of them.
(By the way, I loosely followed this recipe, decreasing the amount of powdered sugar a bit. I also chose to chill and mold the peanut butter filling, instead of heating it to fill the cups.)