Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recipe - Peanut Butter Cup Hot Chocolate

Everyone likes peanut butter cups, right? This hot chocolate is going to blow you away!

So how do we capture that flavor in a hot chocolate? Milk or dark chocolate? Is there a difference in flavor between the peanut butter inside a peanut butter cup and peanut butter from a jar? In a peanut butter cup, there are two separate flavors that only come together when you begin to eat it. How can we get the same two distinct flavors in a hot chocolate?

I think the trick that solved it for me was cutting down the amount of chocolate used. I originally was making a basic hot chocolate and simply adding in peanut butter. It always tasted burnt, or just way too dark and rich. To solve it, I tried it using both milk and water. I tried adding different sweeteners, but it quickly became overly sweet. Then it dawned on me that perhaps there's just too much chocolate flavor happening. I needed a better balance of the two, which meant removing some chocolate.

I guess the Reese's people figured this out ages ago, hahahaha!

For this one, I'm using Hershey's chocolate. It's easily accessible to just about everyone. We'll use their regular milk chocolate bar, but we'll balance out the sweetness by adding in a bit of cocoa powder. (Cocoa powder is bitter, as it has no sweeteners. I'll go over cocoa powder in detail in a future post.)

There's also a few great garnishes we're going to put on this one! Let's do the garnish first.

We're going to make peanut butter whipped cream!

8 oz heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

You also may want to pick up:

1/2 tsp chopped nuts
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis

Using a mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream on high for a while, until it becomes less liquid and a bit bigger in volume. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract, and continue whipping until it begins to become fluffy. Then add in the peanut butter and whip a little bit more. 

It will be a little heavier than your average whipped topping because of the peanut butter. But taste it - WOW! Awesome, huh? 

Put this into a container with a lid and put it in the fridge while you make the hot chocolate.

Ok, here's what you need for the hot chocolate:

1 cup 2% or whole milk

3 Tbs Hershey's Milk chocolate, chopped
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 Tbs peanut butter (preferably something natural)

Chop that chocolate up good! The smaller you chop it, the faster it melts.

Put the milk in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to just about a boil. You'll see bubbles appearing around the edges as it gets hotter. Don't let it boil, though! Just get it as close as possible. I keep mixing the milk as it warms so it heats evenly.

Once it's just about boiling, remove from heat and add in the chopped chocolate and the cocoa powder. Whisk these until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Then add the peanut butter and continue to whisk. At this point, I usually move the pot back onto the warm burner, just to make sure it stays nice and hot.

Pour it carefully into a mug. You can either spoon on the peanut butter whipped cream, or you can put it into a baggie, snip a bottom corner off the baggie, and use that to apply it, as if you were icing a cake. The whipped cream is going to melt fast! Add on the mini peanut butter cups and some of the chopped nuts, and then brace yourself for an amazing hot chocolate!

This one is so good, it's like a dessert all by itself! I did a bunch of variations while working through the different recipes. While I was doing it, I wondered if maybe coming up with just a hot peanut butter drink recipe would be fun. What do you think?

You should be able to find Hershey's chocolates almost anywhere, from grocery stores to your nearest 7-11. If you can't find the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini's, you could always just get the regular size cups and chop them up into pieces.